The personal is political

So as you may have noticed, I haven’t posted since Wednesday. (if you didn’t notice, no need to tell me so). For good reasons, I’m happy to say: I headed back down to FWB to attend my former roommate’s wedding.
Being on the road (or in the air, in this case) so soon after last month’s travels wouldn’t be my first choice—particularly since TYG had to stay home again—but it was totally worth it. I saw a lot of friends at the wedding I haven’t seen since I left Fort Walton Beach, and some even further back (my friend Robbyn moved up to DC before I left the Florida Panhandle), plus several old friends the Thursday and Friday before. Plus I got to sit on the beach.
I was, however, unable to find a secure Internet connection (my hotel’s didn’t seem terribly safe) so I decided not to employ any more passwords than I had to (and those will be changed). So, no blogging.
Due to the short week (and other problems to be touched on below), not much got done. I did my eHows, rewrote The Savage Year and posted it to my writer’s group (I’m reading it next Tuesday)and did a teensy bit on Impossible Takes a Little Longer (though to my surprise I had several great ideas while out of town—and yes, I remember them all).
The other problem was that my Mum was in the hospital again. And as we contemplate how much care she might need, I’m reminded of slimy sentiments such as this one by Pete Peterson, legendary anti-Social Security activist: “We will no longer be able to afford a system that equates the last third or more of one’s adult life with a publicly subsidized vacation.”
Easy for a millionaire businessman to say. If you’re in a job that requires physical effort (waiting tables, retail—let alone crop-picking or farming), working most of your life is not only tiring, it’s physically damaging. Contrary to Peterson and Edward Glaeser, some people just can’t keep it up. Not because they’re weak, but because pieces of them hurt. That’s why we have Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare—so they can stop hurting and rest. And no, I don’t think that’s an invitation to sloth, it’s a decent, compassionate policy.
Contrary to the running myth, Social Security is not tapped out: Worst case, it pays 80 percent of promised benefits, starting around 2038 or so (Medicaid is a bigger problem, admittedly). And no, investing in the stock market is not the miracle cure: Mum’s 401k went south in the dotcom bubble, like a number of people.
What this is about is that some people, for whatever reason, don’t think we should be supporting seniors, period. Maybe they really don’t think it’s financially affordable—though given that both Reagan and W ran up record deficits, I don’t think that’s the case (it was W’s veep, Dick Cheney, who proclaimed “deficits don’t matter.”). It’s more that they’d sooner see the deficit resulting from tax cuts or wars than actually helping people.
For some it’s just shrewd politics. It isn’t—voters are solidly in favor of Social Security and Medicare—but the inside-the-Beltway wisdom seems to be that slashing deficits is brave and heroic (I’ll come back to this later this week) and some politicians seem to buy into it.
For some, it may be a belief that helping people really is immoral—the Ayn Rand view that if they can’t support themselves, then they deserve to starve. Aspiring Medicaid-slasher and “zombie-eyed granny starver” Paul Ryan may fit into that category. Of course, as I’ve mentioned before (though I don’t remember the link just now), Ryan and other pols could show their commitment to slashing deficits and fighting sponging off welfare by either rejecting their retirement benefits or never taking a lobbying/politically related private sector job. I don’t see it happening.
It’s not just personal: I’ve had this opinion since well before my mum’s health started going downhill. But it’s not just political either.


Filed under economics, Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Personal, Politics, Writing

9 responses to “The personal is political

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