The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Social Security Is NOT in Trouble—Don’t Let the Politicians Put Their Filthy Hands on It!

Apr 18, 2005

Bush wants to privatize Social Security. The Democrats say they don’t like privatization, but they’ll go along with it if Bush agrees to make the private accounts "add-ons." And the rest of the Republicans are hiding under the table, because they’ve already taken a hit for Bush’s plan to change Social Security.

But change it they will–at least if the population doesn’t react strongly enough. And privatization will not be the worst of it. In fact, all this debate about privatization is a smoke screen to hide the real attack they are preparing on Social Security.

They want us to work longer before we retire–maybe as long as 70.

They intend for us to get lower benefits when we retire, and let the benefits fall further and further behind inflation, once we are retired

And they want us to pay more in Social Security taxes (FICA) when we work.

All because–so they say–Social Security is in trouble.

No, Social Security is NOT in trouble. It has a 1.7 trillion dollar surplus today, and that surplus, that extra money, is expected to increase to six trillion dollars by 2016. That’s TRILLION, not billion, not million, but SIX TRILLION DOLLARS more than what it needs to pay benefits.

Social Security is in good shape today, very good. That’s why Bush has to point to the far-off future, to 2042, pretending that that’s when Social Security won’t be able to pay all benefits.

If you had a house, and some scam artist off the street knocked on your door, offering to put a new roof on your house for some exorbitant price, telling you that your roof was going to start leaking in 37 years, you’d slam the door in his face.

Well, Bush is that scam artist, and we ought to slam the door in his face–along with all the other politicians, Democrat and Republican, who pretend Social Security is in trouble.

If it were true that Social Security is in trouble, what should they do? If, for example, 37 years from now, Social Security would need a little extra boost to keep on paying all the benefits to everyone, what should they propose?

Here’s a simple, easy answer. Tax everyone at the SAME rate on ALL their income. Right now, the wealthy pay Social Security taxes only on the first $90,000 a year. Make them pay Social Security taxes on ALL their income. That would plug any deficit Bush could imagine.

Anyone who tells us that Social Security is in trouble, but doesn’t immediately propose to tax the wealthy on EVERY bit of their income is running a scam on us.

The real scam is that they want us to think this country can’t afford to pay a decent pension to everyone. Well, it can.

Of course, Social Security needs to be brought up to date–but in the opposite way from what the politicians are proposing! We should retire earlier. We should get a really livable pension. They set 65 as retirement in the 1930s. Since then, the productivity of labor has grown immensely. The social surplus value available from our productivity has grown far beyond anything that could have been imagined in l939. They say there’s not enough money? There’s enough money to let us all retire at 50, and not on peanuts, either. Real Social Security should allow us to live at least as well in retirement as when we worked.

None of the wealth that exists would be here if somebody hadn’t worked, put in labor, to create it. Those who created it should have first claim on it. Workers have created more than enough wealth, far more than enough to provide everyone a decent retirement. But just like it’s always been: we can’t get our rights without a fight. Perhaps the fight is shaping up. Certainly there has been a huge passive resistance to Bush and his "60 cities" campaign.

It just needs to get louder. Much louder. And out into the streets, where they can hear us much better!

Workers 70 years ago, stuck in the hole of the Great Depression, still organized themselves so the bosses had to come across with some Social Security for the first time. If they could do it, then, of course, we can do it now.