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Social Security Last Updated: Jan 4th, 2007 - 01:08:31

Defend Social Security; defeat bogus �reform�
By Dennis Rahkonen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Feb 5, 2005, 20:56

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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 the next.

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 mischief.

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 political spectrum.

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 matter:

�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 years.

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 malicious robbery.

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 constituted.

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!

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisc., has been writing progressive commentary and verse for various outlets since the �60s. He can be reached at

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