PSARA’s Vision and Mission
By Robby Stern
PSARA is in the midst of an organizational long-term planning process. The PSARA Executive Board has approved a draft Vision & Mission Statement. From this statement we will develop a refinement of our unique role in the broader progressive movement and an articulation of our long- and short-term goals.
Through our collective activism, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA) is helping to create a just and peaceful world where all people can live with dignity and respect.
PSARA, a multi-generational and multi-racial organization, is committed to working for economic and social justice, environmental sustainability, economic security, and equal rights and opportunities for retirees and future retirees.
We welcome your comments. Your thoughts will be considered and discussed. Please email president@psara. org. The whole package of vision, mission, role, goals, and structure to carry out these tasks will be brought before a general membership meeting either in June or December.
The vision and mission statements are the framework for the short-term and long-term goals that will form the basis of the work of the organization for the foreseeable future. The long-term planning committee will propose these goals to our twenty-nine-member Executive Board within the next couple of months. All members are invited to attend.
We have yet to tackle the thorny structural and financial issues that we know are ahead of us. With a growing membership (a very good thing!), administrative responsibilities and tasks have grown enormously. For example, every month we mail letters to members who are in arrears on their yearly membership and we mail three notices. The number of letters has grown to over one hundred per month.
Additionally, the work of the organization is, for the most part, performed by volunteers. With our growth and with the addition of new areas of work (e.g., environmental sustainability), the coordination of the activities of the organization requires full-time oversight. We are examining creative ways to meet the growing organizational demands and stay a feisty and activist progressive voice for the rights of seniors and all people to live with dignity, respect and economic security.
Senior Economic Security
As the baby boomers age, there is an exponential increase in the number of seniors. A recent report on CNN Business points out that the U.S. is facing a growing crisis of economic insecurity for seniors. To quote from the report, “U.S. retirees are facing worse conditions for their golden years than retired workers in many other developed countries – from Canada and the United Kingdom to South Korea.”
The U.S. ranked 19th in retirement security for the second year in a row, according to a report from Natixis Global Asset Management. Eight of the top ten spots were taken by European countries with strong public and private pension systems and comprehensive health care systems.
In the U.S., workers are trying to save for their own retirements with 401(K) plans that are proving to be totally inadequate. The study identified four categories that are critical to economic security for seniors and identified how the U.S. is doing in each of those areas.
– Healthcare (U.S. ranks 21st) Healthcare spending in the U.S. is higher than any other country, yet life expectancy is lower than in most advanced Western countries. (e.g., there is a two-year life expectancy difference between the United Kingdom and the U.S., 81 to 79.)
– Finances (U.S. ranks 22nd) Not enough money in 401(Ks) & low interest rates.
– Quality of Life (U.S. ranks 24th) According to the study, while Americans appear to be “generally satisfied with the quality of their lives,” environmental factors such as water and air pollution caused a reduction in the ranking. (While not in the study, you can be sure that growing income inequality and the decline of the middle class has a big impact on quality of life.)
– Economic well-being (U.S. ranks 36th) The authors of the study attribute this low ranking to persistent unemployment and income inequality. (They do not discuss the types of jobs the economy is creating and the fact that such a huge proportion of the jobs are low-wage.)
The authors of this study are an asset management outfit. They are probably not on our side of the political spectrum, which makes their conclusions all the more interesting. They fail to mention the decline in unionization, which is critical to understanding the growing income inequality and retirement insecurity. They also do not mention the growing elimination of defined benefit pensions which many of us were taught was a critical third leg of a retirement program that offered the opportunity for a secure retirement.
PSARA works to help build a progressive movement in our region that promotes both needed reforms and systemic change. It is our unique role to insure that part of the discussion of the goals of that movement include retirement security for all generations, both those of us now in our senior years and for the generations to follow.