Friday, January 14, 2005

Social Security Facts Simplified by Representative

From Common Dreams, by Joyce Marcel. This is an excerpt. Be sure to read the entire article.

"Social Security is far from bankrupt. Here are some facts from a telephone press conference held Tuesday by Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and others knowledgeable about the fund:

- Some 48 million people get checks.
- Some 38 percent of those are disabled, widowed or kids.
- Social Security faces a challenge, not a crisis.

- Privatization means cuts of up to 40 percent for future retirees.
- Transition costs for setting up private accounts - Bush's proposed solution - are estimated at over $2 trillion - money the United States does not have.
- When Argentina tried something similar, its entire economy tanked.

Social Security is an ingenious program. Each generation pays into the fund so that the generations ahead can retire. This frees up jobs and at the same time secures the futures of everyone's elderly parents and grandparents. Every working American pays into the system, so, essentially, it's our money, not the government's.

Social Security gives options to people who can no longer work. Older folks can stay in their homes and pay some of their bills with their monthly checks. It's what newspapers call "living on a fixed income." It's never a large check - remember the scandal a few years back when we learned that older people were forced to lace their Hamburger Helper with Alpo?

Why is Bush lying? Why does he hate such an innocuous, supportive, helpful program? It's a pathology that goes back to the Depression. Back then, wealthy conservatives hated President Roosevelt and called him "a traitor to his class" for helping the poor, the starving, the widows, the orphans, the sick, the aged, the crippled, the men who were down on their luck but were willing to work. "Communism!" screamed the fat cats back then, after their greed had bankrupted the country.

They scorned these so-called "entitlements" and passed their hatred down through generations - to Cheney and Bush and their ilk. Destroying Social Security - and, finally, sticking it to FDR - became their highest goal.

To accomplish the destruction, Bush plans to end the all-for-one-and-one-for-all ethos that has served our country so well. His "retirement funds" for younger workers pulls the rug out from under the many people already working - those who have paid in for some time and are counting on Social Security to be part of their retirement - as well as from the many generations to come. Essentially, it destroys the program.

Wall Street might profit from these retirement funds - it paid good money to buy Bush a second term - but managing millions of tiny retirement accounts might also bankrupt it. And how many of us trust the stock market to care for us in our old age? The AARP nailed it when, in Sunday newspaper ads, it said, "If we feel like gambling, we'll play the slots."

We know that Bush lies, and we know that he and Cheney are bullies. If we've learned nothing else in the past four years, it is that bullies often back down when challenged.

Take Bush and the recent tsunami debacle. After two days of ignoring the disaster, he offered $15 million in relief funding. When the laughter, finger-pointing and cries of "cheapskate" became too much, he raised it to $35 million. Then, as poorer countries offered, proportionally, so much more, he assigned his father and a person he hates, Bill Clinton, to raise more cash.

You see? Challenge him and he'll back down.... Challenge Bush's "the sky is falling" now and he'll back down.

Whether we are red-staters or blue-staters, most of us have relatives dependent on Social Security - if we are not dependent on it ourselves. Call 1-800-307-8525, the AARP hotline. It will connect you to your senators and congressmen. Write every senator and representative in Congress. Remind them that we can vote the whole lot of them out of office if choose...."

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