Dispelling “Entitlement” Fog # 225 –Robert M. Shelby, 10-29-13. [947 txt wds]

The public suffers a constant barrage of disinformation, mischaracterization and wrong emphasis on Social Security, its funding and future. Those irresponsibly unaccountable for stirring up fog and worrisome forecasts do so in ways I often describe as “devilish,” not to demonize them wrongfully but to describe them accurately. In this parlance, a devil is someone who starts trouble or begins wry projects that he or she cannot finish properly or resolve issues raised and mollify people they have disturbed. Wreckage gets left for others to sort out and repair long after the devils are gone from the limelight. The word devil is, in this sense, used of those who “bedevil” others, often for obscure reasons — or as often obvious ones.

Republican members of congressional investigation committees often have no intention of solving complex matters but usually enjoy pettifogging obfuscation and frivolously niggling objections to Democratic actions and proposals. The more factitiously-arguing Republicans continue to carp about the eventual or imminent failure of the social safety net and the draconian steps needed (they hope) to fix it. They take a supposed fact and inflate it. What, then, is the real status of our Social Security’s own security?

One of the main “destruction code” words pushed by enemies of elder security has become a presumptively negative category of “entitlements.” Democratic leaders now try to draw a line between entitlements and “mandatories,” programs that are so well established, respected and popular in meeting human needs as to be beyond  debate or arbitrary termination. Social Security is now mandatory, a “right” no longer a mere privilege extended to the improvident poor by authorities charitably disposed.

Enemies of social integration into whole-nation well-being (they sneeringly refer to it as the “Welfare State”) remain adamantly more concerned for private property or personal goods than for public health (in the holistic sense) or the common good. I, for one, have never been able to feel their attitude and values are anything but despicable, save as they involve each citizen’s responsibility for self.

Still, that responsibility cannot be absolute, for conditions of political economy (such as availability of work) hamper one’s power to take full accountability for self. Social community and individuals must keep in balance, neither tyrannizing over the other. Folks who imagine themselves “ruggedly individual” conform to standard models of mirror-like brittleness without the brilliance of silvered glass. Individualism prospers among those who already enjoy measures of success. Individualists in poverty stay as ill-adapted to the world as penniless socialists. Right-wing biases are often laughable.

FACTS: Social Security was set up for “Pay-as-you-Go” (or Pay-Go) funding. There are two Trust Funds backing the program. One is for Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI), and the other is for Disability Insurance (DI). The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund holds in trust “special interest-bearing federal government securities bought with surplus OASI payroll tax revenues.” Smaller is the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund, “which holds in trust more of the special interest-bearing federal government securities, bought with surplus DI payroll tax revenues.” (See Wikipedia, three dot-gov sites, forbes.com/ & marketwatch.com ) The Social Security Administration “collects payroll taxes and uses the money collected to pay” both types of benefit.

Wikipedia offers a succinct paragraph worth quoting fully: “The trust funds run surpluses in that the amount paid in by current workers is more than the amount paid out to current beneficiaries. These surpluses are given to the U.S. Treasury (and thus become part of the general federal budget) in exchange for special U.S. government securities, which are deposited into the trust funds. If the trust funds begin running deficits, meaning more in benefits are paid out than contributions paid in, the Social Security Administration is empowered to redeem the securities and use those funds to cover the deficit.” Again, “The trust funds are “off-budget” and treated separately in certain ways from other federal spending, and other [Federal Government] trust funds.”

Social Security legally obligates the government to beneficiaries. Some commentators perhaps maliciously believe the Trust Funds to be fictions of highly interpretive book-keeping. Political controversy is maintained between the friends of popular democracy and its enemies both of ideology and vested interest in uncaringly self-sufficient wealth that lifts them above the herd and its lowly concerns. The program is at risk of Treasury’s inability to reimburse its borrowing from the Trusts’ funds for other purposes due to a shortfall of cash in Treasury’s general fund. In the past, Congress has been a reliable guarantor, but current legislative discord casts doubt on future reliability.

Everything in the nation is likely to improve with elimination of the radicals who play against governance from beyond the right. Lose the tea party, even the trumped-up issue of deficit reduction will submit to gradualistic correction rather than needlessly imposed austerity on people. Even the country’s long-suffering infrastructure can be restored at cost not to society but to the Military-Financial-Industrial-Complex backers’ wishfully imperialistic militarism, which those proponents and profiteers have raised up on clouds fear they induce in people over terrorism, since 9-11-01, which they them-selves foster, for profit and power over us both financial and political. That deeply shameful, costly, wasteful, self-justifying, darkly devious, covertly amoral elite infects power management in our whole world. threatening both nature and human survival.

Admittedly, not everything classified as entitlement may be proof against rational reform or elimination. If legislators could get together without rancor and irrational, foregone commitments to destructive agendas, genuine issues could be resolved. The present composition of the House of Representatives makes this impossible.

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