It has been often claimed that Social Security was the third rail of American politics. No one dared touch it because it affected old people so much and their wrath was something not to be desired. Tip O’Neill, the Speaker of the House for many years, coined the phrase when he was fighting Ronald Reagan’s attempts to privatize Social Security. Well, they are touching it in a big way now and making many American seniors a lot poorer, although in a camouflaged way. They have frozen cost of living increases for two years and are increasing the amounts taken out of checks for Part B and Part D of Medicare. If one is already down at the $700 to $800 dollar a month range in monthly Social Security checks, this puts one, after rent and medicine are paid, down at the hay eating level. It reminds me of the old Joe Hill song: “Work and pray, Live on hay, You’ll get pie in the sky when you die, That’s a lie.”
Is this another part of Obama’s stimulus packages because I feel I am going in the opposite direction from stimulus? I think I may be headed for the terminal sleep level, sooner than expected. Maybe, stimulus is a code word for public money lavished on the rich and I don’t qualify. If I were an Afghani, I know I would qualify for several bombs and a missile or two, and those are very expensive. These often unexpected gifts from the sky can also bring on the terminal sleep phase, but even more unfortunately, often a lifetime of struggle, pain and misery. The United States does try and prevent this condition. Why, just the other day they bombed an Aghani medical clinic.
I called the Social Security Administration recently and they are very tight lipped people about one’ s benefits, saying they hadn’t heard any information from higher up yet. All I know is that if they keep increasing the premiums for Part B and Part D, that the ultimate level of one’s Social Security check will be $0.00 dollars. Actually, they have a clause in Part B, which supposedly prevents this by prohibiting deductions without a cost of living increase, but George W. Bush ignored the law so many times, I have no trust in any regulation. They always seem to have a way around it. Since the big insurance companies got into Part D, I know that part is going up every year. I looked it over and it appears to me that one could be just as well off buying the drugs without even bothering about the insurance, the deductibles, the co-payments and the cap at slightly above $2000. Then, drug coverage doesn’t begin again until over $4000. It is called “the donut hole.” I believe someone in Congress must have a hole in their head. A clever way to alter Social Security is to gradually destroy it, then say it doesn’t work, and consequently, it must be privatized and the money put in the stock market. I am confident they have thought of this plan.
My sister told me that if one worked after 65, the amount of one’ Social Security checks would go up, since they still removed money from my checks for Social Security. They soon dispelled that happy myth from my mind. In the midst of the worst depression since the Great Depression, one has to be touched by the wand of the good job fairy and make much more money than one previously has during one’s lifetime of labor. In other words, if one suddenly makes twice as much as one did before, they will kindly condescend to increase one’s check by a slight adjustment- very slight in my estimation. I haven’t personally got Part B yet, because I was very skeptical right at the start of this revision of Social Security and the part big insurance companies played in the legislation. Also, I am only making $691 dollars a month, $500 of which I use to help my sister, who has pancreatitis. How the Social Security Administration can feel justified in paying such low amounts to people and expect them to survive their old age is beyond me? I read that rich people live an average of 4 years longer than poor people. It is not only access to medical care, but the fact that the poor have the constant stress of wondering how in the world they will resolve their health care quandary.
I have spinal stenosis and disc problems in the back, and it gives me numbness in the feet and pain, pins and needles and every imaginable sensation in the legs. I was going to break down and get Part B, since no doctor will see one without it, but one can apply only during December to March and then wait several months while they take the premiums out and then there is a big penalty for not getting it in the first place at 65. Meanwhile, the nerves in my legs are obviously being slowly destroyed, and I have to sit back and watch it happen. On the other hand, once I am in a wheelchair, that is going to be a lot less expensive than a back operation, and the television is flooded with these advertisements saying that Medicare will pay for wheelchairs.
Every industrialized country in the world, with the exception of the United States, has single payer health insurance. This is something that would have eliminated the nightmare I have experienced for the past two years in the United States. I want to forewarn all the citizens of those fortunate countries to be prepared for a fight to save all the benefits they already have for the poor, sick and old. The US government in conjunction with the large, powerful insurance companies would love to privatize everything in the world and expand their markets. Bechtel corporation has already tried to privatize the water in Bolivia and failed due to massive protests by Bolivian citizens. Imagine how much influence the US government has if it can force European countries and others to send their young men to fight for American interests in Afghanistan.
In a capitalist society labor power is a commodity, just like everything else. When one gets old the value of that labor power diminishes, sometimes to zero. Therefore, why should public money go to these “worthless” people, when such “worthwhile” projects exist as blowing children into small fragments in foreign countries. This is obviously the way capitalists and politicians think. Otherwise, their spending priorities would be a lot different. I am certainly glad that the little grandchildren and nieces and nephews still love one and consider one worthwhile. At least, children are not natural capitalists. I have often wondered what a society would look like if love and compassion were emphasized more than greed and materialism. It certainly would be a lot different from the United States.
I don’t expect any massive demonstrations over the slow demise of Social Security. Americans have evidently been breathing aerosolized Valium for too long. They have also been Obamatized. Now, if the Super Bowl or American Idol were canceled, all hell would break loose.
[DS added the video]
Ani DiFranco & Utah Phillips: Pie In The Sky
August 14, 2009
‘Pie In The Sky’ — lyrics by Joe Hill; Tune traditional. Taken from the album ‘Fellow Workers’, Righteous Babe Records, 1999. Performed by Ani DiFranco, Utah Phillips, Julie Wolf, Jason Mercer, Daren Hahn & Andrew Gilchrist. Recorded before a live in-studio audience @ Kingsway in New Orleans, Louisiana.