Tag Archives: welfare

Social Security’s future is being written in the streets of Ferguson

Bernie Sanders’s confrontation with members of Black Lives Matter should teach a lesson to everyone engaged in the struggle to defend Social Security: Unless the campaign for economic equality recognizes the need to prioritize racial equality as well—that racial and economic issues are not separate—preserving and expanding Social Security will become increasingly difficult.

In politics, context is everything. The most passionate advocacy, even for an utterly righteous cause, can sound presumptuous when the advocate ignores another issue more important to the same audience. Witness Sen. John McCain’s recent humiliating treatment by the Navajo, who chased him off their reservation on August 16, when he came to discuss a feel-good memorial to the World War II Code Talkers—but refused to address complaints that he had failed to protect tribal water rights or to oppose a copper mine that’s about to be built on Oak Flat campgrounds, an area of spiritual significance to the Apache.

On the opposite end of the political spectrum, Sen. Bernie Sanders recently received a similar lesson. On July 18, Black Lives Matter protesters disrupted a Netroots Nation forum in Phoenix Continue reading Social Security’s future is being written in the streets of Ferguson

A Short Guide to Social Security Doublethink

Figuring out what Social Security’s critics really want is sometimes difficult. They’ve become so afraid of being tarred as “privatizers” that they’ve developed an elaborate vocabulary of code words to soften the edges of their positions on the issue. A closer examination clears away some of the fog, however.

The polite way to describe them is “terms of art.” George Orwell came up with a cruder but more forceful alternative: doublethink. Either way, the language that Social Security’s critics use to state their position is calculated to calm the fears of the vast majority of Americans who don’t want to see the program privatized. This has been going on for at least 15 years, ever since the first serious proposals to carve private accounts out of the program were tabled on Capitol Hill and Democrats pounced on them. Today, if use of the term “privatization” is the litmus test, there’s only one lawmaker in Congress Continue reading A Short Guide to Social Security Doublethink


The last time Washington created a new social insurance program, a backlash caused it to be repealed 14 months later. Because it’s voluntary, the new long-term health benefit might avoid that fate. But its chances of survival are still uncertain.

The most intriguing component of health care reform, to me, is the new long-term care program. As more and more families are finding out, this is a huge problem. People are living longer, households are debt-ridden, and that being the case, how do you take care of aging parents and other relatives?

More than 10 million Americans, mostly elderly, need long-term fare, according to a 2007 Georgetown report, but it’s expensive and most can’t afford it. Meanwhile, loosely regulated, mostly for-profit long-term care hospitals are popping up across the country, run on a shoe-string to maximize profits, often without much regard for patients’ welfare.

The new health care law incorporates a bill that the late Sen. Ted Kennedy introduced last year, Continue reading The CLASS Act