Let�s make one thing clear at the start. When politicians
promote �reform��as in welfare, tort, or Social Security reform�it isn�t
justice they�re seeking.
The first, actual objective in all such falsely represented
efforts is to divert dollars from people who really need help to the already
prosperous who invariably do not.
Welfare reform, for example, wasn�t undertaken to grant the
jobless poor an authentic avenue of escape to potential affluence. Raising the
federal minimum wage and providing affordable, quality educational
opportunities for all would have been the surest way to achieve that.
No, getting the long term unemployed off the �dole� did two
decidedly selfish things from business-friendly politicians� perspectives.
It made available federal funds that could then be used for
giveaways and subsidies, and the ultimate tax-break bonanza George Bush is
reprehensibly responsible for, to the big dogs of corporate America.
Socialism for the rich is okay, but try giving impoverished,
luckless souls who�ve fallen through the cracks a smidgen from the nation�s
treasury and you�ll get accused of being a Bolshevik!
It also released countless desperate-for-work folks into the
labor market, where their dire need for jobs�any jobs, at whatever rate of low
pay�severely undercut existing workers� capacity to win higher wages, better
benefits, and safer, cleaner conditions on the shop floor.
Employees who expected or demanded such things were
routinely replaced by submissive new workers who�d been previously jobless.
Welfare reform was a union-busting (or thwarting) strategy,
and it succeeded, much to the benefit of avaricious bosses across America. It
played a major role in the Wal-Martization of our economy, characterized by the
pervasive inability of even two-income families to make it from one payday to
Tort reform? It�s simply a thinly veiled ruse to shield
manufacturers and service providers from having to fairly pay consumers who�ve
been injured or otherwise grievously wronged by corporate negligence and
It�s especially vital that average people retain such compensatory
ability, given another greed-based goal that�s a key part of the right-wing
agenda: getting government out of regulatory oversight in industry and
commerce. The corporate world will consequently be much freer to sell unproven,
dangerous products to the public, with an attendant spike in the hidden harm
inflicted on unsuspecting buyers.
Conservatives have an army of lawyers to forge loopholes for
their own interests, but cry foul when Joe Average finds an attorney who�ll sue
over blatant medical malpractice or a disastrous �accident� when an improperly
designed automobile abruptly loses a front wheel at freeway speed.
If hypocrisy could be traded for gold (and in a very real
sense, it can), there�d be a great glitter emanating from the right end of the
But it�s in connection with Social Security that the reform
scam/sham assumes absolutely hideous proportions.
Social Security Isn�t �Going Broke�
If Jesus returned tomorrow and immediately resumed His
righteous mission of overturning corrupt money changers� tables in their gilded
palaces of sin, Wall Street is where television news crews would converge to
cover the breaking story.
Among those experiencing the Savior�s worst wrath would be
investment brokers, who�ve been salivating over the chance of massively
enriching themselves through commissions derived from George Bush�s proposed
Social Security privatization.
Make no mistake about it. It�s this latest and most sordid
variation of profitable senior bilking that selfishly drives the entire Social
Security reform movement. That and a conservative obsession to pound a stake
into the heart of FDR�s New Deal notion that government has a social
responsibility to the American people.
There�s simply no credible basis for alarmist claims that
Social Security, unless put in the merciless hands of supposed
private-investment healers, is going to perish.
On the contrary, as even the government�s own accounting
agencies have concurred, Social Security would remain entirely solvent until close
to mid-century without any remedial adjustments whatsoever.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is this
country�s leading, mainstream, senior advocacy organization. AARP is no
left-leaning group, but it shares a progressive�s outlook on this pivotal
�Social Security is the most successful program in our
nation's history. It is a promise our country makes to working Americans and
retirees. And a promise should not have an expiration date . . ."�An Open
Letter to AARP Members, from its top leadership
That letter goes on to say: �While Social Security is strong
now and in no danger of going broke, it is true that the program needs some
changes so it will always be able to pay full benefits for all generations of
Americans�today and tomorrow. The changes needed don't have to be drastic, and
the guarantee Social Security provides is one worth strengthening, not
replacing . . ."
Addressing privatization, the letter states �AARP is opposed
to private accounts that take money out of Social Security . . . In addition,
private accounts are expensive. Just to switch to this new system could require
as much as $2 trillion or more in benefit cuts, new taxes or more debt. Most of
us would then have to pay twice to gamble on this new plan�first to keep our
commitments to current retirees and again to pay into these private accounts.
Some critics of these personal accounts think that Wall Street, not retirees,
would be the real beneficiaries . . ."
The last sentence is the epitome of understatement, but it
shows how it isn�t just savvy Lefties wise to the ways of unscrupulous
capitalist chicanery who know that America�s senior citizens�our real heroes
who built this country through arduous, short-changed toil�are about to be
shafted once again, in what should rightfully be their carefree retirement
That envisioned rip-off, so delicious to utterly immoral
profiteers ala the Enron fiends who joked about robbing Grandma during
California�s energy crisis, is the Bush gang�s fondest wish.
Not even the worst peg-leg pirate of yore contemplated such
Because of its depraved audacity, this is the issue around
which a decisive people�s offensive that�ll hand the neocons a blistering
defeat can be mounted.
Every reader of this article�and many others like it that
are now thankfully circulating on the Internet�should get intensely active in
defending and bolstering Social Security, along the lines it was originally
Flooding our elected representatives in Washington with
letters, phone calls and emails will play a major role in knocking Bush onto
his sorry behind.
No other domestic question warrants as much of our
organizing effort. The obituary for Dubya�s administration will undoubtedly
read that it was the lethal combination of his Iraq debacle and untenable
over-reaching on Social Security that merged to finally do it in.
Let�s all work hard to facilitate that historically
necessary, welcome demise!
Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisc., has been writing progressive commentary and
verse for various outlets since the �60s. He can be reached at email@example.com.