Talkin Social Security

Paul Henry Rosenberg rad at
Mon Oct 19 16:46:11 PDT 1998

Max Sawicky wrote:

> >
> >This is one of the most important myths to hit head on. Whenever I've
> encountered the "Ponzi Scheme" argument and I've laid out what consitutes a
> Ponzi Scheme vs. what SS is, the response has been defeaning silence.>
> Yup. But like the GDR, being adequate is
> not enough. Social Sec has to be accepted
> as better than private saving.

True, but first you've got to stop the psychopathic ranting. The best way to stop a steamroller is not necessarily the best way to turn it around. First you stop it, then you turn it around.

> > . . .
> >I'd suggest a quick look at *The Judas Economy* by William Wolman & Anne
> Colamosca, out of the Business Week stable. Their long-term prognosis for
> the college-educated professional class is *NOT* encouraging. The important
> thing here is to shake their naive faith that they can control everything if
> only government would get out of the way.>
> Fatalism about one's own economic prospects
> may or may not translate to left politics.

True again, but this, too, is about undermining false assumptions.

I'm only fatalistic if one follows the timid perscriptions which Wolman and Colamosca themselves admit are inadequate to address the heart of the problem.

But the point is NOT to get distracted into an in-depth discussion of their thesis. Rather, the point is to open the door to a wide range of influences beyond the control of the individual. Once people realize that the lone individual doesn't stand much of chance, then the grounds of discussion shift to "what kinds of collective action make sense?" In that context, "going it alone" appears as an appropriately foolish choice.

> In the olden days, popular talk had it that
> students were driven to revolt by mediocre
> job market prospects. I was never convinced
> of this. People were trying to talk about
> ways that white, middle-class students would
> put themselves in the picture, rather than
> define radicalism as empathy for others
> (e.g., minorities, the poor, etc.)

I agree. Depressing prospects depress people. Depressed people are more likely to be reactionary than revolutionary.

But a brief tactical introduction of rational fear, to shake people out of complacency, that's a whole different matter. Not easy to master, I admit, but well worth working on. And that's what I'm doing, working on it.

> > . . .
> >Another VIVID point to make is that SS means never having to empty your
> parents' bedpans.>
> Yeah but then you can be charged with
> wanting to abandon Grandma to the impersonal
> state for her care.

I'm not saying you CAN'T empty Grandma's bedpan. That's a straw man argument, Max. I just LOVE quoting info on basic fallacies when they're thrown at me.

> Senator Simpson did this
> to great effect to a poor NSA officer in a
> hearing I attended some years ago.

Senator Simpson, the smarmiest man in the Senate (and that really IS saying something!) even now in spirit well after having departed in the flesh.

I'd just LOVE to have him try his tricks on me. He SOooooOOO reminds me of my high school speech & debate teacher, the very personifiction of weaslehood!

> > . . .
> >Basically, there's a lot of drumbeating propagandizing going on by people
> who can't even begin to respond to counter-arguments. If this propaganda is
> all that young people hear, then the result is a foregone conclusion. But
> once they see how clueless the zealots are when confronted with a few simple
> arguments, things can change.>
> In my direct conversations, this wasn't quite as
> easy as you make out, but it was basically the
> approach I took.

I didn't mean to make it out as easy, exactly, just as doable. You've got to focus and stay with it. I'm thinking primarily in terms of cyberspace exchanges, which take longer to play out than the amount of time you had face-to-face.

An important point is, if you get the ball rolling in such a situation, those who hear you and respond, "At last, someone who's speaking for me!" should be encouraged to keep making the points you've made after you've left. They shouldn't think they need to be rocket scientists to blow the opposition out of the water. (Not that I'm accusing you of so misleading them. It's just a common assumption that many people have. They have to be actively disabused of this assumption.)

-- Paul Rosenberg Reason and Democracy rad at

"Let's put the information BACK into the information age!"

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