Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Social Security Crisis -- Some Pre-Inauguration Speech Notes

Who says Bush does not like poor people? He is attempting to institute economic changes that will create more poor people than ever before.

Some notes on the coming social security battle.

There seems to be a vast amnesia over the fact that in the 1930s the economic system crashed and the political system was teetering between communism and fascism.

Certain changes. like Social Security, were enacted to meet this dual crisis and keep the political-economic system on its feet. Bush is interested in restoring the pre-1930s Constitution and the pre-1930s social arrangments for the same reason he wants to repeal the estate tax. It is more money in Bush's pocket and the pockets of people like him, and less money and protection for people who work for a living.

There is a moral component at work as well. I can write pages on it, but since we will all have to work longer hours now to save for the retirement none of us will get, I would simply say that a vast number of people seem to believe that it is a moral abomination for anyone to be entitled to be as secure as Social Security makes them. There is some sort of (is it Calvinist?) notion that if you do not have enough money to retire on, then it reflects a life-time of poor moral choices. If you lived a moral life, God would also make sure you were rich.

For those of us who are not totally convinced by that premise, you are seeing movement conservatives trying to conflate the 1930s with the 1960s so that people not paying attention to history (i.e. -- virtually everyone) will think that the New Deal changes, such as Social Security, were made in order to make it easier to get an abortion, and therefore supporting progressive economic policies are the same as supporting abortion. They are not, even if many people who believe in one also believe in the other.

In order to win the war that Bush is fighting against us, we have to make sure that we are always uncoupling the arguments, so that the economic arguments and the history behind them (which, to me, are easier to make and sell) do not get lost in the life-style arguments (where, it is, of course, always harder to change opinions that are often rooted in family and religion).

[Edited down from an earlier, nastier version :-)]