Monday, March 14, 2005

If You Understand The Issue -- Shut Up

In his Sunday column George Will complains, as has Rick Santorum, and other people in favor of returning Back to the Future, that people over 55, the AARP in particular, have no reason to fear Social Security reform since President Bush has promised -- a politician has made a promise -- that Social Security reform will not effect their retirements. Why, oh, why, oh why, moans Georgie, don't these people get the message, and stop complaining about an issue that is not about them? It must be a left-wing media plot to confuse them about their freedom.

This just makes me crazy in a number of ways --

1. Just because George Bush has made a promise in a speech does not mean that it translates into law. If you haven't been following the shell game going on, there is no proposed legislation to amend Social Security on the table. There is just a lot of speech making to soften up the crowd. There is no way of telling what the proposed legislation, or the legislation that passes Congress and becomes law, will say about retirement benefits for people of any age.

2. George Will is over 55. If the phantom proposed legislation is approved, his Social Security will not be effected. Why is he allowed to write columns against Social Security when people over 55 who are opposed to Social Security are supposed to keep their mouths shut? George Bush is over 55 (I had to look it up. He is 58). George Bush is allowed to make speeches opposing Social Security. Why is my mother supposed to keep her mouth shut?

Here is a proposal --- If George Will and George Bush and everyone on their side of the table who is over 55 shuts up about Social Security, then AARP and my mother and everyone on my side of the table who is over 55 shuts up about Social Security.

Happily for me, I can not control my side of the table (Mom, in particular, is extremely independent), because if I'm the Georges, I take that offer in a New York Minute.

Because the Georges know that their argument about Social Security is not an argument for Social Security reform --- it is an argument for ending Social Security altogether.

George Will, at least, has been honest about it. In fact, he has been honest about it for the last 55 years.

In attempting to impose a "gag-order" on people over 55, the conservatives are trying to remove from the bargaining table the people with the best memory of both (a) why Social Security is important [the way things were before] and (b) how the argument for killing Social Security has been the same since 1935.

The Georges and the Ricks argue that they are proposing new solutions for a new century. Baloney. They are proposing an 18th century solution --- everyone fends for themselves. Most everyone winds up in the poorhouse. For those of you under 55, that is not a metaphor. That is a real place.

Couple that with what I expect to be the results of the Republican health care proposals, and they will have an 18th century solution --- lower life expectancies will place fewer demands on the Social Security system.

People over 55 know that better than people under 55. That is why the younger the crowd arguing about Social Security, the better the chances are for the Bushies and their fellow travelers.