Tea Party Are the Mr. Potters in the It’s A Wonderful Life Social Security Debate


Republicans vying to enter Congress in 2013 and the man or woman among them who seeks the Presidency fail to understand the Social Security program in place since 1935. The great question before us is whether or not we wish to collectively do good or whether we live in a morally unconscious nation of everyone for themselves.

It is not a ponzi scheme. That is a criminal, outright fraud, and there are statutory laws making that punishable by fine or imprisonment.

Social Security is an old age pension and protection against catastrophic loss of income for all Americans and is guaranteed by the United States Government. It is in fact solvent fully until 2038 and after that could pay out 80% of benefits actuarially without any further action by our government. This from the Congressional Budget Office and from other interest group studies concerned with facts and not slogans.

The fix for the program can be easily obtained by simply having all income earners in the United States fully contribute to the program at the standard rate. Putting a cap on contributions beyond a certain income is what is preventing us from fixing the system. With no cap and everyone contributing their full share to the program, the program will always be there for Americans no matter what. That too is an actuarial fact.

We could also go ahead with current plans to make the retirement age for our younger workers 67/64 for full or partial benefits at retirement.

Unlike Medicare and Medicaid which is tied to the profit hungry health delivery system of doctors and hospitals and how we over-treat patients with built-in inefficiencies, through the roof insurance for hospitals and doctors, and with medical costs rising at a rate well above inflation, Social Security needs no big fix. But the greatest ignorance shown by Republican Tea Party members top to bottom has to do with benefits other than supplementing retirement income from private sector savings or investments during a worker’s lifetime.

In my youth, a good friend’s father, a traveling salesman was killed in a head-on collision with another auto at 65 miles an hour. His father, the only income earner in that family, and one of two very important parents was gone. Social Security paid benefits to the man’s widow and my friend’s mother. Yes, they sold their house, moved into a nice, large, apartment and she went to work. But without Social Security that family would have been in danger of being effectively destroyed.

If you enter adulthood or during your working life but well before it is to be over, you become disabled and simply cannot work a regular job at all what do you do? You get Social Security benefits that allow you to live and to be a productive human being, if not a regular working American. It is not a question of laziness, or lack of initiative. It is a medical condition that makes it humanly impossible for someone to make a living and it is not visited upon only those who are unworthy. The very best Americans have had to take SSI.

Every single one of us throughout our lives prior to retirement and after that time is just one doctor visit and diagnosis away from a livelihood stealing illness or condition that could render us helpless to simply survive.

You hear a great number of young and middle-aged Americans younger than 45 say they prefer simply getting that money as additional salary in their job and then taking the money and earning a return in private sector investments of their choosing. First of all, if you have enough money not to worry about Social Security as a lifeline, you have the disposable income to both participate in the program and make significant investments in the market on your own at one and the same time.

What Social Security does for all of us–even a forty-five-year-old millionaire or billionaire, or merely the upper middle class wage earner, is the security of knowing that if the worst happens: that they lose income through the loss of a parent or spouse, if they become disabled, or if through a real Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme they lose that big stock market investment and come out penniless, they still have the program backing them up.

This is what Tea Party conservatives are not talking about. They simply do not understand the “security” in the Social Security program. They oppose collective actions in society for the greater good and so they oppose the “social” in Social Security even more vehemently. In this sense, they are anti-social Mr. Potters in the real world “It’s A Wonderful Life” drama being played out for us in the 2012 election campaign heating up this fall.

Struggles For Justice stands for lifting the cap on Social Security participation and contributions and simply taking them at the standard rates for various income earners regardless of income. This makes Social Security secure and actuarially sound for all time to come.

Americans of all political affiliations support a vibrant private sector, and the privacy and individuality that comes from healthy and a compassionate humanity and a government that knows when to stay out of our lives.

But a civilized, compassionate humanity, people, and nation, also requires collective responsibility for the general welfare our Constitution itself promises us.

Cutting Social Security benefits, ending the program in the future, and attacking it are anti-social acts of people who are sad when Mr. Potter’s vision of “It’s A Wonderful Life” is defeated by a community that takes collective action to aid a member of that community who is in trouble. Or even the “Old Savings and Loan” run by Jimmy Stewart’s character and his father, committed to making it possible for the humblest among us to succeed in life.

Social Security is our income earning and retirement safety net as we move through “This American Life” of ours. Without a fully functioning, dependable, Social Security program Americans will go through their lives as a circus high wire performer does without a net. We all know how that ends.

Tea Party and Republican Party candidates that do not support this most successful social program are selfish, shortsighted, and frankly dangerously anti-social beings that threaten the general welfare promised in the Constitution of the United States.

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