REAGAN AND O’NEILL

It was Ronald Reagan who said, “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit.” That was in 1983 and it’s as true today as it was thirty years ago. Social Security is a trust fund set up by the government under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration for the people by the people. It is a trust fund, folks. A trust fund today of $2.8 TRILLION in government bonds funded by you and me paying a tax, which appears on your pay stub as FICA. So, why do we allow today’s President and Congress to call it an entitlement? Why do we allow them to squawk about Social Security in the same sentence as “fiscal cliff” and “budget deficit”? The Trustees of the Social Security Trust Fund of $2.8 TRILLION recently reported Social Security can pay out 100% of benefits due through 2033 and 75% thereafter. Does Social Security need to be revamped to ensure long term solvency at 100% of benefits due beyond 2033? Yes. But, “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit.”

When Congress and the President call Social Security an entitlement and lump it into news blips about the deficit, the fiscal cliff and sequestration every one of them, Republican and Democrat alike, is misleading, confusing and causing resentment toward retirees as it makes them out to be one of the bad guys causing our fiscal mess, when nothing is further from the truth.

Back in 1983 Ronald Reagan reached out to Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill to find a solution to what was, at that time, a bonafide Social Security crisis. The trust fund was only solvent for one more year, not twenty and beyond as it is today. Both men were wise enough to recognize Social Security was not part of the general budget for running the country. They didn’t point fingers and assign blame. They didn’t talk about retirees as if they were draining the budget. They put aside ideological differences. They focused on Social Security and Social Security alone. And, with his famous statement, Ronald Reagan made it crystal clear to the American people, “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit.” So, both men wisely sat down to hammer out a deal to ensure the long term solvency of the trust fund. Their bi-partisan effort resulted in the Social Security Amendment of 1983, putting Social Security on the solid ground on which it stands today. Yes. It is on solid ground today and for the next twenty years.

Neither Obama nor Boehner have shown the leadership of Reagan and O’Neill. Not in their willingness to enlighten the American public as Reagan so specifically did. Not in their willingness to reach across party lines and hammer out a deal to rework Social Security without eroding it’s benefits to the people who funded it. Accordingly, folks, it’s become the responsibility of the American people to tell these two public servants what the public wants. No, it becomes the responsibility of the American people to DEMAND action. If you haven’t called or emailed Misters Obama and Boehner, now is the time to do so. It’s easy. Really. I’ve provided links and phone numbers below. Make your voice heard. All you have to do is remind them of Reagan and O’Neill and tell them, “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit.”

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments or (202) 456-1111

http://www.speaker.gov/contact or (202)225-0600

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SCARCITY

We live in an abundantly rich nation. We often ask God to bless America. The fact is God has already blessed America. Yet most of us live our lives as if there is never enough. Witness the mayhem on Black Friday as thousands of people across the country wrap themselves in lines around retail stores for hours, or even days, prior to the store opening. All of this just for the chance of getting one of a handful of TV’s, computers or other wants at “doorbuster pricing”. At the opening bell these same people, who on any other day may be a very civil bunch, will indeed bust down the door, even trampling an employee to death out of fear they won’t get one of those TV’s at the reduced price. The retailers understand the concept of the scarcity mentality. The associated fear there won’t be enough to go around. In reality there are plenty of TV’s. But by pricing only a few at a greatly reduced price, the retailers create a lack of, a manufactured shortage that sends normally sane people into a frenzy.

In a society where the entire economic model is built on the scarcity mentality, maintaining a mindset of abundance in your life is a tall order. Prior to retiring, a relative gave me this piece of advice. “If you live on less than you take in, you’ll feel rich.” As I let this statement sink in, I realized I had spent the last 20 plus years doing exactly that. And, yes, I felt rich, never deprived.

I first read about the abundance mentality as opposed to the scarcity mentality in Stephen Covey’s Book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey was talking about the business world, your work life, more than he was your private life. So, I first applied his idea to my work life. The mindset that there was plenty of business to go around took effort to achieve. I worked in a very competitive business world. It wasn’t until after reading Covey that I realized losing a client to a competitor wasn’t the end of the world. So, in order to internalize an abundance mentality, I adopted an active thought process, which included a lot of very positive self-talk. Eventually, the abundance mentality took hold. Once I embraced the idea of abundance, it seemed I never wanted for a job, income, raises, bonuses or promotions. Wow!

The next step was applying the abundance mentality to my entire life. You see, the scarcity mentality is the belief there is never enough of anything to go around, whether it’s income, love or things. It’s based upon envy of what your neighbor, friends or family have. It’s based on coveting the belongings, success and lifestyle of others and the deeply ingrained, often unconscious belief that since they have it, there’s not enough for you. It’s envy of relationships, friendships, marriages and family. Again, it takes active thinking to achieve an abundance mentality. Positive self talk is essential. Additionally, I armed myself with a list of things I had in abundance. A loving spouse. Wonderful children. A beautiful home. A good income. All of us healthy. Food on the table. Numbering the items made me realize how abundant my life already was, how much I had to be grateful for and, yes, how much God had blessed me and mine.

So, when Martin retired, after 20 years of living with an abundance mentality, the panic I felt was a shocker. How could it be I was panicked? How could it be I was afraid we would run out of money? How could it be that something as simple as going to the grocery store was now a source of stress? How could it be I was now in a scarcity mentality? I have an abundantly rich life! After years of living with the secure knowledge there would always be enough of everything in my life, this was a rude awakening. However, as we enter our third month of retirement, after two months of actively revisiting the self-talk of my earlier years and, yes, making lists all over again, I find myself able to breath easier. As with any other major life change we encounter, retirement is a game changer. It means moving out of comfort zones and well worn ruts. It means reassessing who we are, what we believe and how we’ll proceed, giving way to yet another opportunity for personal growth.