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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Cenk Uygur nails it
Posted by Jill | 5:48 AM
I've always found Cenk Uygur to be a bit of a blowhard. It's one thing for me to set up a blog because I need to blow off steam, and rant and rave in print. It's quite another to do it as a broadcaster. I'm not one for yelling on radio, which is one reason I'm not crazy about Ed Schultz. It tends to become a question of who yells the loudest, and whoever loses their head loses the argument. I do enough yelling myself, thank you very much. And talking about defense spending only leaves the door open for Republicans to say that you oppose national security and don't respect our troops.

But when it comes to the Republican (and yes, the White House) plans to gut Social Security, only yelling is going to get through to people.

It's really too bad that Cenk loses it here, because he really gets to the crux of what has happened to the American people: We paid into Social Security assuming the good faith of the government to pay Social Security benefits, and now we're being told, "Sorry...we spent it all and we can't pay it back. Tough shit. You fucked up...you trusted us."

I wouldn't have gone right to defense spending, not without concrete examples such as the $9 billion that went completely missing in Iraq and no one in our government -- not one Republican, not one Democrat, certainly not the Bush Administration -- seemed to care. Because without concrete examples of the waste and corruption that pervades our military contracting, you leave the door open to the Republican reptilian brain pokes of "You want to leave us vulnerable" and "You don't support our troops." There's a good way to demolish those arguments too, but you can't do it while you're yelling. And Cenk really blew it here. After all, these stories may be just breaking now, but there's plenty of waste, fraud, and abuse in military contracting.

But the fact that he's used to a Webcast, where he can do pretty much whatever he wants and may not be ready for prime time doesn't change the very valid and important point that he made: that when the government borrows from China, it's expected to pay it back. But when it borrows from its own people, there's no obligation.

The answer is not to privatize Social Security. After all, the guys into whose hands they want to deliver it are the very same ones who developed the practices that ran the country into the ground, then said they needed a government bailout, and are now spending the money on bonuses...and they say THEY can't pay it back either. As everyone who has an IRA or 401(k) knows, not only are returns not guaranteed, but hanging onto principal is not guaranteed. Unless watched like a hawk, these guys will churn an investment account, charging commissions and fees every step of the way, buying and selling things that most of us don't understand, until you find that not only has your account not made a dime in ten years, but that you have less than you had before. And this is what they want to do with Social Security?

The whole "We can't pay it back" argument demonstrates the contempt that our government, ever since Ronald Reagan started raiding Social Security to pay for tax cuts, has for its own people. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 raised the withholding taxes paid by employees and employers, for the express purpose of funding baby boomer retirement. WE paid that increased tax, even as we knew that they were just going to steal it. And steal it they did.

In 2000, Al Gore talked about a "lockbox." The only thing that made the concept ridiculous was that the money was already gone, and had been for years. But the idea that the Social Security surplus should sit there and be used for the purpose for which it was collected received nothing but laughs from the media and from Republicans, who knew that whatever was in there could very easily be distributed to Bush family cronies and the rest of the 1% who already have almost half the wealth in this country. If the lockbox idea wasn't already dead when Sandra Day O'Connor handed the presidency to George W. Bush on December 12, 2000, it was dead the evening of September 11, 2001. Because that night, in the face of a tragedy, that cokehead Larry Kudlow, who to that network's eternal shame, has a show on MSNBC's sister station, CNBC, was on TV grinning from ear to ear and crowing happily that this meant an end to any and all talk of a Social Security lockbox.

ALL THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE to address ANY long-term problems with Social Security funding (which don't kick in for another thirty years under the WORST of circumstances), is to lift the cap. Or RAISE the cap. Right now, Social Security is only withheld on the first $106,000 of income. Raise it to even $250,000 and the problem is solved. But of course then those who already have more money than they can spend in twelve lifetimes might have to pay a bit more for the benefits of being able to live and be rich in America. And we can't have that, now, can we.

The other day I was talking to a colleague who had just returned from a month visiting her parents in China. She told me how much corruption there is in China. She said that there are the very rich and the very poor, and the government is entirely in the pocket of the very rich. She said the deterioration has largely occurred in the last ten years. It is in those ten years that China has been accelerating its march from communism to socialism and now towards capitalism. She said capitalism has NOT been good for her country outside of the very rich. Newsweek reported in June that China has a growing white-collar underclass of educated young people who can't find jobs. We like to crow in this country that as China has moved away from Marxism, it looks more like us. If life was better in China under even the last vestiges of Maoism than it does now in a more American-looking capitalist system, what does that say for that system?

We're seeing it in the faces of people like Congressman McEwen and would-be Senators Joe Miller and Sharron Angle -- a society in which the rich live in armed fortresses to protect themselves from an increasingly large, increasingly poor, increasingly desperate rabble.

I'm going to post this video from George Carlin as often as it takes and as long as I can find it on YouTube without it being taken down:

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Anonymous mandt said...
The Bastille once seemed invincible. It was torn down stone by stone. When the rabble burns the Hamptons to the ground we will know that the revolution is serious.