September 1933 Townsend wrote a
letter to the editor of the local newspaper (the Long Beach Press-Telegram) and
launched his career as an old-age activist.
He proposes the Townsend Old
Age Revolving Pension Plan.
"An aged physician in Long Beach,
California, was looking out his window one day when he saw three old women
rooting in a garbage can for food.
The vision set Dr. Francis E.
Townsend's soul on fire.
Thus inspired, he sat down to invent a plan
and came up with the Townsend Old Age Revolving Pension Plan.
was simplicity itself. Every person reaching the age of 60 would receive $200 a
There were four conditions:
he or she retire;
have no criminal record;
(3) have no income over the $2400 a year;
(4) spend the entire $200 each month.
A man and wife over 60
would get $400 a month.
There were 10,384,000 persons over 60.
But the doctor estimated that only about 8,000,000 would qualify.
This would cost the country $1,600,000,000 a month or about
$19,000,000,000 a year.
The money would be provided by a transactions
tax of 2 per cent on every commercial transaction.
promise lighted up the imaginations and appetites of the aged.
spread like a prairie fire among the oldsters until millions were marching
behind the good doctor as in a holy crusade." - John T. Flynn
argument against the Townsend Old Age Revolving Pension Plan was that the taxes
would not be enough to pay for the high pensions, which would account for
almost half the national income.
1935 In response
to the continued popular growth of the Townsend Plan, Franklin D Roosevelt's
proposed Social Security legislation
included two titles designed to help the elderly, neither of them as generous
as the Townsend Plan.
Social Security Act is passed in
California spends $160 million on its retirees.
retired city manager, collects a $500,000 a year.
Joaquin Fuster gets
James Stahl, Los Angeles County Sanitation District, receives
things change fast, human
history will show that the phenomenon of "retirement" was limited to one
When European and Japanese economies stood in tatters,
American corporatism could fulfill
"the American dream," since there was
little foreign competition to speak
For the first
time ever, workers were promised that "after working thirty or so years" they
would be able to securely retire.
That was largely the case for
The second generation is
having a devastating reality check.
2008 was supposed to be a
watershed year for retirement: it was the first year that the baby-boomers
turned 62, and the retirement frenzy was to begin (since people could begin to
draw on their social security benefits).
The economy has nosedived, and
many more retirements are being delayed.
The unfortunate reality is
that many who planned on retiring will work until the grave, joining the
millions of other baby-boomers who never had dreams.
At the end of
September, just as the crisis was beginning to gain steam, it was discovered
that in the previous year
the value of stocks in 401(k) accounts had fallen by nearly $2 trillion
Much more has been lost since then.
This is especially
devastating since almost one-third of 401(k) participants in their 60s had 80%
of their money in stocks (pension funds have been similarly destroyed).
The 401(k) was the
scheme of the century.
Corporations offloaded their "burdensome"
pensions and used media and
politicians to sell the ruse to the public, to the great benefit of
Workers were told that the boom-slump cycle was over, and that stocks
were a sure thing." - Shamus Cooke 12/2008
California spends $3.4 billion on retiree pensions.
"We have two
classes of citizens: Government employees who can retire at younger and younger
ages, and those who have to wait longer to retire so they can pay government
employees." - Robert Somerville
"I spend a lot of time fighting this
incredible goverment giveaway to what has become the new aristocracy - public
employees." - Richard Rider
Corporate America had been cooking the books
for many years.
The accounting debacle of 1999 was the first
inkling that resources were insufficient to continue the current social order
and guarantee workers the retirement they had been promised.
transnational elite came up
with a plane to solve the accounting
problem by sweeping it under
an asbestos rug.
They settled on taking out the
World Trade Center buildings that housed the
Securities and Exchange
Commission offices that were investigating the
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