Bill Maher, on his Friday night HBO talk show, was speaking with longevity expert Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones, about community’s with high rates of old age, when he posed a question to his panel about the future of social security.
“Here’s a good question for everyone here, what happens if you live to be 100 with social security? We’re having a lot of problems keeping this thing solvent with the baby boomers living longer than people lived before, if they’d lived to that age it would really be a problem. I notice the Democrats, I think you [Donna Edwards] included, want to expand social security. Is that really possible? The disability fund is going broke and in 20-years the thing itself is not going to have enough money.”
Donna Edwards, a Democratic congresswoman who’s running for the U.S. Senate, didn’t shy away from Maher’s question.
“Absolutely we can expand social security. We can lift the cap on contributions into the social security trust fund. There’s not a single reason that, I make $174,000 a year, because that’s our salary in congress, but I only pay into the social security trust fund up to $118,500, so $56,000 I don’t pay into the social security trust fund. If we actually did that, even if you set a different threshold, we would keep social security solvent for years. It would be there for our children, and there children and there children. And we would be able to expand benefits.”
Maher noted how both the Democratic and Republican parties have a “stake” in the social security issue.
“It seems like both parties, have a stake in doing this. I mean, Chris Christie raised this issue, he said it at the debate, he said, ’71-percent of our budget goes to entitlements and service on the debt. That’s what we should be talking about.’ That’s a big man with a big idea. He’s not going to make it to 100.”
Buettner, who’s written on areas called blue zones where people have high longevity, then chimed in about our relationship between social security and retirement.
“I’d actually like to pan out on this idea of social security. In these blue zones, in Okinawa, home of the longest-lived women, they don’t even have a word for retirement. This kind of false punctuation between your productive life and your life of repose.”
Instead, Buettner says that people have a general idea of their life’s purpose outside of work, which is theorized to encourage long life.
[Image via YouTube screengrab]