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More History ala Michael Moore

M.M. outlined the end of the middle class. For some reason, no crusty old lady (like me) has enlightened the young about how Social Security became a burden on our children and not a fully funded fall-back pension system for those not covered by unions.

When FDR set up the program, all our payroll taxes went into a trust fund that could not be touched by anyone. Current recipients were payed first. The taxes were set to be higher than needed, and the rest were to be invested. To make sure we were not ripped off by Wall Street, the only investments permitted were in US Treasury notes and bonds (that’s right… the same ones the Chinese get when we borrow from them). Thus, new taxes and interest from bonds would keep turning over and keep the Fund solvent forever. What a great idea, yes?

Then came Lyndon Baines Johnson. As most of you know, he’s the president who got us involved in all-out war in Viet Nam. What you may not know is that he also wanted to out-do FDR in social programs. His legacy, doncha know. After a while people started to ask where the money was going to come from, as war is expensive and social programs are too. In all the papers the big headlines read “Guns or Butter?”.  What to do, what to do?

LBJ looked around and, lo and behold, his eyes lighted on our big fat Social Security Trust Fund. Of course, the law was written so that no politician could get his greedy hands on it. But LBJ was not just any politician. He wielded more power over Congress that had ever been seen. He went to the Democratically controlled House and Senate and got them to abolish the Fund and put all that money into the General Fund and replace the S.S. money with worthless promises to pay it back someday. For fifty years, presidents and congresses spent and spent that money.

This brings us to the present day as Everybody says we can no longer afford to take care of all the folks who paid into the fund all their working lives.

The only question left is “Why is no one bringing any of this to the attention of people too young to know about it?” Might it not change the parameters of the debate?

So ends my first humble offering to FDL.


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