Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Third Rail

Social Security and Medicare are called the third rail of American politics, because efforts to privatize, eliminate or cut them back will generate serious public backlash.  Conservative Republicans have never accepted the social policies of the New Deal and Great Society, and they have tried to sabotage them for decades.

Ronald Reagan claimed: “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”  Trump supporters recently decided that our government was the problem, and that our government should serve the very wealthy (oligarchy), rather than serve all of the people (democracy).  In fact, our government was the only institution that could protect the poor and the middle-class from the unrestrained greed of our capitalistic system.

Social Security is a very popular program, that has worked for 81 years.  It had demonstrated that the claim: "government is the problem," was untrue.  Consequently, conservative congressional Republicans have wanted it to fail for decades.

In 2005, after George W. Bush was reelected after a campaign fear mongering, he push to privatize part of the Social Security trust fund, so that Wall Street could gamble with our money.  His plan that would have diverted significant payroll tax revenue into private investment accounts.  He barnstormed the country trying to secure popular support for the plan.  In the end, Bush’s Social Security privatization plan never got a vote in Congress, because it face of intense public and Democratic Party objections.  Had he succeeded the guaranteed-benefit of Social Security would likely have disappeared as the stock market dropped in 2008 and 2009.

Democrats shouldn’t take comfort from the fact that Bush failed, because Trump and his agenda-setters on Capitol Hill will do their best to keep their attack on Social Security and turning Medicare over to private insurers off the front pages.


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