Getting outside the echo chamber: "The Right opposes Social Security because...every person has worth...." Part 2 - Granite Grok

Getting outside the echo chamber: “The Right opposes Social Security because…every person has worth….” Part 2

The Right opposes Social Security because it is based on the social democratic idea that every person has worth, even if they are too old to work, and that no one should live in poverty.

And so we debate!  I received Professor Joseph Schwartz’s opening remarks on the defense of this line written by Maria Svart, National Director of the Democrat Socialists of America.  Tomorrow I will post my response:

3/11/13:  Prof. Schwartz

The democratic left has always supported collective means of social insurance, such as publicly-funded (through equitable taxation) universal health care, old-age pensions, disability insurance, and unemployment insurance. We support all citizens being covered because both the rich and poor, young and old get sick or disabled and they often don’t have jobs or the purchasing power to cover themselves thru individual insurance. The right has always resisted the implementation of social insurance and always fights to “privatize” it as much as possible, arguing that individuals should have the foresight (and “the freedom”) to insure themselves (or those who pay in more should get better coverage).

This desire to “privatize” misunderstands that insurance only works if both the most vulnerable and the least vulnerable are covered. That’s why the right fails to understand that one-quarter of Social Security payments go to disabled persons, many of them in their twenties and thirties who suffer injuries from car accidents, etc. It’s estimated that to gain the coverage embodied in the disability part of Social Security (it is after all, officially known as “Old Age, Disbility and Survivors Insurance) younger disabled folks would have had to buy a disability insurnace policy that would cost for young people in the “free market” over $8,000 per individual covered. Few folks have that type of money to insure themselves. And another fifteen per cent of Social Security benefits go to the children of adult wage earners who die before they are 62. Again, to buy such a life insurance policy for young children (say when one was 40 or so), would cost well beyond the means of the average worker (whose salary is $39,000 per year). If a 30 year old worker with a 2 year old dies, the child will receive form Social Security the equivalent of a $600,000 life insurance policy, which would cost the individual over $2,000 a year.

 So, yes, we could “privatize” these forms of insurance; but the majority of working people and the elderly would be far less off. As it is, 70 per cent of retirees receive the majority of their retirement income from Social Security (an average of $16,000 per year; not a huge sum). Why? because private employers have cut back on private pension benefits and the radical redistribution of income upwards over the past 30 years (the top 20% taking 80% of the total income growth) means that fewer Americans retire with good pension benefits and few have significant personal savings (given college costs for their kids, too..which have risen because the state has cut back 40% on funding state universities over the past 20 years!)

 Again, conservatives never, ever address how an individual would gain sufficient resources to buy in their 20s-40s the disability and survivor’s benefits that over 50 million American adults and children depend upon today. That’s because if you think the individual is the only part of a society, rather than also the community we build together, you can’t fathom the basic principle of social insurance…that we insure all of one another against the vagaries of premature death, disability, loss of a parent, and, also, the reality that many of us have jobs (that produce valuable goods for one another) that don’t come with good benefits nor the very high wages one would need to purchase such insurance as an individual. We could also talk about why “voucherizing” Medicare would lead to good care for the affluent, and inadequate care for those of modest means.


First posted on 3/5/13:

A Debate.

Too often, Conservatives are accused to “being in the Echo Chamber”; willing to talk to (sometimes scream at) each other and other like minded folks, but never bringing those ideas or arguments outside of the chamber.  Yes, here in NH, we do talk a lot to like minded folks but we pursue the outside game as well.  As Conservatives with libertarian leanings, we try to live the “send me” or “why NOT me?” mantras.  If not us, who will?  Too often, we see people in their comfort zone but can’t make the arguments to back up what they stand for – simply because they never go where they will be challenged.  Thankfully, that is not us here at the ‘Grok.  I have said for years that if I cannot defend what I believe to be Right, I deserve to lose in the arena of ideas.  Thus, we are always seeking to hone that edge – after all, our About page says exactly that:

We take on all Progressives/Liberals/Moderates/ Squishy Republicans and fly to the aid of rock-ribbed freedom loving and liberty seeking / leaning folk anywhere!

So, why am I going on like this?  Simple;  we’re about to have a debate here on the ‘Grok (go big or stay home).  Our antagonist? The Democrat Socialists of America.

Yes,  “antagonist” was a carefully chosen word as we do believe that the Socialist political and moral philosophy is antithetical to that of the Founding Fathers.  I have been subscribed to their email list for a while, just “lurking”.  However, when I read this in one of their missives:

The Right opposes Social Security because it is based on the social democratic idea that every person has worth, even if they are too old to work, and that no one should live in poverty.

I decided to reach out and tell them that they were wrong and replied to the email that brought the above line in: Maria Svart, the National Director.  After a few emails back and forth, it was agreed – a debate, starting with that line.  We’ll actually be going back and forth with their National Vice-Chair, Dr.  Joseph Schwartz (A Temple University professor of political theory).  It should be interesting – an ordinary schlub from central New Hampsha debating a full Professor of Political Theory.

A mismatch?  Perhaps – he does this for a living while this is a hobby.  Interesting?  I hope so.  An upcoming loss?

Eh? I promise to be a magnanimous proponent of conservatism (heh!).

We should be started by the end of the week…..stay tuned.