What is it with this hysteria about the mythical fiscal cliff? This is not a disaster. No one is going to die if Congress doesn’t act. We aren’t going to devolve into an economic depression. What is up with all the hysteria? Well, I have a theory: Republicans are like Chicken Little, they think if they run around crying and ranting and instill fear and hysteria, they will be able to convince Americans that the problem is Social Security. Despite the fact that Social Security is a separate self-funded trust that has nothing to do with the deficit. The GoP is hell bent on privatizing Social Security, and the only way they can do that is if they scare American’s into thinking it is the root of all evil and the cause of all our woes.
This is the same tactic the conservatives have been using for decades, remember how they convinced American’s to give up pensions? And it has the same goal, your proxy vote and moving profit from our National good to their corporate cronies. Let’s think about it, if we privatize Social Security what happens to our money? Well, we can look back to the privatization of pensions for the answer to that.
When Reagan convinced American’s with his “democratization of money” doctrine that they were being taken advantage of in some way, that pensions were “bad” and private investment was “good”. That they too should be able to “invest like the wealthy” and the billions saved by the privatization of pensions and conversion to the 401k would “trickle down” to US workers. Really? The problem is, the “trickle-down” part never happened. Instead of increasing worker wages to compensate for the loss of pensions and retiree benefits, including lifetime health care, corporate “persons”, in the form of Boards & CEO’s, decided that they were entitled to the benefit of that savings. So instead of worker raises we saw the biggest increase in executive salaries and corporate spending in the history of our economy.
From private planes to offshore accounts the monies once earmarked for American workers were now parked in the Cayman’s and building mansions for millionaires. The rhetoric was then, and still is now, very effective. It was “greedy” teachers and union “thugs” who were the problem. Republicans were fighting a war against equality (and reality), and dammit they were not going to allow the truth to get in their way. Of course we couldn’t tax the “job creators”, why should we when they could distract us by making us hate & distrust each other? I mean, you see teachers and police every day, but how often do you run into a billionaire?
Creating a riff between the middle class and fermenting fear and loathing is the specialty of the conservative ideology. This game of semantics that has convinced average American’s that it is somehow okay for CEO’s to make $16,000 an hour but it is teachers who make $35 per hour that are greedy is a master stroke of rhetoric. Making the argument about increasing the Social Security retirement age rather than increasing the wage base, well, that is just a brilliant strategy. How many people realize that the Social Security is only paid on the first $110,500? What if instead of making retirees work longer we raise the wage base to $5,000,000? Or do away with the wage base and rename the Social Security & Health Welfare Fund? How about we stop subsidizing the welfare Kings, those corporate royalty who pay themselves a King’s ransom and loot the corporate accounts for their perks all the while complaining how it is employee health care that is bankrupting their company?
What if we insisted on a Fair & Balanced Budget? For every dollar to defense, one to education. Every dollar to a corporate subsidy, one to health & welfare. Every dollar to fossil fuel subsidies, one to renewable sources. Every dollar to animal based agriculture, one to plant based? Wouldn’t that change everything? Isn’t it time we asked why we are funding industries that make trillions while asking the poor, sick, elderly & children to get by with less? Let’s talk about the 800 lb gorilla in the room, or rather the $40,000,000,000 subsidy, the fossil fuel industry.
Not only does this industry take our tax dollars while they are making trillions in annual profits, then they take our land, contaminate our water and stick us with the bill for their inevitable leaks, spills and explosions. In addition, this industry spews its waste without cost or consequences. But do you hear the GoP calling for an end to this entitlement, which by the way is totally un-funded, unlike Social Security which is 100% fully funded? No, you do not. Evidently subsidies that are contributing to the destruction of our planet are just fine with conservatives. It is only entitlements to the old and poor they seem to hate.
We have some very real issues we need to focus on. We don’t need the GoP creating mythical cliffs and riffs, we need some real solutions, and then we can focus on balancing our budget, an exercise in arithmetic not destruction of our way of life. We can do this, let’s start by talking about the real and very large entitlements we give to corporations, particularly the ones to an industry that makes trillions. The fact is, fossil fuels subsidies need to go the way of the dinosaurs.
As a rock climber, I remember how scary it can be to step off a cliff, but the truth is, it is also exhilarating, and it is exactly our safety net, our rope, our Social Security, that is there to keep us from falling into the abyss.