It Will Never Make Sense To Me

Why our elites and media elites have such sheer contempt and hatred for social security. It’s there for everyone! It’s a solid government program which gives everyone the peace of mind that no matter what, there will be some money available for you to take care of yourself in your most vulnerable years. It’s such a miniscule portion of the taxes we pay, and for the ultra-rich screamers who hate social security the most, it’s a negligible portion of their income, and it’s capped! It’s not money wasted on fraud and abuse, it’s extremely efficient with the kind of overhead any charity or organization in the world would die to achieve, and it’s just an amazing program.

I’d argue that social security also helps innovation and entrepreneurship, because people can take wild risks opening businesses and if everything fails, they still will have the peace of mind to know that some of their most basic needs will be met due to their participation in the program.

There are a lot of things I can understand people getting mad about (I may not agree with them, but I can understand it), but this program simply is not one of them. Yet social security is under constant assault, with ridiculous amounts of hand-wringing and lying about the program. It’s insane.

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151 replies
  1. 1
    WJS says:

    They hate it because it works; Social Security is proof that government is capable and competent. That is why it MUST be destroyed.

  2. 2
    ArchTeryx says:

    They’re sadists who want people to suffer for the sin of being poor.

    SATSQ.

  3. 3
    El Cid says:

    __

    It’s there for everyone! It’s a solid government program which gives everyone the piece of mind that no matter what, there will be some money available for you to take care of yourself in your most vulnerable years…
    __
    It’s not money wasted on fraud and abuse, it’s extremely efficient with the kind of overhead any charity or organization in the world would die to achieve, and it’s just an amazing program.

    That’s why they hate it.

    The threat of a good example.

  4. 4

    No Hedge Fund Manager ever got a bonus from a Social Security check. That’s it.

  5. 5
    Richard says:

    How many members of those elites actually need it? What they personally won’t miss is “unnecessary”. I’m sure that’s big part of their mentality.

  6. 6
    dmsilev says:

    A big part of it is that the finance types see that huge pot of money and are salivating at the thought of charging a couple of percentage points per annum of “management fees” and like.

  7. 7
    Nom de Plume says:

    It Will Never Make Sense To Me

    Okay, I’ll try and clarify it for you…in the rightwing “mind”, it is not enough that you yourself have everything you need. It is also necessary that nobody else have as much as you. Everybody gets Social Security, which means that in one sense, everyone is equal (though not everyone gets the same payout, of course). This is unacceptable, and a “conservative” simply cannot sleep at night with this knowledge.

    All clear now?

  8. 8
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    It doesn’t make sense? Allow me to explain.

    Working folks have spent the last 30 years overpaying for Social Security. The federal government has borrowed that overpayment to avoid raising taxes on the rich.

    Now the debt is coming due and the rich don’t want to pay.

  9. 9
    Mattminus says:

    John, the “peace of mind” that you mention is exactly what they hate about it. The servant class is more highly motivated when they are constantly scared to death.

  10. 10
    Raenelle says:

    They hate it, because they begrudge every cent that is not immediately available to them to steal for profit.

  11. 11
    cathyx says:

    I was just thinking today that I don’t understand why many rich people want to pay less taxes so that the government has to cut down on social safety nets for those who need them and the infrastructure crumbles. Who wants to live in a country that is literally falling apart and with poor people living out on the streets? It’s ugly and depressing. That can’t be worth the extra dollars that they get. How can one have pride in their country when it’s falling apart?

  12. 12
    El Cid says:

    Also, they want their hands on that money. Put it in Wall Street! Invest it! We’ll grow it for you!

  13. 13
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Comments #1-6 pretty much covered all the bases: they hate a program that demonstrates progressive govt. in good working order because it encourages the proles to have disturbing ideas about what else might work, it doesn’t tickle their Calvinist/SocialDarwinist G-spots, it doesn’t benefit them personally, and privitizing it would create a huge new pool of money for the ca$inos on Wall St to play with.
    __
    I’ll add this: the opposite of “social security” is “social insecurity”. And a world in which the proles live in fear of what may happen to them is a better world to be an elite, if you have a very short term notion of where this might lead in terms of social relations, and the thought of lording it over the lowly peasants gives you a hardon. Social security for the masses = at best a low-grade Aristocracy. Our betters want an upgrade. They can’t upgrade their own seats to something better, so they want the next best thing, which is to have all the rest of us flying back in coach to be evicted from our seats and stuffed into the overhead luggage compartments.

  14. 14
    El Cid says:

    @Raenelle: Exactly. Future stability? Fuck the future. Smash and grab now — those Mediterranean yacht & helicopter trips don’t take themselves!

  15. 15
    jl says:

    Dear JG Cole,

    In answer to your ‘I don’t get it’ bleg.

    The federal government borrowed a sh*tload of money from Social Security to give the rich and tragically not quite rich enough big tax breaks, that did not produce any of the promised increases in economic growth.

    If Social Security is not gutted, less of this wasted money will have to be paid back, and the rich and tragically not quite rich enough can keep, or even better, get more tax breaks.

    You’re welcome,
    a kind and considerate reader of this miserable lefty, probably commie, blog.

  16. 16
    El Cid says:

    The Krug-Man is on it again, watching another deceitful public “economist” conflate Social Security with Medicare / Medicaid so as to once again recommend cutting it because if we don’t cut it now future benefits may not be as high as they would be otherwise except for the part about our cutting it automatically means that they won’t be as high as they would have been…

    Now, here’s the thing: none of what I’m saying is new. We’ve gone over this ground again and again, ever since Bush the Younger tried to ram through privatization.
    __
    Yet the same tricks, the same old discredited arguments, just keep coming back.
    __
    Why, you might almost think that the goal is just to undermine Social Security, using whatever argument seems handy.

  17. 17
    ally says:

    They seem utterly certain they’ll never need it, nor will any of their family members. In other words, they’re completely out of touch with the majority of Americans.

  18. 18
    the Conster (f/k/a Cat Lady) says:

    @El Cid:

    This. All that money is just sitting there, not being stolen.

  19. 19
    Weaselone says:

    @cathyx: Because the claim that the poor have “no skin in the game” is a vicious lie. Skin means value at risk. The poor and middle class have everything to fear about the country collapsing because they depend on government services and the overall health of the country to maintain their standard of living. The wealthy can hire their own security and provide their own services. If things get really bad, they can live in little affluent islands or leave the country. The wealthy can isolate themselves from the problems that plague the rest of the country. The rest of us can’t.

  20. 20
    El Cid says:

    @the Conster (f/k/a Cat Lady): We need a Social Security-backed securities as collateralized debt obligation so that we can have a massive derivatives trading market, “market” not meaning directly measurable values, just several million trillions based upon a theoretical notion of where the SS funds might add up to in a million simultaneous quantum foam universes.

  21. 21
    Anniecat45 says:

    Wingnut-land is a dream world where everyone either (1) makes enough money to provide for their own retirement or (2) is an abysmal failure. Social Security reminds them that this is a fantasy, that here in Reality Land the capitalist system does not work that well for most of the people in it. Such a reminder has to be destroyed; once it’s gone they can ignore the reality.

    If you want to make a person or group REALLY mad, destroy one of their dreams.

    Does this help?

  22. 22
    gex says:

    Social security denies them their right to watch serfs die in the streets. It’s no damn fun.

    Used to go to Hong Kong a lot. Libertarian dream of homeless kids, the injured and crippled, and the elderly living on the streets and begging. We can make that dream come true here if we try hard enough.

  23. 23
    joes527 says:

    It is a big pile of money. All in on place. Never mind that it belongs to lots of people, and that per-person it is a very moderate amount of money.

    Some idjot put it all in one big pile.

    And it being there, and not being theirs, Drives. Them. Crazy.

  24. 24
    Calouste says:

    I’d argue that social security also helps innovation and entrepreneurship, because people can take wild risks opening businesses and if everything fails, they still will have the peace of mind to know that some of their most basic needs will be met due to their participation in the program.

    Uh uh, that encourages class mobility, and before you know it, you have serfs turning into a middle class, or even those awful nouveaux riches. Can’t have that. Same with health insurance. If health insurance wasn’t bound to the employer, the serfs might think about leaving their job at the company run by Horace Boothroyd XIII, and actually start a competing company.

  25. 25
    chrismealy says:

    The skimmers want their 5% cut.

  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Quaker in a Basement:

    Working folks have spent the last 30 years overpaying for Social Security. The federal government has borrowed that overpayment to avoid raising taxes on the rich.
    __
    Now the debt is coming due and the rich don’t want to pay.

    This. The deal that Reagan made with the Democratic Congress in the 1980s was that Social Security taxes would be temporarily raised on middle-class people to fund tax breaks for the rich, but the rich would refund the Social Security trust.

    Now the deadbeats want to dodge their obligations.

  27. 27
    the Conster (f/k/a Cat Lady) says:

    @El Cid:

    a/k/a the Last Bubble. You can be sure Goldman Sachs has the legislation already written that contemplates that exact scenario.

  28. 28
    El Cid says:

    I don’t think they’d have a big problem with SS & Medicare if you let them go through the lists and determine who would and wouldn’t receive those benefits.

    Once they eliminated the blacks and the Mexicans and their not-immediate-relatives etc, it would turn out that they were pretty good programs.

  29. 29

    Based upon the fact that we have the 99% and the 1% can someone please explain to me why 99% of the ads that run on MSNBC are for “investment and retirement” firms? I do not understand it.

  30. 30
    gex says:

    @cathyx: Gated communities with huge generators, private fire and police, etc. These things are being set up here, modeled after all the best post-colonial countries where the wealthy basically live in a different country from everyone else.

    You can rest assured they will not set this up in a way that will upset their noble lives.

  31. 31
    gelfling545 says:

    I explained to my nieces & nephews at dinner yesterday that when I was a young woman starting out in life people were muttering about how social security wouldn’t be there for people my age, etc. and now, I qualify in July. I explained that it would most likely be there for them as well as long as they get out the vote for Democrats. I am also old enough to remember, boys & girls, that there was a time when even Republicans did not oppose social security.

  32. 32
    Emma says:

    The reason you don’t understand it is that you have a character flaw: You’re a decent human being that doesn’t feel the need to have a serf class. Security means that the peasants can talk back, and these people are the kind that gets off on pushing around people who can’t talk back.

  33. 33
    kindness says:

    Some on the right WANT to see the old and infirm dying in the gutter. It will allow them to point and tell others how much more responsible and correct they are in that their own lives turned out good. It isn’t just money that drives the bastards. It’s ego.

  34. 34
    Zifnab says:

    It’s not money wasted on fraud and abuse, it’s extremely efficient with the kind of overhead any charity or organization in the world would die to achieve

    Well, there’s your problem right there. How am I supposed to get a cut on a system this efficient? Where’s my slice? You don’t play ball in this town without greasing someone’s palm.

    Besides, SS might not be a lot in taxes, but its something like a 1/3rd or a 1/4th of the federal budget. That’s big money and it could be going into sweet, sweet military contracts. Or it could take a nice bite out of the corporate tax or the upper bracket. $660 billion / year in tax breaks and military spending sounds like a freak’n great deal to me. Why are we wasting it on poor old people?

  35. 35
    Zandar says:

    @the Conster (f/k/a Cat Lady):

    All that money is just sitting there, not being stolen privatized stolen.

    Yep.

  36. 36
    Comrade Dread says:

    @the Conster (f/k/a Cat Lady): We’re sorry that you’ve got to eat cat food now, but who could have known the bubble would burst and all of the money the government could have used to help you out had to be given to us to keep our banks afloat so we could get our multi-million dollar bonuses and pay for the private security teams to keep you from killing us.

    So could you kindly go somewhere else and starve to death? No, I can’t help you, because then I wouldn’t be actualizing myself and I’d be robbing you of the chance to be productive!

  37. 37

    @gex:
    I lived there for two years so yeah add to that little or no Health and Safety regulations, no workers comp, and construction workers scrambling up bamboo scaffolding to build yet another skyscraper and you get to add lot more people to the “disabled and begging” category.

  38. 38
    El Cid says:

    Also, the 1920s before the Olds starting robbing all of the good white working class’ taxes were really cool, what with those smooth gangster rides and the awesome sharecropped farms and prisoners who knew they’d have to work if they happened to be arrested for any reason such as some boss-man needed cheap workers.

  39. 39
    gex says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: And I was there before 1997. So you can’t even blame it on communists.

  40. 40
    Chris says:

    @WJS:

    Why our elites and media elites have such sheer contempt and hatred for social security. It’s there for everyone!

    Ding ding ding!

    It’s very simple: once you abolish the welfare state, things like Social Security will become something that local elites get to simply dole out on a whim as they see fit. So, for example, if your neighborhood votes the right way in the next election, the Social Security will flow, but if it doesn’t, it might find itself the victim of an unfortunate but necessary cutback – etc etc.

    When they made things like Social Security and Medicare available all across the board, the feds took away a huge means of coercion and bribery for local Boss Hoggs all across the nation. And they want it back.

  41. 41
    R. Porrofatto says:

    And none other than Saint Paul “let them eat… actually, no let them starve” Ryan received his father’s Social Security death benefits when he was a teenager. Of course, the Ryan family was also pretty affluent to begin with, but still, you won’t see Saint Paul talking over $350 dollars of wine about giving those benefits back, either.

  42. 42

    @gex:

    Yeah I was there in 86-88, it was the dirty capitalists that were the problem. The HKSB building killed hundreds during construction from what I recall (the bank that is now known as HSBC).

  43. 43
    Calouste says:

    @Chris:

    Yep, they oppose it because it conflicts with neo-feudalism.

  44. 44
    gex says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: My dad is from there and my mom worked for Northwest Airlines. The oldest I was when we went was 16. Even then, I could tell that was just wrong. Sickly little old ladies, sleeping in the streets.

    It’s just sad. The people who care not a whit about this really make me very sad.

    @Calouste: Eventually the white men who are helping to push this along will realize they’ve been made into serfs too. And when that happens, they will still blame women, blacks, immigrants, and gays.

  45. 45
    Liberty60 says:

    One of the points I like to make to conservatives is that the safety net, as John points out, encourages risk taking and liquidity; or consider, what if we went back to the “thrift” of the 19th century, when people bought everything cash, and hoarded their savings since there was no safety net?

  46. 46
    Calouste says:

    @gex:

    Of course. Nothing like a witchhunt or a pogrom to divert the restless serfs’ attention from storming the castle.

  47. 47
    ChrisNYC says:

    Yeah, I always thought that it was money people wanting fees, also. They’ve pushed the retirement paranoia as far as they can, for non-SS retirement saving. People are not going to be putting 50% of their income into savings, no matter how many vital-grey-haired-people-on-yacht-with-heads-back-laughing commercials they see. And imagine, without SS, the money managers would get so many flavors of delicious public money for “reaching out” to low income communities. Worked for them for credit cards.

  48. 48
    katie5 says:

    One thing I noticed when I watch Joe Scarborough–the white noise of my morning–is that he’s gone increasingly batshit insane when the topic of entitlements comes up. I mean he starts literally screaming and Mika looks embarrassed and has to calm him down. For him it’s an issue of reciprocity: he agrees that the rich have to pay more taxes BUT then the rest have to suffer. That the situation is asymmetrical in terms of disposal income simply doesn’t occur to him.

  49. 49
    Richard says:

    I’ve long thought that the ultimate goal of the Bush tax cuts was to create a budget deficit so immense that the GOPers would ultimately use the ginned up crisis to try and justifying throwing the social security funds at it to “fix” the problem (Sorry Granny, but unless we give all your money to the foreign bankers, the USA goes bankrupt!).

    Evidently the earlier cuts weren’t enough, so Ryan and his pals want to double down.

  50. 50

    @ChrisNYC:
    Yeah like all those ads where people carry those “numbers” around under their arm. That being the number that they need to retire. Have you ever seen one less than a million? No, me neither. Talk about being out of touch with the regular working folk.

  51. 51
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Everyone has given great answers to the question of why the right hates Social Security. But taste-making pundits who aren’t rabid wingnuts _also_ rail against it. That’s much more mystifying. IMHO the reason is because they really, really like to demonstrate that they are willing to endorse “cutting spending” as a policy remedy. Because that way they’re tougher-minded than bleeding-heart lïberals who just want to throw money at social problems. It’s about this particular kind of self-image as hard-nosed and reality-based… and, above all, NOT What Liberals Would Say.

  52. 52
    cmorenc says:

    @WJS:

    They hate it because it works; Social Security is proof that government is capable and competent. That is why it MUST be destroyed.

    EXACTLY THAT. Also, too the folks most passionate to destroy social security just happen to mostly be folks with enough accumulated investment wealth that they don’t need money from the program, and see their required contributions to social security as subtracting from money they could invest, confident the result would make them even wealthier. They’ll eagerly cite figures about how much better the money contributed to social security would return over time if invested in private stocks and bonds, but you’ll annoy them with the inconvenience of asking them what happens if their investment returns don’t work out so well as planned, such as what-if privatization of social security had happened under Bush and the stock market had crashed in 2008.

    Worst of all from their perspective, they see social security as THE program which does more to fundamentally undermine social/economic darwinism in which they see themselves as winners and the sort of folks who rely on social security as undeserving losers dragging back the deserving wealthy.

  53. 53
    katie5 says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: There are members of the 1% who watch MSNBC. My guess, however, is that the investment and retirement ads are geared to the 99%. Just because your retirement fund, whomever you choose, will be inadequate to the task, doesn’t deter these companies.

  54. 54
  55. 55
    Narcissus says:

    Basically they want to return to the 1890s and aren’t particular about what arguments they have to make or what policies they have to follow to get there. They of course assume they’ll be JP Morgan and not some shlub in a gutter.

  56. 56
    FlipYrWhig says:

    It’s the same reason why they admire the Paul Ryan budget and wars in the Middle East. Because it’s tough and muscular and represents Hard Choices and Shared Sacrifice, and proves that they’re not susceptible to emotional appeals and general soft-hearted tendencies towards empathy and compassion.

  57. 57
    Cap'n Magic says:

    @El Cid: You left out one important part: these CDO’s, like many MBS’s, arent’t backed by anything as no real assets were transfered.

  58. 58
    ChrisNYC says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: @Litlebritdifrnt: True. And in the calculators I’ve seen they have that box, for choosing whether to include expected SS payments or not. And the default is not, of course. It’s creepy, that whole racket.

  59. 59
    kuvasz says:

    I’d argue that social security also helps innovation and entrepreneurship, because people can take wild risks opening businesses and if everything fails, they still will have the peace of mind to know that some of their most basic needs will be met due to their participation in the program.

    That is the entire point and why the wealthy don’t like it. It allows people to go out on their own and not be forced to work as wage slaves to increase the wealth of the already rich.

  60. 60

    It has only been one generation, barely, since the iron curtain came down and the Cold War came to a close. Most of us spent a part of our formative years during that 40 year run of twin superpowers struggling to impose their vastly different ideologies on far flung places of the world.

    To simplify, the individual versus the collective, and that was what was pounded into most American skulls up until circa 1990. People not alive during the early 60’s especially, have a hard time understanding the deeply insidious and palpable fear that came with that cold war, not only from nuclear annihilation, but also from “the red collective’ sneakily sapping our precious bodily fluids.

    It was a fear made to order for the right wing to exploit politically with them being the furthest from that place on the poll spectrum, with exaggerated claims that any kind of social policy for the general welfare could lead to forming collective cadres, and an end to individual liberty.

    And for the dimmer bulbs among us, and there are way too many, that kind of fear in a democracy is easy to spread like a virus from one moron to the next.

    It took an assassinated beloved president that brought a dem supermajority to squeak through medicare, and that likely would not have happened if not confined to the elderly.

    And you just can’t run a country, nor a capitalist one, without some kinds of safety net for the certain losers, nor can you do it without a vibrant middle class to create buffers to the extreme in either direction. And to feed the free market beast with adequate consumerism against the insatiable greedy supply side monster, if left to its own devices.

    And then there is health care, a vital resource everyone will need sooner or later, therefore not meant for the free market profiteering model, that every other western nation has figured out that keeping it under the capitalist system, is a sure recipe for national economic disaster.

    The Cold War mentality is still with us, and still has pol arrows in the quivers of the GOP. I figure at least one more generation, and maybe two, until we can have a majority of voters not raised on duck and cover from the Red Menace, currently demogogued as your average liberal in the dem party and soshulist Kenyan Usurpers. That we can have a solid social safety net, without turning into commie stooges.

  61. 61
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @kuvasz: Yeah, they don’t actually want competition. They don’t really care all that much for free markets. They want things rigged in their favor and, if other people need to get screwed over, it is either a price they are willing to pay or a bonus.

  62. 62
    Chris says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    It’s the same reason why they admire the Paul Ryan budget and wars in the Middle East. Because it’s tough and muscular and represents Hard Choices and Shared Sacrifice, and proves that they’re not susceptible to emotional appeals and general soft-hearted tendencies towards empathy and compassion.

    And like the wars in the Middle East, it’s Hard Choices and Shared Sacrifice that they’ll never actually have to pay for. They’re wealthy enough not to worry about ending up like the Little People, just like they’ll never have to worry about their kids joining the military to pay for college.

  63. 63
    Birthmarker says:

    @Zifnab: Its elimination will give directly back 6.25% of wages to employers that they now pay for the employee ss benefit. I think that Congress will force everyone onto a 401K style plan. You will have a forced contribution. The employer will pay some percentage up to a certain amount of wages, as 401Ks are set up now. I promise you it will be less than 6.25% The savings to businesses will be massive.

    The bonus point is the creation of a new financial industry.

    All public policy now favors the bottom line of big business. That’s why the stock market has prospered during a pretty brutal recession.

    This is also why I don’t think the Supremes will overturn the ACA. Do you really think they will take 30 million new customers away from the insurance industry?

  64. 64

    I assume by “solid government program which gives everyone the peace of mind that no matter what, there will be some money available for you to take care of yourself in your most vulnerable years” you mean, “excuse for the lazy asses to slack off during their most productive years because you can suck off the gummint teat and bleed the Job Creators dry later.”

    That’s how the wackadoodles see it. Though they’ll go to their graves defending it.

  65. 65
    Kirk Spencer says:

    Lotsa good answers with which I agree, but I’ll add one I don’t see (though may have missed).

    Calvinism. Or rather the bastardized, skewed version we have. If you are poor it is because you are being punished (or tested) by God. It is extremely immoral of your fellow man to intercede in God’s will.

    Social security “rewards” the grasshoppers who made it that far as well as the ants. It is far too reminiscent of the parable they never seem to preach, the Parable of the Laborers of the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16).

    That isn’t to say the host of remarks already made are wrong, it is to say there is yet another driver of this doombell.

  66. 66

    Interesting thing about social security though that some people don’t think about. My boss scaled back his practice of law about 5 years ago and basically coasted on a couple of good settlements and an annuity that he negotiated as part of a huge personal injury settlement back in the 80s (smart move on his part). His SS payout will be quite nice if he quits work this year (when he turns 62) but the longer he keeps working with reduced annual income, it will nip away at his monthly benefit until he eventually DOES retire. I keep telling him to cut back his expenses a tad and he could live a comfortable life and spend his days on the golf course. His response to me was “you see a lot of wealthy lawyers but they rarely die that way” or words to that effect. I mean would it kill you to cut back to a $50.00 bottle of wine from a $200 bottle of wine? Seriously?

  67. 67
    Birthmarker says:

    @General Stuck:

    And you just can’t run a country, nor a capitalist one, without some kinds of safety net for the certain losers, nor can you do it without a vibrant middle class to create buffers to the extreme in either direction. And to feed the free market beast with adequate consumerism against the insatiable greedy supply side monster, if left to its own devices.

    I agree with this, Stuck, except that now that vibrant middle class can be anywhere in the world. Those good and services can be sold worldwide. The market is much bigger and is going to get even more that way.

  68. 68

    Oh, by “defending it” I mean, they want to make sure THEY get their benefits and fuck everyone else. Thinking of those “Keep your government hands off my Social Security” signs at Tea Party rallies …

  69. 69
    pluege says:

    There are a lot of things I can understand people getting mad about (I may not agree with them, but I can understand it), but this program simply is not one of them.

    then you just don’t understand the utter depravity of the plutocrat, republican/conservative mind.

  70. 70
    Elizabelle says:

    Some of our elites are f*ckwits.

  71. 71
    Hungry Joe says:

    To them, the fact that Social Security works is beside the point. Really. It doesn’t matter that it has lifted untold millions out of dire poverty and allowed them to live decent lives, and lifted untold more millions out of a barely-getting-by existence into lives of some comfort and ease. They’re opposed to it because it’s social-you-know-what-ism, therefore it’s wrong, and that’s that.

  72. 72
    Felonious Wench says:

    Dogma. Private companies can do everything better than the government. And because there is no way to prove SS works better as a government program than a private one, they can keep saying it over and over with no way to be held accountable.

    So, a fun theoretical circle jerk with no logical way to disprove the Libertarian argument…unless we privatize and it fails. I’m not willing to take that risk, and luckily, neither is the vast bulk of the country.

  73. 73
    Nellie in NZ says:

    Way OT but a bit startled by an encounter an hour ago. There’s another American who administers the Community House here – literacy tutoring, foodbank, age concerns, daycenter for impaired – all stuff that will be impacted in the States by the Ryun budget. So, we’ve had friendly chit-chat through the months and I sort of assumed a sympatico approach. I asked her if she was going to vote and she went, on a dime from nice lady to very very angry lady. You bet she was going to vote if she has to walk to the Embassy in Wellington. She would vote for Bozo the Clown before she would vote for this Obama regime and the shadowy men behind him. He abolished the National Day of Prayer. He parties with Mick Jagger in the White House. He came out of nowhere and he’s done nothing before this. He’s brought so much division to the dear land that she loves. No, not racist at all, she has a good black friend in the States who hates Obama as much as she does. She hasn’t been to the States since 2004 but she weeps for what Obama has done to the country. I tried to talk to her, ask where she got her news, etc, but everything was one way. I left with her saying, with very tight lips, “Everyone has their opinion.” I don’t run into that sort of irrational ugliness here among kiwis but man, did this America go from 0 to 100 in less than an inhalation of breath. (She, by the way, has national health care here in New Zealand.)

    I can avoid her and she’s an exception among expats here; I would hate to live among that sort of irrational intensity. She was hateful, though she had a cross and a medal of some sort on her necklace. Or is it because?

  74. 74
    Raven says:

    @Nellie in NZ: Christian no doubt.

  75. 75

    @Elizabelle:

    Some of our elites are f*ckwits.

    FTFY

  76. 76
    bemused says:

    @Comrade Javamanphil:

    Yes!

    Bush went around the country trying to convince seniors and the rest of us that privatizing SS would be a terrific idea. That would true, just not for us. There is that huge chunk of SS money just sitting there doing nothing profitable when it could be gambled with.

  77. 77
    Citizen_X says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    “you see a lot of wealthy lawyers but they rarely die that way”

    See, that makes zero sense. What’s the point of dying wealthy? What are you saving it for, a skybox in hell?

  78. 78
    kdaug says:

    Hrm. I’m beginning to think Krugthulu lurks here…

  79. 79

    I mean would it kill you to cut back to a $50.00 bottle of wine from a $200 bottle of wine? Seriously?

    No, but it would kill you to be seen cutting back to a $50 bottle of wine from a $200 one.

  80. 80
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Citizen_X:

    You’re saving it so your grandchildren can be rich and star in their very own online sex videos like Paris Hilton.

  81. 81

    @Citizen_X:

    Here in the South it is all about leaving it to your kids and grandkids. My boss is paying an inordinate amount of money a month for a life insurance policy so his kids get a huge payout when he dies. Makes no sense.

  82. 82
    Judge Crater says:

    The FICA dollars. Wall St. wants the FICA dollars.

    Also, Social Security is an affront to the free-market calculus: it “redistributes” wealth via big government intervention. It’s a “Ponzi Scheme” that obliges each generation to contribute to the well being of succeeding generations. It breaks all the Randian rules of self interest and interferes with the right-wing dream that Dickensian norms be once again imposed on the poor and unfortunate.

    I think that sums it up.

  83. 83
    Citizen_X says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    taste-making pundits who aren’t rabid wingnuts also rail against it. That’s much more mystifying.

    I think it’s just because they’re stupid trend followers. Why flout the conventional wisdom of your peers?

    And when I say, “they’re stupid,” I recognize that some of them may be smart in some things. But everyone’s stupid about things they don’t think seriously about. It should be part of their job to think seriously about the things they write about, yes, but nobody’s holding them to it.

  84. 84

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Yeah there is that, the “look at me” bit is strong.

  85. 85
    Ksmiami says:

    @cathyx: I attribute it to the fact that Americans don’t travel out of country enough to appreciate the enormous incalculable benefits of good infrastructure

  86. 86
    ruemara says:

    If the little people are allowed to have things, then it completely makes my things not worth having. These aren’t smart people, John. They’re evil and classist. Not smart. Otherwise, the burden of history would teach them not to fuck around so much with a good thing. It ends with guillotines and explosions.

  87. 87
    Rick Taylor says:

    I don’t understand. First you tell us you don’t understand why our elites hate social security. And then you explain to us why our elites hate social security. . .

  88. 88

    @Judge Crater:

    I think the best defense of Social Security so far has been that brilliant spot on MSNBC with Rachael Maddow “it is not a ponzi scheme, it is not bankrupting us, it is working”. Same goes for the Larry O’Donnell spot on the GI Bill, oh and the Rev Al spot on the PIE! “They got blueberry all over their faces!” HA

  89. 89
    Ms. Creosote says:

    Two reasons:

    1) SS represents a transfer of wealth from rich to poor. Randians no likey this.

    2) There is always the threat that the cap could be removed at some point; by fighting to destroy it, you keep the Overton window moving in the proper direction.

  90. 90
    Raven says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Wanting to take care of your children is not a function of a direction on a compass.

  91. 91
    SammyV says:

    Fuckin’ A, John Cole.

  92. 92
    cromagnon says:

    They’re against it until its time to start actually collecting it, and then they’re all for it. They’ll still complain about SOCIALISM though… Just witness all the tea-party types riding around in their Medicare paid for scooters, holding NO SOCIALISM signs

  93. 93

    @Raven:

    Sorry you got me there. There was a spot on MHP this weekend when she said “you can get student loans for college, you cannot get retirement loans for retirement” Many parents are stashing all of their money into College Funds and completely ignoring their retirement so that their kids can go to college. That makes no sense. If the parents have no retirement funds then who is going to end up having to take care of them? Yup, their kids.

  94. 94
    wasabi gasp says:

    It Will Never Make Sense To Me

    But the dollars it will make for them!

  95. 95
    Raven says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Well, not having kids I just need to make sure the pups are taken care of!

  96. 96
    Citizen_X says:

    Sort of on-topic: Salon’s got a good piece here about the stark philosophical divide showing up this election, between Rmoney and Obama/the 1% and the 99%/ the let-em-starve brigade and the DFH’s, etc.

  97. 97
    Chris says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    If the parents have no retirement funds then who is going to end up having to take care of them? Yup, their kids.

    Trying to picture what life would be like in their utopia in which a couple will need to put aside enough money to provide for their parents’ retirement after they’re too old to work, AND put aside enough money to pay for their kids’ education (obviously no public schools or government scholarships), AND put aside enough money to finance their OWN retirement, just in case their kids die or can’t make it to a profitable enough job to finance it.

    And we think current levels of debt are bad…

  98. 98
    Jennifer says:

    Quaker in a Basement nailed it wayyyy back at #8.

    In fact, you could say the same for the entire debt. If tax rates had stayed the same as under Carter, it wouldn’t exist. The wealthy have skated on paying their fair share (relative to the benefits they receive) for 30 years now, and they aren’t about to pay it back now without a fight. Not that they would ever really “pay it back” – no one is proposing to go back and charge them the higher rates retroactively – they just want to make sure they get out of paying any of it, ever.

    I really wish they would adopt my framing for this – it’s such a powerful counter to the “but but but…families have to live within a budget, too!” argument.

    That framing is this: the Bush tax cuts for the rich are like the big, expensive, dumbass boat sitting in the driveway that’s been used 5 times in the past 3 years. Social Security and Medicare are like your house. When people lose jobs and have to cut back their budgets, they don’t decide to default on the mortgage to keep up the boat payments. They sell the fucking boat, first. Defaulting on the mortgage is the last resort. That’s because the boat is a luxury, while the house is an investment, an asset, that they have been paying on for years.

    That’s how “families” actually cut expenses when necessary – by getting rid of the shit they don’t need so they can hold on to the stuff they’ve been paying into for years.

  99. 99
    Schlemizel says:

    @Quaker in a Basement:
    John could have shut the thread down after this:
    Working folks have spent the last 30 years overpaying for Social Security. The federal government has borrowed that overpayment to avoid raising taxes on the rich.

    Now the debt is coming due and the rich don’t want to pay.

    SATSQ

  100. 100
    WereBear says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: They will love him THEN.

    Big Daddy.

  101. 101
    burnspbesq says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    Talk about being out of touch with the regular working folk.

    You don’t seriously think that “regular working folk,” whoever they might be, are the target audience for those ads, do you? Those ads are targeted at people like me, for whom Social Security will replace less than half of their income and who aren’t interested in having their standard of living go off a cliff when they retire. And if you understand the actuarial arithmetic, a million isn’t a big number. If you retire at age 65, chances are you will live another 15-20 years. How much money do you have to have set aside in order to draw down $60K a year for 20 years? Right around a million.

  102. 102
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Our elites need that money in their Wall Street game.

  103. 103
    Gregory says:

    It’s not money wasted on fraud and abuse, it’s extremely efficient with the kind of overhead any charity or organization in the world would die to achieve, and it’s just an amazing program.

    Well, yeah. It proves that all that Republican anti-government rhetoric is bullshit. Social Security’s very existence — and worse yet, its popularity — is an enduring refutation of the cult of modern Republicanism.

  104. 104
    burnspbesq says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    you see a lot of wealthy lawyers but they rarely die that way” or words to that effect.

    Incorrect use of the word “wealthy.” Many lawyers have high incomes. Very few have wealth.

  105. 105
    andy says:

    @Calouste: Yep- that and especially Single Payer are a direct threat to out betters- if Single Payer was the law of the land, it would be as if every man, woman, and child were issued their own Union Card.

  106. 106
    Birthmarker says:

    @burnspbesq:
    my meager observations seem to confirm this.

    But that is true of a lot of high income people.

  107. 107

    @Raven:

    Okay you and me both!

  108. 108
    amk says:

    Why ? Because it also helps pigment challenged. That’s why. That simple.

  109. 109
    andy says:

    @Richard: It’s called Starving the Beast and it is the plan.

  110. 110
    Linda says:

    What’s wrong with you? Don’t you like seeing a Sunday circle of six-figure-a-year journalists earnestly discussing how much of a hit some $14,000 a year Social Security grandpa has to take For the Good Of Us All? It’s a tribute to the tolerance of the American people that they haven’t already sparked a violent revolution.

  111. 111
    burnspbesq says:

    Bernstein says:

    Members of Congress cannot simultaneously claim that the tax cuts for people at the top are affordable [or like the Ryan budget, add trillions more in tax cuts] while the Social Security shortfall constitutes a dire fiscal threat.

    That’s only true if one considers oneself bound by the laws of third-grade arithmetic. Which all true Republicans have renounced as un-American and un-Christian.

  112. 112
    The Fat Kate Middleton says:

    @Quaker in a Basement: Exactly.

  113. 113
    Triassic Sands says:

    It’s important to understand that in the thirties, when the Democrats were creating social security, the Republicans opposed FDR’s plan, because it was not a welfare plan.

    In reading about the creation of social security, I was surprised to learn that Republicans favored a welfare program that would serve only the needy. (“The battle for social security : from FDR’s vision to Bush’s gamble” by Nancy Altman)

    Today, this seems weird, since the GOP never misses an opportunity to abuse the poor and call for cutting the social safety net. It’s possible that the Republicans of the thirties realized that if a program for everyone existed, it would be much harder to attack and dismantle than one for the poor only. This is worth keeping in mind when calling for means-testing social security benefits. The less universal it is, the easier it is for Republicans to attack.

    Instead of reducing how much the wealthy get from social security, it makes more sense to simply remove the cap on the tax, making 100% of income taxable.

  114. 114
    mainmati says:

    @dmsilev: I think that’s 99% of the objection; you didn’t see this much as a widespread Gooper meme until the Reagan Era, which was also the Gordon Gecko, “greed is good” era. I think it’s really as simple as you stated.

  115. 115
    ChrisNYC says:

    @burnspbesq: This is not entirely true.

    Those ads, like credit card ads, are largely aspirational. They’re not going for people like you via tv ads, because people like you surely do not choose a money manager based on a television advertisement. Indeed, tv ads lower financial products’ upscale desirability. The ads get the brand established, with prudence and wealth as the carrot, and the fin services company then has products to suit. It’s about getting people in, people reaching for the next rung up the ladder, and sticking with the vendor. Aspiration is important for that.

  116. 116
    Chris says:

    @Triassic Sands:

    Without having read the book or knowing much about the Social Security debate back then in particular… liberalism was still a bipartisan thing back then. The Democrats and the Republicans both grew a populist/Progressive/anti-corporate wing at about the same time, with W. J. Bryan introducing it in the Democratic Party and Theodore Roosevelt introducing it (much more successfully) in the GOP.

    I suspect the Republicans who pushed for that welfare plan were followers of the TR tradition, e.g. people who wanted to make capitalism more humane in order to save it. (Which isn’t that different from what FDR’s Dems wanted, FDR just went a lot further).

  117. 117
    rickstershierpa says:

    @Mattminus: I think that is close to the mark. They hate it because it is a Government program that works well and is successful and most of all it makes people independent of them!!! I think Corey Robin’s book “The Reactionary Mind” sums it up very well: “From the French Revolution to the Tea Party, conservatism has been a reactionary movement, a defense of power and privilege against democratic challenges from below, particularly in the private spheres of the family and the workplace.” Anything that makes an individual less dependent on his employer is loathed.

  118. 118

    […] It Will Never Make Sense To Me By John ColeApril 9th, 2012 […]

  119. 119
    Dee Loralei says:

    @Jennifer: That’s a pretty good analogy. I’ll use it.

  120. 120
    rickstershierpa says:

    On this blog I first ran across the term “The Confederate Party” and that is “Alien” that has taken over the husk of the old Republican Party. Since McKinley and Mark Hanna, it has always been dominated by the large business interests in the country, but it still contained the progressive, liberal tradition of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Norris, LaFollette, and LaGuardia up through the 1960s. And then Goldwater and Nixon, one for (bad principal and one for opportunism, introduce race and brought the Confederate Party into the Republican Party after the Democrats finally expelled the cancer.

  121. 121
    gnomedad says:

    There are a lot of things I can understand people getting mad about (I may not agree with them, but I can understand it), but this program simply is not one of them. Yet social security is under constant assault, with ridiculous amounts of hand-wringing and lying about the program. It’s insane.

    “You are a flaw in the pattern, Winston. You are a stain that must be wiped out.”

  122. 122

    @Kirk Spencer: I don’t think it’s literal Calvinism in many cases, but there’s no doubt that many conservatives believe that if you’re poor it’s because you’re flawed (lazy, stupid, etc.) and that it would not only be wrong, but dangerous, to “reward” that behavior.

  123. 123
    liberal says:

    @cathyx:

    Who wants to live in a country that is literally falling apart and with poor people living out on the streets? It’s ugly and depressing.

    “All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

  124. 124
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    Because the wingnut mind divides the world into the deserving and the undeserving. The thought that a single one of the “undeserving” poor might get a dollar of “their” tax money is intolerable. And if the “deserving” are threatened by crack-downs, God will provide for them.

  125. 125
    Catsy says:

    I think it is a blend of many of the things that have been written already, and this: because it’s not about the results, it’s about practicing ideological correctness. If conservatives valued facts, data, and the actual results and efficiency of a policy, it’d be different. They’d love Social Security. There wouldn’t be a debate about climate change or evolution. And we’d have a robust nationwide sex education and contraception-assistance program to eliminate unplanned pregnancies.

    But they don’t. Instead we get proven failures like abstinence-only education, which has no purpose or value whatsoever other than religious puritanism at the expense of public health.

  126. 126
    JoeShabadoo says:

    People already pointed out the fact that people want that money but I’ll go one step further.

    I’d argue that social security also helps innovation and entrepreneurship, because people can take wild risks opening businesses and if everything fails, they still will have the peace of mind to know that some of their most basic needs will be met due to their participation in the program.

    The rich don’t want this at all. These new businesses are direct competition with them. The harder it is to start these things the more their success is assured because these people will be working for them instead. This is also why they don’t give a shit about the incredible cost of college and the debt that keeps young people from taking risks.

  127. 127
    someofparts says:

    Our leaders dislike Social Security the way a burglar dislikes the valuables in your house. Outright theft carries a stigma and penalties if caught. Better to convince the homeowner that his valuables are worthless and then persuade him that you are taking them for his own good. To the banksters, Social Security is just a big pile of money they want so they can use it to keep gambling.

  128. 128
    El Cid says:

    @Triassic Sands: There were lots and lots of competing visions, but one approach was like limited social aid which would help with the poorest and most desperate of the “aged and infirm”, whereas the giant mass movement backing a universal pension won out.

    On September 30, 1933, the local newspaper in the seaside community of Long Beach, California published a letter to the editor submitted by Dr. Francis Everett Townsend, a broke 67-year-old who’d failed as a physician, a manufacturer of dry ice, and a real estate salesman.
    __
    In his telling, he looked out his window one morning and saw three elderly women going through garbage cans in search of food. “A torrent of invectives tore out of me, the big blast of all the bitterness that had been building in me for years,” he reminisced. “I swore and I ranted, and I let my voice bellow with a wild hatred I had for things as they were.”
    __
    Vowing to his wife that he would shout “until the whole country hears,” he formulated a plan, set it to paper, and sent his local newspaper the outline for an old age pension system that would sustain the nation’s elderly, ending the Great Depression as a happy side-effect.
    __
    The story about the women rummaging through the garbage can is likely a fabrication, or so historians have concluded. But however inspired, the plan was sent to the Long Beach Press Telegram and published as follows:

    in order to provide for the fifteen to twenty million Americans over age 60, every last one should be granted a pension of $150 per month — enough for a middle class existence at the time — a sum they’d be required to spend within the month, affording economic stimulus that would revive the nation’s economy.

    In five subsequent letters to the editor, more details emerged. The plan would be funded by a national sales tax of two percent on all business transactions (and would later call for $200 per month pensions).
    __
    It requires little context to understand why a proposal like this would appeal to many Press Telegram readers. California doubled its 65-and-older population between 1920 and 1930. In Long Beach, fully a third of the population were elderly.
    __
    “Living on fixed incomes in simple cottages, the Long Beach elderly — the majority of them Folks from Iowa and elsewhere in the Midwest… had come to Southern California to enjoy a simple life of churchgoing, potluck suppers, and checkers in the park, having earned, in their opinion, the right to enjoy the eleven years actuarially remaining to them in 1930,” Kevin Starr writes in Endangered Dreams, his history of the era.
    __
    “The Depression destroyed their plans as pension trusts shrank or, in some cases, as they went under entirely… Fully 50 percent of the elderly in America were in need of some form of outside aid if they were to make it through the slump.”
    __
    What astonishes, even all these years later, is how much rapid approval those letters won. The immediate reaction proved encouraging enough that Dr. Townsend and a colleague incorporated Old Age Revolving Pensions, Limited on January 1, 1934.
    __
    Eight months later, the first Townsend Club was organized in Huntington Park, California. “By January 1935 a half million Americans had joined Townsend Clubs and were sending nearly $1 million in dues and other donations into the movement’s headquarters,” Starr writes. That same year, a newly elected Congressman from Los Angeles arrived in Washington DC and promptly introduced legislation to implement The Townsend Plan.
    __
    And Dr. Townsend made the cover of Newsweek.
    __
    Come 1936, membership in Townsend Clubs surpassed 2.1 million people, and The Townsend National Weekly was earning roughly a quarter-million dollars a year in advertising fees for support stockings, constipation remedies, and other geriatric products.
    __
    “In terms of yearly coverage in the New York Times,” Edwin Amenta wrote in his history of the movement, the Townsend Plans rank “as the eighth-most publicized U.S. social movement organization of the twentieth century.”
    __
    Today, the Townsend Plan is all but forgotten. Usurped by President Roosevelt’s Social Security legislation in 1935, its advocates peaked in number a year later, insisting on increasing FDR’s relatively frugal payments. After that, they quickly faded from the national scene.
    __
    Historians are still debating the relative influence this grassroots movement from Southern California had on the ultimate passage of an old age pension in the United States. Even in the Golden State, there were competing pension plans, including the Ham and Eggs Movement and a pension proposal Upton Sinclair floated during his run for governor.

    There really was a set of huge, successful, popular mass movements in no small part by the elderly themselves fighting for their own interests behind what became Social Security — and you never, ever hear the slightest damn about it, as though it all emerged from the either saintlike / fetid commie brain of FDR, rather than coming from the hard work of Americans themselves.

    The point isn’t some stupid question about whether or not it all comes down to “The Townsend Plan,” it’s that people in a multiplicity of groups and circumstances busted ass to get a national pension plan passed, and it was, and the debate was largely around their terms — even though it matched largely what corporate elites had wanted from a national pension plan anyway to get rid of their private pension responsibilities and to stabilize the nation.

    Because you must never, ever, ever think that a mass movement can achieve an increase in common peoples’ share of our economic productivity.

  129. 129
    El Cid says:

    The overall best sociologist on the domination of U.S. politics and policy by its upper class / power elite nexus, G. William Domhoff.

    The Unexpected Origins of the Social Security Act of 1935
    __
    Most people now think liberals and labor leaders created the program because they are the ones who defend it. But as this document will show, the basic principles behind old-age insurance were created and actively supported by the corporate moderates who owned and controlled the biggest and most powerful corporations of the 1920s and 1930s, companies such as Standard Oil of New Jersey, General Electric, and Metropolitan Life Insurance.
    __
    In fact, government social insurance, including both unemployment insurance and old-age insurance, made enormous business and political sense to corporate moderates from the 1930s to the early 1970s. They only turned against it as part of a more general ideological and political attack on “big government” that began in the late 1970s in the face of a new set of economic and political problems caused by skyrocketing oil prices, stagflation, and the pressures put on government budgets by the social movements that arose in the 1960s.
    __
    As will be made abundantly clear, the corporate moderates of the 1920s and 1930s did not act without the advice and help of the experts on social insurance they financed and directed in the fledgling think tanks of that day, especially the first industrial relations counseling firm in American history, Industrial Relations Counselors, Inc. (Kaufman 2003).
    __
    They also worked with experts who were brought together by the Social Science Research Council, founded in 1923 by the leaders of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund to generate new policies on a wide range of social, economic, and agricultural issues (Bulmer and Bulmer 1981; Karl 1974). Other charitable foundations that corporate moderates created to shape policy proposals, led by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, further aided these efforts over the next decade and longer.
    __
    The corporate moderates and their allies insisted that government old-age insurance had to be based on three principles they developed during several years of experience with private pension plans, especially in conjunction with the major life insurance companies of the time (Klein 2003).
    __
    First, the level of benefits must be tied to salary level, thus preserving and reinforcing the values established in the labor market.
    __
    Second, unlike the case in many countries, there could be no government contributions from general tax revenues. Instead, there had to be a separate tax for old-age pensions, which would help to limit the size of benefits.
    __
    Third, there had to be both employer and employee contributions to the system, which would limit the tax payments by the corporations

    For more perspective (grounded in empirical research), see his new book Class and Power in the New Deal.

  130. 130
    RalfW says:

    As I said earlier today on another BJ thread (and as mentioned plenty above), any government program that is successful and efficient must be destroyed.
    It is simply unacceptable to admit, much less see daily or even monthly when the checks arrive, a program of government that works and is well-liked.
    If you accept that government can work well, even occasionally, then Soshulizm will be everywhere by next Thursday. QED or something.

  131. 131
    Chris says:

    @RalfW:

    Disclaimer: offer may not be valid where the military, police and intelligence agencies are concerned.

  132. 132
    Triassic Sands says:

    @Chris:

    Actually, Chris, I don’t think it was bipartisanship, but something else we’re all-too-familiar with — opposing something just because it was proposed by a Democrat.

    As El Cid points out (#128), the FDR social security plan was situated between the very ambitious proposal by Dr. Townsend and the far more modest plan from the Republicans.

    What struck me was the contrast between Republicans in the 30s, who were actually calling for a welfare program, and the Republicans of today who want to dismantle the entire social safety net.

  133. 133
    Denali says:

    Social darwinism is the new social security.

  134. 134
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ) says:

    I think JL and Quaker in a Basement have nailed the essential point. It’s either gut entitlements, or defense (but we can’t do that because many a rich person made their wealth on defense contracting) or raise taxes on the rich. That’s where all the money is. The rich know either grandma gets shafted or they do. They’d prefer to shaft grandma.

  135. 135
    dale coberly says:

    @What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ):

    I think people have been taught to believe that it’s either granma or defense… and i suspect that ultimately it may be true when they get through with the shell game.

    But technically, it is not true, at least for now.

    Social Security is paid for entirely by the workers who will get the benefits. No “government money” is involved whatsoever.

    There is no reason for this to ever change. The “huge shortfall in Social Security” you hear about can be paid for by raising the payroll tax one half of one tenth of one percent per year while life expectancies are increasing, and while pay itself is increasing by over one full percent per year. This amounts in today’s terms to forty cents per week while wages go up eight dollars per week.

    The others here who think the war against Social Security has more to do with ideology and the hatred the rich have of the poor are right. There is NO economic reason to be against Social Security. Nor is there any reason to “scrap the cap” or otherwise fund SS by taxing the rich. You are much much better off if you pay for it yourself.

  136. 136
    Tom Betz says:

    @Quaker in a Basement: That’s it in a nutshell.

  137. 137
    Swishalicious says:

    It’s pretty simple, really – Social Security FORCES people to NOT PISS AWAY ALL THEIR CASH on the stupid garbage and financial hankypanky that our Galtian Overlords would prefer. So that means there’s a ton of money they can’t take the casino. They want. the damned. money.

    They will do anything to get it. Anything.

  138. 138
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ) says:

    @dale coberly: Yes, I agree that the system is on sound financial footing and the people who benefits have been paying for it. There is no problem when it comes to funding social security.

    There are two ways to cut the deficit: cut social security or raise taxes on the rich. By “cut social security” they don’t mean cutting social security contributions. They’ll still take the same cut out of our paycheck, they’ll just give us less back in benefits, and use the extra funds to reduce the deficit or give even more tax cuts to the rich. In the end, it’s all about saving rich people money.

  139. 139
    Bribes says:

    The answer to your question–why do they hate Social Security?–lies not in the reasons given. If it were that easy, they would be pro-Social Security by now, because all the reasons are demonstrably wrong.

    IMHO, it’s a psychological and moral world view problem. Say you feel that people are inherently evil, and there must be punishment or the threat of punishment for a moral society. In that case, Social Security is withholding punishment for a sinful life, and therefore it degrades society.

    Say you feel that certain people totally do not deserve help, because they are lazy, criminals, or whatever. Well, Social Security helps all; therefore, it helps the undeserving.

    Say you feel that without struggle, people cannot achieve anything (e.g., Ayn Rand). Well, Social Security provides peace of mind; therefore, it breeds complacency and destroys society’s ability to achieve.

    Say you feel that government is the source of all problems, and the free market is the source of all good. Well, Social Security is a government program, so it must be creating problems.

    If you know that Social Security is wrong, or cannot work, then it MUST have financial problems. It MUST have negative social consequences. It MUST be bloated. It is just a matter of finding out exactly how.

    The conclusion drives the reasoning, rather than the other way around.

  140. 140
    Tom Allen says:

    You do realize that President Obama wants to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a Grand Bargain, don’t you? He has always said so, from day one. And if re-elected, that’s what he’ll do. I mean, he created the Bowles-Simpson Commission to dismantle it.

    Maybe you should consider voting even further left. Take the red pill, John. :-)

  141. 141
    Chris says:

    @Swishalicious:

    It’s pretty simple, really – Social Security FORCES people to NOT PISS AWAY ALL THEIR CASH on the stupid garbage and financial hankypanky that our Galtian Overlords would prefer. So that means there’s a ton of money they can’t take the casino. They want. the damned. money.

    I still think it’s the power more than the money.

    As far as the money goes, they’ve got more than they can count already. Sure, they’d like to have more. But it’s not about getting money from regular people and poor people, so much as it is about depriving them of as much of it as possible so that they’ll have no recourse but to crawl and beg the Galtians for it. And thus improves their standing at the top of the hierarchy in a way that goes beyond mere financial status.

  142. 142
    fidelio says:

    I’d like to choose “all of the Above” in the Balloon Juice Commentariat Competition to Explain Things to John.

    I’d also like to point out this little tidbit, which people like Grover Norquist don’t want anyone to think about:

    The Commissioner of Social Security holds a Cabinet-level post; as such, his pay is set at about $196,700, without most of the perks and encouragements that private-sector executives pride themselves on obtaining. He might be able to get some nice office furniture from the General Services warehouses, but dropping a million bucks on an interior decorator’s redo of his workspace ain’t happening. (Salary information from the US Office of Personnel Management website, click on Executive Schedule.) The Assistant Commissioner in charge of Medicare and Medicaid makes a little less, somewhere between $153K and $177K.

    What do people handling retirement money and health insurance make in the private sector? I have some of my IRA money in one the Hartford Company’s mutual funds, so here’s a bit from Bloomberg on the CEO’s recent refusal to take a bonus because his company’s stock price dropped. This dropped his compensation to nearly $8 million for 2011. Google around for details on executive compensation for other financial services as well as the health insurance companies. It’s typically included in the companies’ annual report, and will also often appear in stock analysts’ reports.

    Of course, Hartford Financial (and my investment adviser) aren’t guaranteeing my IRA money will be there when I’m ready to draw it out. Things happen all the time, don’t you know.

    So which management is really the better bargain? Grover and his friends would rather you didn’t ask…

  143. 143
    fidelio says:

    OK, that’s twice my effort to put in a link to the OPM Federal salary tables went blooey.

    Here’s another one:

    Federal salaries

    http://www.opm.gov/oca/12tables/index.asp is the URL, in case that one doesn’t come through either..

  144. 144
    dale coberly says:

    @What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ):

    formerly MarkJ

    you are probably right. but i think it is important for people to understand that there is no connection between SS and “the deficit.” SS is not going to cause any deficit in the future.

    it may well be that when they have gutted SS, they will find a way to shift the taxes you would have paid to SS… indeed, i think that is their purpose.

    but if they do not cut SS this will not increase the deficit.

  145. 145
    rapier says:

    It is hated because it gives ‘security’ to workers. Secure workers are inferior workers in their idea and ideal. Less likely to toe the line or take shit out of fear of losing the job, and everything.

    That is the economic branch of the conservative complaint against security for workers. However the real root is not economic it is social. Conservatives want a cowed, fearful lower class who because of those fears will act conservatively. This actually has nothing to do with better economic outcomes mind you it is purely a social urge.

    All the above is a recap of John Holbos great blog post of 2003, Dead Right.

    http://examinedlife.typepad.co.....right.html

    “The thing that makes capitalism good, apparently, is not that it generates wealth more efficiently than other known economic engines. No, the thing that makes capitalism good is that, by forcing people to live precarious lives, it causes them to live in fear of losing everything and therefore to adopt – as fearful people will – a cowed and subservient posture: in a word, they behave ‘conservatively’. Of course, crouching to protect themselves and their loved ones from the eternal lash of risk precisely won’t preserve these workers from risk. But the point isn’t to induce a society-wide conformist crouch by way of making the workers safe and happy. The point is to induce a society-wide conformist crouch. Period. A solid foundaton is hereby laid for a desirable social order.”

  146. 146
    Avedon says:

    @Mattminus: Exactly. Getting rid of Social Security is the answer to the problem of: “It’s so hard to get good help, these days.”

  147. 147

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    […] Balloon Juice, the first comment following John Cole’s post, It Will Never Make Sense To Me nails the real reason the elites hate Social Security so much. Cole writes in the post that it will […]

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    […] Balloon Juice, the first comment following John Cole’s post, It Will Never Make Sense To Me nails the real reason the elites hate Social Security so much. Cole writes in the post that it will […]

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    […] A good question: Why is Social Security so continuously under fire? […]

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