York] Of all the bone-headed, whacky, breathtakingly
threatening schemes George W. Bush is trying to
sell us in his acceptance speech tonight is something
he and his handlers call, "the Ownership Society."
Sounds cool, "ownership." Everyone gets a piece
of the action. Everyone's a winner as the economy
zooms. All boats rise.
Behind the hooray-for-free-enterprise crapola
is that dog-eared game-plan to siphon off Social
Security revenues to pay for making Bush's tax
cuts for the rich permanent.
what the President has in mind. Social Security
is an insurance plan. You pay in, you get back.
But it's hard to get your money back when there's
a war where the Clinton surplus used to be. It's
not the war on terror, or the war in Iraq, though
Lord knows those have cost us a bundle with nothing
to show for all the lost loot. I'm talking about
the class war that Dubya and his Dick Cheney have
waged on the average working person.
talking an economic Pearl Harbor here. While firemen
and policemen went running into falling buildings,
the Bushmen were preparing to relieve some gazillionaires,
such as say, the Bush family, of the need to pay
the taxes that the rest of us pay. Work as a teacher,
you pay Social Security and income taxes on every
darn penny. Sit on your yacht and speculate in
the stock market casino and you are off the hook
on taxes on the "capital gains."
Clinton proposed putting his big surpluses into
a Social Security "lock-box" for that predictable
rainy day. But tonight, Bush instead proposes
to give the stock-options class a boost by lopping
off a chunk of Social Security insurance revenue
for gambling in the stock market. He had this
same idea in 2000. If he'd had his way on his
inauguration day, the average "owner" in America,
investing in the stock market, would be 7% poorer,
many flat busted. Some "security." Happy elderly
"owners" would be hunting for lunch in the garbage
cans under Madison Square Garden.
the latest report from the front lines of the
class war: The World Bank reports the USA has
more millionaires than ever -- we'll see them
at the Garden tonight. Median household income's
down -- most of us are median -- while the bottom
has fallen out for those at the bottom. Our poorest
20% have seen incomes drop by a fifth. America's
upper one percent now own 53% of all the shares
in the market.
now the uppers want to crack open your retirement
piggy bank, cut some of your retirement benefits,
then "allow" you to give them the remainder of
your money to fund their latest stock float schemes.
betting trillions on stock market ponies doesn't
produce a big win, what does Mr. Bush propose
to do with all the hungry old folk? I think I
heard George say, "Let them eat Enron certificates."
the future market fall, Mr. President, is a slam-dunk
certainty. Let's do the math. OK, class, we all
buy stock this afternoon to fund our retirement.
In fifteen years, baby-boomers are ready to kick
back, take it easy and retire on the stock they're
about to sell. Did I say, "SELL"? And HOW. Around
2020, tens of millions of "owners" will be selling
their shares … to whom? CRRRRASH!
deliberate policy of aiming for another 1929 is
appropriate for the top-hat and pinky-ring party
of Herbert Hoover.
big problem is that supposedly non-partisan and
even Democratic poobahs are rushing to "reform"
Social Security. We have Alan Greenspan, who has
barely a word to say about the multi-trillion
dollar deficit wrought by Mr. Bush's tax cuts,
yet is already warning about some disaster in
Social Security based on "trends." Well, if we
go by his own trend, the Fed chief will soon be
marrying a 12-year-old Girl Scout.
Alan, back to Economics 101 for you. As the boomers
hit retirement age, we're going to need added
borrowing for transfer payments like Social Security
to maintain purchasing power to keep the economy
alive while millions of old folk dump assets.
Mr. President, we had an "ownership" society once
before. Luckily, it came to an end when Abraham
Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Palast, nominated Britain's Business Writer of
the Year by the UK Press Association for his writings
in the Guardian papers, is the author of the New
York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money
Posted: September 11, 2004