In 2010, 75% of Americans near retirement had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts

As we approach the 2012 elections, the “fiscal cliff” (clever branding, that) and Obama’s post-electoral march to the Grand Bargain sea, I want to present to you three virtual images. And an injunction.

Image one, from the New York Times in a recent article on retirement (my emphases and some reparagraphing throughout):

Seventy-five percent of Americans nearing retirement age in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts. The specter of downward mobility in retirement is a looming reality for both middle- and higher-income workers.

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.

The article is really good; do read the rest. But I want to stop here a moment.

Gather that fact — 75% of about-to-retire Americans are headed off their own “fiscal cliff.” Once that $30,000 is gone, boom.

Image two, from the William Pitt Rivers article that led me to the quote above:

I heard the sound of clinking and clanking coming from the front of my house. I knew what it was immediately: one of the Can People was making her daily pass through my recycling bins. …

The Can People are old men and women, stooped, wearing worn-out clothes and fraying shoes as they rattle through my refuse with gnarled, arthritic hands. …

I wave to them when I see them, but they seldom respond, either because their eyesight is too poor to make me out as I stand on my porch like a lord, or because they are too ashamed to acknowledge the fact that I see them, and thus see what it is they must do to survive. …

I remembered a brace of ginger ale cans I’d neglected to bring outside. Hurriedly, I tossed them into a bag and brought them to my porch. She was bent into the blue bin to the waist, and when she reared up at the sound of me, there was fear in her eyes. …

I came to the railing, extended the bag of cans to her, and she took them without a word. Her face was a delta, a map of time itself, and she could not bring herself to meet my eye. She placed the bag of cans in her shopping cart, and I watched as she clattered her way down the sidewalk[.]

In the article, Mr. Rivers takes apart “something called Charles Lane” — a Wash Post writer and water-carrier for something called Paul Ryan. A worthy read.

Image three, this man, a politician whose face I’ve seen lately telling Clinton’s money man Robert Rubin (“Bob” he says) and a roomful of Rubin’s best friends (including “Roger” and “Peter“) that Social Security needs reforming.

He forgot to say that he was just the man to do it, but I can’t blame him for that. This was 2006 and he was not yet president of the United States.

“Too many of us have been interested in defending programs as written in 1938,” he codedly says. Social Security was enacted in 1935 and significantly amended in 1939, partly in response to the government’s kicking the economy back into recession by reduced New Deal (stimulus) spending.

Other telling quotes:

“The coming baby boomer retirement will only add to the challenges.”

And:

“Most of us are strong free-traders.”

Good to be among friends.

The injunction — It’s legitimate to consider the man above to be 2012’s Lesser Evil. As near as I can tell, the current Koch-couped Republican Party is a wrecking ball.

But Lesser Evil is still evil. If you do decide to hand him four unfettered years to do as he chooses, remember — you put him there. You have to help save us from this evil as well.

I’m serious. If you vote for Romney, what he does will be your fault.

If you vote for Obama — and you don’t try to stop his Keystone Dreams and the looting of the safety net to please the future funders of the Barack H. Obama World Legacy, Library, and Retirement Tour — that will be your fault too.

Stopping those who want to install “Ayn Ryan” is only half the job.

If you conspire to install Obama, you have to stop him too. It’s part of the job you gave yourself by voting for him.

GP

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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