HispanicVista Columnists

Saving Social Security or Killing It?

By Domenico Maceri


The hunt for weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein was supposed to posses was called off recently. The absence of weapons proved the Iraq war unnecessary to protect the United States. Either the Bush administration is incompetent or some people lied about the situation.
Now Bush wants people to believe him about the need to privatize social security. He says if nothing is done, the system will go bankrupt.

Really? Even assuming that social security is in danger, something most analysts do not believe, Bush's solution of privatizing it will mean the program's demise.

Of course, Bush cannot undo social security all at once. His plan is to erode social security and eventually get rid of it completely. By allowing young people to put some of their social security contributions into private accounts there will inevitably be less money to pay for retirees. Ultimately, social security would be scrapped altogether.
Will people buy Bush's snake oil?

Senior citizens seem to be leery about the idea of privatization. The AARP came out against it. Some Republican legislators are also skeptical.

However, Bush may still push it through. He is a good salesman, even when he sells lies.
Although no one can be absolutely sure, it seems that social security is fully funded for another twenty years. So the need to rush into a solution is certainly premature.

Thus Bush's focus on "fixing" it can only make you suspect something else is behind his motivation.
Bush and the GOP in general believe that the less government the better it is for people.
Social security is a governmental, read liberal, program, instituted by Democrats. Although the GOP can't admit it, it's been very successful.

Before the creation of social security, senior citizens were at the mercy of their kids for support in the latter part of their lives. Although no one lives a lavish life on social security, it keeps Americans from living out their final years in dire poverty. Republicans were against the program when it was instituted and are still against it.

Bush and the GOP have maligned everything about government programs. In their mind, private industry can do everything better. And that includes social security.

Yet, people cannot forget Bush and Republican ideology. Thus when Bush says he wants to save a program, you have to remember that it's like the fox volunteering to protect the chicken coop. You should be wary.

Privatizing social security means people will be at the mercy of investment companies. Some people might make money, many others will lose their shirts. It amounts to little more than legalized gambling. Remember Enron?

We know very well that when the GOP tries to fix a program it means privatization and that of course will eventually benefit major corporations, which are the natural allies of the GOP.

If you want the little guy to benefit, you need to look at Canada. Ever wondered why prescription drugs are significantly less expensive in Canada? The government puts strict controls on the profits pharmaceuticals are allowed to make.
In the US, on the other hand, our Republican President and the Republican Congress have remained silent about the escalating cost of drugs and healthcare in general.

The results? More than 45 million Americans without health insurance.

Bush's strategy to scare people about social security focuses on young workers. His message is that the young are supporting the old. He is pitting sons and daughters against parents and grandparents.  On a broader scale, Bush’s plan is for each person to grab what he or she can and forget about the rest of society. In Bush’s vision, each of us has no responsibility for the family or for society overall. It’s a greedy and selfish message which reflects the moral values of the GOP.

Hopefully Americans will see Bush's "family warfare." If not, remember that Bush is the man who brought you war in Iraq. Be wary of where he wants to take you next.

Domenico Maceri (http://languageblogger.blogspot.com/), PhD, UC Santa Barbara, a contributing columnist to HispanicVista.com (www.hispanicvista.com), teaches foreign languages at
Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA.