This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Left Wing Reforms for Social Security

Iraq has largely outbid Social Security for both the President's and the public's attention. There are good reasons for oppossing what the President has proposed. However, there are also good reasons to meet him half way. We need to focus not on the risk (this country thrives on risk) or even on replacing social insurance (this country is leery of the term social insurance AND you can insure private accounts and have the same effect as the current program). We need to attack how what the President has proposed will further disempower workers and then offer counter-proposals. Why not just use this as an electoral issue? Because first, we can really do some good for the working class by engaging in this debate and second, the first time we did in 1992 we were calling for private accounts. I will address why below.

We need to expand our attack in the following ways:

1. Point out that you can't eat stock shares any more than you can eat a social security check. The real problem is demographic and the way to solve that is to propose the following:

a. A living wage through the tax system so that every parent gets a raise anytime a child is born.

b. Move the responsibility for funding education (college, votech and even secondary) from parents to future employers, the same way we fund military academy and ROTC students. Also, make sure that teen parents are funded the same way, so that having a kid is not a death sentence to economic progress.

c. Expand day care and provide tax breaks to stay at home parents (like me).

2. Point out that the "ownership" proposed contains no control over that stock, which will lead to more jobs being sent offshore and lower wages, since the fund managers vote for short term profitability rather than the interests of the workers, or even the firm. In short, if you thought Enron was bad, wait to you see what's coming if this bill passes.

3. Take the incentive out of privitization:

a. Credit the employer contribution equally, regardless of the employee contribution. Note that this does not involve raising taxes and it makes the contribution more closely match the benefit (adjust benefit formulae accordingly).

b. Direct the trustees to use realistic economic assumptions. If they used realistic numbers there would be no crisis.

c. Raise the income cap, which brings the system into financial balance (in fact, it would necessitate cutting the general tax rate or going to something like private accounts because the trust fund surplus would be too large given honest economic assumptions). More importantly, doing this would raise the average income amount and lead to much higher payments to retirees. Surpisingly, Bush said today that he is amenable to raising the cap.

Just saying no is not nearly as effective as raising these points. Doing so takes us out of the role of defending government for its own sake (which is where Andrew Card wants us going into 2006) and puts us back into the position of defending workers. Raising the question of a living wage in order to make abortion rare also gives us street cred with the red state union members who used to be Democrats and are no longer.

If all of these objections are raised, there is room for compromise. If the cap is raised, an average employer contribution is credited and realistic ecomomic assumptions are used the Social Security trust fund will have too much money.

This is why personal accounts are neccessary and why Democrats proposed them in 1992.

Senator Moynihan thought it unconscionable for the government to subsist on payroll taxes in order to build up the Social Security Trust Fund. We should too. The Clinton proposal was to create add on accounts above Social Security with a tax incentive for doing so. In other words, he did not object to personal accounts per say but the manner of funding them. Either way, these accounts will be funded from the general fund, so the difference is mainly semantic. If the stocks in that account were controlled by the worker or her representatives (union, professional society, etc.) and she could invest some of these funds in her workplace then we might have a deal which actually benefits workers. See for more details.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are the only one who has mentioned the effect of not having a living wage for so many years, including many members of the military who, even under Clinton, often had to apply for foodstamps to feed their kids.

It is so expensive to even rent an apartment, I don't know how those making the minimum wage do it. I know some taxi drivers have to sleep in their car because they have no homes.

When mentioning the terrible things I would see on the bus of the poor and the mentally ill talking to imaginary people or screaming at the sky at the bus kiosks outside the Metro, many denominations in Bible studies wouldn't let me finish and after a few sentences would start yelling and attacking me on the grounds that only Catholics who are trying to buy their way into heaven help the poor.

The Washington Post about 8 years ago did an article on abortions that looked at it in 3 new (to me) ways.

One - Why are there still so many abortions with the birth control options available.

Two - Why is it so prevalent that women who have an abortion, get pregnant again within a year and sometimes chose to keep the second child but often abort this child as well. It is seen so often that doctors have a phrase for this second pregnancy within a year of an abortion called a "Grief Baby."

If the woman aborts this child within a year or so will get pregnant again and usually keep this third child. It would be so much easier on the mother and though I am liberal on 90% of the issues and vote Democrat, I am uneasy about the continuing high rate of abortions and believe life begins at conception.

But there is so little concern in the community and even the churches in helping a single mother or poor family or any volunteering to help the children in struggling families including the military.

The Wash. Post writer speculated that the women having abortions either cannot support a child on their own or their boyfriend or husband puts pressure about the financial costs of just surviving much less providing for a child.

Three - The WP reporter, a male, was upset that so many women, even in America, chose to abort their daughters and speculates that is because women have such problems in this society including making less than men. This is partly true but I would like to see real in-depth surveys by the women who chose abortions, esp. of their female children to find out their reasons.

In some countries, since abortions a more recent Post article wrote that in many Third World Countries the parents have, like America, been aborting their female children based solely on the sex of the child and some of the males are now coming of age and their are not enough women for the young men to marry and are called bare branches since they will not be able to find a mate.

The older article also speculated what society would be like when for the first time their are more adult males than females since women who did not marry in the past usually did much of the volunteer work and both articles mention that married men are less likely to be involved in gangs and violence.

Both the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice have ignored these complexities and I am glad to see someone write about the financial pressures and realistic worries of pregnant women when there is so much homelessness of single women and children and of families and even Oprah mentioned the incredible number of children who are homeless so obviously they are not "too lazy to work" since the child labor laws will not let them contribute to the family.

I think that the lowering of wages and Clinton's making draconian changes in welfare and health care is attributable to the New World Order including Project for a New American Century, Zbignew Brezinski's "The Grand Chessboard", the Bildenburg Group, etc. who want to kill 80% of the world's population and enslave the remaining 20%.

I think they are on a suicidal course for the world as mentioned by David Lytell in

I don't think the tsunami was an act of nature.
don't remember where I read this article online with photos of "Rev." Moon being crowned King of America but believe it was a link on a site about the Tsunami being caused by hydrogen bombs. When I first read about the Tsunami I remembered an article by the Washington Post about one area, I think in the Carolinas, that had a number of beached whales and the Navy admitted that they had been doing sonar testing.

I looked up Beached Whales + Navy and some of the information and alarm and lawsuits about the incredible number of beached whales, dolphins and giant squid, even deep diving whales who are usually not affected on every continent and many islands and the Navy and NATO admitted to doing undersea blasts and claimed a full investigation into the massive number of beaching of mammals with bleeding ears and torn lungs and tissue could not be done because of the secret defense nature of what they have been doing to cause these beachings.

I have two new Blogs and at this point am mainly cutting and pasting information about what people can do, esp. the brave acts of Rep. Conyers and Sen. Boxer and their petitions to fight this never elected dictator.

I would welcome visitors and hope to include some of my own writing soon.

1:37 AM


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