Can We Stop Being Oliver Twist?

Get ready for the next blow. In the name of “deficit reduction” Wall St. is going to go after Social Security.  Today the “moderate” Third Way Democrats have come up proposals.  The honorary co-chairs of Third Way are Representative Jane Harman of California and Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana.   The real players are corporate. types from Warburg, Goldman-Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, etc.   

It’s as those of us who can curse in Yiddish call dreck, crap.  On the surface it seems to have some good parts.    It would raise the payroll tax cap from $106,800 to $190,000 by 2020 and cut or eliminate social security payments to the wealthy.  In reality that’s just a clever way to keep the undefendable payroll tax cap in existence.  The tax cap is a way to make working people pay Social Security tax on every dollar of their income while allowing the rich to pay only on their first $100,000.  Totally getting rid of the cap would eliminate all of the supposed problems with Social Security (that for all the hysteria is fully funded until 2037).  Hell with that.  Let the rich keep their benefits.  Just tax them the same way workers are taxed.

The Third Way plan also would gradually raise the age for retirement to 70 by 2070.  The idea is that with all the great scientific advances people are living longer and healthier.   Only it’s not true.  As Paul Krugman the Nobel Prize winning economist and NYT writer points out the people who are living longer are those with the high incomes.  For the bottom half of earners their years of life haven’t increased in 30 years.   As he put it the schemes to raise Social Security retirement age really mean that “janitors should be forced to work longer because these days corporate lawyers live to a ripe old age.” 

Oh but there’s more.  The Third Way would give $500 a year for workers to set up accounts to gamble on the stock market. Oh, goody!  Enron Security for all.

Off course, TINA, there is no alternative.  All the money in America has disappeared and we must cut, cut, cut.  

Only I read somewhere that U.S. corporate profits are at an all time high.  This last quarter was the best ever.  It would be $1.7 trillion on a yearly basis.  It’s a funny number just close to the $1.8 trillion companies are holding in cash cause their afraid to expand and hire..  And didn’t I read somewhere that Wall St. bonuses are going up 5% Happy days are back for some.  A restaurant recently sold a thirsty customer a 1982 Château Mouton Rothschild for $3,950.    

Couldn’t Obama humbly go to his Wall Street. friends and ask they pay a bit more taxes?  Couldn’t he say as Oliver Twist asked in the workhouse, “Please sir, I want some more?”  But Obama isn’t even meekly asking for a few crumbs for us anymore.  He’s standing squarely with the workhouse “master”.

Today he gave labor a sock in the jaw proposing to freeze all federal salaries for two years.  (This comes the day before 800,000 long term jobless workers lose their unemployment benfits.).  According to the New York Times a freeze would “wipe out plans for a 1.4 % across-the-board raise in 2011 for 2.1 million federal civilian employees, including those working at the Defense Department.”

It didn’t work out so well for Twist, that day.  His mates didn’t back him up.  And here in the US. we are still acting like timid Oliver Twists.  But in Europe working people are waking up, 50,000 to 100,000 marching yesterday in Ireland, a general strike last week in Portugal, millions on strike weeks ago in France.

They’re starting to wake up and they’re not saying, “Please”.

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