Episode 2: Shattering the Mirror of Erised

In our second episode, Shattering the Mirror of Erised, SuperBOYs use powerful incantations – also known as facts and logic – to fight the mighty spell cast by Aunt Bizarro and her Mirror of Erised.

As our story opens, we come upon a celebration of all good cheer.  Our revelers, mostly senior citizens, are toasting the news that in 2012, their Social Security benefits will rise for the first time in three years.

And a woeful trio of years it’s been.

Beginning in 2008, many Americans lost as much as 40% of their retirement funds in the stock market rout.  Home values plummeted and have yet to rebound.  Energy costs – particularly gasoline, cut deeper than ever into disposable income.  Rising out-of-pocket medical costs remain unrestrained.  And inflation, although mild, shaved even more spending power from those 65 and older.

So no wonder Aunt Bizarro and her blind-faith minions are throwing a party.

The 2012 benefits increase “underscores the importance of Social Security as the only guaranteed, lifelong and inflation-adjusted source of retirement income for most Americans,” cheers Nancy LeaMond, an executive vice president with AARP, the vast propaganda bureau that masquerades as a friend to those 50 and over.

…For millions of American seniors already suffering in this economy and facing years of rising costs, shrinking returns on their savings and no cost-of-living increases, today’s…announcement lets them know there’s some relief around the corner,”

-chimes in Max Richtman, the ebullient president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

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The Rise of Aunt Bizarro and the Demise of the American Social Security Net

Sam and his little sister, Columbia, were born in the earliest days of our zealous nation.

History records that the Wilson offspring were raised in Menotomy, Massachusetts – now known as Arlington – to parents originally from Greenock, Scotland.

Sam was always the more visible of the two.  In 1797, the stern-eyed, elbow-nosed gent married a gal from Mason, New Hampshire, and together they had four children who they raised in their Ferry Street home. Aunt Columbia, as the tots called her, was a doting kinswoman.

Sam first served our country during the War of 1812. A meat packer by trade, he provided beef rations – which he shipped in barrels – to the Army.  Branded on the side of each cask were the initials “U.S.” – signifying their ownership by the United States government.

Shattering the Mirror of Erised

In our second episode – Shattering the Mirror of Erised, SuperBOYs use powerful incantations – also known as facts and logic – to fight the mighty spell cast by Aunt Bizarro and her Mirror of Erised. Learn what happens next

But the soldiers and workers who knew good ole Sam Wilson took to joshing that the “U.S.” stood for Uncle Sam.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Aunt Columbia also tried her hand laboring as a national emblem, draping herself in the red, white and blue, and bidding to join big brother Sam on the patriotic trail.  In 1798, Philip Phile and Joseph Hopkinson teamed to write the music and lyrics for George Washington’s inaugural march, which came to be titled, “Hail, Columbia.”  Few historians properly credit Aunt Columbia as Phile’s and Hopkinson’s inspiration.

Sam and Columbia made a nice iconic tag-team, rallying the country through World Wars I and II, and adorning untold numbers of government placards and tourist postcards.

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Some Common Sense Thoughts on the Need for a Declaration of Financial Independence

Executive Summary: Given the poor track record of the government and private sector when it comes to safeguarding the financial security of Americans, the authors propose a Declaration of Financial Independence in which individual citizens pledge to take responsibility for their own lifelong financial well being.

Americans need a financial revolution in 2011 as surely as we needed a political revolution in 1776.

Our system of earning, saving and investing money simply is broken.  It relies way too heavily on the tag team of government and mega-banks and financial institutions, and way too little on the self-reliance and individualism that made our nation great.

The federal government, by every reasonable standard, has proven to be a poor steward of our money and financial security.

The lockbox that was supposed to be Social Security – with Uncle Sam holding our funds – repeat, “our” funds – for us, turns out to be a thinly veiled Ponzi scheme that is rapidly draining to insolvency.  Ditto Medicaid.

It was the circus-like policies of the government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that led directly to the housing crash in 2008 and turned the American Dream – owning one’s own home – into a financial nightmare for tens of millions of us.

The federal government poured close to $600 billion taxpayer dollars into the bailout of unstable private businesses, including AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, General Motors, etc. – rather than permit the free market to right its own wrongs.

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Four fascinating facts that affect your finances

I just came across these four surprising new facts that affect your money and finances…

Fascinating Fact #1: 61% of boomers fear outliving their money in retirement more than they fear death

That’s according to a new study.1

Maybe you’re one of them.  It appears that lots of boomers should be scared out of their wits – almost half of them could run out of money in retirement, according to a new study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

In fact, most employees recently surveyed – regardless of age – say they aren’t saving enough money for retirement.2

Many people are No more meals outadjusting to “the new normal” by postponing retirement.

But you may not have a choiceNearly four in ten retirees say they were forced out of work earlier than they’d planned, because of layoffs, poor health, or the need to take care of a loved one.3

And, for those already retired, 60% say they have been forced to do without things they had taken for granted, to make ends meet.4

Things like meals out, new books and movies, travel, new clothes and home improvement projects.

Can you live without those things?  Sure.

But why should you have to, after a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice?!?

[Read more…] “Four fascinating facts that affect your finances”