Friday, August 6, 2010

Krugman puntures Ryan, and generationism

There's a mighty big difference between a real economist (Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner) and a politician (Rep. Paul Ryan, R Wisc.) Ryan has no real expertise but says and proposes the kinds of things that so-called conservatives like to hear -- namely, transfer of wealth from the middle-class to the rich. Krugman points out Ryan's lack of (intellectual) clothes in today's NYT Op-Ed.

While we're on economics: the news services breathlessly announced today that Medicare will have an extra 12 years of solvency because of savings from the recently passed Healthcare Reform bill. This stands things on their heads. What should have been done was to use buying into Medicare as central to healthcare reform -- something even John McCain supported before his reactionary handlers reined him in.

At the same time, the news services reported that Social Security was still going to run deficits and would run out of many in a few decades. Unlike healthcare costs, which are difficult to control, Social Security can be redeemed in a very simple way: remove the upper income limits so that the SS tax is on all of a person's income. This has become necessary not because people are "living longer" -- if that is indeed true -- but because of the changing demographics of American society: we are simply having fewer children. Most people don't realize that SS is a beautiful cross-generational social compact, where each generation agrees to support the previous one in its old age; in "exchange," it can expect the succeeding generation to do the same for it. The "conservatives" don't like anything about cooperation and are cynically trying to create a cross-generational resentment. That's their version of "family values": as phony as the "family values" reflected in the usual parade of born-again polls exposed as philanderers.

Next time you see the magazine article or TV story or cartoon dumping on "Baby Boomers", the next generation up for Social Security, ask yourself if this isn't an attempt to fan resentment of financially squeezed (and you know by whom!) taxpayers against their parents and grandparents. It was the Baby Boomers, after all, who paid the Social Security taxes that allowed the so-called "Greatest Generation" to retire in financial dignity.

The right-wing will stoop at no technique to undermine cooperation and community: racism, sexism and, now, generation-ism.

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