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President Discusses Strengthening Social Security in Kentucky
When I listen to the words of the president I hear blatent, but very subtle dishonesty. I say "lie" because I think there is not much difference from misleading people and lying to them. It amounts to the same thing the way I see it. If you're not being straight with people then you might as well be lying to them.
On Social Security, there is no other way to say it, he's lying his ass off. Saying that his plan with make Social Security permanantly solvent and talkign about personal accounts as the key to that solvency. Not so, the key to the solvency of Social Security under the Bush plan is benefit cuts for future retirees. Its really that simple folks. What he plans to do is put curent retirees off the table for cuts and borrow the difference so that he can avoid the political liability from current seniors. Well, just the stupid ones I suppose.
They never really talk about the jioggering of the payouts for future retirees, that's because they are liars who are trying to get you to fixate on that big pile of personal money that you'll get to leave to your kids.
Leave to your kids? Yeah right, not after they've cut your benefits and made living under Social Security an impossibility. The only way you could leave anything to your kids is if you croak right after you reach retirement. Oh, the things we can look forward to? Right now, people can live a meagre lifestyle on their Social Security, some estimates say that under Bush's plan for future retirees they can see nearly a 50% effective reduction in benefits. Because, well that's how they plan to save money! But in exchange for selling out half you future benefits you get a chunk of cash. Bush uses the $250,000 figure in his talk, so I will too. If say, you only spend $10,000 a year to supplement your reduced SS check then you 25 years out of that money. If you live longer than that you are screwed, poverty city for you. Nice to know huh?
But let's say you take that $250,000 and buy an annuity at 65, you'll get about $24,000 per year till you die. I much cleaner setup if you live a long time, but still bad news if you die early because none of that money gets passed on. So much for the nest egg? Again, we find that the only people that can afford to retire without relying on Social Security get the benefits of a lump sum that can be passed on to their heirs.
But we're not really surprised are we that the plan to "fix" a system designed to reduce poverty amongst the nation's less fortunate benefits the most fortunate?
The only honest thing that Bush says throughout the whole speech is his recognition of the success that Social Security has had at reducing and elimating poverty, especially amongst the elderly.
First of all, I do want to applaud Franklin Roosevelt. I thought he did a good thing with Social Security. It's a very important system. It made a lot of sense to have a safety net for people when they retired. But the dynamics of Social Security have changed.
Which anyone with a brain should notice this as hogwash and political pandering. Conservatives have always hated Social Security as creeping socialism, Conservative Herbert Hoover called "unemployment insurance the most dangerous idea ever proposed in the United States". Bush himself has predicted the demise of SS before. Ever since I was a kid I was told over and over again that Social Security would be gone when I retired. My father recalled people telling him that Social Security would be long gone by the time he ever retired. Of couirse, now he's retired and drawing Social Security.
Funny how some things never change. Conservatives still hate the working class. Bush, as a card carrying member of investor class, whose money came from a shady deal involving confiscated land, taxpayer money and a ballpark has no clue about working class issues. He only understands investor class values, which is why he can sit in a room full of people and tell them that he "believes" that he's right. Its because he has no other frame of reference. Selling out Social Security to the stock market makes perfect sense to him.
What is completely ignored from the current discussion of Social Security is the historical context for the creation of Social Security in the first place. Wall Street had failed.
While Roosevelt was still governor and Herbert Hoover was still President, the need for social security became critical. The stock market crashed, and the economy collapsed. The unemployment rate grew to 25 percent, and only 25 percent of the unemployed received any kind of assistance. The plight of the 7.6 million elderly Americans was even direr. Over half of them relied on private charities, public poorhouses, or their families for support. After several years of Depression, many younger people could no longer help their older relatives—they were struggling just to feed themselves and their children. Private charities were strapped. So were the few local-government relief agencies. Twenty-eight states had newly-formed old-age assistance programs. However, the benefit amounts from those programs were tragically inadequate: payments averaged just 65 cents per day, and only 3 percent of the elderly received any payments at all.
Some of the more pessimistic observers might point out that we are once again at a point in history where the safegaurds are weakened, corruption at the corporate level is rising, job security is falling, unions are all but gone, energy security is becoming a crisis and foriegn nations hold the vast majority of our debt.
In other words, those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
May 1, 1930
Of course the United States spends another eight years mired in the Great Depression and only really recovers due to massive government spending for War World II. "Resources, intelligence and character" were not enough.
My favorite quote I came across: Hoover again.
October 22, 1928
True genius huh? But this is still the fundamental philosphy of the Republican Party, let the rich have their way and hope for the best. Of course it didn't work then, but that doesn't seem to deter them from making another go at it.
So when you hear Bush talk about putting the fate of the working class into the hands of Wall Street it might be helpful to remember that Social Security came about in large part because of the failures of Wall Street and the corruption of the nation's elites. Far from causing a slide into socialism, many people consider Social Security and the New Deal efforts by FDR to keep the nation from turning its back, wholesale, on capitalism and its failures.
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