Pliny The Welder is Brent.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

"Psst.. have you heard? You won't get apricot one from Social Security" and other bullshit lies:

Hey ho, Pliny here taking a break from talking about my testicle's   It was a tossup on whether today would be my first entry in a new series I'm doing or a political type post.  Politics won out but keep checking back  for my new series "Pliny reviews!" which will feature helpful reviews on people, objects and media.  Not sure what order they will appear but the first three are on Mao's cultural revolution, the film "Resurrect Dead" about the infamous Toynbee Tiles, and Fiber One Oats and Chocolate Naturally Flavored Chewy Bars.
       But today we're bringing you PART I of a three part series on Social Security.  In the first part we're gonna take a trip down memory lane and talk about why Social Security was created in the first place, examine some of the truly insane rhetoric that was hurled by those who opposed it and investigate how the very foundation of the program laid the groundwork for the discussion that is going on today. 
     In PART II we'll be taking a look at the insidious and hugely effective 40 year campaign by conservatives to convince you that you'll end up eating cat food when you're 70 because social security will be gone. We'll examine why that's bullshit and try to tease out just why rich people think I should be fixing their roof until I'm 72. 
      Finally, in Part III we'll take a look at the many mild and rational methods to save Social Security just as at is, delving into the heresy that is Pliny The Welder's perfectly logical plan to actually make Social Security pay more to those who need it most.
     Don't you dare fucking say I haven't done anything for you.  The straight dope.......


Hey, thanks a bunch for taking the jump.  I really appreciate that shit folks.  First off I want you people to know how much effort  goes in to doing a post like this.  Pie charts, graphs, humorous photos of intellectually dishonest assfaces'.  It's exhausting.  On second thought forget it.  What's that?  You already clicked and now I OWE you something?  Fine.  Away we go.

     So I don't know how familiar many of you are with Social Security but I'm going to do a real quick run down so you can understand exactly why this system is set up the way it is. I hear a lot of talk about Social Security. Even in the mainstream media the commentary is so clearly oblivious to the history of this program that I get angry.  Now I admit to getting angry very easily but even so...this shit is important guys so at least let's get it somewhat right.

       Anyway, it's my opinion that the average person has a very, very hazy understanding of the program and it's history. Something about a raw new deal and Franklin Roosevelt coming up with the idea while hunting boar in Yellowstone park maybe? That hazy understanding serves to make it much easier to confuse the contemporary debate.  For that reason I present this fun little primer about an important part of your cultural heritage:

Social Security As Violent Rebellion Prevention

     Like many of our most beloved and/or infuriating institutions or important cultural touchstones (cough.. bible...cough) Social Security was a system set up to respond to a specific problem or cultural need in a specific point in time and specific location in space that then became unchangeable because  well, fuck, that's how it's always been and what are you anyway some kind of satanic baby killing pinko?

The specific problem that Social Security was created to address was this:

Fuck 'em he's probably lazy.  And that dog looks kinda socialist if you ask me.

Oh yeah and this:

This started as a march.  Then it turned into a food riot.  There
was alot of this back then....when men were men.
I'm not going to go into all of the mind blowing stats about how fucking bad the depression was (it was worse than the great recession).  Instead I'm going to just tell you about three huge factors that led to Social Security being passed.

1)  Old people were literally starving to death on the fucking streets while rich people bitched about their portfolios losing value.  Damn, that sounds familiar.. . very few people are starving to death now but economic suffering in America is felt only relative to the state of our peers (more on the relative nature of pain in a future post), and the gap between them and YOU is larger than it was in the 20's.

Two things here: 1) FUUUCKKKK.  2)  You'll notice the "Golden Age Donna Reed" years
that douchebag conservatives are always pining for are actually the years
that the policies they currently espouse were not in force and the income gap was narrowest.
Welp, never let the facts get in the way of a good story

2) Many of those old people were fucking Civil War veterans.  Can you imagine the OUTRAGE of living in a squalid tent in central park splitting a diseased pigeon for breakfast in the twilight of your life?  A life that included your prime years being donated to the nation?  A nation that paid you very little to save it's ass and stiffed you on your pension that you earned killing people and smelling the piles of hacked off limbs?  Me neither.

Oh thank god. Finally some  real American's who won't
 try to suckle off the government teat by whining for pensions

3) It was only a decade after the so called "Lost Generation" got back from saving our freedom from the Kaiser's mustachioed hordes.  These guys got to spend a few years in trenches of blood getting bombarded and gassed over a few hundred yards of France   Then they got home, couldn't find a job and had to watch their elderly parents starve to death on a street corner. Violent rebellion anyone?

To sum it up, in light of these facts the average American's response then was much like our response today- No. Fucking. Way.

Second: You know who else had weird facial hair?  SATAN that's who
Third:  Therefore we must fight these men who have the devil's mustaches

Hey, look over here! It's a skinny red fish!

Communism was budding at at this point and it was looking like a pretty good fucking alternative.  America was forced to act and the first social safety net in our history was enacted.

Social Security was initially only intended to give Granny and Gramps a bit of dignity in their old age. But that reeked of charity and America was (and is) vehemently opposed to state-funded charity.  So a grand scheme was created- a universal American pension subsidy. Yeah, they had pensions back then. I'd go into that but the rest of the essay would just be a pool of blood from the rage spewing out of my eyes. (Click that link.  If you haven't seen it before I pity you.)
     The key to this scheme was to make sure Social Security was never viewed as a social welfare program.  In fact the very term "entitlement program" that is used so derisively today was coined to make sure Americans understood that Social Security wasn't a gift.  It was something you were entitled to because you paid for it.  For this very reason the Social Security fund was set up in such a way so that it would be self-sustaining.
     The other important founding principle that was established to make sure no one thought of this program as commie pinko social tinkering was that EVERYONE would get a pay out.  From the very poorest to the very richest.  These were necessary ingredients ground into the political sausage to make it tasty for even the most ardent American Capitalist.

     It's important to remember that Social Security was hugely controversial.  While it was supported by many of America's largest corporations (for a variety of reasons not least of which was the lessening of the pension burden on business) it was hugely unpopular with conservatives of both parties.  Likewise it was pretty unpopular among the most liberal liberals of the time.  Huey Long famously derided Social Security for failing to deliver enough benefits to the besieged American working class who were struggling with unemployment levels never seen before or since. Conservative opposition from the Right was based on the belief that the system was an unneeded, unwanted and unconstitutional  government invasion into the private sector.

Love, not so much.

     It's important here to point out that a belief in the near magical ability of free market economics is very much a religious article of faith among conservatives.,  The ideologies prophets can be traced down through history from Adam smith, to Ayn Rand to Milton Friedman  to Grover Norquist.  It's simply the question of whether the state has any responsibility to provide for it's citizens that is the crux of their argument.

     Fine.  People are entitled to their opinion and if this point of view was presented with intellectual honesty in a fair debate I'm quite certain the vast majority of Americans would choose money over the nebulous benefit provided by "freedom and independence".
     I'd be remiss if I didn't also point out the strange opposition to Social Security form the far Christian right from the very beginning of the New Deal.   Undoubtedly one of the main tenets of the teaching of Jesus was the care of the weak and poor.  But far right Christianity has always had a heavy  streak of millennialism and apocalypsism in it.  And the fear of a vengeful god is more powerful than the warm fuzzies you get working at the food bank.  Social Security required the issuance of Social Security numbers.   In 2 Samuel 24 David sins against god by doing the first national census and "numbering the people"  The crazier among us still believe that this is one of the signs of the apocalypse.  I suppose that having an SSI number makes it that much easier for Satan to find you.  Don't give Satan your digits yo.

YOu know who else said the individual is more important than the collective?
Satan that's who!  Satan and Ayn Rand.  And Paul Ryan.  And Anton Levey.
At least Satan had the balls to be all red and goateed. Paul Ryan looks like a principle.
A satanic principle.

   I'm pretty much done with this little introduction.  I want to keep it short and readable and as funny a guy as I am its pretty tough to find jokes in the history of the Social Security Act.  Oh but the jokes to come!  Because the hyperbole and hysteria that has been hurled against the most popular and successful program in American history has been OFF THE CHAIN for going on seven decades now.    So now that we have slogged through this we can look forward to the fun stuff.  In closing I want to set up the next part of the series by quoting noted radical leftie and Communist sympathizer President General Dwight D. Eisenhower who our son Ike is named for and whom we like very much:

This fucking guy would be totally un-electable today
 because he's a radical socialist who hates America

Up next:

Mitt Doesn't Need The Money But Checks
 Make Good Bird Cage Paper

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