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On the faults of Democrats, the failure of Republican rule, and the fundamental need for Social Security

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Given the undeniably partisan tone of last week's lament on the current Republican majority's complete failure to demonstrate legislative or fiscal responsibility (at the same time they are trying to dismantle democratic institutions designed to protect all of us, while also cutting deep into the bones of government spending – increasing the fat rather than trimming it), all criticisms are obviously legitimate. Democrats do not now nor have they ever followed their leadership in lockstep: Democrats, by their very nature, couldn't flee a burning building in a cooperative manner, but would likely degenerate into a debate over options instead.

Unfortunately, much of the Republicans' criticism of Democrats is accurate – but they mix it with lies and hypocritical pronouncements, making it more dishonest than constructive. The whole "up-or-down vote" on judges is a ridiculous fiction that they in no way respected during the Clinton administration (derailing his nominations in committee and not even allowing them onto the floor). But to defend the Republicans by further criticizing the Democrats is to forgive the majority party its anti-constitutional, anti-democratic arrogance; the completely unnecessary and misguided war in Iraq; and their complete failure at governing, choosing instead to substitute bogus moral proselytizing and minority demonizing for policy. Both parties, and almost all our political leaders, are letting us and the country down, and this forgives none of them.

Finally, let me weigh in briefly on the Social Security debate. False models and ridiculous economics are being postulated in every direction. This is especially true of those propositions that offer an argument along the lines of "If I worked for 40 years and put away $100 a month, I'd be rich when I retired, rather than get the miserable returns of Social Security. Especially if my children are grown and my wife has her own account."

Social Security is guaranteed. That's the point. If you die next month, leaving a spouse and young children, they'll get a lot more in regular Social Security payments than you will have saved at this point. If you become disabled, if your spouse dies, if the stock market collapses, if the areas of the stock market you've invested in become obsolete, or a couple hundred other possibilities occur, with Social Security, you still will get paid.

Term life insurance is cheaper than whole life insurance. This is because the numbers overwhelmingly suggest that you will survive your investment in term life, the company will get the money, and you will get no return. Whole life is so much more expensive because some return is far more likely (I would say guaranteed, but even that is not a sure thing).

Get it? Social Security is guaranteed income, no matter how much you've put in or how long you live. Everything else is a gamble. Certainly, Social Security needs to be adjusted and maintained, but the arguments to get rid of it are shortsighted. And I'm not even broaching how brokers, mutual fund administrators, security investment counselors, and the like will look on this as a bonanza, barely caring about what you end up with when all is said and done.

Let's say we get rid of Social Security, and the stock market collapses. As bad as the economy will be, what will we, the people, do about the millions with little in savings, extremely limited Social Security, and no income? The government will have to bail them out in some way, and any adequate financial solution at that point will make whatever it costs to fix Social Security in the near term seem like chump change.

Anyway, there's more on songs listened to over and over, Austin politics, and a science fiction fever dream begun in a White Room to come, but since there are so many letters, I'm bowing out for now. end story

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Social Security, Republican agenda, Republican dominance, judicial nominations, filibuster, nuclear option, private investment account, private retirement account, personal retirement account

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