AS one neither left nor right, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, one of the things I’ve found most disheartening about this last few years and the solidification of my transition from a well right of center Republican to a left of center Independent/Populist is the manner on which the two major parties have managed to agree on one thing… that actual liberals are worthy of nothing but scorn. The fact that many so called progressive democrats are just as quick to react with snide derision to anything put forth by what they refer to in their politer moments as “the professional left” has been a hallmark of this country’s general slide to the right over the past three decades.
What we used to call the “moderate” right has now become the left and there’s no room… nor tolerance… left for the few true liberals in the country and reactions to anything they have to say are just as nasty and hateful coming from those who like to refer to themselves the “left” as they are coming from those the “left” like to call right wing nut jobs.
One of the things that amazes me most during this ongoing transition… probably because it’s simply the most current example… is the willingness of so many people who identify themselves as progressive… or even liberal… to accept and even embrace reductions in benefits to Social Security benefits for the country’s elderly poor. Many Democrats… including the President of the United States… are hell bound to get the door open for Social Security “reform”… ostensibly as a means of helping to appease the almighty bow down and kiss its ass god of the deficit. The difference between “left” and the “right” has been and remains only a difference in the manner in which the changes to SS benefits are introduced with the “right” assuming it’s usual “bludgeon the poor to death outright” position and the “left” opting for its equally usual but more insidious approach by instituting a small change here and there and claiming it has no real impact and that those affected… along with those of the “professional left”… are just overreacting to a little “harmless tinkering”.
The latest attempt to start modifying Social Security, the one being touted by an awful lot of progressives who apparently have bigger fish to fry is the chained CPI method of determining cost of living adjustments (COLA) for Social Security recipients. Some of the 140 character profundities being offered up on Twitter by that network’s leading “Progressive” lights in regard to the subject have put the RWs to shame in terms of vitriol and bile and indeed many progressives are making or enhancing greatly their Twitter “rep” by spending a hell of a lot more time bashing “EMOs” and “PROGs” than they do right wingers and the Tea Party. All it’s really shown me is that while the right remains ever willing to push me in front of a speeding train, today’s “left” is simply more in favor of the lull me into a false sense of security and then slip me a mickey and tie me to the fricking tracks approach,
Chained CPI is onerous as well as odorous on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin. If nothing else, it’s a “door opener”, It sets a precedent that leaves the program wide open and vulnerable by telling the junkies and pimps and whores in our congress that it’s OK to beat up on those least able to fight back and who have nobody left to stand for them. Give in once and there will be another half dozen or dozen “adjustments” next year and two dozen the year after that until the ultimate goal has been attained and Wall Street has its hands on the trust fund and all those billions of bucks worth of T-bills. You either stand firm or you sell out. There is no middle ground or room for compromise when you’re dealing with mindless, soulless bloodsucking parasites.
As for the proposal itself, perhaps the most blatant bovine excrement being pushed by those Progressives who see nothing wrong with reducing grandma’s (or grandpa’s) ability to buy groceries is that it will have little or no effect on the situation and that we’re allowing ourselves to be panicked by a few bleeding heart liberal alarmists… or EMOs… and overreacting to what is actually nothing more than a “minor adjustment” in bookkeeping or accounting procedures and designed only to streamline the procedures a little, thereby saving the taxpayers money, blah, blah, blah.
This is bullshit, people. In the first place, we all know that Social Security hasn’t got a goddamned thing to do with the deficit and that any discussion of any changes in terms of “saving taxpayer money” or contributing to deficit reduction already has us wading waist deep in bullshit before we ever leave the gate. Nobody with the IQ of a chimp or above ever bought that line and any congresspimp still pushing it is either full of crap or an outright crook and the notion that he or she is both together doesn’t push any envelopes.
And as far as raising the bullshit level with claims about it being harmless or having no real impact, let’s understand one thing from the get go… if there wasn’t something in it for someone it wouldn’t even be being considered and in order for someone to get something from it in our current version of a free market system someone else has to give something up and we all know who that’s going to be, whether we want to admit it or not. If you read something by some Progressive pundit touting CCPI because it supposedly has little or no impact ask yourself why, if it has little or no impact, he or she gives a shit one way or the other.
Let’s just make clear what chained CPI is all about. The idea here is that you should not measure the cost of living simply based on the consumer price index, and then raise the costs accordingly with the rise in prices. Instead, economists say, you have to account for the substitution effect in response to price shifts. When someone cannot afford steak, maybe they buy more chicken, the theory goes. By “chaining” the CPI to account for the substitution effect, you’re really shrinking the inflation in the index, because you’re assuming that the individual will spend less by changing their lifestyle. As a result, cost of living adjustments based on a chained CPI will rise more slowly that COLAs based on an unchained one.
On top of this, you have to understand that there are different kinds of consumer price indexes based on the prices of different baskets of goods. The current CPI for Social Security is the CPI-W, which measures goods purchased by basically middle-class urban wage earners. There’s also a CPI-U, which measures goods purchased by ALL urban wage earners. Those pushing for chained CPI want to move to C-CPI-U. Both the different index and the chaining will result in a smaller cost of living adjustment. And this compounds over time, so that older people get hit harder by the benefit cut. There’s also no accounting for the lifetime income of the beneficiary in the move to chained CPI – it’s an indiscriminate benefit cut.
Mr. Dayen does a good job of shooting down the contention that there is no cut or that if there is, it’s inconsequential but in pointing out what the proponents of chained CPI leave out of their own arguments, he makes a rather glaring omission himself. The ability of Wall Street and the gods of the financial sector to react quickly and sharply to any perceived change in consumerist habits that might affect maximum ROI.
Put quite simply and using his own analogy, if the price of beef goes up and I switch to chicken, the Wall Street controlled food industry will immediately notice that fact and the price of chicken will simultaneously rise to either equal or exceed the price of beef and by the time the next COLA time rolls around it won’t be making a pinch of monkey shot’s worth of difference what I’m eating, the actual costs of feeding myself will have risen by an X amount (any actual increase in the cost of food items) while any COLA I might get will be based on a purely mythical Y factor based on a difference between the prices of chicken and beef that no longer exists and that hasn’t since my last COLA.
Perhaps Mr. Dayen and those more prominent TwitterPundits on the left tend to overlook this little tidbit because there are no government financed commissions or studies that would tend to support the fact that in our system, “free market” simply means that none of the indices really mean jack shit and that Wall Street and Wall Street alone ultimately controls what it costs the rest of us to live in this country today and its only criteria in exercising that control is increased income for the corporations and enhanced ROI for the professional and institutional shareholders.
And I suspect the reason that the Democratic party and what some of us still insist on referring to as the left would even consider supporting changes to Social Security as a means of providing solace and substance to the one percent is that these supposedly left wing groups are predominately made up of people who benefit from Wall Street’s manipulation of our economy to some degree and who aren’t about to overlook the enormous windfall that would befall the financial sector if it got it’s claws into Social Security.
In a Free market NeoCapitalist system, those who benefit from the immense conglomeration of intricate Ponzi schemes that make up what we refer to collectively as Wall Street are extremely unlikely to be swayed by the plight of the who ultimately pay the price when such a system topples over from it’s own topheaviness as we saw happen in 2007-08.
It’s pretty goddamned simple. If you support ANY cuts to already inadequate benefits for Social Security recipients because someone has convinced you that it will “save” or “strengthen” the program, then you’ve lost all claim to being concerned about the plight of the elderly poor. The people running this country have no concern for saving or strengthening anything but their own bank accounts.and they don’t do that by doing a flipping thing for you or me.