Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Social Security (Oh my goodness!) 

Got my Social Security statement in the mail today. I'm not sure what the deal is on how often they send those out, or why I ended up getting one now. Every few years, one just shows up.

I guess you could say I have the best of both worlds in China, because I don't have to pay Social Security (because I work for a Chinese company), but I worked enough quarters in the US to qualify for benefits, and if I retired today, I could just about live on what I would get, due to the economic difference between China and the US. No telling how long that will be true, though. When I was growing up in Japan, the exchange rate was 360 yen to the dollar. That rate was fixed; it did not change. The Americans put pressure on Japan to float the Yen, and the Japanese finally buckled. The result was disastrous. If you had been living in Japan on Social Security in the Seventies, you would have seen about a 75 per cent loss of income, because the currency fluctuated so violently. Much to the consternation of the Americans, China is determined not to let that happen here. I hope they stick to their guns. When someone mentions to me that I should be happy about the fact that the RMB is worth more dollars than it was when I first came to China, I quickly remind them that I live in China. If I were going to live in China on US Social Security, I would want it exactly the other way around.

This evening, I was on my way to the coffee bar with my laptop to do some work, when I was accosted at the intersection by a lady and her daughter. She launched into a spiel about how desperate they were. She was lucky, because the light was red, so I had to listen to her. Otherwise I probably would have left. I am strongly disinclined to give money to child beggars. But one line sold me. She said, "We don't need your money. We're just hungry." I had no way of knowing if they were really genuine, but I can bet they had been begging for some time, because that little girl had it down pretty good. Still, how can you refuse a request for food?

I do give money to the beggars in Wudaokou, because I have a pretty good idea how much money they have to work with--they aren't rich--and I figure if they are standing by my bicycle, I should give them at least as much as I would pay any bicycle guard. Not that they care about my bicycle. But I do think their presence cuts down on theft.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?