is the Greatest Luxury
Security is a pain-in-the-ass issue to write about. Columnists across
the nation are currently struggling to form coherent opinions on a subject
that is largely beyond them, trying to get their little brains around
a giant, complicated math problem with conflicting information. Most
will fall into their respective camps, parroting whatever the smartest-sounding
guy on their little patch of the ideological spectrum says.
no slouch when it comes to math, and I even did well in economics, but
I don’t have to look at the numbers to figure out whether Bush’s proposed
changes to Social Security will be a boon or a disaster. All I have
to do is look at who’s proposing them. To date, Bush’s economic agenda
has been extremely consistent: shifting the tax burden further onto
the backs of poorer Americans, deepening deficits and debt to profound
levels, and transferring huge sums in revenue to his corporate benefactors.
There is simply no reason to believe he would deviate from that path
at this point, when his party rules both houses of congress, and is
more likely than ever to give him whatever the hell he wants.
is going to save Social Security the same way he liberated Iraq: by
ravaging it. To this administration, the Social Security trust fund
looks a lot like a massive, untapped, proven oil reserve, and they just
can’t wait to suck all that cash out—and give it to your broker.
don’t want to lose you getting into the numbers, so I’ll go with an
oversimplified analogy to explain how colossally stupid this “private
accounts” scheme is: Imagine that you are actually saving money and
planning your retirement. You realize you’re not saving enough money,
and your cash flow will eventually run short of your goal. So, what
do you do? Bush wants you to take out a giant loan, max out your credit
cards, go down to the casino and try to make up the difference. How
do you see that story ending?
Bush isn’t gambling with his money, he’s gambling with yours.
Why? Because it’s going to generate huge revenues for Wall Street. Even
the White House has admitted by now that private accounts will do nothing
to brighten the program’s economic outlook, which begs the question:
why are we still talking about this?
still talking because the media isn’t doing its job. If they were, they
would have already explained to you, with shiny multicolored chart graphics,
how the private accounts thing just doesn’t make any sense. The Bush
argument is a diaphanous patchwork of buzzwords and alarmist statistical
manipulations, a smokescreen to obscure their real intention, which
is to suck the trust fund dry, creating hundreds of millions of private
accounts, which will generate hundreds of millions of individual fees
for Wall Street investment firms, pumping an enormous cash infusion
into the stock market (also benefiting Wall Street), and borrowing over
four trillion(!) dollars—from Wall Street.
an unprecedented cash handover, dwarfing an already impressive record
of them, from the Prescription Drug Benefit to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The idea that the stock market will guarantee a better return on money
is also straight garbage. Playing the market is gambling, plain and
simple. Things can go from bad to worse in minutes. There is no “security”
in private investments.
isn’t even a debate about what’s best for Social Security, not really.
The right wing is fixated on eradicating any and all traces of socialism
from our society. While Europeans enjoy 30-hour work weeks, guaranteed
health care and free colleges, Americans have been duped into cheering
as updated robber-barons relieve them of more and more of their money.
The real plan is to create a world of absolute social Darwinism, where
power and influence inevitably bring only more of the same, and regular
people are left to the meager relief of churches and charities to prevent
them from freezing or starving when they are too feeble to work anymore.
Americans will probably cheer this on too, sooner or later. Call me
crazy, but I can’t think of a single instance since Bush announced his
candidacy for President that he hasn’t gotten his way on what he really
wanted, regardless of just how craven it was. With half a country ready
to believe any ball of shit that falls from his lips, having learned
nothing from his bogus war justifications, and a supplicant media willing
to report every lie as a legitimate argument, chances are he’ll get
what he wants here too, after some congressional arm-twisting. After
all, what prominent opinion-maker is going to take a stand against it?
who oppose Bush’s insane plans are labeled “obstructionists,” as if
that meant anything. When the President is pushing a plan that will
significantly decrease the quality of life in America, it is the duty
of every decent congressman to obstruct it, filibuster it, attack it
with machine guns. Whatever it takes. There will be no excuses for anyone
who endorses this thing, no conclusion other than that they just don’t
give a shit what happens to you.
was all going to come to this from the beginning. Using irresponsible
tax cuts to force a budget crisis is an effective Republican tactic
which has worked in the past. Using scary words like “bankrupt,” even
if they simply don’t describe the situation, is an effective scare tactic.
The GOP has been after Social Security since its inception, regardless
of the lip service they pay FDR nowadays. Now they’re mounting up, launching
their assault at the peak of their political power. It could be their
Waterloo, but it could just as easily be a Hiroshima for the Democrats.
you still doubt that Bush’s agenda for Social Security is a malicious
attack on the most needy among us, maybe you should hear his side of
the debate. Here’s what he said recently when asked how his plan will
make up for the massive transition costs individual private accounts
the—all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers.
For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table;
whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases.
There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered.
And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting
those—changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what
has been promised more likely to be—or closer delivered to what has
that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a
series of things that cause the—like, for example, benefits are calculated
based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices.
Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based
upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that
would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words,
how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those—if
that growth is affected, it will help on the red.
better? I'll keep working on it.
better now? The guy has no idea what his own plan is. In fact, the White
House has made it known that they won’t actually release the details
of their plan anytime soon, probably not until it’s just about time
to vote on it. This is because they know how easy it will be to pick
apart once the details are accessible, and they’re relying on a cursory,
superficial debate in the media to be able to sell this pig to the people.
It is almost certainly what they will get.
hope I’m wrong, and Bush doesn’t get his way this time. Although I’m
not anticipating becoming a wealthy man, I wasn’t planning on spending
my golden years eating out of garbage cans.
by Allan Uthman