“I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject . . . No one knew that healthcare could be so complicated,” explained President Donald Trump to Republican governors attending the 2017 National Governors Winter Conference. Many consider the President’s comment the understatement of the year due to the uneven, often unintentional evolution of health care in America.
BASE jumping is one of the most dangerous sports a human can undertake, with one fatality per 60 participants. The desire to jump from great heights is practiced by a small percentage of extreme sports enthusiasts. BASE jumping, like sky-diving, skiing potentially fatal slopes, or rock climbing without a rope, is a high-risk activity.
More than one-half of Millennials believe there will be no money in the Social Security system by the time they are ready to retire, according to a 2014 Pew Research report. “I don’t think anyone honestly expects to collect a single penny they pay into social security. I think everyone acknowledges that it’s going to go bankrupt or kaput,” says Doug Coupland, author of “Generation X.”
What went wrong? Will Social Security go bankrupt?
A Brief History of Social Security
In 1935, few of the program’s creators could have anticipated the condition of the Social Security program today.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This old English rhyme is often heard during one’s childhood, typically as comfort to a victim of ridicule by other children. Implicit in the advice is the unspoken admonition to the child to grow up and ignore the pain of verbal abuse – after all, it’s only words.
James Smith, a 2015 graduate of the University of Texas, continues to live at home while working as the manager of a local dry cleaning establishment. He struggles to make his monthly $282 student loan payments, a significant portion of his biweekly take home pay of $807.
With a B.A. in history, James expected to find a job with a research organization or large corporation. He had been reassured by college counselors that history majors were in demand because businesses needed employees who could read and write with critical thinking skills. To his dismay, neither school interviews nor extensive mailings of his resume have resulted in any realistic job offers.
Harold and Patricia Tucker recently passed their 50th anniversary. There was no celebration.
Married a month after their high school graduation, Patricia worked as a secretary in a local law firm to help Harold attend law school. Harold went on to climb the corporate ladder, becoming the chief counsel of a major insurance company by age 44. Unable to get pregnant, they adopted two children: John and Elizabeth.
Disaster stuck when Harold was 58. After experiencing memory problems, speaking difficulties, and bouts of physical pain, doctors suggested a series of tests, culminating in a biopsy of the brain. He was diagnosed with Pick’s disease.
Public lotteries have a long history. From Caesar Augustus (where tickets had prizes of slaves, real estate, and ships) to European governments during the Middle Ages (which relied heavily on lotteries for revenue), state-run lotteries have continually proven lucrative, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Not surprisingly, the United States of America also has a long history of lotteries. Considered “voluntary taxes,” early lotteries were used to fund new colleges such as Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown. In 1745, the General Court of Massachusetts passed an act allowing a lottery to pay off costs defending the colony’s frontier and seacoasts. By 1831, eight states held 420 lotteries.
Renting versus buying can be a difficult choice. Still, according to The Wall Street Journal, almost two-thirds of American households own homes. Many more own rental properties or second vacation homes. By contrast, a Gallup Poll found that only one-half of Americans own stocks.
Home equity is the foundation of personal wealth in the United States, representing about two-thirds of net worth for most American households, per Bloomberg. The expansion of home ownership has been stimulated by government programs and tax advantages to incentivize the purchase of houses. According to a study in Social Forces, home ownership leads to “a stronger economy, better schools, and an invested, proactive citizenry.” Homeowners have higher voting rates and are more involved in civic organizations.
An old proverb claims, “The art is not in making money, but in keeping it.” Unfortunately, con artists and swindlers are anxious to separate you from your money by means of deception and fraud.
In an interview with BBC Future, Dr. Eryn Newman of the University of Southern California said a positive story that “feels smooth and easy to process” is easy to accept as truth. Con artists are particularly talented in creating believable lies. Falling for their tricks costs U.S. citizens billions every year.
The Wall Street Jungle, written by Richard Ney in 1970, compares the field of investments to a shadowy, sometimes impenetrable wilderness filled with dangerous beasts and hidden treasures. Blindly venturing into this unknown world can easily end in disaster.
Often, predators such as con men, thieves, and bandits lurk and set traps for overconfident, naive adventurers foolish enough to believe that a free lunch is possible. Inexperience can lead to a failure to recognize risk (or underestimate it) and result in poor decisions and financial loss.
Military service has long been a path for social and economic mobility – the gateway to the middle class – for thousands of young American men and women. Service is both a way to see the world and learn valuable skills that can be transferred into civilian life – and many enlistees would not have the opportunity to attend college or purchase a house without the benefits associated with military service. Furthermore, veterans who forego college are likely to earn higher pay than non-veterans who do the same. According to Jay Teachman, a sociology professor at Western Washington University, interviewed in The Fiscal Times, “Even if they [veterans] don’t earn more education, they certainly earn more money.”