ARBOR WEALTH: Longevity, Upton Sinclair and Eddie Cantor’s ‘Nertz’

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 03:43 PM.

When the stock market crashed in 1929, the downturn hurt all classes economically (Eddie Cantor’s “Cheer Up, Smile, Nertz!” was directed at the entire nation), but was particularly devastating to America’s elderly.

“The best estimates are that over half of the elderly in America lacked sufficient income to be self-supporting,” statistics again attributable to the Social Security website. State-run elderly pension plans existed, but benefited only a tiny minority. Temporary New Deal agencies like the CCC and WPA hired Americans to build infrastructure, but Social Security created a contributory retirement pension program. And it stuck.

In 1935, the average life expectancy in the U.S. was only 62. So the number of Americans receiving benefits as well as dollars paid out was a lot smaller then, both in terms of the general population size and in the expected longevity of life.

Next week: The future of U.S. Social Security.

Margaret R. McDowell, ChFC, AIF, a syndicated economic columnist, chartered financial consultant and accredited investment fiduciary, is the founder of Arbor Wealth Management, LLC, (850-608-6121 —, a fee-only and fiduciary registered investment advisory firm located near Sandestin.



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