Thursday, August 25, 2011

Marco Rubio and I Discuss Social Security and Medicare

Hello everyone.

I'd planned on working on my book today instead of blogging, but then I stumbled across something that I thought deserved to be blogged about. So let's get right to it...

Politics

The something worth blogging about is this quote from the junior US senator from Florida, Marco Rubio:



In case you can't see the video and don't want to click on the above link, here's the quote:
"[Social Security and Medicare] actually weakened us as a people. You see, almost forever, it was institutions in society that assumed the role of taking care of one another. If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to. We took these things upon ourselves in our communities, our families, and our homes, and our churches and our synagogues. But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities. All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job."

Let's dissect this one sentence at a time, shall we?  It will be like Senator Rubio and I are having a nice, reasonable back-and-forth discussion:
"[Social Security and Medicare] actually weakened us as a people."
Hmm. How does one define "weaken"? According to Think Progress:
"Prior to Medicare’s enactment in 1965, 'about one-half of America’s seniors did not have hospital insurance,' 'more than one in four elderly were estimated to go without medical care due to cost concerns,' and one in three seniors were living in poverty. Today, nearly all seniors have access to affordable health care and only about 14 percent of seniors are below the poverty line."

I don't know. Maybe he's right. Maybe living in heated homes and not working has turned today's seniors into a bunch of weaklings, as opposed to the "good old days" when old people (who weren't wealthy) were tough because they were forced to work until they dropped dead, and if they could no longer work or work wasn't available, begging on the street corner out in the elements instead of relaxing indoors is what toughened them up.
"You see, almost forever, it was institutions in society that assumed the role of taking care of one another."

Aren't Social Security and Medicare "institutions in society"?  "Social" and "society" even share the same root word, for crying out loud.
"If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them."

You sure did, and you still do today. That is, if you can afford to do so. If not, they're screwed. But I'm sure Marco Rubio will gladly tell you that's your fault.
"If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them."

How often does that really happen? I just can't see shelling out $50,000 to pay for my my neighbor's quadruple bypass surgery, even if I had enough money, though I'd probably pitch in five bucks (depending on which neighbor it was) if someone started a collection.  I guess the solution is to live somewhere where you have 10,000 neighbors willing to pitch in a few bucks apiece.
"You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to."

Everyone saves for their retirement every time they work and payroll taxes are taken out of their paychecks. In addition, my wife and I contributed to a 401k until we became self-employed. Unfortunately, we lost about half of it because Wall Street and the banks tanked the economy. I suppose that's my fault, as well.  I should've known back in 2005 that collaterized debt obligations were going to tank the economy, even though I'd never heard of them.  Personal responsibility, and all.

But more to the point, are we really supposed to believe people don't think they need to save for their future?  Perhaps the problem is not that Social Security and Medicare made people think they no longer need to save money, but that people simply don't have enough money to save, because most people aren't millionaire senators like Marco Rubio.
"We took these things upon ourselves in our communities, our families, and our homes, and our churches and our synagogues."

But if you're part of a poor (or shitty) community, family, home, church, or synagogue, then what?
"But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities."

Um, the government is not assuming squat. We each pay into Social Security and Medicare. It's our money, not the government's.  All the government has been doing is spending the surplus we used to have.
"All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job."
They problem is that we don't worry enough?  Great, let's get back to the "good old days" when people used to worry about how they'd support themselves when they were too old to work, or whether or not they'd be able to pay for that life-saving medical procedure.

Also, is he really trying to suggest no one worries about saving money anymore?  Maybe not people like Marco Rubio, who simply forms political committees, gets big contributions from rich people and corporations, and then uses the funds to pay his personal expenses--including government-backed student loans--instead of working for a living.

I guess that's what happens when you're a puppet for the wealthy.

In closing

As long as politicians keep making asinine comments like these, you can bet I'll be back soon.

Rob

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