Progressive Writers Bloc

Social Security: If ItAin't Broke...

Uncle Bill Warner

Anyone who saw on CNN the crowd of Republican opponents to Social Security outside Senator Rick Santorum's anti-Social Security town hall meeting in Philadelphia last week chanting "Hey! Hey! , Ho! Ho! Social Security has got to go!" has to ask himself if this new plan to "privatize" Social Security might not just be the first step towards getting rid of it permanently.

One also has to question the Bush Administration's claims that Social Security is broke, given the massive pile of evidence that it is not. They are willing borrow trillions of dollars in addition to what we are borrowing to support the war in Iraq (the interest on which goes to the moneyed class which is lending the dough) to get your future into the volatile stock market. Has everyone forgotten that the stocks and mutual funds went down the toilet not that long ago? And how can you trust the financial calculations of this administration? Look at how well they have hidden the costs of the war in Iraq, not even including them in the budget!

It would appear that one tenet of the Far Right is that government should get out of the business of running social programs. This is consistent with the theory that many followers of the Neocon radical morality to see the recipients of social assistance as lacking self-discipline, motivation, and wanting everything done for them by the government. According to Professor George Lakoff at Berkeley, in his book "Moral Politics" that makes them" immoral" in the eyes of the Neocons. Conversely, the self-disciplined and successful are "moral" and deserve all they get, with the pursuit of their own self-interest being the glorious guiding principle for promoting the common good. Hence the big tax cuts for the rich. Why should the prudent ants help the profligate grasshoppers?

It is interesting to note that Social Security is now being thought of as a personal retirement account. The long-range goal of the Far Right seems to be getting rid of government help of any kind for the elderly, disabled, incompetent, unempowered, and immoral folks. If you were not prudent enough to put your money in the stock market, then you deserve to be pushing a shopping cart with all your possessions in it and eating cat food.

It is interesting that many Republicans have backed off from this looney plan, and even the conservative AARP is against it. It does not take too much imagination to consider the incredible amounts we are spending on making war and wonder what would happen it these funds were turned to a more useful purpose.

I have seen estimates of from two to 10 trillion dollars as the cost of getting people converted into the new private accounts. Do you have any idea how much that is? Suppose you counted dollar bills at the rate of 1 per second. It would take 30,000 years non-stop, day and night to count $1 trillion. Now do this a few more times, and you can see you are not going to make it in your lifetime. Just the cost of converting to the new system is incomprehensible to most of us! This a very large consideration when considering keeping and improving the present system, which is working rather well. (By the way, Congressmen DO pay into Social Security despite the rumours that keep circulating on the Internet)

We pay taxes as dues for living in a civilized society that makes life better for its people. If raising them is necessary to do that, and if the rich will have to sell off some of their yachts and villas in the Mediterranean, so be it. If our biggest corporations who have fled overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes have to be held accountable, so be it. If we have to cut our military down to a force that can defend the U.S. instead of trying to the cops of the world, so be it.

The Preamble to the Constitution reads that one of the fundamental purposes of our government is to "...promote the general welfare." It is hard to see how turning a guaranteed benefit into a deficit-financed gamble on Wall Street is going to do that.

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