Imagine an attack on the infrastructure of the United States so devastating that not just three thousand people, but tens of thousands of people die. In addition, the attack leaves America so damaged that basic food and health care are restricted to millions of Americans, and millions more Americans are reduced to living in little one-room shacks or, if they are lucky, moving in with unaffected and generous family members, like refugees.
Now imagine that such an attack happens every year. This is what would happen if the Social Security system were attacked and destroyed.
Americans who are currently protected from the more difficult times of life, like when a spouse unexpectedly dies, or when an accident leaves a major breadwinner disabled, or when one becomes too old to keep working full time, would lose that protection. Most would lose their homes. Most would be unable to pay for any health insurance - and Medicaid, being cut by the Bush Administration and Republican state governments all across America, would not be there to pick up the slack. Many would be unable to afford enough food to eat, and so starvation and severe malnutrition would spread across America. Large numbers of people would die.Attacks on Social Security
Any decent human being would do everything in their power to prevent such a disaster. However, there are those in the United States who actually seek it. They say that we would be better off without Social Security. They say that people should not have to give any money over to the stewardship of the Social Security fund if they don't want to. They say that people will be better off if they just keep their money "personal".
Just who are these people? Well, a lot of them are Republican members of Congress right now - led to their seats in 2004 by Newt Gingrich, who told Americans that the Republican way to deal with programs like Social Security was to let them "wither on the vine". These people who hate Social Security also make up a large part of the politically active rank and file of the Republican Party, declaring that Social Security is an evil manifestation of hated socialism.
These people say that everything will work out for the better if the government is small and does less for people. They say that free market forces should be allowed to work, and everything will turn out all right, in the end.
The thing these people always forget to mention is that the people that Social Security saves from ruin are, in the huge majority, unable to work their way out of their problems. The woman whose husband dies unexpectedly cannot make up for the lost income just by working harder in compliance with market demands - certainly not while taking care of their children. The construction worker who loses both legs in an accident on the job cannot pull himself up by the bootstraps and get back to his old work. Most people who are 65 years and older are in no position to start a new career at their time in life. When they do find new work, it almost always pays significantly less than what they had been earning.
Not everybody who receives Social Security really needs it. There is a small minority of people who have substantial financial resources, but still get a Social Security check after they turn 65. But, after all, these people paid into the Social Security system for their whole lives, and a promise was made to them that they would receive payments. Surely, such a promise should be kept.
The promise of Social Security for most people, however, is a promise that, after a lifetime of hard work, an American deserves something more than an impoverished end. For many people, the promise of Social Security is a promise of survival.
Yet, there are many within America who are dedicated to the destruction of Social Security. They are attacking Social Security with all the hatred they can muster. For years, their Republican representatives in government have been borrowing money from the Social Security fund's surplus, and now they say that the Social Security fund will be in crisis because, in 40 or 50 years, the fund will, for a few years, be unable to pay its own way. They say that this shortfall, far in the future, makes Social Security undeserving of any special effort to save it, and so they propose to reduce Social Security, and to suck huge amounts of money out of the Social Security fund to send to Wall Street investment firms.Treat Social Security as Security
These same Republicans who complain about the insolvency of Social Security make no complaints about the insolvency of their own favorite government programs. In fact, it is the Republicans' favorite government programs that are the least economically feasible.
Investment in public education pays for itself, because it enables the innovation that fuels America's economic growth. Investment in public health pays for itself, because taking care of small health issues in the present prevents the need to address more expensive problems in the future. Investment in environmental protection pays for itself for the simple reason that the American economy cannot thrive while the American people are stunted through the pervasive poisoning of their homes and their food.
What about Republican programs? Military spending is not expected to bring about a direct return of money. In fact, filled with pork barrel programs like missile defense, which never has worked and probably never will, military spending is a net drain on the economy.
The Homeland Security budget is also a net drain, as it pays for constant vigilance against an inconstant threat. The Homeland Security budget is also filled with tremendous wastes, such as funding for multiple biological weapons response centers in states like Nebraska, which have never suffered from a biological weapons attack, and are almost certain never to have one. What has been called Homeland Security is also filled with outrageous excesses, such as the effort to send Homeland security agents to toy stores to remove generic versions of Rubik's cubes from the shelves. The agents told, Stephanie Kox, a toy store owner in St. Helens, Oregon, that preventing the toys from being sold was vital to the security of the Homeland.
Republicans are happy to pay for excessive spending by the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security, but can't seem to tolerate it when the Social Security fund, after decades of bringing in surplus money to be spent by the military and intelligence agencies, is now breaking even and might need a small amount of assistance in a few decades. Why? Well, the simple answer is that Republicans owe their political success to a combination of the votes of anti-government right wing radicals and huge financial contributions from extremely wealthy individuals and military contractors like Haliburton. The Republican Party doesn't get much support from average American workers, the people who benefit the most from Social Security. So, Republican politicians give away huge amounts of money in pork barrel for defense contracting corporations and special giveaways to rich folks, but couldn't give a damn about defending Social Security.
How can we hope to change this political dynamic? How can we defend Social Security from Republican greed?
The solution is simple. We can protect Social Security from Republican attacks just by changing its name to reflect the vital role that Social Security really has in keeping Americans secure from disaster. Let's stop calling it Social Security. From now on, we'll give this vital program in the defense of work Americans the new name of Social Homeland Security.
A fact's a fact: Attacks on Social Security could be many more times more deadly for Americans than the attacks on September 11, 2001 were. An attack on Social Security is an attack on the "Homeland". As the Republicans have taught us so well, once something is linked to the security of the "Homeland", it becomes unpatriotic not to give it full funding.
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