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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 8, 2005 / 4 Elul, 5765

Governments cutting seniors to the financial bone

By Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: My wife and I have been casual readers of your column for the past couple of years, and, very frankly, never anticipated that we would be writing you because we believed that we were in control of our lives and finances. We are in our early 70s, both retired from mid-level government jobs, and own a home on a lake we purchased 20 years ago for less than $75,000. Early in our marriage, we decided that rather than invest in the stock market and take too much risk or start IRAs, we would purchase rental houses and duplexes with our funds. We figured that the properties would increase in value and we could pass them on to our children. Plus, the depreciation over the years reduced our income taxes, allowing us to purchase more property and pay for them faster. Over the years, we acquired nine rental houses and four duplexes, most paid for.

In addition to our government pensions, we relied on our rental income — until lately. But over the past several years, we have seen a marked reduction in our spendable cash because 1) due to diabetes and hypertension, I have not been able to do the repairs and fix-up work that I used to do. This has required us to hire people to do this work, an added expense; 2) our rental properties have increased in value, but so have city and county taxes that are bringing us to our knees; 3) we have seen more turnover in our renters, and have had to evict several long-term renters because they stayed behind on their rent and could not afford to stay, even though our rent increases have been modest. Today, four units are empty; 4) there has been a decline in the number of suitable renters.

We tried to sell some of our properties, but have been offered less than we think they are worth. To add to our financial woes, the property taxes on our home, which was just reassessed at more than $500,000, are astronomical. My wife and I are afraid that we made a mistake by thinking real estate would take us through our retirement, and it looks like we are being penalized for being entrepreneurial and for making good investments.

A: We are certainly not economists, but even grade-school kids can see what is happening: Tax cuts (leading to emptier government coffers) and cutbacks in funding by federal and state governments have resulted in the majority of Americans — especially senior citizens — finding they don't have enough of an increase in their spendable income to pay their higher expenses. One reason is that both the federal and state governments are raising, and will continue to raise, fees. These fees are, in effect, taxes. At the same time, governments are reducing services. And, as greater burdens are imposed on counties and cities, you can bet that more and more folks will feel the bite of increased property taxes, not to mention sales taxes.

While paying lip service to home ownership — now available to some with more financing than the value of the home — no one talks about the alarming increases in mortgage foreclosures and bankruptcies, especially for those who want to beat the October deadline when the new bankruptcy law will disembowel the middle class and provide safe haven for the wealthy.

Instead of the promised "more money in our pockets," the majority of Americans are suffering financially. And rising gasoline prices — generally ignored by the politicians — are compounding the problem as the price of everything is going up. In short, reductions in federal funding to the states, coupled with reductions in state and federal tax revenues, increased governmental spending and ballooning trade deficits, threaten the fundamental core of the United States as we once knew it — from schools to health care to property ownership. For example, tuition increases at colleges and universities, coupled with the federal government's denial of grants to tens of thousands of students, are making educations unaffordable, even for those who planned. This does not bode well for the younger generations who are supposed to work so the rest of us can draw Social Security. Even veterans are not safe from increased prescription co-payments and reductions of other benefits.

Our country's economy, to a large extent, is based on ever-increasing property values; however, as values continue to increase and the federal government starves counties and cities, rents will increase and therefore pinch tenants who must cope with higher living expenses. But there will come a point when the middle class will no longer be able to afford the escalating prices.

Whether you made any more of a mistake than the couple who fully funded their 401 (k)s and IRAs and then got pounded by the stock market is a toss up. There are no easy answers to the dilemmas facing middle-class America as the runaway train careens out of control with the engineer asleep at the switch.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JAN L. WARNER received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from the University of South Carolina and earned a Master of Legal Letters (L.L.M.) in Taxation from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a frequent lecturer at legal education and public information programs throughout the United States. His articles have been published in national and state legal publications. Jan Collins began co-authoring Flying SoloŽ in 1989. She has more than 27 years of experience as a journalist, writer, and editor. To comment or ask a question, please click here.

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