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Social Security Solvency, the Gaslight Argument and My Special Kind of Stupid


Ever since I recently posted a commentary on social media regarding Social Security and its potential demise under the Trump administration, I received several post comments with attachments that speak about "solvency" and "insolvency" of the Social Security system. These comments explain, mostly by implication, how it is virtually impossible for Americans to “lose” their payments.

Of course, these particular comments come from the demographic of Americans caught up in their plethora of other privileges and "entitlements" as beneficiaries of the American Way, and they use this argument to go back and forth about the efficacy and viability of the Social Security System. I received one comment that questioned my intelligence; "a special kind of stupid," it said, if we believe the Social Security system is insolvent, or can be defunded. I even got one post with an attachment about the "myths," where the commenter stated, "You're entitled!" with all the emphatic enthusiasm the exclamation point at the end could provide to assure me my Social Security benefit is secure until my demise.

Oh joy!

Imagine that!? I can rest easy because I am entitled to Social Security because, well...

I was immediately pointed in the comment to myth #6, which explains the conservative argument:

"Entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare are financially unstable. We can't afford them anymore."

Then in caps, for emphasis, the liberal side of the argument is explained as the REALITY, in caps again so I can really get the point – you know – because of that special kind of stupidity I possess:

"As long as the Federal Government commits to making the payments, it can

always afford to support these programs."

It goes on to explain the rationale for this argument, for the myth and the reality, which taken together is apparently called the "Deficit Myth.” One could argue for years on this point and indeed the masses have, as well as the politicians, lobbyists, and others on both sides, who sustain the argument in perpetuity. But here's the thing: what these entitled people don’t even realize is this is the argument both sides actually WANT them to have. It is a great way to hide the unbleached truth about their real intentions and is what I call the Social Security "Gaslight Argument."

You see, the OBVIOUS and MOST IMPORTANT phrase within one of the statements in that entire attempt at myth busting from the commenter is completely missed. I am sure that when read by the privileged it is missed as well, and just maybe, it takes my special kind of stupid to draw the substance out of an otherwise ridiculous, circular argument:

As long as the Federal Government commits to making the payments, it can always afford to support these programs."

Who gets it right there in that statement, that tiny phrase I have obviously bolded because it is just that important, or is my special kind of stupid working overtime here?

Let me make it plain. The issue is NOT about whether Social Security IS sustainable. The issue IS about whether the present Federal government will continue to make the payments.

Let me rephrase that. The issue is whether the present political, wealthy, Gentry want to use that sustainable money for something other than those elderly pains in the pocketbook who worked and paid in but are made to feel “entitled” to the money they worked for.

Let me explain it in yet another way, once more, for those a little slow to grasp my special kind of stupid…

The present administration wants to dissolve Social Security by literally defunding it. Now I understand the term "defund" has its special connotations of late because of the drive to defund police departments. Defund means to withdraw funding from something. It also means moving or diverting funding. Therefore, the Trump administration wants to divert, move or withdraw funding from Social Security. The most egregious attempt today is to end the payroll tax that employees pay, having already created hundreds if not thousands of loopholes in Tax law to ensure employers pay very little if any into it anymore -- which means diverting the money you would receive to some other venture -- say, just for facetiousness' sake, in much the same way the president diverted funds slated for the military to pay for a couple miles of “wall.”

By way of a bit of history, the Social Security Act was signed on August 14, 1935 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, [1] and that means it has been around for only 85 years. The country has been around for about 400 years and independent for about 244 years. That means there was no Federal safety net for 315 years and 159 years, respectively. To be sure, the wealthy gentry in political power today using the fiscal conservatism farce have been trying to get rid of Social Security ever since, and in many ways.

In 1984, President Reagan perpetrated perhaps the biggest fraud on Social Security to date, virtually creating the Gaslight Argument that goes on today. He began with a false story about the “impending bankruptcy of Social Security, in a letter written to members of Congress in 1981 which included the following statement:

"As you know, the Social Security System is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy…in the decades ahead its unfunded obligations could run well into the trillions. Unless we in government are willing to act, a sword of Damocles will soon hang over the welfare of millions of our citizens.”

In an article written by Allen W. Smith, Ph.D., entitled, “Ronald Reagan and The Great Social Security” Heist:


"Reagan and the government had big financial problems. Supply-side economics was not working like Reagan had promised. Instead of the lower tax rates generating more revenue as the supply-siders claimed would happen, there was a dramatic drop in revenue. Something had to be done, so Ronald Reagan set for himself a new mission. He would have to figure out a way to get the additional revenue he needed from another source.

“The mechanism, which allowed the government to transfer $2.7 trillion from the Social Security fund to the general fund over a 30-year period, was the brainchild of President Ronald Reagan and his advisers, especially Alan Greenspan. Greenspan played a key role in convincing Congress and the public to support a hike in the payroll tax. A few years later, Reagan appointed Greenspan to become Chairman of the Federal Reserve System.
“Since Greenspan’s new job was one of the most coveted positions in Washington, many observers have wondered whether or not this appointment represented, at least in part, payback for the role Greenspan had played in making vast sums of new revenue available to the government.
President Reagan and his advisors knew, from the very beginning, that the government would soon face a severe cash shortage. Budget Director, David Stockman, had deliberately rigged the computer at the Office of Management and Budget to generate bogus revenue forecasts in an effort to convince Congress to enact Reagan’s unaffordable proposed tax cuts.” [2]

In addition to this corruption, he created the double dipping tax on Social Security itself, which is already taxed through employee payroll. This will set the stage for the circular argument to escalate on both sides again, since the surface attempt is to “dry up the funding.” Indeed, with this administration, the conservatives have finally got the best opportunity to eliminate Social Security, which is why the Trump administration and the Conservatives must go.

It simply doesn't matter how "available" the funds are. They know it is funded, and they want the money. They may be trying to use the same tactics in the Reagan administration playbook in order to pay for his tax cuts. Solvency and insolvency is the argument they want the left and the right to have. That is the argument they want the red and the blue to have. That is the argument they want liberals and conservatives to have. They want the masses arguing about it, stoked by the politicians and agencies, the lobbyists, and others, all who have maintained the argument Reagan started back in 1981 when he lied about Social Security going bankrupt, in order to steal the money to pay for his "Reagan Tax Cuts."

The moto as always is, "argue among yourselves over whatever we present to you as an argument while we completely dismantle what we want and use the money for whatever we want.” In the case of Social Security, they have a number of options: “perhaps a national 401K where we can gamble with the money for all the hard work you’ve done for 35-50 or more years of your life, in much the same way the wealthy owners of some of the same companies and corporations you worked for did away with your pensions and replaced them with their 401k casino crapshoot."

My question for the ages today is, “when will people in this country learn to read?” I don’t mean knowing how to pronounce words and reciting them. I am talking about deep reading using comprehension, context, and connotation. I wonder when people in this country will begin reading without the biases attached to being privileged in this country, where somehow the Constitution now reads, “life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and Social Security.”

Or, they can continue to do what the wealthy gentry has always done to their minds -- indoctrinate and condition -- whether it be about Race as color, Race as character, economic caste, or political affiliation, so they can "argue among themselves" while the government continues to fleece the country and everyone in it.


My hope is for more people wise up and become my special kind of stupid.




Sources:

[1] https://www.ssa.gov/history/35act.html

[2] Ronald Reagan and The Great Social Security Heist

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Copyright 2020 Cynthia Alease Smith, Ed.D.