Working Together

"We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again..."

Excerpt from "Working Together" © David Whyte
in The House of Belonging

Many Rivers Press

Monday, January 18, 2010

For the Man who has Everything: Throwning Grandma Out With the Bathwater


It seems like too much of my life is spent trying to identify the good guys from the bad guys lately. I wonder how it is that this line became so blurred...but it has. My current conundrum involves the debate about Social Security. I have always heard that the program was in trouble and there would not be enough money to help my children and grandchildren. Everyone has heard this so much that it has become fact even though it is a myth. Now I understand upon further investigation that there is an strong element of grandstanding and posturing for private agendas involved in cultivating that rumor. What to do?

There is currently a bill: Senate Bill 2853 that appeals strongly to everyone's sense of responsible fiscal action in government. It proposes a shortcut to expediting policies. Behind this bill is a fellow with a LOT of money by the name of Peter G. Peterson who has decided, I understand, that his legacy to the American Public will be to dismantle what he deems as a worthless program: Social Security. (He has his eye on Medicare and Medicaid as well but that is an addendum to this issue). You might recall in 2004 when then President Bush was rallying to reform Social Security by investing all that secure money into the stock market, Mr. Peterson was all for that idea...

( ....I will stop here for a minute to allow your imagination to work with your hindsight a moment. Imagine the current scenario that would have been the result of that action, should it have been enacted by the American people....).

It was the democratic process of open debate that saved all those elders from having to loose everything (often little anyway) when everything tumbled in winter of 2008. You think it is a crime to see dead bodies piled up roadside in Haiti due to a poor infrastructure and political philandering and think that disasters such as this could never happen here? Put America's financing on a "fast-track" so we can "get 'er done" and you will see things worse than New Orleans post Katrina. You will see your own Grandma and Grandpa denied care and funding that they paid into by working all of their lives. What's more you will have the opportunity to help them directly perhaps with the funding that was earmarked for your child's eduction.

Yes there are things to be done to improve Social Security and you can read about those things in simple language here at Ronni Bennett's Blog, Time Goes By. The Senate Bill 2853 that reads at the the onset to be so practical is really a way to circumvent the system to act swiftly on making financial cuts that could eviscerate the stable existing lifestyles of millions. We are talking cuts made by politicians with minimal debate done behind closed doors.

(...again let me pause a moment while the imagination has a chance to confer with hindsight regarding unchecked politicians, policy makers and lobbyists...)

Venture capitalists are very wily people. That is how they became so wealthy. When you get powerful and affluent people wanting to make a name for themselves like Mr. Peterson things can become very scary very quickly. Certainly that is the case here. Money talks in American politics and too often all it REALLY wants to talk about is itself. Be careful of this bill working it's way into our lives.
There is a recourse strategy. Tomorrow, 19 January, is Call-In-Day. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, who are, understandably, all over this bill, are joining with other elder advocacy groups to inundate the Senate with telephone calls against this bill. There is more about this in Time Goes By with links and explanations. To cut to the chase, the number to call is 800-998-0180 and the details of the bill can be found here . I encourage you to join me in making sure that reform does not spell deconstruction of programs that are, fundamentally honorable and sound and are simply in need of some compassionate attention.

1 comment:

Rez Dog said...

Clearly, I don't come here often enough or I wouldn't have missed this excellent post for almost two months. There is indeed much suspect in Peter Peterson's proposals for social security and medicare. As you correctly point out his previous suggestions for "reform" would have left many, many Americans without any security at all after the collapse of our latest speculative bubble.

But the underlying problems about these important social programs is real. They stem from the lack of any honest financial reporting by the federal government which uses a variety of fiscal tricks to ignore the full costs of its commitments while our leaders mortgage America's future to foreign lenders. Peterson and his partner, former Comptroller General David Walker are correct in estimating large future costs for both programs.

Where they are incorrect is in thinking that chucking social security and medicare is a good idea. Better to think about how to fund those costs. Many other, more responsible options are available. Higher taxes on high incomes. Drastically reducing military spending. Using public resources to create a viable economy. Not only do those options have as much likelihood of stabilizing America's public finances but they offer hope of a functioning economy for our children and grandchildren.

But no, Mr. Peterson does not consider those to be realistic options. After all, he or his friends might have to give up some of their wealth.

That may be true but I don't expect to see any of them living on the streets. Destroy social security (something the wealthy have sought since its inception) will put many grandmas out on the street.