|This is the only "progressive" policy position out there. "No Cuts" sounds nice, but what does it really mean?|
Of course, I've been saying benefits should be increased for years and years, but no one who matters has ever listened. It's the way these things go.
Social Security and other benefits that people receive -- regardless of whether they are earned entitlements such as pensions or they are welfare benefits for the poor and disabled -- are simply too low, scandalously low given that we (the People) are in a perpetual -- and now a totally engineered -- recession.
Social Security benefits should have been doubled or even tripled at the lower end and increased by 25% or more at the upper end at the very outset of the Endless Recession. Instead, benefits were cut. Oh they were, were they? comes the rejoinder. Yes, they were. There was no COLA for two years, and COLAs since then do not reflect -- at all -- the steep increases in costs for food, housing, transportation, and utilities, not to mention medical care not covered by Medicare, that recipients have had to endure. These cuts have had a profound economic effect, both among the elderly who depend on Social Security as their main income in retirement, and critically among the poorest Americans who often receive nothing in benefits.
Benefits for the poor and disabled not on Social Security or SSI have all but disappeared with the exception of food stamps and completely inadequate private charity.
This is due to stupid and self-defeating policies at the very top of the political ladder, policies that appear to be institutionalized as the nation races to the artificial deadline of the vastly puffed up "fiscal cliff."
When the gasbags insist that the only way to avoid said "cliff" is to cut benefits even more (under the rubric of "entitlement reform") you should know what's coming: benefits will be further cut. And there is nothing, supposedly, the peasantry can do about it. Haw. Double. Haw.
There might -- or might not -- be a tiny uptick in revenues in exchange for cutting benefits further, but don't count on it. The more that can be taken away from the poor, the old, the hungry, the sick, the infirm and the unable, the more accrues to the highest of the mighty in any case. Everyone knows that.
Taking to the streets is a good tactic but it isn't a strategy that will put the brakes on this madness. Cf: Europe for an example. All the street demonstrations over there haven't even momentarily halted the idiotic slide of Europe's leaders into fiscal and economic paralysis. There is no sign whatever that demonstrations by themselves will ever affect the Powerful.
Monster Meetings and Mass Demonstrations rarely affect the Powerful in any case. What does move them, sometimes with amazing speed, is a nudge from within their own ranks ("class betrayal", cf Roosevelt -- either one) something we have not seen any of during our recent unpleasantness, or sometimes an external intervention is necessary, such as the near-success of the Populist Movement in this country at the end of the 19th Century, or the advent of the Global Communist Conspiracy following the Soviet Revolution of 1917.
Domestic demonstrations by themselves don't accomplish much, nor can they, nor do scholars of protest movements expect them to. They serve as consciousness-raising actions more than anything. But that's another discussion.
Our problem is that no one among the Ruling Classes is willing to be the voice of conscience that we so badly need in order to halt the madness. Anyone who tries is booted from the fold promptly, and all his or her goods and chattel are forfeit. A certain Al Gore comes to mind. Remember him? No? Well, there you are then.
The decision was made years ago at the highest levels that the least among us would be made to pay proportionately the most for the sins and failures of the Highest. Nothing has acted to change or even influence that decision.
In the current "debate" there is no thought or consideration whatsoever if increasing benefits for any but the very richest and most powerful (how about eliminating the estate tax altogether, for example? That is on the table; increasing Social Security and other benefits for the People absolutely is not). The posture of nearly all so-called "progressives" is to maintain SS and some other benefits at current levels, not cut them.
Well, maybe cut them a little bit. OK? Deal?