Just Stop It. The Elderly Are Doing Fine.

I’m so tired of this stuff. Here is yet another new study of bankruptcy, which the New York Times describes like this:

For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy. The signs of potential trouble — vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991.

And here’s the abstract of the study itself:

We find more than a two-fold increase in the rate at which older Americans (age 65 and over) file for bankruptcy and an almost five-fold increase in the percentage of older persons in the U.S. bankruptcy system….For an increasing number of older Americans, their golden years are fraught with economic risks, the result of which is often bankruptcy.

And here is the actual data:

Something happened between 1991 and 2001. But what? Here’s a longer-term look at all bankruptcies over the past 70 years:

Something happened very broadly during the mid-80s and mid-90s, and whatever it was affected everyone, not just the elderly. Since 2001, however, bankruptcies haven’t changed much among any age group, including the elderly.

This is the story. Credit card debt, the dotcom bubble, the housing bubble, the 2005 bankruptcy law, the rising cost of long-term nursing care—these are all stories. If you want to dig deeper and tell them, fine. But can we drop this endless scaremongering about a massive increase in elderly bankruptcies obtained solely by cherry picking the starting year and providing no surrounding context?

The elderly are basically doing fine.¹ It’s everyone else we should be more worried about.

¹The main exception is long-term nursing care, which is the biggest financial risk for those aged 65+. We’ve been taking stabs at solving this problem since the Reagan era, but we’ve made little progress because we always try to do it on the cheap.

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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