Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Social Security Theater

Social Security is a political football, but is it really in any danger of being greatly altered in the imminent future? Doubtful. The world of politics is rarely concerned with real, substantive change, but more often fanning the flames of the electorate's fear and anger over proposed changes. That's what's happening here. Social security is such a fact of life that it just can't be messed with. While bankers may own and fund the government to a large extent, even they are powerless against the vast horde of social security recipients who vote. But political fearmongering? No harm, no foul. The democrats look good to their base when they oppose efforts to derail social security by privatizing it, and the republicans look good to their far smaller base when they propose to do just that. Nothing changes, but both parties earn political capital.

Social Security is monolithic and unstoppable. If ever there was a structure that has earned the title "too big to fail," it's SS. I've paid into it every day of my working life. I expect and depend on it to be there for me. Not as my sole means of support in my old age (unless I live to be very old), but as a supplement.

Unfortunately for us, the bankers and Wall Street have decided that if Social Security is to survive, then they can get a drink at the public trough too, every now and again. It's what we're left with. Two social structures, monolithic in attitude, diametrically opposed, looking at each other with hatred blazing in their eyes. But neither one can afford to strike first.

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