400-Word Scenario #3: Retirement Redistribution
The New York Times this past Sunday included an article that conjured up a suddenly quite plausible and frightening scenario.
“Seventy-five percent of Americans nearing retirement age in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts. …Almost half of middle-class workers, 49 percent, will be poor or near poor in retirement, living on a food budget of about $5 a day. …[M]ost people aged 50 to 64 have nothing or next to nothing in retirement accounts and thus will rely solely on Social Security.”
[And now, in exactly 400 words…]
July 25, 2042 (AP/AARP)
“The Dow Jones Industrials today finished up 3 points, to 4,567. This continues the summer bull market that has seen it gain 10% since May.
“Congress debated the inheritance tax, with Republicans arguing that easing fiscal conditions make a cut to just 75% ‘realistic and growth-friendly.’ Democrats argued that shaky funding for Supplemental Retirement and Housing makes any such cut ‘a dire threat to the post-young,’ and also urged that the top income tax rate of 85% be retained.
“The summer home-box-office numbers show that Batman 18 is the winner, with an opening weekend of $5 billion. The latest entry in the saga of the Dark Knight includes a zombie gerontocracy attacked by night by a masked marauder who captures the imagination of downtrodden youth through a series of robberies and redistributions of government assets to poverty-stricken pre-aged.
“Madonna led a march on Washington today to protest conditions at federally-funded retirement facilities. Many of these, the 83 year-young diva stated, still fail to meet the “Post-Young Bill of Rights” mandated by landmark 2027 Congressional action, including private rooms with separate baths for all, exercise programs, in-room virtual reality, 24/7 remote monitoring of vital organ function, guaranteed privacy rights, guaranteed employment at a minimum wage, subject to ability, and reimbursement for many forms of cosmetic surgery. Senate Republican leaders promised quick action on the demands of the recent Medal of Freedom recipient.
“Total funding for post-young facilities has now exceeded defense outlays since 2030. Post-young housing ‘equalization’ subsidies now represent some 10% of federal outlays. Some 60% of elderly continue to choose to live at home or with friends or relatives; this has necessitated ‘equalization payments’ to bring their housing up to minimum federal standards. This has led to a nationwide boom in construction of ramps, upgraded bathrooms, ‘smart house’ rewiring, and other retrofits.
“Immigration in 2041 increased for the twentieth consecutive year, with most immigrants entering the post-young sector. Over the last two decades, states have rolled back immigration restrictions and have put in place incentive programs to sponsor immigrants in support of the post-young industry and the long-ailing housing market.
“GDP growth was a robust 1.2% for the first half of this year. Inflation for the first two quarters declined to a seasonally adjusted rate of 15%. Interest rates also declined, with the average mortgage rate declining to 18.5%. Per-capita income remained flat, at $750,000.”