I'm fortunate in that I don't normally spend time in places and ways that will bring me into contact with Baggers and the like. But yesterday I ran into an old acquaintance and during the course of the conversation she trotted out the talking point:
"Well, social security is just another way of saying welfare, really. It's an entitlement, like welfare. And welfare shouldn't be the basis for our society, the Founders believed in independence, not depending on the government."
Holy moley rocky... where do you start with that kind of folly?... Deep breath. Let pleasant expression morph slowly into wary pity.
"Yeah. That's what they want you to think."
"Well it's true. Any intelligent person can see it, if they're not blinded by thinking the government owes them a living."
"Uh-huh. That's what they want you to see."
Exasperatedly "Who? Who 'wants me to think' that?"
"Well, the big bankers. The Wall Streeters. The guys who got all that bailout money. And the people who want to move jobs out of America so they can make bigger profits. And the people who want us to be scared and mean to each other because it means they can make more money from us. The fat cats, in other words. As long as they can keep everyone else believing that poor people and old people and people who are different from us are the enemy, we won't pay attention to them stealing us blind, buying our government out from under us, and laughing all the way to their offshore banks."
"So are you saying I'm stupid?"
headshake, serious look -- gawd fergive me, I'm about to lie--- "Not at all. If they only deceived stupid people, they wouldn't get very far. They have been working for years to buy the media, frame the debate, spread disinformation, and make sure that only stuff that makes people feel victimized and unfairly disadvantaged by other people gets any attention at all. It's taken decades of work to get smart people to believe stuff that will make them vote against their own interest and blame each other for their problems, rather than looking at where the money actually goes."
"What do you mean, 'where the money actually goes'? It goes to welfare queens and the national debt, is where it goes."
"Let me ask you something. Do you think that an economy that results in ten percent of the people owning eighty-seven percent of all financial wealth is going to produce 'independence' for the other ninety percent of the people?"
"Those are bullshit numbers."
"They are not. They are actual facts. Various authorities may quibble about a percentage or two here or there, but the essential fact is that financial wealth has been pooling into a smaller and smaller group of people ever since the end of the 1970s. Programs like Social Security-- which is an insurance program, by the way, not a 'welfare' program, or an 'entitlement'--are in fact the only hope that many of us in the bottom ninety percent have of achieving any kind of 'independence' or 'freedom' or whatever you're concerned about. We in the bottom ninety percent aren't stealing from each other. We're all BEING stolen from, by an economic and political structure that have been slowly subverted to serve Wall Street and the banksters at our expense."
"It's still welfare."
She does look a little thoughtful, though. Probably a waste of breath anyway, but... you never know.
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