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Sun Apr 7, 2013, 01:07 PM

Is Social Security sexist?

I keep getting told that men make far more money than women. If that is true, then it stands to reason that most of the higher income earners are men, while most of the lower income earners are women. Due to the bend points in Social Security benefit formula, the less you make the more benefit you derive from SS as a function of what you put in. Therefore it stands to reason that women are getting more benefit for their FICA dollars than men are. If ERA were ever to be ratified, it seems as if this is something that would have to be addressed.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 05:56 PM

1. I just think Corporate America and society in general needs to be more flexible and supportive of

families.

Obviously people doing the same job should get the same pay, regardless of gender (although, given my experiences with Corporate America, usually people are paid as little as the company can get away with, which varies from indy to indy- which is why they don't want you discussing your salary) ... but along with that, I think we need a SPHC system, a livable minimum wage, family leave like they have in Europe, and we really ought to have a job environment where someone- be they male or female- takes years of their life to devote to staying home with their kids, it's not some black mark on the resume.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 06:08 PM

2. To my mind, there are only 3 "Problems" with S/S, and Medicare for that matter.

They are:

1) The Military Budget
2) The Drug War/Prison-Industrial Budget
3) S/S & Medicare are too small, mostly because we spend too much money on 1) and 2).


In fact, Medicare should be expanded to everyone, which would also ameliorate the ridiculous cost issues that were explored in a recent issue of Time- which is a must read, BTW.



http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2136864,00.html

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 06:27 PM

3. If men lived as long as women, then no.

 

Fact #9: Social Security is especially beneficial for women.
Because women tend to earn less than men, take more time out of the paid workforce, live longer, [strike]accumulate less savings, and receive smaller pensions[/strike], Social Security is especially important for them.[26] Women constitute 56 percent of Social Security beneficiaries aged 62 and older and 67 percent of beneficiaries aged 85 and older.[27]
Women pay 41 percent of Social Security payroll taxes[28] but receive nearly half of Social Security benefits.[29] This is because women benefit disproportionately from the programís inflation-protected benefits (because women tend to live longer), its progressive formula for computing benefits (because they tend to have lower earnings), and its benefits for non-working spouses and survivors.


Strikethroughs mine.

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3261

Is it sexist?

Let's answer with a question; is it racist? Black children get back far less benefit from their contributions in their lifetime relative to white kids, simply because about half will die before reaching retirement age. But the progressive formula is a net gain for the lucky ones who do survive long enough to collect. I personally think that a good equal protection/civil rights argument could be made on the basis of race, but the fact that it has not suggests that none are likely in event of ratification of the ERA.

What I would like is for more emphasis to be placed on health and well-being of men and people of color so that they live long enough to benefit from the program.

Oh, and this is to the onlookers: nothing about the ERA guarantees equal wages. There will still be "a pay gap" because women will still choose careers for different reasons than men do, and will still take more time off, and will undoubtedly still work fewer hours. What pay gap exists today is entirely due to women's disinclination to negotiate for higher salary.

I do have one observation. The Social Security Administration brags at length about the disproportionate benefit that women get. It is apparent that they think the patriarchal society considers this a selling point.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #3)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 08:58 PM

6. So it really depends on if you look at it from equality or outcomes

If you look at it from the basis of equality, then the answer to both the racist question and the sexist question is no because everyone has the same opportunity under the law. If you look at it from the perspective of outcomes (which every feminists I've seen discussing the pay gap issue does) then it's both racist and sexist.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #3)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 09:16 PM

7. Actually your own link disputes that

The CBPP lists three reasons why women pay less into the plan yet earn more. So there's more to it than just life expectancy.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #7)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 11:13 PM

14. A definition of sexist is probably worthwhile.

 

And using one social framework I concede that you are on solid ground. The system is designed to provide more benefit to people who;
a) live longer
b) have less lifetime earnings
c) have a spouse who made much more then themselves during their career and/or died.

Undoubtedly, the lawmakers who designed it this way knew that people who fit the above demographic are generally women.

Is this "sexist" using every potential definition? I think there are good social reasons to skew the benefit formula to the benefit of people meeting those criteria, even if the outcomes of that calculus benefit women disproportionately.

Strictly speaking, (with the exception of lifespan) we all theoretically have the opportunity to live our lives in a way that maximizes the SS benefit.

I guess what I'm saying is maybe it's sexist and still justified. I think widowers who live a long time in retirement after a working-class career deserve to be looked after too.

It's inarguable that SS outcomes are heavily skewed toward women, and although I have mixed feelings about the justice of it, I think it's entirely appropriate to educate people to its existence, and point out that "the patriarchy" uses this fact as a sales and marketing tool.

It is designed this way because men are socialized to take care of the women. That is the patriarchy.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #14)

Mon Apr 8, 2013, 12:09 AM

15. I'm using this as an example of the pitfalls you run into with identifying sexism based on outcomes

You are exactly correct in that there were reasons why the framers of our SS system set it up this way that have nothing to do with sexism. However, when only the outcome is considered, it can lead you to form fallacious conclusions about the reasons for the discrimination. It allows people to make allegations of sexism without looking into reasons or motives. I just find it interesting that the usual suspects get so offended at the idea of identifying sexism based on outcomes, when that's essentially exactly what they are doing with the pay gap issue.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 06:47 PM

4. Looks like you've got somebody's attention..

 

http://www.democraticunderground.com/125519690

Of course, Gawd forbid they come here and try to debate the issue with you..

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Response to opiate69 (Reply #4)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 08:40 PM

5. If they are going to throw rocks behind a wall, the least they can do is come up with better

Anyone who thinks ERA is going to solve whatever pay outcomes they believe exist has very little idea what the ERA will and won't do.

All the ERA does is make sure the government doesn't tip the scales in favor of either gender. It does nothing to insure that outcomes are equal.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #5)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 10:11 PM

9. And............ self-deleted....

 

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Response to opiate69 (Reply #4)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 10:15 PM

10. And grandly locked it is...

Without Meta to keep it roiling, and having some of the major conspirators on ignore, I have no idea whether new threads have popped up.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 10:11 PM

8. Neither my mother nor grandmother worked...

more than a day or two in their lives, yet they collected the max on SS because their husbands did pretty well. My mother even collected a widow's SS payment of a few hundred bucks a month each for us kids until we turned 18.

And, my grandfather and both my mother's husbands managed to do pretty well so there was a fair amount of cash and investments around. And even pension money. And both of them outlived their husbands for quite a few years on that money.

But that was then, and this is now when we don't have that many long term marriages, long term jobs, with women are far more self-dependant and not seeing marrying well as goal in itself.

I always thought it was slightly out of balance that after you get screwed you whole life with low wages, you get it again with a low SS payment. Tough to find a practical and more equitable alternative, though. Perhaps we should start thinking about what a proper retirement should consist of and guarantee the minimum in housing, food, medical care, etc rather than simply concentrate on payments.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #8)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 10:28 PM

11. I've always thought the answer should lie more with a public pension program

SS is designed to meet minimum needs when there's little else to rely on. As such it performs that job beautifully and keeps a lot of seniors out from under the poverty level. SS is an insurance plan, not an investment or pension plan.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #11)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 10:41 PM

12. That's true- it wasn't intended to be a primary pension, but...

that's pretty much the way it's being used now. Most pension plans I've been in actually reduced your pension when you got a COLA from SS. Now, they don't even give you a pension plan, just an investment plan. "Defined benefit" applies to cops some unions, and that's about it now.

Personally, I used it as an unemployment plan-- who can get a decent job at 62 any more, so I ate the few hundred bucks a month I'd lose if I waited till 65 or 67 and figgered what's left would at least pay the rent.

Back to my point about what is a proper, dignified, or whatever you want to call it, retirement. You need a place to live, food to eat, stuff like TV, internet and other amusements and social activities all of which should be guaranteed somehow. Health care should be a given, as it is now. Beyond that, whatever you can scrape together more power to you.

Wouldn't mind seeing a means test, either. I know a few people of means who giggle at their "tiny" SS checks.




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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #12)

Sun Apr 7, 2013, 10:45 PM

13. I'm with you on that

The idea that welfare is somehow a dirty word doesn't enjoy much support outside the US. Especially in the instance where someone works their entire life, they deserve a decent living condition in their old age. Our country should be judged on how well it treats the most unfortunate among us, not by how many aircraft carriers or strategic bombers we have.

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