Saturday, June 11, 2005

New book on the Bush Social Security Phase Out program

The new book is The Plot against Social Security: How the Bush Administration Is Endangering Our Financial Future by Michael A. Hiltzik and is listed on the right side of this blog.

Here is what Publishers Weekly says:

"A Pulitzer Prize-winning financial journalist for the Los Angeles Times, Hiltzik gathers arguments made by a plethora of economists and skeptics into a comprehensive, biting critique of the privatization agenda and what he calls the "astroturf" alliance of right-wing ideologues, Wall Street opportunists and Republican political operatives that "aims to propagate, and then exploit, public ignorance." Prophecies of the Social Security trust fund's bankruptcy, he finds, are based on dubious and politically biased forecasts; more realistic projections have the trust fund growing nicely over the next 75 years. Even if doomsayers' predictions come true, he notes, the system's solvency can be safeguarded by straightforward fixes; simply lifting the cap on Social Security taxes-thus taxing high-income workers at the same rate as everyone else-would make up Bush's projected shortfall and then some, he says. Hiltzik also reads the fine print of privatization schemes, unearthing what he sees as hidden costs, risks, benefit cuts, bureaucratic pitfalls and wildly optimistic market return predictions for private accounts. The real issue, he contends, is whether the pension system will be a get-rich-quick scheme for the powerful or a collective guarantee that the elderly, the poor, the disabled and the unfortunate will be shielded from the vicissitudes of life. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information."

I haven't read it yet, but I just ordered it.

What is the Social Security phase out program really all about? Social Security is a program that provides benefits to replace a part of income lost by people who retire, become disabled, or provide similar income to the families whose wage earner dies. These are all events mostly beyond the control of the wage earners who earn the benefit.

The right-wingers object to the government acting to spread individual risks of loss of income over the mass of the working population. They want to make each individual totally responsible for their own outcome - regardless of how much actual control those workers have over that outcome!

As the Great Depression demonstrated, a great many workers do not have that indivudual control over their income. When death, retirement or disability occur a great many workers will not be prepared. a great many workers will not be prepared because they are not in a position of prepare, or their preparations will fail. In that case society will have to step in the assist them.

For individuals those events are mostly unpredictable, but for the government using the Law of Large Numbers, it is a certainty that a set percentage of the population will face those events. It is less expensive and more reasonable for the government to have a plan for those events than to have to step in with some form of personally degrading and excessively expensive welfare system.

The right wingers also want to get access to the massive amounts of money flowing through Social Security so that they can make money themselves. It is my opinion that for most conservatives the ideological reasons are uppermost, but they have no hesitation to use the individuals who want to profit by skimming a portion of those Social Security funds.

This is the core purpose of the right-wing attack on Social Security. Have you heard the government make the argument that the government has no reason to protect the people? Not much, you haven't.

Instead the argument they have made (while giving away tax revenue to the undeserving wealthy) is that the government can't protect the people. This is an argument presented in the face of six decades of the success of the Social Security program.

This book will, I hope, be an antidote to the "Fear - Uncertainty - Doubt" program that the White House and the Republicans have made the center of their Social Security phase-out program.

From the looks of the Publisher's weekly review, Michael A. Hiltzik is exposing the right-wing lies and astro-turf politics.

[Thanks to Josh Marshall for pointing me to this book.]


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