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Dear AMAC Member, We hope you enjoy this issue of your AMAC Magazine! We are delighted to provide you with a profile of each of the presidential candidates and where they stand on the issues. As we look ahead to 2024, we are ever hopeful that our country will return to strong leadership. During this season of Christmas and Chanukah, we are reminded that hope never fades. Like millions of Americans, I was shocked and horrified by the brutal attack Hamas inflicted upon Israel on October 7 murdering innocent men, women, and children. I am heartbroken and saddened by the ongoing conflict in the region, and I join millions of people around the world as we pray for the families in danger and for every person who has lost a precious loved one. In the midst of such tragedy and pain, we are reminded of the strength and resilience of the Jewish people. Since the times of Moses, the Jewish people have faced persecu- tion, marginalization, and even the threat of extinction. Yet, through God’s grace, the Jewish people have not only persevered they have built up an oasis of culture, science, innovation, and promise in the middle of the desert. From a speck of sand, Israel has become a garden of hope a constant reminder that our fate is never determined by our enemies, but by the faith and courage of our people. That is why any time I am tempted to give in to despair to worry about the future and the trials we must confront I think of all the incredible men and women of AMAC. I think of your lives of service, especially in many unnoticed ways. You take care of your families. You give unreservedly to your communities. You love our country and you will do anything to keep America strong and free. I also think of the brave men and women who fight to keep us safe. I am grateful to the members of the military and law enforcement. We can sleep soundly at night because of those who selflessly stand guard for our safety and peace. Above all, I remember the gift we Christians celebrate during this season. Some 2,000 years ago, a baby boy was born. Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, entered the world not through regal circumstances or fanfare. He was born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling cloth, and laid in a manger. The book of Matthew recounts, “Behold, the star which they had seen in the east went in front of them until it came and stood over where the young Child was.” The star is here. Jesus has come to save the world. Rejoice. Christ is our everlasting hope. May we never lose sight of God’s greatest gift to the world. From my family to yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and a Joyous New Year! LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Chief Executive Officer, Association of Mature American Citizens
Publisher AMAC, Inc.
Managing Editor Pamela Smith Creative Director Emily Z.
Editor in Chief Rebecca Weber Associate Editor Alexa Astuto
Cover Artist Paul Partlow
Senior Contributing Writers
Alex Ayers Bob Carlstrom Robert B. Charles Stephen Fauer, CFA
Gerry Hafer Andrew Mangione Palmer Schoening D.J. Wilson
Advertising Representative Gia Ricottone email@example.com
Contact AMAC 888-262-2006 | firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE NOTE: This issue of the AMAC Magazine went to print on November 7, 2023.
VOLUME 17 ISSUE 5 CORRIGENDUM Please note our added corrections in Volume 17 Issue 5. Page 8 - On the Table of Contents, the Member Benefits Directory should be listed on page 40.
Rebecca Weber Chief Executive Officer & Editor in Chief
06 • AMAC Magazine
PERSONAL SERVICE MORE CHOICES PEOPLE YOU CAN TRUST Scan the code to self-enroll in a plan today! or call 888-354-5811 / visit myamacmedicare.com
THE MAGAZINE OF THE ASSOCIATION OF MATURE AMERICAN CITIZENS
VOL. 17 ISS. 6
A VOTER’S GUIDE TO THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES
Our Founders’ Faith in Faith
Veteran Outreach and Support: Sharing Ideas, Shaping Policy Together
Christmas, Churchill, and Hope
AMAC Benefit Highlight
Holiday Gift Deals: Miraculous or Malicious . . . 18
A Return to Yesteryear
Just for Fun Solutions on page 52
Do You Need Help Enrolling in a Health Insurance Plan? We are Here to Help! . . . 52
Member Benefits Directory
AMAC in Action
THE CONTENTS OF AMAC MAGAZINE MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE PUBLISHER’S WRITTEN CONSENT. AMAC MAGAZINE PROVIDES INFORMATION OF A GENERAL NATURE WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT NEITHER AMAC NOR ITS AFFILIATES ARE ENGAGED IN RENDERING MEDICAL OR LEGAL ADVICE. INFORMATION PROVIDED SHOULD NOT BE CON- SIDERED A SUBSTITUTE FOR A CONSULTATION WITH A LICENSED PHYSICIAN, ATTORNEY, ACCOUNTANT, OR FINANCIAL ADVISOR. AMAC MAGAZINE (USPS 12240) IS PUBLISHED BIMONTHLY FEB, APR, JUN, AUG, OCT, AND DEC, BY THE ASSOCIATION OF MATURE AMERICAN CITIZENS, 5 ORVILLE DRIVE, SUITE 400, BOHEMIA, NY 11716. PERIODICALS POSTAGE PAID AT BOHEMIA, NY 11716 AND AT ADDITIONAL MAILING OFFICES. ONE MEMBERSHIP INCLUDES SPOUSE/PARTNER. ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP DUES ARE $16, INCLUDING $4.02 FOR AN ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION TO AMAC MAGAZINE. POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO: AMAC ADVANTAGE, 5 ORVILLE DRIVE, SUITE 400, BOHEMIA, NY 11716
Mature American Citizens, Inc. 5 Orville Drive, Suite 400, Bohemia, NY 11716 1-888-262-2006 | amac.us
08 • AMAC Magazine
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W e live in a time when Judeo-Christian values, beliefs from the Old and New Testament, are sorely tested. We should be fortified by the past, which awaits rediscovery, especially at Christmas. Our Founding Fathers
were circumspect and wise, yet also faithful and kind. Our beacon is theirs — if we will hold tight to it. We know the First Amendment was first because its freedoms of speech and faith were essential for preserv-
ing the other amendments; likewise the second protected the first. But few recall how universal the respect for faith was. James Madison, not a firebreather, was more in tune with Judeo-Christian
10 • AMAC Magazine
values than historians tend to portray. He studied in New Jersey at what would become Princeton, an institution that then was an evangelical seminary led by Reverend Witherspoon. No wonder Madison, the father of our Constitution, focused on the First Amend- ment, rejecting the idea that religion should be “toler- ated” and instead insisting on “free exercise.” Madison’s version of the First Amendment included an assurance that “the civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship [ . . . ] nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.” Why? The Founding Fathers knew in their time — and intentionally secured for our time — one truth: A moral society flows from a focus on freely held faith and attention to one’s conscience.
correct our errors and false ideas, checked the bold, encouraged the timid, and tried to teach us to reason soundly and feel rightly. I remember when I was small enough to sit on his knee and play with his watch chain [ . . . ] I would join him in his walks on the terrace, sit with him over the fire during the winter twilight, or by the open windows in summer [ . . . ] I loved and honored him above all earthly beings, and well I might [ . . . ] To him I owed all the small blessings and joyful surprises of my childish and girlish years. His nature was so eminently sympathetic that, with those he loved, he could enter into their feelings, anticipate their wishes [ . . . ] surround them with an atmo- sphere of affection [ . . . ] My Bible came from him, my Shakespeare, and my first writing table [ . . . ] my first hat, my first silk dress. What in short of all my small treasures did not come from him? Our grandfather seemed to read our hearts, to see our invisible wishes, to be our good genius, to wave the fairy wand, to brighten our young lives by his goodness and his gifts. In this season, have faith in faith itself. They all did, and we should and can.
often alone, and raised money for Christian churches. While such prac- tices were largely private, they were very real. In a time when religion seems to divide us, Jefferson’s words ring: “Neither Pagan nor Muslim nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion.” He counted himself a Christian, but Jefferson loved no human being less for holding a differ- ent faith — indeed, a Christian value at its core. It was George Washington who wrote to a Jewish congregation in 1790 that “all possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. [ . . . ] For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assis- tance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.” Shalom, As-salaam alaikum — “On Earth peace, goodwill toward men.” But to me, the stories about these men count as much as what they wrote. They lived close to the Earth. They abided by love, family, and faith, their Judeo-Christian values. Having read hundreds of Jefferson’s letters, words from his granddaugh- ter linger: My grandfather’s manners to us, his grandchildren, were delightful [ . . . ] He talked with us freely, affec- tionately; never lost an opportunity of giving pleasure or a good lesson. He reproved without wounding us and commended us without making us vain. He took pains to
Such a society creates character, people who care about one another. Adams, in his forceful way, wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” as if he could will we be our best, a moral and religious people, warning us to beware the loss of character. Jefferson, much quoted on religious liberty, practiced what he preached, as he regularly attended church,
Robert B. Charles
Volume 17 Issue 6 • 11
ADVERTORIAL Unwrapping the truth Is your wireless company fueling leftist policies with their donations?
T is the season for giving, but with Christmas spirit in the air, have you ever stopped to ponder where your wireless carrier’s generosity is flowing? It’s a question that’s worth exploring, especially in this political climate. Deceptive “charitable” giving. At first glance, many of the big 3 wireless contributions may appear to be acts of goodwill, but what lies beneath the surface is often a tangled web of donations to leftist, woke causes that often stand in stark contrast to the conservative values that we hold dear. An American company for true patriots. Unlike some of these big legacy carriers, PureTalk has been steadfastly putting America first for years. Its chairman is a U.S. Veteran, which underscores their commitment to supporting our troops and providing a valuable military discount. However, their dedication goes beyond that – just recently, PureTalk demonstrated that actions speak louder than words by
forgiving $10 million in veteran debt, a true testament to putting their money where their mouth is. By choosing PureTalk, you not only save on your wireless bills but also contribute to saving American jobs. Every dollar spent with PureTalk bolsters the economy here at home. In addition, because 100% of their customer service is right here in the United States, as PureTalk grows, so does their ability to employ more hardworking Americans, ensuring a brighter future for our nation. How much can I save with PureTalk? The average family of four saves $75 a month for a total of $900 a year by switching to PureTalk. Monthly plans for AMAC members start at just $10 per month with talk, text, and blazing fast data. So how can PureTalk charge so much less? For starters, they don’t spend millions supporting shady causes and political candidates. PureTalk also doesn’t operate brick-and- mortar storefronts with high overhead costs the way the others do. Not only that, unlike Verizon, PureTalk doesn’t
bundle a bunch of add-on products or services into its phone plans as Verizon does. Verizon insists they’re “free,” but they’re really extra costs buried in your monthly fees. PureTalk is happy to pass these savings along to their customers, whereas Verizon just lines their own pockets. PureTalk has 5G and covers 99% of Americans. PureTalk operates on the largest, most dependable 5G network in America. With PureTalk, you get the same coverage as one of the big 3 but at half the cost, without sacrificing your values. Check out their coverage map, and you’ll see just how extensive the coverage is. 100% U.S. customer service. We’ve all experienced the frustration of calling customer service and struggling to speak with someone halfway across the world. PureTalk customer support is 100% American. PureTalk is committed to keeping its customer support 100% in the USA.
Visit PureTalk.com/AMAC or call (855) 343-1974 to learn more
AMAC member quote “My wife and I have PureTalk with AMAC and I love it. I pay $10 for my flip phone and my wife’s smartphone is only $15. We are in a rural area and have a cordless home phone we link to our cells. We put our cell phones in the house where we get the best reception and answer calls on our home phone line. No problems and the service is great! Thank you, AMAC.” — Bill Owens, AMAC member
Can I keep my number, and can I use my current phone? Yes! You can definitely keep your same phone number. Most phones will work well on the PureTalk network, but they can’t be tied to an existing carrier contract or payment plan. If your phone is tied to a payment plan, it’ll need to be paid off first before you can bring it to PureTalk. You may also need to call and ask your current carrier to unlock the phone. If you aren’t sure if your current phone will work, we suggest you give PureTalk a call. PureTalk also offers the newest unlocked iPhones and Android phones for purchase on their website. You can choose to pay for it in full or to make monthly payments at 0% interest. Our conclusions:
Here’s a recap:
• The average family of four saves $900 by switching to PureTalk • PureTalk has the same 5G network at half the cost • No contract... customers can move on for any reason at any time • You can bring your phone and keep your phone number • PureTalk pays your 3- YEAR AMAC membership
• AMAC members get an EXCLUSIVE BONUS and have a $10 plan that no one else gets • Save more off your monthly bill when you have 2 lines, 3 lines, or 4+ lines • GET A $20 CREDIT for each friend you refer (and $20 for your friend too) • You’re supporting a veteran-
From what we’ve learned about PureTalk, we are confident they do what they say. Their service is equal to that of their largest competitors, but you pay a lot less. They have a 30-day risk-free guarantee, so customers have much to gain and nothing to lose. ‘We enthusiastically endorse PureTalk.’
owned company with US-customer service
——— PURETALK JUST FORGAVE $ 10 MILLION IN VETERAN DEBT ———
KURT MEYER - Vice President, Strategic Partnerships & Membership Services, AMAC
Get the Apple iPhone SE Gen 3
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OUTREACH SUPPORT SHARING IDEAS, SHAPING POLICY TOGETHER AND
W e know the debt our nation owes to our Veterans and their families, and at AMAC, we consider it a priority and privilege to support the Veteran commu- nity. From its very beginning, AMAC has sought to recognize and honor the commitment and sacrifices of those who have answered the call in defense of our country and preserved our way of life. Our affin- ity with the Veteran community is deep, with roughly 75 percent of the families in our membership having a direct Veteran connection and 31 percent having served in the military themselves.
In late 2020, AMAC’s Veteran support initiative expanded onto new fronts, including a focus on Veteran-related legislation and the cataloging of programs and resources available to fill this community’s specific needs and interests. We launched a nation- wide collaboration platform intended to build alliances with various Veteran support organizations, which can help build a stronger, more focused voice. Our support includes initiatives designed to improve the quality of healthcare for Veterans, combat the rising homelessness affecting Veter- ans, and aid in the growth of Veter- an-owned small businesses.
This collaboration, titled the Foun- dation Veteran Outreach Program (FVOP), is a coordinated effort involv- ing input from the AMAC Foundation, AMAC Action, and AMAC Inc. To date, 14 separate organizations have joined us in a monthly discussion session featuring the free exchange of ideas and information about specific Veteran needs and projects designed to support them. Each discussion session provides a rallying point for new ideas and an open forum for thoughts, support requests, event and project plan updates, and general information sharing, all focused on FVOP’s initial priority areas: • Veteran suicide prevention • Veteran transition to civilian life • Veterans in small business (train- ing and opportunities) • Encouraging patriotic service
Organizations Participating in Collaboration Sessions
American Oath Initiative (AOI) American Constitutional Rights Union (ACRU) Check a Vet Cold War Patriots Concerned Veterans for America (CV4A) Hero’s Bridge
Military-Veterans Advocacy (MVA) National Assoc. of Atomic Veterans (NAAV) Non-Commissioned Officers Assoc (NCOA) One More Day Veterans Sons of the American Legion 22Zero
continued on page 16
14 • AMAC Magazine
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Commander John Wells, USN (retired), the executive director of Mili- tary-Veterans Advocacy, Inc., is one of our early collaboration partners. Commander Wells describes FVOP as “an opportunity for us to share our legislative agenda and litigation package, both designed to maximize benefits for Veterans and at the same time promote our public educational and suicide prevention programs.” Military-Veterans Advocacy, Inc., is a Louisiana-based nonprofit focused on serving active-duty military members and Veterans and provides litigation support aimed at protecting constitu- tional rights within the military. Since launching this phase of AMAC’s overall Veteran support endeavors, we’ve held multiple separate collab- oration sessions and have seen the initiative develop into a robust forum for the free exchange of ideas and
“The AMAC Foundation Veteran Outreach Program (FVOP) is establishing a vision and culture that works to support and improve the quality of life of the Veteran community. By bringing nonprofit Veterans groups together in an open forum, each with common goals and interests, the program creates a form of strength through numbers and networking.
As the National Commander of the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV), we have found the individual past support of the AMAC organization and many of the organizations involved in this collaboration to be effective and of mutual benefit.” – Keith Kiefer, National Commander, NAAV
concerns. As suggested by the group, we’ve moved to a regularly scheduled monthly session with an agreed-upon date and time.
Everyone involved in the program is encouraged by the opportunity to engage with involved, working organizations in support of Amer- ica’s Veterans and their families. Over the coming months, AMAC expects to add more partners as we expand our services within the Veteran community.
“AMAC Foundation’s approach of building alliances with organizations sharing the same commitment to our Veterans is poised to become a disruptor. This collaboration enhances our collective efforts in providing essential support to Veterans. Through this united front, we are reinforcing the values of Amer-
Gerry Hafer Foundation Veteran Outreach Program
ican patriotism and ensuring Veterans receive the care they deserve.” – Jason Beardsley, Senior Advisor, Concerned Veterans for America
supporting & educating america’s seniors
you can help build the foundation! Learn more at amac.us/donate-now The AMAC Foundation plays a vital role in helping build the services that will enrich the lives of America’s seniors.
e AMAC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprot organization. Your donation is tax deductible as allowable by law.
16 • AMAC Magazine
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HOLIDAY GIFT DEALS: A GUIDE TO SPOT SCAMMING Mrcls
E vil is everywhere, and this season when our eyes are glossed with twinkly lights, our voices are filled with laughter, and we ride the high of the holiday spirit is precisely when scammers weasel their way into our vulnera- ble hearts and strained wallets. Luckily, there are precautions we can take to keep this and every holiday season free from scams and full of joyous and affordable gifts for our loved ones. ARE THE SAVINGS MIRACULOUS OR MALICIOUS? While this season is full of miracles, some gift deals really are just too good to be true. Be on the lookout for counterfeit websites that offer incred- ible sales on popular gifts— especially if everything is steeply discounted. Look for a return policy and contact informa- tion. Phony websites will often leave out return policies and contact information and only provide an email address that goes nowhere. Try and use online payment services that offer protections for fraudulent purchases. You can verify this by contacting your credit card company and other payment providers, such as PayPal.
Not too long ago, at the start of the pandemic, the FTC shut down numerous counterfeit websites that claimed to sell discounted cleaning supplies. While scammers then mone- tized global fear and rampant germaphobia, similar tactics are still used today, with more counterfeit sites popping up
around the holidays each year. HOW CAN WE STAY SAFE?
Ensure every word in the domain is spelled correctly and does not contain extraneous letters or numbers. Any legitimate business will ensure their domains are presented correctly. Also, verifying that the site provides functional contact infor- mation, which is typically found at the bottom of a webpage under “contact us,” can help weed out potential scams. If they do not wish to be contacted, it suggests they do not want to provide a meaningful solution to their customer . . . or that they have something to hide. Extra precautions can be taken by researching the site before placing an order, such as by looking for online customer reviews. Including the word “scam” in the search along with the company’s name is a great way to prompt any relative articles, comments, or claims others have made against the company.
18 • AMAC Magazine
THE LAND OF MISFIT PACKAGES Brands like Amazon and QVC have paved the way for convenience during the holiday season. But with any success comes a scammer lurking around the corner. Some scammers have started pretending to be delivery companies like Amazon or FedEx and send text messages or emails with a malicious link to “track your pack- age,” which, if clicked on, can steal personal and financial information. Advanced scammers have delved further into tactics like leaving voicemails or placing a “missed delivery” tag on the front door often including a harmful phone number to call to verify your personal information. HOW CAN WE STAY SAFE? It is best to refrain from clicking on a link or calling a number for unexpected pack- ages. Instead, call the company’s direct customer service line, which can be easily found online. We can avoid unnecessary stress by reaching out to friends and family espe- cially those with a record of sending surprise holiday packages at the start of the season. Kindly ask for a “heads-up” on packages or updates on delivery information for gifts they might send via mail. This can save a lot of stress; plus, it’s an excellent way to spread awareness of dangerous scams surrounding the holiday season. SCAMMERS DON’T TAKE HOLIDAY BREAKS Scammers stop at nothing to attack and victimize innocent people, which is why we must never drop our guards even if we pause to enjoy some twinkly lights, say a prayer or two, and eat some homemade pie. With more shopping done online each year, it’s crucial that we stay informed and be aware of these dangers. But this is not to instill fear . . . We must not allow the absurdity of others to influence our ability to love and hold trust in the world. We must remember to remain cheerful and optimistic about the intentions of our neighbors but we must also stay educated on the hazards and abuse malicious people inflict on those trying to bask in the holiday cheer. Maybe we can pray that they find peace and goodness the way it has found us as sometimes the greatest gift of all is helping the lost find light.
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Volume 17 Issue 6 • 19
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20 • AMAC Magazine
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Christmas, Churchill, Hope and
A s Christmas comes, we recall simple things: faith, generosity of spirit, hope. Hope is made real by that star over Bethlehem and atop our tree, slivers of light, smiles at the door, gratitude for others. In a season of hope and lift, a small gift. History is quirky, life is undependable, but hope is always worth having. One story always comes to mind when I think of hope — one about how often we find meaning in the contra- dictions of life. Many years ago, I was in England, and I enjoyed cycling, so I cycled to Blenheim Palace, where Winston Churchill was born. A lavish spot, he was in line to inherit it, until luck put a “spanner” (wrench) in the works, as they say, and he did not. If he had inherited Blenheim, he would have become “the tenth Duke of Marlborough,” not a commoner. For sure, this would not have changed his love of scotch and cigars, but it would have changed history. Lords do not serve in the House of Commons,
ter, not milquetoast but determined to rebuff the Germans. Fascinatingly, Churchill was neither popular nor viewed as sufficiently coifed by establishment conserva- tives, although half his family was near royalty and he was born in a palace. Far from it, his scotch, cigars, blunt talk, and belief in freedom, never appeasement, thoroughly irked them. Still, when the chips were down, France crumbling, Nazis spreading, all Europe trembling at Hitler’s rise, Chur- chill did not tremble. His unapologetic, freedom-first, delightfully witty, and courageous personality shined. Terrifying his wife Clementine, he would slip out to the war room at night and go to RAF bases under attack, placing himself in harm’s way for the troops. More than once he narrowly escaped death, unphased. In dark times — times as dark or darker than ours — Churchill, the half-Amer- ican, never lost hope, never lost
from which all prime ministers are chosen. Churchill, his mother American, was an ambitious young man. Left to his own devices, he joined the Army at 21, ventured to India, Sudan, and South Africa, was captured in the Boer Wars, escaped, and then later ended up “head of the Admiralty” or Navy in World War I. After the tragedy at Gallipoli, vari- ously described as a rout and a stale- mate, arguably no fault of Churchill’s, he was demoted. He reclaimed his commission, and he joined the troops in the muddy trenches. A few years later, somehow back from oblivion, this commoner got reelected to Parliament, became the Treasury Secretary, or Chancellor of the Exchequer, and got the British currency back to maximum value. All that would never have happened if, as he once wished, he had inherited Blenheim Palace and become a lord. In 1940, he ascended to prime minis-
22 • AMAC Magazine
stamina or focus, even when depres- sion knocked. Incredibly, when terror was afoot, thousands of bombs falling, he kicked into high gear, pulling his nation to their “finest hour,” which also became his finest, an hour all about courage. All this is offered as my memory drifts, in these tough times, to that cycle — many years ago — up to Blenheim Palace. Seeing where he was born, I cycled another fifteen miles to where he was buried. To my utter surprise, the man who saved the Western world — the man who never gave up on freedom, never lost faith in the power of goodness to prevail over evil, never stopped believing good men and women will always outpace, in power, strength, and grace, detractors — had no grand affair for a stone. In the shadow of a little church, a churchyard where stones tipped this way and that — as they do all across America for good people — his stone, laid flat and joined by Clementine, lay quiet, nothing regal, no airs. These days, as I ponder the chal- lenges we face, I am fortified by this half-American who showed us how it is done, this living and dying busi- ness, this fight to the death for free- dom business, wholly unrepentant, an unstoppable warrior. I am fortified by the power of ideals to gain flight, good to come from what no one expects. Churchill might have been a lord, might have died in a dozen places,
might have been outfoxed by appeas- ers, might have been lost to history, might have been overwhelmed rather than undaunted, but that is not what God wanted. I get up in the morning, drink strong coffee, read, think, write, and within me somewhere refortify the will to fight, spiritually and politically, as needed in other ways. Memories sometimes flow back from that cycle to Blenheim and Bladen, because I drink from a mug with a quote on it. The quote is from Winston Churchill. It is a simple quote, direct, uncompro- mising, one that lifts me even now as I think about the strife, the cross currents, the political and physical conflicts that swirl. Churchill, despite all, never lost his hope — never, never, never. He was a realist, as well as an idealist, a wit that did not quit. What is the quote? Just this: “All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: Freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” As we approach the Christmas sea- son, may we never lose hope, or the power it possesses to turn the future our way. Robert B. Charles Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secre- tary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, ten-year naval intelligence officer, and five-year chief counsel to the US National Security (oversight) subcommittee. He is the author of “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and today serves as National Spokesman for the Asso- ciation of Mature American Citizens (AMAC).
Volume 17 Issue 6 • 23
Dear Rusty, Is there any way that Congress will vote to pay back the Social Secu- rity funds they took for their stupid reasons and left IOUs in place of the funds? Because of the funds they took going back many years, we didn’t have any decent COLAs for a few years. In fact, there were, I think, 3-5 years that we didn’t get any COLA. Please, Rusty, can you find out if this is true or false? Help us seniors! Signed, Resentful Senior What About All the Money Congress Stole from Social Security?
Social Security and restore it to financial solvency and avoid a future cut in every- one’s benefits. Regarding COLAs (Cost of Living Adjust- ments) and the lack thereof for several past years, COLAs are determined by the government’s standard inflation measure – the Consumer Price Index (CPI). There were several years (2010, 2011, and 2016) in which the CPI showed no inflation, so therefore, no COLA increase was given. Last year, due to soaring inflation, everyone got an 8.7 percent increase in their Social Security benefit, but that doesn’t happen every year. FYI, the average annual COLA increase over the last two decades has been about 2.6 percent, although COLAs can vary wildly between years depending on each year’s inflation measure. In any case, the lack of a COLA increase in past years was not a result of any political chicanery; it was the result of low inflation during those years. Signed, Russell Gloor This article presents the opinions of the AMAC Foundation Staff and is intended for informa- tion purposes only. It does not represent legal or financial guidance.
Dear Resentful Senior, I can assure you that I’ve fully investigated the allegation that politicians have squan- dered Social Security’s money and found that charge to be, simply speaking, a myth. I’ve gone back and looked at Social Security revenues and expenses since the govern- ment first started collecting FICA payroll taxes in 1937 and found that every dollar ever collected for Social Security has been used only for Social Security purposes. Over the years, various claims have been made that the money has been used for other things, but I’ve researched each of these charges and found them all to be false. Where the misconception mostly originates is that any excess money collected from working Americans for Social Security is invested in special issue government bonds that pay interest, as mandated by President Roosevelt when Social Security began. As with any investment, a financial obligation instrument is given in return for dollars received. Remember when we used to buy US Savings Bonds? We’d use our money to buy those bonds, hold them, and later redeem them for a higher amount than we paid. That’s exactly how Social Security
contributions have always worked – excess money collected from working Americans is used to purchase special issue govern- ment bonds, which are held in reserve, earn- ing interest, for future Social Security needs. These special bonds reside in a Social Secu- rity Trust Fund and, as of the end of 2022, were worth about $2.8 trillion. Are these bonds “worthless IOUs,” as some would claim? Hardly, since they are redeemable as needed to pay Social Security benefits. Considering that, since 2010, Social Securi- ty’s income from American workers’ payroll taxes has been less than needed to cover the benefits paid out, the redemption of bonds held in the Trust Fund is the only reason that Social Security has been able to continue paying full benefits to every beneficiary. The Trust Fund is a financial safety net that is now protecting all SS beneficiaries from having their benefits cut. The problem is, unless Congress acts soon to reform Social Security’s financial picture, the Trust Fund will be fully depleted by about 2033, resulting in about a 23 percent cut in everyone’s monthly Social Security benefit. I’m optimistic that will not happen (it would be political suicide), and hopefully, Congress will act soon to reform
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