congress f*cks with the most efficient benefit program in the country . . . again (part 1)

“The unseen hand of anti-government ideology can be found everywhere nowadays—even in your mailbox. The proof is in what you won’t find there, like your annual statement of earned Social Security benefits. The government stopped mailing those out in 2011.

It’s also getting a lot harder to find Social Security field offices, or to find someone to pick up the phone, as the Social Security Administration enters into yet more rounds of steep budget cuts.

Social Security customer service: now you see it, now you don’t.

The question is, why? Social Security may be the single most efficient benefit program in the country. Its annual operating expenses are less than 1% of overall costs, a figure that private sector programs should envy.

All the evidence points to one conclusion: these cuts are motivated by ideology, not genuine concerns. (See note on ideology below.)

Congress has cut fourteen out of the last sixteen Social Security Administration’s budget requests. There’s only one rational explanation for that: a hostility toward government itself, combined with the determination to place more public resources in corporate hands through privatization.

It’s a simple game: slash funding for well-run government programs, then use the resulting chaos as evidence that government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem.

Social Security recipients—including the disabled, the elderly, and children—pay a high price for this ideologically motivated crusade. That tells us that the people who govern us can be extraordinarily insensitive to the human costs of their actions. Many disabled and elderly Social Security recipients depend on field offices, and the workers in them, to help them navigate the system.

The rationale most frequently given for these cuts is that people can now access these services online. But seniors are far less likely to use the Internet than other Americans. Minorities and lower-income households are also far less likely to use the Internet, adding a discriminatory element to these decisions.

Here’s how cynical this game gets: the very same Republicans who are using healthcare.gov’s problems as proof that “government doesn’t work” are driving an ever-increasing share of Social Security’s administration onto the Internet—and then underfunding that effort.

See where this is going?”

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The excerpts above were taken from an article titled “Invisible Social Security Cuts: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t” by Richard Eskow for the Campaign for America;s Future (April 9, 2014). The original article is just over 1,100 words in length; the passages above total 340 words, so there is plenty left to read of Mr. Eskow’s article. So, if this interests you, click on over to the CAF website and read the entire piece!

Note on ideology: Merriam-Webster offers us four definitions for ideology: “1) visionary theorizing; 2a) a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture, and 2b) a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture; and 2c) the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program.”

I do believe that 2c is the definition closest to the meaning of ideology as it is most commonly used and as it is used by the Mr. Eskow above. Ideological people are those who believe that the ends justify the means—any means necessary.

This latest Social Security “crisis” should remind those of you who have been paying attention over the years to the manufactured crisis of the United States Postal Service. Manufactured by the Republican Congress, needless to say. More on the USPS “crisis” in part 2 of this article . . .

 

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