Sunday, August 14, 2005

Happy 70th Anniversary of Social Security - Time Is On Your Side

Before we satiate your curiosity with digital downloads, I thought it would be appropriate to realize that Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the bill creating Social Security ( a.k.a Economic Security Act ) in the US 70 years ago today.

It's a far cry from the creep in chief & his cronies sitting in Crawford TX for 5 weeks this summer and ignoring the mother of a dead soldier parked outside their ranch. Meanwhile, Bush & Cheney Inc. are conspiring to yank the safety net of ordinary working Americans in order to privatize the funds, and benefit the corrupt Wall St. establishment and it's Billionaire Boys Club.

It may seem like an obscure and remote issue to young people decades from retirement age, sitting in front of their computers on a sunny Sunday afternoon, but there are few things to be more concerned about if you are a working U.S Citizen.

I encourage to read on, and contact your elected representatives and do what you can to speak up, and protect ths program that is truly vital to our citizenry, despite that it's critics would have you believe, that as it stands " Social Security goes against The American Way". To contact your represntatives, you can easily do so here if you would like to express your opposistion to changing the basic formula of Social Security.

Don't be fooled by neo-con claims that Bush's proposed overhaul will only make the program stronger, and modernize the agency.

The Social Security program has been overhauled and tweaked every 15 or so years, but at it's core, still stable, solvent, simple in it's mission, functional and likely the most important austerity measure ever enacted in this country. It is not "welfare", as the majority of these benefits are paid for by the recipients themselves.

Since it's inception in 1935, Social Security has always existed as a pay as you go system. Payroll taxes are collected from workers and then paid out as benefits to current Social Security recipients. Currently more revenue is stockpiled than what is needed to pay benefits, and so there is a surplus, a Social Security trust fund invested in U.S. Treasury securities, with a return of approx 2 percent.

The false cries that the program is bankrupt, is really just a smokescreen to obscure a philosophical difference with the program itself.

Social Security is a target of Bush & his neo-con clansmen because it is symbolic, in that it is an iconic emblem of Roosevelt's New Deal, which lifted the country out of the depression and insured benefits for all workers , black or white, rich or poor. This socialist idea represents a legacy that strikes at the heart of the conservative Republican agenda, and is ultimately the antithesis of how they'd like to see the country run. They would like nothing more than to transfer the assets in the Social Security program over to their private investment firms, save the helping hand only for businesses, and eventually take FDR's face off the dime and replace him with the image of Ronald Reagen. [Seriously : Rabid Republicans pushing Reagan dime]

While Long Island Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) calls Social Security “one of the most successful government programs in history”, right wing Think Tank wankers belittle the concept, saying the government controlled program goes "against The American Way". The proponents of so-called "reform" push for "private investment accounts", that could be ripe for plenty "private" mismanagement. The recent accounting debacles at high levels in so many of our nation's leading firms proves that money is a temptation that far exceeds the ability of regulators to control abuse. It is almost flabbergasting to see politicians suggest our nation's Social Security trust account be opened up for exploitation by private brokers and greedy investment houses, merely so that the trust could, in theory, glean potential gains of a few pecentage points in the stock market.

Republican reformists, rebuffed in the last session, plan to make another push for Social Security private accounts when Congress returns for its fall session, with Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, leading the charge.

Don't believe the hype

Art of Noise - Instruments of Darkness

If Bush's foreign policy agenda across the sea includes the abdegnation of human rights agreements, systematic destruction of civilian lives and the privatization of publically owned assets in other countries, what makes you think it isn't in effect here?

Some Social Security Facts:

48 million Americans currently receive & likely rely on Social Security benefits.

Social Security is the sole source of income for almost 25% percent of it's recipients, and it represents approx 40 percent of income for all elderly people.

The first monthly benefit - $22.54 - was issued to Ida May Fuller, a legal secretary from Ludlow, Vt., in 1940. She received more than $22,000 in total benefits before dying at age 100 in 1975.

Designed to provide "guaranteed" income, not a promise of growing wealth...

The original 1935 law contained the first national unemployment compensation program, aid to the states for various health and welfare programs, and the Aid to Dependent Children program. (Full text of the 1935 law.) A 1939 change in the law added survivors benefits and benefits for a deceased retiree's spouse and children. In 1956 disability benefits were added.

The SSA also keeps a record of the most common registered baby names each year, a list from the 1880's til 2004 is found here. Jacob & Emma are #1 for 2004, John & Mary were the top choices in 1880.

FDR upon signing the bill on Aug 14th 1935 :

Young people have come to wonder what will be there lot when they came to old age.

The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last.

This social security measure gives at least some protection to 50 millions of our citizens who will reap direct benefits through unemployment compensation, through old-age pensions, and through increased services for the protection of children and the prevention of ill health.

We can never insure 100 percent of the population against 100 percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-stricken old age.

*This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete. It is a structure intended to lessen the force of possible future depressions. It will act as a protection to future administrations against the necessity of going deeply into debt to furnish relief to the needy. The law will flatten out the peaks and valleys of deflation and of inflation. It is, in short, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.

I congratulate all of you ladies and gentlemen, all of you in the Congress, in the executive departments and all of you who come from private life, and I thank you for your splendid efforts in behalf of this sound, needed and patriotic legislation.

It seems to me that if the Senate and the House of Representatives, in this long and arduous session, had done nothing more than pass this security Bill, Social Security Act, the session would be regarded as historic for all time."

download this FDR speech as an mp3

Lou Glasse, former president of the Older Women's League (far left) and William J. vanden Heuvel, of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (2nd from left) join Commissioner of Social Security Jo Anne Barnhart and James Roosevelt, Jr., grandson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (far right) in cutting the 'Social Security 70th Birthday Cake' on the grounds of the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park, New York. (photo: Anders Krusberg/U.S. Newswire)

Crowd gathers in Hyde Park to celebrate 70th anniversary of Social Security

Saving Social Security @ AlterNet

Lil Mike's frequent reader MP3 rewards program :

Here's a few songs whose title sorta has a Social Security style theme.

My Morning Jacket - I Will Be There When You Die

Tennesee's pop hopes expound for y'all ...

Kai Winding - Time Is On My Side

The original version released circa 1963 on Verve

Joe Tex - I Want To Do Everything For You

the late iconic soul man puttin' it down sweet circa 1965,
surreptitious bandwidth courtesy

and then for no particular reason I'ma get all Brazilian Portogee on ya azz:

Tom Ze' - Politicar

The Brazilian bad ass, who started with the psychedelic Os Mutantes, gives up a later solo track from a Y2K Luaka Bop release, on one of his least fave subjects: politicians...

1 comment:

darwin said...

The false cries that the program is bankrupt, is really just a smokescreen to obscure a philosophical difference with the program itself.

I agree with the premise that calls for Social Security reform are often politically motivated. The problem that I have with the Democratic spin on this issue is that it's a 180 degree turn from where they were as few as 5 years ago.

The Democrats (correctly) ascertained that their best bet was to claim that Social Security doesn't need reform, so they would have a chance of taking credit for it in 2008. But in Clinton's second term, he was using exactly the same rhetoric Bush has been using to point out the demographic and structural problems with the Social Security plans. These changing demographics will require a change in either benefit structure (most likely retirement age) or greater contributions from younger workers.

This simple fact (people are living longer and having fewer children) is very real, despite the fact that Republicans are pointing it out. It was also true when Clinton et al were pointing it out 5 years ago. But it's not tenable for the Democrats to accept the premise that there is a problem, because they lack the power to reform it the way they want to.

So they took the incredibly dishonest tack of completely reversing their previous stance. Somehow, none of my peers on the left or in the center seem to remember what they were saying a few years ago. Perhaps it's inconvenient to remember, because it puts one in agreement with Bush? What bothers me most about it is that it delays the actual needed "overhaul" or "tweak" for only political reasons.

Seriously, there is a structural problem with Social Security and it needs to be reformed. What Bush Et Al were proposing, minus the political scaremongering, was not really such an extreme change. A voluntary contribution of up to 5% was a minor feature of the plan and certainly nothing like :

Meanwhile, Bush & Cheney Inc. are conspiring to yank the safety net of ordinary working Americans in order to privatize the funds, and benefit the corrupt Wall St. establishment and it's Billionaire Boys Club.

Bush et al certainly made a mistake with the "private accounts" tack, but the Democrats certainly misrepresented what their actual impact would be. The program being proposed was a VOLUNTARY contribution of AT MOST 5% of income.

That's a very, very, very, very far cry from destroying Social Security as it exists. Using anti-corporate sentiment to scaremonger against a small and entirely voluntary provision of the bill doesn't seem too kosher to me.

But I guess all of this is national politics as usual. The truth is the first casualty..