Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Saving the Social Security Surplus for "Lean Years": The Lesson of the Joseph Story!

In 1968, Andrew Lloyd Weber opened Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat, the story of the Biblical Joseph who had the keen ability to interpret dreams for the Pharaoh.

The crew of Joseph at a Show

In the Bible, Joseph's big break occurs when he interprets disturbing dreams for the Pharaoh. As it is written in Genesis 41:
17 ¶ And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:
18 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow:
19 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness:
20 And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine:
21 And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke.
22 And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good:
.23 And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:
24 And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me. -
.25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.
26 The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.
27 And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.
28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.
29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:
30 And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;
31 And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.
32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. -
.33 ¶ Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
.34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.
35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.
36 And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine
Pharaoh made sure his land did not perish by saving the excess during the good years. America could learn a thing or two from this Joseph fellow!

Republicans who are intent upon destroying Social Security are telling America that they wish to "save" the surplus by spending it! They wish to draw down the funds that are being used to fund the excess that is needed as the baby boom generation ages, and give it to the younger workers in the form of "private accounts" depriving Social Security of the needed funds to keep it solvent. This action accelerates the destruction of this great safety net, and does not prepare our nation for the "lean years" to come, when the baby boomers start retiring.

As reported:
The idea of using the surplus to pay for investment accounts has significant political appeal, Republican strategists and lawmakers said. At town hall meetings, in polls and in focus groups, voters, without fully understanding the program, have expressed dismay at the idea that the Social Security surplus is being used to pay for other government programs.
Congressman Paul Ryan, a sponsor of this legislation wrote in USA Today:
Our legislation is guided by three basic principles:

• The Social Security surplus should only be used for Social Security.

• The surplus should not be used to fund other government programs.

• The surplus should not be used to mask the true size of the national debt.

At the very least, the first step in saving Social Security must be to make sure all of Social Security's taxes go to Social Security, rather than to other federal spending. Ultimately, this proposal takes that first step
He then goes on to explain:
We propose giving workers under the age of 55 the choice of having their Social Security surplus distributed to their Social Security Personal Retirement Account (or GROW Account) in the form of risk-free marketable Treasury bonds.
Congressman Ryan continues to misrepresent what happens under the current Social Security system.

He says is is trying to save the surplus for "Social Security", and then goes on to propose funneling it off to a new program for private accounts that will draw funds off of Social Security and threaten its very survival.

He states the surplus "should not be used to fund other government programs". He then goes on to detail how the funds from this "surplus" which as we all know very well is not a surplus at all, as there is a SHORTFALL which everyone is talking about based on current Social Security requirements longterm, and take that "surplus" and have individuals invest it in private accounts in the form of TREASURY BONDS!

My head is spinning! According to the Social Security Trust Fund itself:
As stated in the answer to "What happens to the taxes that go into the trust funds?", most of the money flowing into the trust funds is invested in U. S. Government securities. Because the government spends this borrowed cash, some people see the current increase in the trust fund assets as an accumulation of securities that the government will be unable to make good on in the future. Without legislation to restore long-range solvency of the trust funds, redemption of long-term securities prior to maturity would be necessary.

Far from being "worthless IOUs," the investments held by the trust funds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U. S. Government. The government has always repaid Social Security, with interest. The special-issue securities are, therefore, just as safe as U.S. Savings Bonds or other financial instruments of the Federal government.
In other words, the Social Security Trust Fund invests in Government Bonds. And what do the Republicans propose doing with the surplus, instead of saving it for the lean years ahead? INVESTING IN GOVERNMENT BONDS in INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS. This will in no way change what the government does with the money. They will of course spend it. Social Security didn't spend the money. They INVESTED in Government Bonds, which is exactly what the Republicans suggest placingt in individual accounts!

Congressman Ryan claims to wish to "save Social Security" to make sure that the surplus goes to Social Security rather than to Federal spending. This is two mis-statements wrapped into one! He is TAKING the surplus FROM SOCIAL SECURITY and is doing nothing about denying the government of spending money! He wants to invest in more FEDERAL TREASURY BONDS because they are the safest form of investment available! Even for the Social Security Trust Fund.

I am so sick and tired of the fear-mongering and mis-information spread by Republicans intent on rolling back the New Deal of FDR. They wish to spend the more that $1 trillion in surplus NOW so it isn't available later.

We need to learn the lesson of Joseph from the Bible. We must protect that surplus, keep it safely invested in government securities, and make sure that Social Security survives this attack from the right-wingers who want to tear large holes in this most important safety net! Lean years shall occur in the future, but with careful protection of this Trust Fund, Social Security shall be safe for us, our children and our Children's children.

America deserves better! We need leaders who tell us the truth, offer us solutions without tearing apart our programs. We need leaders who care about keeping Seniors out of poverty and maintaining the DEFINED BENEFIT of the Social Security System.



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