I didn’t kill bin Laden, and I have to find my own health insurance & pension too

Welcome to America

There’s an interesting story floating around about one of the US Navy Seals who killed bin Laden leaving the military after 16 years and getting no benefits.  No health insurance, no pension.

Why?  Because, among other reasons, he left the military before being in 20 years.

The other reason is because he lives in America.

While at first the story sounds shocking – on greater reflection, it’s not.  Adam Serwer makes a great point:

osama bin laden navy seal no insurance pension

I didn’t kill bin Laden, and no one’s giving me insurance or a pension either

I know far too many people who have to go out and get their own health insurance, without a subsidy from an employer, and when it comes time to retire, they’ve got no pension either.  When retirement time comes, a lot of us aren’t going to be able to pay to live.

And that’s why the current debate over cutting benefits on Social Security and Medicare is so ghastly.  Most of the rich boys and girls in the US House and the US Senate don’t have to worry about what happens to them and their families when they retire.  They’ll have ample benefits from their previous job(s), and they’ll also probably be somewhat rich by then if they’re not already.

For the rest of us, not so much.


Who you gotta kill to get a decent retirement in this country?

I work for myself.  I pay all my own health insurance, with no employer subsidy, and the only pension I’ll get when I retire is whatever money I can sock away now in an IRA.  No one is going to be giving me X% of my annual income when I retire.  So while I feel for the retired service member who killed bin Laden, what’s happening to him and his family is pretty much par for the course in America today. It’s simply the way the system works.  And our government refuses to do anything serious to change it.

Health care reform helped a little, but not nearly enough

Yes, we had health care reform, and that helped, to a degree.  But Obamacare doesn’t do nearly enough to rein in the exorbitant, absurd, costs charged by insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, which leads to a huge never-ending spiraling of prices which hit hardest against those Americans who don’t have subsidized insurance, and who don’t have pensions (since we have to pay the same price as everyone who has good insurance, and actually we usually pay more than them because of insurance companies’ cute little “non-allowed” trick).

What’s important to realize, and I think this gets lost far too much when we’re debating Medicare and Social Security, is that these programs aren’t just for the working poor.  Some day soon, far too many of us are going to be the un-working poor when we retire and suddenly realize we don’t have the same corporate-sponsored retirement package that many of our parents had.  I have no idea what I’m going to do when I retire, if I even ever am able to retire.  I’ve been trying to sock away as much as I can into my retirement, but it’s hard to find the extra money to put aside in the first place, especially these days.  And my retirement savings, meager as they are, are probably relatively good compared to that of most Americas.

Do you have 20x your annual salary in savings?

There was a chilling article in the NYT a few months ago, that noted that 75% of Americans nearing retirement age in 2010 have less than $30,000 in their retirement account.

Guess how long $30,000 is going to last.  A year, if you’re lucky?  Maybe two if you have a spouse and they have the same amount in their retirement account, and you live in a part of the country that isn’t as expensive, and you don’t still owe an expensive mortgage.

The article contained an even more shocking fact:

To maintain living standards into old age we need roughly 20 times our annual income in financial wealth. If you earn $100,000 at retirement, you need about $2 million beyond what you will receive from Social Security. If you have an income-producing partner and a paid-off house, you need less. This number is startling in light of the stone-cold fact that most people aged 50 to 64 have nothing or next to nothing in retirement accounts and thus will rely solely on Social Security.

Who has 20x their annual income in savings and equity in their home?

I don’t (though my annual income plummeted in 2009, thanks to the economy tanking, but I doubt that really “helps” the calculation).  So, let’s say you make $50,000 a year.  That means you need $1 million in financial wealth when you retire, beyond Social Security.  Most people nearing retirement age have $30,000 in their retirement account.  Maybe you got lucky with your home and made some money on it – but did you really make $970,000 on your home, to get you to the $1 million you need? Doubtful.  Not to mention, you still have to live somewhere, so even if you have any decent equity in your home, you’d have to sell your home, and buy another lesser home, in order to use any of the home equity to finance your retirement.

A lot of us won’t get benefits nearly as good as our parents got (if they got any)

When Congress and the White House talk of finding ways to cut back on Social Security and Medicare, I think a lot of people, certainly people under the age of 50, think that this doesn’t really apply to them, if only because they don’t believe that Social Security is going to be around for them when they retire anyway.  (UPDATE: To its credit, the White House has just taken raising the Medicare eligibility age off the table.)

But what I think a lot of people are missing, or not yet facing, is that we are not our parents’, or grand-parents’ (if you’re under 40), generation.  Far fewer of us, as compared to our parents, are going to retire with the cushy 80%-salary pension plan, and the cushy health insurance benefits until death (that even include dental and vision! — I don’t get either with my off-the-shelf insurance).  A lot of us, dare I say most of us, are going to be on our own, trying to figure out how to pay absurdly high health insurance costs in order to pay for absurdly high health care costs, while still paying our mortgage, still paying our student loans, still trying to eat.

It’s a nasty future.  And one that far too few people in Washington are talking about, and far too few people outside of Washington fully comprehend is coming their way, far sooner than they realize.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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31 Responses to “I didn’t kill bin Laden, and I have to find my own health insurance & pension too”

  1. caphillprof says:

    Yes, but the unions didn’t help much either

    Subject: [americablog] Re: I didn’ t kill bin Laden, and I have to find my own health insurance & pension too

  2. Rob says:

    FYI – You don’t “Retire” from the military unless you are in 20+ years and retire. If you get out before then, you are “discharged.” That’s the way it works folks

  3. karmanot says:

    When I used the word ‘moot’ I was thinlking of cockroches and the shelf life of Twinkies.

  4. citizen_spot says:

    Moot? But yes, between climate change and frankenfood, among many other things, I don’t suspect the future looks very bright.

  5. marieburns says:

    Oh, for Pete’s sake. Megan McClosky of Stars & Stripes reported, “Like every combat
    veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the former SEAL, who is
    identified in the story only as ‘the Shooter’, is automatically eligible for five years of free healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs.” The Veterans Affairs Website explaining the benefits is @ http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply/returning_servicemembers.asp

    The Constant Weader @ http://www.RealityChex.com

  6. karmanot says:

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to alienate America’s favorite assassin.

  7. If the guy didn’t stay in the military long enough to get his pension and his health insurance, he doesn’t deserve a pension or health insurance. What makes him so special? Because he shot bin Laden? Maybe after he shot bin Laden, he should have read the rules about how long you have to serve before you get your pension and health insurance.

  8. bbock says:

    Couldn’t he stayed in for four more years to get his pension and benefits?

  9. lynchie says:

    No it collapsed long before then. Ronnie Raygun started the decline with the salvo against unions and it continued under Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and now Obama. They were all owned by their masters and simply follow the plan to forgive the rich any discretion and hold accountable the poor and elderly and there is not a single person in Congress fighting for the 99%

  10. lynchie says:

    They are lucky to be a number. They are cannon fodder and getting rid of our soldiers before they are elibible for benefits smacks of a bean counter in some office in Washington. Meanwhile, Petraeus and the other elite live the good life while in and it continues into their high paid jobs with defense contractors and lobbyists.

  11. lynchie says:

    People have a right to an opinion just as I have a right to mine. That is what makes a civilization work (sometimes). Simply voting down a post is gutless.without a critique. I enjoy a differing opinion and can be convinced i am wrong but voting down without comment smacks of the Obamabots who are blind to the reality that he is in most cases no different than Bush and a slave to Wall Street and the Banks.

  12. BeccaM says:

    I got the same thing the other day when I said that no one should have the power of assassination answerable to no one, decided in secret and with evidence seen by no court — not a Republican, not a Democrat, nobody. And merely that having such power will ultimately corrupt whoever holds it.

    Down-vote, no reason given. No idea if it was an O-bot who feels I mis-characterized my point, that Obama’s administration isn’t doing this at all, that they’re not doing anything wrong. Or, more disturbingly, someone who thinks that extra-judicial assassination with no accountability for collateral damage is perfectly fine.

    This is among the reasons why I do not like the down-vote system at all.

  13. Cletus says:

    My point exactly…

  14. Naja pallida says:

    Give people the tools to take those shots anonymously without ever having to defend an actual argument, they’re going to take it. :)

  15. Naja pallida says:

    Seems to me that the best argument against the Truthers is that the Bush administration couldn’t keep a secret if their lives depended on it, and were staffed almost entirely with rats that readily jumped the sinking ship when they had the chance, and even now they basically continue to deny that those years really happened. If they had anything to do with the planning or execution of 9/11, it’d have come out almost immediately. Wiretapping came out. Torture came out. Rendition came out. Indefinite unwarranted detention came out. Lying us into war came out. I mean, come on, they planned 9/11 but couldn’t have managed to come up with some fabricated evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Of course, we didn’t actually DO anything about any of those things, but they did come out.

  16. karmanot says:

    I usually don’t either NP, because I am afterall, an avowed smartass, but your positions are always lucid and well argued. Potshot cowards piss me off….it’s just one of those days

  17. Loona_c says:

    Neither of my parents went to college. My Dad didn’t even finish high school, dropping out in 10th grade so he could get a job and help his widowed mother. He & Mom had blue collar/retail jobs. Then he was able to get a job with the government. (Fudging a little on that missing high school diploma–in those days before pre-employment screening). He retired with a nice pension and great medical benefits that my 89 yr old mother still enjoys. Her Drs. are always amazed @ what her ins. covers. My husband and I both have college degrees. It amazes me that my parents had/have better retirement than we will. I will even get an INHERITANCE when my Mother passes.

  18. dula says:

    The limited response of OWS aside, I don’t understand why these tragic financial realities have not triggered some form of mass revolt from working class Americans. Republicans are uselessly worshipping at the feet of the 1% while millions of Democrats on perilous financial ground look up in complete, loving awe to the likes of neoliberals like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as they institutionalize poverty for the huddled masses yearning to be doormats. It must be Stockholm/Wall Street Syndrome.

  19. Cletus says:

    On a completely different note on the same subject, after getting into a 9/11 Truther debate with a family member, it occurred to me – this guy is THE Navy Seal who shot bin Laden, and though still anonymous, even he can’t keep his friggin’ mouth shut.

    How can these Truther’s imagine that in the army of people it would have taken to do all the things they believe were done, that nobody has yet come forward after twelve years to say “Yes, you’re right, I was there setting the charges”?

  20. Naja pallida says:

    I don’t have a problem with being down-rated, but I do wish they would post a counter argument. Please, feel free to explain why I am wrong. I can take it.

  21. Naja pallida says:

    The Pentagon and DoD are a Gordian knot of red tape and bureaucracy. They probably wouldn’t even know if they discharged “the guy who shot bin Laden” or not until well after the fact, assuming he went public. Every person in the military is a nothing but a number to their pencil pushers. If your number comes up as one to be discharged, bye.

  22. karmanot says:

    And you would know asshole

  23. karmanot says:

    The chances of us surviving for very long is mute.

  24. karmanot says:

    I don’t know who you are down-arrow Obot, hiding in the shadows, but you can go straight to hell.

  25. karmanot says:

    The nasty future is here and now John. I am on the short side of 70 and have been working since I was 13, when I got my social security card. I couldn’t cash out my teacher’s retirement before 65 without a 10% tax and a 10% fine. I had to take Social Security as early as possible and a part time minimum wage to survive. When my investment lost 70% because of a fraud I had to sell my house to pay the legal bills. I’ve been a saver all my life, but saw that go up in smoke two months before my 65th birthday when a castrophic illness laid me out. All that’s left is an IRA and the certain knowledge that it will take a miracle to reach 75 without being stored in some hell-hole nursing home. It is common knowledge among many of we seniors that self delivery is now an option. We have been ranting since day one about Obama’s betrayl and sabotage of the health Bill. Delaying the truth of it until 2014 was such an obvious ploy. This tsunami of pain and suffering is just beginning and I am laying it squarely on Obama’s doorstep.

  26. MyrddinWilt says:

    Seems to be rather unlikely that they would force out the guy who shot Bin Laden, don’t you think?

    Most likely explanation is the one he gave: he doesn’t think he is up to doing that job any more. Which is not exactly surprising as a high burn out rate is expected.

    The military pension scheme has always been rather odd in the all or nothing nature. You stay 19 years and 11 months, you get nothing, 20 years you get half pay the rest of your life.

  27. Ginger_FL says:

    Regarding retirement, we saw the writing on the wall. Our home in FL is being listed as a “short sale” (since Sept. 2012) and my husband secured a permanent civil service job in CA so we had to sell everything we owned to pay for the move 2500 miles away. Good thing we did, our friends in FL still working as Term hires are all being let go ! My husband is safe so it was worth the risk we took. We also saved the money we made from selling everything and bought an RV for cash that we live in. This way, we own our home and just pay rent each month which is less than our home in FL cost us. Start talking to people currently living on a fixed income…I don’t see how anyone can sustain their lifestyle with the expensive mortgage gobbling up half their income then add car payments, bills etc. Can’t live like that when you retire and we’re very close to having both of us being fully retired that we needed to take drastic measures now so we could afford to survive when we’re older.

  28. Naja pallida says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been planning my retirement with the assumption that there will be no Social Security nor Medicare there for me. As long as the sociopaths who run our government keep blathering about gutting “entitlements”, there is nothing there anyone can really rely on. It certainly makes it a lot more of a personal challenge to think about and keep on top of, but I can’t bring myself to count on this President, nor any Congress in recent memory, to make decisions in my best interest. Every time they are faced with the choice of hurting the American people or lining their own pockets or the pockets of greedy unaccountable corporations, they always side with the corporations and their own self-interest. As long as these vultures keep picking at the corpse of the New Deal, what will be left for me? For any of us?

  29. Ginger_FL says:

    I wonder if he ran into a rank level years drop. My husband was retired 2 years earlier than we planned on because they lowered the years he was eligible to serve from 26 to 24. Now they are dumping staff sgt’s (AF) at 10 years and have dropped the years for other ranks as well. Thus dumping lots of people out of the service before they had planned to retire or leave. If the AF is doing these things, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the other branches doing similar things.

  30. H. Bryan says:

    If this idiot left at 16 years – there is a reason – He was 4 years from retirement and 2 years from lock-in. He was a fucking idiot.

  31. caphillprof says:

    If our government works at all, it works only for the wealthy. Indeed it mostly subsidizes large corporations who hide their income in off shore tax havens. We’ve known about global warming for decades and have done nothing; now that we are beginning to feel the effects of global warming, we still are doing nothing. Our economic system collapsed in 2008 and we saved the big banks and the 1 percent, but didn’t bailout the rest of the population. We need an economic system that works for 98 percent of Americans.

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