Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I Wanna Blog About, Like, Social Security An' Stuff

Social Security? Like that village, sometimes it has to be destroyed to be saved, so goes Dear Leader's proposal in his State Of The Junto Address:

One of America's most important institutions - a symbol of the trust between generations - is also in need of wise and effective reform. Social security was a great moral success of the 20th Century, and we must honour its great purposes in this new century. The system, however, on its current path, is headed toward bankruptcy...

If you've got children in their 20s, as some of us do, the idea of social security collapsing before they retire does not seem like a small matter...

We must pass reforms that solve the financial problems of social security once and for all.

Don't you love political necessity? Bush knows it'd be suicide to admit that he wants to gut the programme. So he says he wants to save it with "reform". Naturally, he doesn't say what those reforms are, because that's the job of his multitude of hacks and underlings to spin. Brett Marston describes the tortured semantics, an example of the reality of our Orwellian world where words denote the exact negation of their former definition. No, it's not quite Peace=War and Freedom=Slavery, but it's getting there: Bush wants to kill Social Security and call what's left "Social Security". All this of course is obviously evil enough on its own, but another thing to consider is that all this parsing and semantic play pretty much explodes the freeper talking point that, well, Dear Leader may make a few mistakes, but at least he always speaks with moral clarity, says what he means, and means what he says. Bzzt, sorry! He's just as much a word-weasel as the average ambulance-chasing shyster or, for that matter, the average horn dog Southern Democratic President who quibbles over the meaning of "is" -- and of course Bush's quibbling, unlike Clinton's, is over something that matters.

The rest of the speech was blah blah blah, gay marriage is evil, then a conclusion that strikes the note of manifest destiny that Americans have loved to hear since we first needed the excuse to bully the sovereign nations of the Indians and then the Mexicans. It's easy to salve a guilty conscience when Jebus is on your side:

Our generation has dreams of its own, and we also go forward with confidence. The road of Providence is uneven and unpredictable - yet we know where it leads: It leads to freedom.

A bazillion dollars* to whoever can find an instance where Bush defines the word freedom.

My next entry will be a belated one on the subject of Bush's God-awful, which is to say God-full, self-coronation speech.

But, anyway, social security. The abject destruction of the conservative-reactionary-nutjoblibertarian argument against social security begins here, in the form of the humiliation of its advancers, in the exposure of its inconsistencies, in the undressing of its overwhelming cruelty, in the diagnosis of its insanity and in the denunciation of its moral depravity. Anyone who watches it will genuinely laugh.** That laugh will on some level or other associate itself with Dear Leader's plan, and that, in turn, is a start of sorts to stopping the Republican scheme.

Social Security is a moral issue, and contrary to the considered opinions of fundamentalist thugs, the Left is always on the right side of such things, and this particular problem is no exception. So who comprises our opposition, and why do they want what they want?

1. Republicans bought by Wall Street: the privatization plan is a knob-polishing blowjob to the financial sector who will get vast sums of money to play with and make commissions on. Because this Okham's Razor-simple conclusion, based on standard police method (Lenin's "Who would profit?" is no different from Detective Sipowicz's "Who's got motive?"), is "cynical", defenders of the Republican scheme will of course call it false.

2. Republicans with an ideological enmity to any government programme not involved in the purchase of guns, tanks, "gay-bombs", "nucular" missiles, and 5K$ toilet seats, all of which comprise fat subsidies to firms like Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas, TRW, Lockheed, et al. which they and their friends own stock in and sit on the boards of. As such they confirm that they are infected with the Libertarian virus, one of the most nasty ideological bugs on the planet, which manages to still be highly contagious even in the face of massive current and historical evidence that its carriers claim to want no government-business interaction yet in practice advocate exactly the opposite when the business at hand is death to ideologically-unfriendly people abroad or the indigenous at home.

These are the people who think, or whose parents thought, that FDR's New Deal might as well have been communism. They bring to bear silly old names like Hayek, Mises, Goldwater, Rand -- if and when they can't pervert the works of Locke and, especially, Adam Smith whose moral caveats rather too much give their whole game away. They deny that capitalism and corporate power had anything to do with fueling fascism, which is as stupid and dishonest an argument as those of the old Stalinists who denied that a dictatorship of the proletariat fueled the gulag, the Show Trials, and the Ukrainian Famine (when they could no longer outright deny that they had occured, that is). They, back then, thought Hitler was better than Stalin, and many still do. They think a corporation is always protected by the Bill of Rights but a human may or may not be. They, like Calvin Coolidge, think that business and commerce is God's work and will, and just like any other religious nut, think their version of God's will trumps the needs of humans, not to mention human decency. As Gore Vidal wrote, these are people who believe that "liberty" consists of "not giving a sucker an even break".

Needless to say, looking at the late election's demography, something about all this doesn't quite jibe. How could so many self-professed Born Again Christians be aligned with the Gordon Gekko-Ayn Rand-"Fuck The Poor And Feed Them Fish Heads" wing of the Republican Party? Well, when the sizably Christian populist-progressives first began to make noise as a movement, it was from the attitude of being against anything big, be it Big Government or Big Business (and a quick note here -- when they were against Big Government it meant in instances like, say, the local authorities stopping an individual from burning his lawn's leaves, or taking away his whisky still. They did not mean the instances where Big Government's regulations prevented the processing of rat meat and fingernails in canned ham, or stopped some chemical company from dumping dioxins in groundwater). This well-meaning and thoroughly decent attitude was then by turns manipulated and co-opted by Corporate Republicans, who adopted the small shopkeeper's occasional indignation as an exercise in meta-rhetoric to rail against labour laws here, and environmental protection there.

Next, the Corporate Republicans had to tackle the Christian Populists' resistance to the C-R plan to roll back any and all state-sponsored social programmes for disadvantaged people (blacks long excepted, shamefully, until the Civil rights movement; W J Bryan, for instance, was terrible on black issues) that C-P's traditionally cared about but that Corporate Republicans never gave a rat's ass for as a bloc because it's an Individualist's World don't ya know? How this was achieved, then, was by the C-R's appeal to the C-P's notion of tithing and private charity. Hence, the flattery: Private and Church Charities can do it better than the government! Wouldn't you want your preacher to dispense the money rather than some damn (and here comes the magik word) bureaucrat? And thus they were had. The Cold War helped, because commies were atheists. Then 9-11, then the stupid War, which flatters the ugly xenophobic and sectarian biases P-C's always had.

Then how to get them back? Forget arguing church and state: they won't listen. But they do agree that it is a moral imperative of not only individuals but society (which, despite the ravings of Margaret Thatcher and Milton Friedman, actually does exist) to care for its elderly, which makes them a damn sight more decent than the Corporate Republicans and Libertarian Nutjobs. So they must be convinced that, like with national defense (the real McCoy, not the euphemism), such a monumental task can only be done by the government. If there is reform it should be with oversight issues, red-tape and fraud. Unlike Randians and Libertarians, they don't believe that a job is only as worthy as its profit potential or that, put another way, the only motive that drives people is profit, and therefore they are suspicious of any private business (the brokerages) that would attempt the job and who say that they would inevitably do it better because they are profit-driven. In short, C-P's want to be good, which makes them distinct from our true enemies, and means that they are worth winning over. And we'd better when them*** over -- or else.

* In Monopoly money.
** Except for those apparatchiks whose very nature prevents them from getting (as opposed to merely laughing at, "ironically") any joke made at the expense of the Party or Party Line.
*** Alas, a great many are unwinable and it's no loss, for they are the truly thuggy fundamentalists who epitomise the historical tragedy of Christianity; the types who have all the vices of the early Puritans but none of the virtues, who effectively spit on the Golden Rule, and who would crucify Christ himself if given the opportunity, because of His hippie, Love Everybody, Rich Man Has As Much Chance As Camel Through A Needle's Eye, rhetoric.

-- Added: Viz SS, see also Kos, who mentions a change in Bush's tactics, and links to a blog that busts CATO.