Recently, I had the chance to travel through the state of Ohio with rock n’ roll legend, Jon Bauman aka Bowzer from Sha Na Na. Documenting each moment from the eye of my lens, we had quite the road trip. Starting off in Columbus, Ohio, I really didn’t know how the next three days would go. In the past, I’ve travelled with musicians and artists all over the United States & Canada but what made this time different? Well, the obvious points to the subject matter: Social Security and Medicare.
Jon and I traveled throughout Ohio as part of theNational Committee’s Truth Tour, which is a national grassroots campaign to educate voters about how much is at stake when they go to the polls this November. The main point that Jon emphasized over these past three days was that both programs are under assault. Romney and Ryan have voiced their opinions and plans for the two programs very clearly. They want to privatize Social Security by creating private accounts and turn Medicare into a voucher program or “CouponCare”. When I am eligible for Medicare, I don’t want to use a coupon to purchase my Medicare. Coupons are for groceries, not Medicare. And I certainly don’t want my Social Security controlled by Wall Street.
With over six hours in the car, we spoke about these programs the majority of the time. Jumping from his amazing stories in the music industry to Medicare and Social Security, it became clear to me that Jon has always been an activist at heart and advocating for these programs as he himself turned 65 was a natural. In fact he told me, “There’s no better way to celebrate this birthday than being here talking to people about these programs.” Bowzer has had these two programs on his mind his whole life. But I have to admit that, for me, thinking about Social Security at a young age just hasn’t been on my mind. When I got my first job working for my father, all I knew was that a percentage of my paycheck was paid into Social Security. When I asked what that was, it was always described as: “Oh, you’ll see it in your 60s or maybe not at all.” I found that last part a bit disconcerting. If I am paying into it all my working life, then why won’t it be there?
The answer to that question is Social Security and Medicarewill be there for us as long as my generation doesn’t buy the lie that America can no longer afford these programs. Social Security would be in serious trouble if it’s privatized and put at the mercy of Wall Street. The program can be fixed with a few modest changes. One idea is raising the payroll tax cap to just $250,000, which would extend the solvency by decades. Lifting it entirely fixes the problem completely. But it’s up to my generation to educate ourselves and not buy into the generational warfare argument that tries to pit us against our parents and grandparents.
This trip has taught me a lot but the one point that stands out the most is that baby boomers and millennials have a lot in common when it comes to Social Security and Medicare. Both generations have earned this economic security in our retirement and both need (and will need) the guaranteed benefits they provide. No matter our age, baby boomers like Jon and millennials like me don’t want our retirement years put at the mercy of private insurance companies and Wall Street.
So, that’s why the Baby Boomer and the Millennial took a little road trip. Hopefully, you’ll join us too.