I am fed up with Obama, the Republican candidates, the Tea Party, Paul Krugman, Robert Reich and Congress, how about you?

21 Aug

Social Security Poster: widow

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I am firm believer that President Obama has not done a good job, even if you happen to believe in his philosophy of government and its role in our society. You would think that Republicans who are salivating at making him a one term president would learn from his mistakes in leadership and head full speed to the center of the political spectrum.  In the last two and a half years we have learned that neither far left nor far right cut it in America. Oh sure, both sides are loud enough and get a lot of press, but they can’t make any of their extremes work.  I am sick of the Tea Party on one side and Krugman and Reich on the other.  We can’t welfare our way to continued prosperity and we can’t expect average people to always do the right thing and be responsible citizens.

Rather than exercising common sense as to what is practical and workable and strategically sound in terms America’s goals and needs, we get the leading Republican candidates talking more nonsense to appeal to some magical base that may be visible but at the same time is non-existent, somewhat like AARP membership.

Social Security is unconstitutional; give me a break.  Scrap it and let the states run things; many states have demonstrated their prowess as running pension systems that’s for sure.  There is no doubt Social Security is a Ponzi scheme running out of time, so do we scrap it or fix it?  Let me see, the private pension system has all but disappeared, Americans left on their own are lousy savers and even worse investors, the ups and downs of the stock market make 401(k) plans and other retirement savings uncertain mostly because people do not manage their investments, know how to or apparently care about doing so.  And then we have the people who simply have no money to save (far fewer than claimed, but some Americans nevertheless).

If I were alive in 1934 I probably would have been opposed to the enactment of Social Security, but today experience says something different.  As much as we like to rely on personal responsibility and common sense, we must accept the fact that both are in short supply.  Social Security may be screwed up, but that is because we got away from the basics of providing a safety net of income in old age (and because the definition of old age has changed).  Successive Congresses since 1935 have tinkered with Social Security, adding scores of new benefits many having nothing to with income in retirement and turning the program into a giant welfare scheme while not anticipating the long-term consequences or thinking about the long-term costs. No one should be surprised.

What the next President should do is figure out how to fix it and move on, not take it apart or bury his head in the sand defending the status quo.

Whoever wants to be President in 2013 should ignore the 15% fringe on the left and right and do the practical, commonsense and affordable things for the remaining 70% of Americans.  Americans cannot fend entirely for themselves and government cannot and should not do it all for them, is it so hard to find something in the middle that works?

Tags: Paul Krugman

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