Thursday, September 8, 2011

Potential Rick Perry Voters: Knuckledraggers and the Rich

Last night's Repuglican candidate debate was interesting, if only for how Rick Perry and Mitt Romney dominated with....with most of the rest left to stand by as a kind of hapless peanut gallery. This debate (which btw, I read about in today's Denver Post and WSJ, didn't watch) was also notable for providing a snapshot of who the most likely voters for Perry would be in a battle against Barack Obama next year.

Anyway, to fix ideas, Perry was in high dudgeon citing chapter and verse from his new book, Fed Up!, that Social Security was a "Ponzi scheme" and also a "monstrous lie" to America's younger workers. He asserted it was a lie to offer the working young any hope that anything would be there for them. Of course, this is more Perry Bollocks. With even small changes (like raising the payroll tax thresholds a tad higher) S.S. will be there long past 2050.

Of course, what Perry is really all about is the way Social Security's financing is set up - with current workers essentially paying for current beneficiaries. This is what he's calling a "Ponzi scheme" - but in fact he's wrong because a true Ponzi scheme conceals how it provides $$$ to recipients. Thus, Bernard Madoff's early investors were never informed that the money they were getting (some 5 yrs. later) was arriving compliments of the newbie buy-ins, not from any "12%" returns! Nor are people who play the stock casino informed that most big institutional investors are given 'heads ups' on assorted stocks a day in advance - so they have time to bail leaving little guys to be the "dumb order flow" invoked by the Maul St. traders and brokers. That effectively makes the stock market the biggest, cruelest Ponzi Scheme on the planet, for the ordinary Janes and Joes informed that they must have money there to avoid the ghastly fate of having to eat cat food later.

But no one, save an uneducated and ignorant fool, was ever in doubt how Social Security was funded. Indeed, when FDR set up Social Security (read the history of this in the excellent book Social Security and Its Enemies by Max J. Skidmore) he knew the ONLY practical way to make social insurance feasible was to implement it as a payment system via current workers to current retirees. NO other way would work. FDR and his advisors knew that there'd be no political support for any plan that required the monstrous added administrating expense of keeping each worker's eventual pay-in account separate from all others. Nor would most politicos like the "lock box" idea. Besides the concept of using current workers to pay for later beneficiaries was how most other industrial nations, like Germany and the UK, did it. This was known by ALL from the outset, and also that it would be paid for by payroll taxes. (Another reason that Obama's touted "payroll tax cuts" are very much ill-advised, since he's effectively gutting the revenue stream for both Social Security and Medicare...otherwise known in earlier frontier days as "eating your seed corn"!)

In fact, the payroll taxes accumulated as the implementers knew they would, and built up huge cash reserves! (Even more was infused in 1983, after Alan Greenspan proposed a higher payroll tax, to the current 6.2%, to take into account the coming baby boomer onslaught). As recently as 2004 more than $3.3 trillion was in those reserves -the much maligned Social Security Trust fund - which, of course, is exactly why craven politicos have no issues about raiding them, if for no other reason to make deficits look smaller. So if Rick is so exercised over the payment issue, why isn't he going after the thieves who've been raiding it and replacing the monies with IOUs? (Though as finance columnist Jane Bryant Quinn has noted, those IOUs are tied to real bonds which have the same backing - full faith and credit- of the U.S. gov't as regular bonds, though liars and repukes want to try to spin it otherwise.)

The most daft and idiotic comment out of Perry's yap was that "Social Security is by any measure a failure".

Really? So if such a failure, how has it managed to survive for 70 years? How has it managed to keep adminsitrative costs 1/50 of what are charged by Wall Street's private money hutches? More to the point, why or how is it that when polls are repeatedly taken to assess Americans' take on Social Security they are found to be roundly FOR it? (Most often the pros exceed 70%). Thank goodness for Mitt Romney having the sense to respond to Perry's moronic bollocks by saying: "Under no circumstances will I ever say it's a's working for millions of Americans".

And that includes more than 1 in 5 of those 62 and over who can no longer find employment, so have the fallback position (for them and their families) of taking Social Security starting at age 62. It also includes the millions on disability who absolutely can't work, and so have a survival option.

But under Rick Perry, it looks like all it would take is one Executive order to repeal it and send 46 million people (who depend on it as their main lifeline) into America's streets and dumpsters for food. No wonder that even Karl Rove has said Perry's language is "toxic". Well, it is because it's the surest way I can think of to ensure Obama runs over the GOOPers in a landslide rout next November.

Because no one but a purblind idiot would vote for some looney tune (even a drawling one from Texas) whose main imperative is to destroy what they depend on to live! Oh, let me correct that: Perry's rich corporate tycoon backers who've always hated S.S. will also be sure to gain his vote. They want all those 46 million of S.S. "dependents" to have to take out massive debts to get by....

As for Perry's other statement last night, comparing himself to the Holy Inquisition (which didn't accept Galileo's heliocentric solar system), e.g. "Galileo was out-voted for a spell" ...well that has no bearing on global warming because in any case, science isn't conducted via vote. The scientific consensus on global warming was accomplished by decades of hard-earned research and the consensus itself had to crack multiple fault lines to emerge. Daniel Schrag, professor of geochemistry and director of the Laboratory for Geochemical Oceanography at Harvard has noted that "The breadth that gives the findings weight – 3,000 scientists, reviewers, and government officials were involved – means that consensus had to be reached across broad points of view, including those from countries whose economies are based on oil production"

In any case, the Inquisition didn't "vote" against Galileo's hypothesis, they instead showed him the putative instruments of torture that would be used on him, if he didn't accede to their wishes and admit to them he was wrong. (Oh, and they threatened his sickly mother too!)

Maybe Perry needs to go back to high school to learn the things he never seemed to have in college.

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