Recommended reading on Social Security
Eric Larson is interviewed about Social Security and his new book The People’s Pension: The War Against Social Security from Reagan to Obama (AK Press, Spring 2012):
Eric Laursen is an independent journalist who’s been covering political and financial news for more than a quarter-century. He’s been studying Social Security for the past 15 years, and just published a smart and exhaustive (800-page!) book called The People’s Pension: The War Against Social Security from Reagan to Obama (AK Press, Spring 2012).
If you want to put the current struggle over Social Security’s future in context, read this book. Eric chronicles the history of Social Security from the 1930’s to the present, with a special focus on the ideological and political attacks on the system. He starts with the Reagan years and connects the dots to the current efforts to undermine Social Security from the right. (I also recommend highly Nancy Altman’s The Battle for Social Security).
ALSO SEE: “People’s Pension” Author: Social Security Cuts Would Hurt Ethnic Families Most
You will find Angry Bear Bruce Webb’s thinking on this subject.
Reagan, the guy that raised the SS payroll tax? Some war.
McWop read the book. Which I haven’t only because Eric’s publicist only e-mailed me today offering me a review copy in both hard copy and electronic form. Then again Eric and I talk and my name shows in the index. So there.
Reagan was totally opposed to the final deal that included raising FICA rates. He was forced into it by a combination of C-O-S Baker, Senator (and Greenspan Commissioner ) Bob Dole and lead negotiator Dick Darman.
PEr the unpublished account of all this in the Autobiography of Bob Ball, who for this purpose represented Tip O’Neill in final negotiations.
The idea that Tip n Ronnie settled all this all over bourbons in the Map Room is pure myth. Reagan. Got kicked and screaming to the initial deal to phase in tax increases. According to people who know
Are the attacks motivated by a desire to keep poor people poor? Or to keep taxes low?
hard to tell what their motivation is. in fact “they” do not pay the payroll tax. but they don’t always realize that. i think the main motivation is to keep poor people dependent on the boss and the financial masters. I think they may not even be aware of their own motivation. Both Peterson and Alan Simpson sound like they hate the idea of poor people not working, even when they are paying for their own time off.
(do they or don’t they? well, when it suits them, the “employers share” is “really” the employees money. and when it suits them the other way it is “really” a jobs killing tax. but i know for a fact they regard it ALL as “their money.” After all, they write the check.
i read the book. I don’t have Bruce’s faith in “his story.” Generally it is better to look at the isness of now.
Conservatism is considerably older than industrial capitalism and can be summed up quite neatly and adequately as the belief that society and its members have an absolute obligation to protect the family, the church, and private property. In fact if you go far enough back in history, at least if you follow the work of 19th century French historican Fustal de Coulanges particularly in his very famous book ‘The Ancient City’ you would see that those three concepts are in origin one: the family as defined and protected by its boundaries and walls and centered on the hearth in turn the physical home of the ancesters/ancestral gods.
Conservatism in this ur form does not revolve around keeping the poor impovrished as such, instead it is all about keeping them from taking YOUR STUFF. Including YOUR daughter. Or YOUR wife.
Now following Fustal we could see the Conservative world expanding out in circles around the familial hearth, in Roman terms from the household to the gens (extended family), the tribus (tribe) or on a slightly differenct axis the civis (town or City). But at every border of those concentric circles is a figurative or literal wall to be defended at all costs against the Other, the Stranger, the Barbarian. And a development of this from early on is the division of the poor between the ‘deserving’ member of your gens, tribus, or civis and the ‘undeserving’ person outside that circle.
That is Conservatives are biased against Universalism and in favor of Particularism, and recognizing degrees even with the latter.
Examined through that prism the entire Conservative world view, including much of that of the more Reactionary among them is explicable. There is the same logic behind 2nd Amendment Absolutism, Purity Rings, and opposition to the UN Treaty of the Sea. And many would add Birtherism and American Exceptionalism.
What is mine is mine. And once that is agreed Conservatives will go on to agree that what is ours is ours and so on in widening circles. And to the extent that charity comes into play it is to be granted to those within the relevant circle and denied to those outside. Because once you breach any of those walls you immediately risk the next one in and so on right down to your household hearth.
The Conservative mind has no room for Unitarian Universalism or Social Democracy or even the Four Freedoms of anything like it. Which doesn’t make it sociopathic in its fundamental nature, and still less illogical. It just works on a social logic quite alien to that which came out of the Enlightenment. To which the countervailing response was the Age of Reaction, historically ‘Reactionaries’ so-called were pushing back on Enlightenment ideas in defense of the hearth, the church, the family, the tribe.
Which to be fair was pretty characteristic of the human condition for many thousands of years before the 15th century (a convenient dividing point to place the Enlightenment and the dawn of Modernism-which was not in origin necessary a positive label at all).
Another way to frame this is to say that Conservatives believe the Golden Age was in the remote past and history has in most important respects been Regressing. While Liberals, inspired by the scientific and philosophical theories introduced during the Englightenment, believe in Progess. History as decline, history as advance. History as reversible. Conservatism, liberalism, reaction.
you know I hate it when progressives pat themselves on the back as the champions of reason, science, and progress.
fact is “conservativism” as you define it is a property of all human, and animal, brains.
the difference in politics is that at any given time the “conservative” is the guy who has the bone, and “liberal” is the guy who wants us to share.
but the specific question in regards to SS is why to these “”conservatives” hate it. in what sense is it a threat to them, their family, the church, or private property.
in fact SS was designed to protect the private property of workers without being a threat to the private property of “owners.”
Dale in this case History like Numbers are Bitches.
But they are my Bitches.
The Conservative reaction to the Enlightenment in the form of Absolutism (Louis IV the Sun King), Papal Infallibility (lots of Popes) and the Spanish and other Inquisitions happened.
One side told Galileo to shut up or risk being burned. The other embraced Voltaire. And while few Enlightenment figures maybe lived up to every jot and tittle of the new thinking I know which side I am on.
Jefferson was a slave holder, Jackson a vicious racist and near genocide, and FDR had feet (and wheels) of clay. But I am not afraid to p,ace myself on the side of liberal and social democracy. Because the other aide is at best described as retrograde.
In the century old (now) struggle between Rationalism and Superstition, or Liberalism and Conservatism I know where I lineup.
Even if some of my best friends self identify as conservative.
i identify as liberal or conservative as the mood strikes me.
i defer to your knowledge of, and understanding of, history. On the other hand I took a serious look at human behavior during my misspent youth.