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Defenders of Social Security point out that without it, nearly four million more older Americans
would have been counted as poor during 1997. But analysts say that living above the official
poverty income level in retirement years is not all that difficult  even for those with low incomes
during their working years. All an elderly person had to earn in 1997 to be above the poverty
threshold for persons 65 or older was $7,698. To receive that amount of income, all an elderly
person had to have at age 67 is $192,450 in government bonds assuming current interest rates
and that the individual's net worth is protected from the erosion of inflation. To achieve that
sum, all a person had to saveand invest from age 22 was an average of $347 a year -- ranging
from $195 beginning 45 years ago to $498 last year. This means that even low-skilled, minimum
wage workers would have to save only 4.6 percent of their incomes. Workers earning the median
American wage would have to save less than 2 percent of their income -- equivalent to nine
minutes' work a day.   The problem is that the typical elderly person only had about $106,000 in
net worth in 1996,  the latest year for which data is available.  Without doubt, many of today's
elderly went throughtheir productive years without saving enough, seduced by the prospect that
Social Security would provide amply at retirement.
In a recent report, the U.S. General Accounting Office warned that the long-term prospects for
the Social Security system may be even worse than we think. It is already well-known that once
the baby-boom generation begins to retire in 2010 this will place unprecedented financial
pressure on the system. By 2014, current tax revenues will be insufficient to pay current benefits,
and by 2029 the Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted. But demographic factors are
accelerating Social Security's problems. Among the reasons:
    * Growing life expectancy is increasing the retired population faster than expected. In 1940, a
    live another 12 years. Today he can expect to live another 15 years and by 2040 this will rise
    * The fertility rate is falling faster than expected. In 1960, a typical woman of child-bearing
    That rate has fallen to just two today and is expected to fall to 1.9 by 2020. Since we need a
fertility rate of 2.1 just to replace
    the existing population, we are already in a negative population growth position, meaning
    * As a consequence of these two trends, the elderly are expected to rise from 12 percent of
    2050. The number of retirees will rise from 34 million to 80 million.
    * The combination of a smaller working-age population and a larger elderly population
means that there will be fewer workers
    to support each retiree. There were more than five workers for each retiree in 1960. Today
    will be just two workers to pay all the taxes required to pay the benefits of each retiree.
    The problem, of course, is that the Social Security system was never pre-funded the way
    pay-as-you-go system, with each generation of workers paying the benefits of current retirees.
    working population grows faster than the retired population. But when the trend reverses, as it
    simply unsustainable. It is for this reason that growing numbers of analysts favor moving
    system, by allowing workers to save some of their taxes in a private retirement account.
    Although a private Social Security system would be easy enough to set up if we were starting
    now means that the current generation of workers will, in essence, have to pay twice: first for
    for current retirees. However, some analysts have suggested that a privatized Social Security
    this dilemma by taking advantage of the higher returns available in the stock market. If
    Social Security taxes of 10 percent, the historical stock market increase, they could in theory
                                                                                         
                                           
                                            .
                                         
                                           
                                                 
                                                 
                                                 
Source: Richard B. McKenzie and Dwight R. Lee
                                            (authors), "Why Some of the Elderly Are Poor,"
                                            Investor's Business Daily, June 25, 1999.
                                                                                           
                                           
                                                                                                   
                                               
                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                           



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Discrimination within the Death Penalty




They [prisoners sentenced to death] are almost all poor, usually white, often high school dropouts.  Most have never killed before.  Most are from the South (Benac).
Opponents of the death penalty have said that capital punishment does nothing to deter crime.  There is some critical information that is important to know before going more in depth on this discussion.  The purpose of this paper is not to discuss whether capital punishment is effective in deterring crime nor does it present any ethical arguments regarding it.  It is to discuss whether it is used in a universally just and fair manner.  Presently, approximately 3, 565 prisoners are living on death row.  The costs for death penalty cases are enormous, possibly soaring in to the millions. (National Association)  Since 1973, over 160 children [defined as anyone under the age of 18] in the U.S. have been sentenced to die (National Association).  It is possible that ten percent of death row inmates are mentally retarded.  Approximately 90% of those whom prosecutors seek to execute are African-Americans or Latino (National Association).  Considering all of the above facts, there are obviously some distinct problems with the manner in which the death penalty is imposed.  In particular, class differences along with race can drastically affect the manner in which death penalty cases are handled.
Lower class people get a worse defense than wealthy people.  The costs for a capital defense case can add up quickly: DNA tests, experts, background and psychiatric investigations.  Many lower class people have to depend upon public attorneys who are not really qualified (ABCNEWS.com).  There is a bill in Congress that would
regulate state standards for appointed defense attorneys for capital cases but it is doubtful that this will be a quick solution.  There is also a bill in Congress that would guarantee DNA analysis for inmates, both federal and state, after their convictions. (ABCNEWS.com)  The awareness of this problem is even occurring in the Supreme Court.
There have been many attempts to fix what is wrong with capital punishment and sentencing.  According to Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackman in the Collins versus Collins 1994 decision, the death penalty remains fraught with arbitrariness, discrimination, caprice, and mistake (Culver).  It has to be admitted that race plays a part as well as class since normally the two social aspects go hand in hand.  Not only race of the defendant but of the victim have to be considered when understanding the idiosyncrasies of sentencing.  While race may be focused on more in the media, class or socioeconomic status controls the reins even more.  The vast majority of people executed since 1977, when employed, worked in menial or low-paying jobs at the time they committed their capital crimes (Culver).  Not only is income level influential but educational level is as well.  The average educational level for prisoners on death row in 1996 was only the 11th grade with 15% of them having less that an 8th grade education. (Culver)
One of the chief concerns in the sentencing phase is that of the defense attorney.  Lower class people cannot afford high-profile lawyers or those experienced specifically
in capital cases.  The attorney may not have a great deal of competency when it comes to criminal law.  The accused also may not be able to help provide resources for such things as analysis and/or research that would aid in defense.  The attorney who is inexperienced and who represents an indigent accused of a capital crime is unlikely to command the resources needed to assemble a panel of mental health professionals and verify the extent of the problems maintained by the defense or to persuade a jury of the important absence of other compelling evidence (Culver).  This also helps explain why the mentally retarded do not get fair trials either and, even with the mentality of a child, can end up on death row.
The astronomical costs of representation in federal death penalty cases stems from the sever pressure the cases place on the attorneys along with several other factors.  These factors may include the following: skill of the counsel, the amount of time the lawyer has to spend on the case, the hourly rate of the lawyer, and the additional ... more

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