fresh voices from the front lines of change







At the end of the year the Washington Post published as "news" a story, "Support grows for tackling nation's debt" that pushed the idea of "a special commission to make the tough decisions that will be required to dig the nation out of debt" and "rein in skyrocketing spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security" before the "unsustainable entitlement spending" before it can "undermine the nation's economy."

The Post called that "news." No alarm bells went off in their editorial department.

Where did this "news" story come from? The Washington Post has a deal with an outfit called “Fiscal Times” to provide “news” articles like this one. But Fiscal Times doesn’t really provide news, it is in reality a “front” – one of many – for an organization called the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Peter G. Peterson, a Wall Street billionaire, set up this foundation many years ago ostensibly to advocate that the government reduce its deficit spending and debt, but in reality the foundation advocates reductions in government benefits to citizens, forcing the citizens who can afford it to purchase private services instead. (Those citizens who can't afford it? Well, too bad but "the market" isn't about them.) The foundation says little about the larger government spending on military (cut "waste") and tax cuts for the rich (ending them "wouldn’t come close to addressing our fiscal gap").

The Peterson "news" story quotes people from other Peterson front groups like the Concord Coalition. So in essence the Peterson story quotes the people that Peterson pays to put out quotes. But it creates the impression that lots of "experts" agree this is what is needed.

This strategy goes back to a larger Wall Street effort to get rid of Social Security. A 1983 Cato Institute Journal document, "Achieving a Leninist Strategy" by Stuart Butler of Cato and Peter Germanis of Heritage lays it out for us. The document is still available at Cato, and select quotes are available at Plotting Privatization? from Z Magazine. It is worth reading the entire document (in particular the section "Weakening the Opposition") to understand completely the strategy that has been unfolding in the years since, but the following quotes give you an idea:

"Lenin recognized that fundamental change is contingent upon ... its success in isolating and weakening its opponents. ... we would do well to draw a few lessons from the Leninist strategy."

" construct ... a coalition that will ... reap benefits from the IRA-based private system ... but also the banks, insurance companies, and other institutions that will gain from providing such plans to the public."

"The first element consists of a campaign to achieve small legislative changes that embellish the present IRA system, making it in practice a small-scale private Social Security system.

"The second main element ... involves what one might crudely call guerrilla warfare against both the current Social Security system and the coalition that supports it."

"The banking industry and other business groups that can benefit from expanded IRAs ..." "... the strategy must be to propose moving to a private Social Security system in such a way as to ... neutralize ... the coalition that supports the existing system."

"The next Social Security crisis may be further away than many people believe. ... it could be many years before the conditions are such that a radical reform of Social Security is possible. But then, as Lenin well knew, to be a successful revolutionary, one must also be patient and consistently plan for real reform."

So there you have it. Every time you hear that "Social Security is going broke" you are hearing a manufactured propaganda point. Every time you hear that "Social Security is a Ponzi scheme" you are hearing a manufactured propaganda point. Every time you hear that "Social Security won't be there for me anyway" " you are hearing a manufactured propaganda point.

Don't fall for it. If they can gut Social Security they stand to make a lot of money but you stand to lose your retirement. Ask the government to look into better ways to cut spending and mostly to go back to taxing the wealthy like they did back when there were no deficits and the economy worked for every one, not just a few wealthy people sat the top of the pyramid.

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