Working people in U.S. mines, mills, factories, offices, classrooms and in every occupation imaginable do their part by showing up, putting in their time and effort, and often risking their health and safety. Overwhelmingly, workers are sincere, responsible, and contribute mightily to corporate and investor profits.
Corporations and government agencies benefiting from this labor have a responsibility to provide for the economic security of the low and middle income employees, without whom they could not achieve their missions. As U.S. workers reach a sensible retirement age of 60 to 65, many are unemployed and experiencing virulent age discrimination. Many have occupational-related health problems for which they have not received disability compensation.
In an enlightened capitalist society, the final stage of life would be seen as one in which everyone would have an opportunity to stop their daily work grind and fulfill needs that leisure would allow. They have given to corporations and the government throughout their life. Their life past 60 should be a time when they are given leisure time with a modicum of economic security. At the very least, they should have decent shelter, adequate nutrition, and basic health care.
So what is happening in the United States today? We are seeing a mean-spirited move to decimate the social safety net for people of all ages. This move is funded by billionaire funded conservative political movements ensconced in phony “think tanks” such as the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the racist Bradley Foundation (funder of the Bell Curve). The billionaire Kochs are pouring money into the Tea Party, which feeds propaganda and ignorance to that portion of the masses responsive to scapegoating of teachers, public employees, the elderly and myths about budget deficits – as well as who is to blame for unemployment.
Social Security – along with Medicare, one of the two most decent and humane old age programs ever conceived – has been on the “hit list” of the right-wing, wealthy elite from its very inception (see my The Tallgrass Activist blog post, “The Koch Funded Cato Institute Waged Guerilla Warfare on Social Security and the Mainstream Media Bought Into It,” October 10, 2010). The money poured into the propaganda campaign against Social Security has been so effective that even so-called moderate Democrats such as Senators Richard Durbin and Claire McCaskill are supporting extending the Social Security retirement age.
Obama Administration support for Social Security has been tepid at best. These days, with the exception of a few representatives and senators, the Democratic Party is failing to “fight” for the rights of working people (for one exception, see The Tallgrass Activist, “Jan Schakowsky’s Deficit Reduction Plan: A True Progressive Plan For the Working People,” November 18, 2010).