Does poverty have functions to explain its persistence?

Poverty makes possible the existence or expansion of respectable professions and occupations (e.g., penology, criminology, social work, public health). Poverty provides jobs for social scientists, social workers, journalists, and other 'poverty warriors.'

The functions of poverty:

  1. Poverty ensures that society's 'dirty work' will get done. Poverty provides a low-wage labor pool that is willing--or rather, unable to be unwilling--to preform dirty work at low cost.
  2. Because the poor are required to work at low wage, they subsidize a variety of economic activities that benefit the affluent. The poor pay a larger share of their income in property and sales taxes.
  3. Poverty creates jobs for many occupations that serve the poor: police, gambling, peacetime army, etc.
  4. The poor buy goods others do not want and thereby prolong their economic usefulness.
  5. The poor can be identified and punished as alleged or real deviants to uphold the legitimacy of conventional norms. To justify the desirability of hard work and thrift, for example, the defender of these norms must be able to find persons they can accuse of being lazy and spendthrifts.
  6. The poor offer vicarious participation in deviant activities in which they are alleged to participate.
  7. The poor serve as culture heroes and as cultural artifacts.
  8. Poverty helps to guarantee the status of those who are not poor. In every hierarchical society, there has to be someone at the bottom to hold up the rest of the population.
  9. The poor aid the upward mobility of groups just above them in the class hierarchy. Many persons have entered the middle class by providing goods and services to the poor.
  10. The poor help to keep the aristocracy busy as providers of charity.
  11. The poor, being powerless, can be made to absorb the costs of change and growth in American society (e.g., 'urban renewal' vs. 'poor removal').
  12. The poor facilitate and stabilize the American political process because they vote and participate less than other groups.
  13. Not only does the alleged moral deviancy of the poor reduce the moral pressure on the political economy to reduce poverty, but socialist alternatives can be made to look unattractive if those who will benefit most from them can be described as lazy, spendthrift, dishonest, and promiscuous.

The Alternatives

The nation needs to provide decent wages, good working conditions, and job training. People need to learn to respect others. The poor need to be mobilized to be politically active.

Herbert Gans


Donald Trump has promised his sponsors to reduce personal and corporate income taxes.  As usual he and they are depending on the middle/working class to pay all.  If this were not so then why not start the process at the top by plugging corporate loop-holes then reducing the corporate rate to 20-21%.  Instead things worked in the opposite with no tax loop-hole being closed--and those in the middle-working class being charged with making sacrifices.  Working class Americans have always been made to feel that the federal deficits are their fault instead of the fault of a selfish ruling class.  The lower-class tax reductions last seven years; the elites tax reduction is permanent.  This class warfare is aptly described by John Higgs.

John Higgs' Stranger than We can Imagine (2015) charges that the retreat of the American Dram, which had promised a future better than the past, is the result of a number of complicated and chaotically linked events from the 1970s.  One of these was the rise of Deng Xiaoping to the position of Paramount Leader of the Chinese Communist Party in December 1978, in the aftermath of the death of Mao.  Deng began the process of introducing a managed form of capitalism into China.  The impacts of this would not be felt immediately, but the availability of cheaper Chinese labor for Western corporations would lead to the disappearance of well-paid Western manufacturing jobs, as well as destabilizing trade imbalances.  This process of globalization also led to the disappearance of corporate taxes from government balance sheets, [these taxes included Social Security taxes from American workers' paychecks].  Corporations increasingly embraced globalization and re-imagined themselves as stateless entities in no way beholden to the nations that formed them, [and gave the excuse for off-shore banking/hiding of profits].


Who are the people that sponsor the Tea Party Congress and members are beholden to, certainly is not the American people--but a small cabal of "special interest" donors with deep pockets that have become the secret entity that rules the Republic, once only in secret.

Jane Mayer's in Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016) writes that conventional political wisdom measured power on the basis of election outcomes, chalking up 2012 as a loss for the Kochs, 2014 a win, and 2016 as a test whose results remains [if Trump scores a decisive congressional tax victory] to be seen.  But this missed the more important story.  The Kochs and their ultra-wealthy allies on the right had become what was arguably the single most effective special-interest group in the country.

The Kochs hadn't done it on their own.  They were the fulfillment of farsighted political visionaries like Lewis Powell, Irving Kristol, William Simon, Michael Joyce, and Paul Weyrich.  They were also the logical extension of the legacies of earlier big right-wing donors.  John M. Olin, Lynde and Harry Bradley, and Richard Mellon Scaife had blazed the path by the time the Kochs rose to the pinnacle of their power.

During the 1970s, a handful of the nation's wealthiest corporate captains felt overtaxed and over-regulated and decided to fight back.  Disenchanted with the direction of modern America, they launched an ambitious privately financed war of ideas to radically change the country.  They didn't want to merely win elections; they wanted to change how Americans thought.  Their ambitions were grandiose--to "save" America as they saw it, at every level, by turning the clock back to the Gilded Age before the advent of the Progressive Era.  Charles Koch was younger and more libertarian than his predecessors, but, as Brian Doherty observed, his ambitions were if anything even more radical: to pull the government out "at the root."


Ronald P. Formisano in The Tea Party: A Brief History (2012) agrees with and adds to Mayer's listing of miscreants.  Formisano writes that the Kochs' relative invisibility as political activists and ideological warriors came to an end, with an investigative essay by Jane Mayer in the August 30, 2010 issue of the New Yorker.  "Indeed," wrote Mayer, "the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies--from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program--that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus."

Formisano further states that the Kochs are hardly alone as generous donors to right-wing think tanks, astroturf organizations, political campaigns, and Tea Party activities.  Other prominent sponsors include the Coors beer family; the Waltons of Walmart; the Olin Foundation (one of the pioneers in creating a climate hostile to taxes, government, and all things progressive); Richard Mellon Scaife, banker, publisher, and heir to the Mellon fortune; Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation (Fox News Corp was intertwined with the explosive growth in 2009, when the 2010 midterm election approached Fox News became much more integrated with the Republican Party and folded the Tea Party into the GOP and coopted it at the RNC in 2016); and Phillip Morris and Exxon Mobile.  Scaife, it should be noted, became well known in the 1990s when he funded any and all efforts to find damaging material on Bill Clinton's business dealings or personal life.

These corporate interests also pay lobbyists, of course, who work the halls of Congress and state legislatures, directly promoting laws or opposing regulations in a way that enhances their clients' economic interests.

The Kochtopus is a Machiavellian-Hydra-headed organization two members of which were seminal in securing the White House for Donald Trump: Billionaires Robert Mercer (who believes the Clintons murder their opposition)--hired Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway to manage the Trump campaign; and Sheldon Adelson who fully bankrolled it as "good for Israel."


Martin Jacques in When China Rules The World: The End Of The Western World And the birth Of A New Global Order (2009) writes how the War on Terror and America's quest for empire is the true cause of the infamous federal deficit.

Jacques posits that the new century dawned with the world deeply aware of and preoccupied by the prospect of what appeared to be overwhelming American power.  The neo-conservatives chose to interpret the world through the prism of the defeat of the Soviet Union and the overwhelming military superiority enjoyed by the United States, rather than in terms of the underlying trend towards economic multipolarity, which was downplayed.  The new doctrine placed a premium on the importance of the United States maintaining a huge military lead over other countries in order to deter potential rivals, and on the US pursuing its own interests rather than being constrained either by its allies or international agreements.  In the post-Cold War era, US military expenditure was almost as great as that of all the other nations of the world combined: never in the history of the human race has the military inequality between one nation and all others been so great.  The Bush presidency's foreign policy marked an important shift compared with that of previous administrations: the war on terror became the new imperative, America's relations with Western Europe were accorded reduced significance, the principle of national sovereignty was denigrated and that of regime-change affirmed, culminating in invasion of Iraq.  Far from the United States presiding over a reshaping of global affairs, however, it rapidly found itself beleaguered in Iraq and enjoying less global support than at any time since 1945.  The exercise of overwhelming military power proved of little effect in Iraq but served to squander the reserves of soft power--in Joseph S. Nye's words, 'the attractiveness of a country's culture, political ideals and policies'--that the United States had accumulated since 1945.  Failing to comprehend the significance of deeper economic trends, as well as misreading the situation in Iraq, the bush administration overestimated American power and thereby overplayed its hand, with the consequence that its policies had exactly the opposite effect to that which had been intended: instead of enhancing the US's position in the world, Bush's foreign policy seriously weakened it.  The neo-conservative (Neocons) position represented a catastrophic misreading of history.

Military and political power rest on economic strength.  As Paul Kennedy argued in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, the ability of nations to exercise and sustain global hegemony has ultimately depended on their productive capacity America’s present superpower status is a product of its rapid economic growth between 1870 and 1950 and the fact that during the second half of the twentieth century it was the world's largest and often most dynamic economy.  This economic strength underpinned and made possible its astonishing political, cultural and military power from 1945 onward.  According to the economic historian Argus Maddison, the US economy accounted for 8.8 percent of global GDP in 1870.  There then followed a spectacular period of growth during which the proportion rose to 18.9 percent in 1913 and 27.3 percent in 1950.  This was followed by a slow and steady decline to 22.1 percent in 1973, which the figure now hovering around 20 percent.  This still represents a formidable proportion, given that the US accounts for only 4.6 percent of the world's population, but the long-run trend is unmistakable.  One could make a similar point in relation to Victorian Britain's imperial reach between 1850 and 1914.  This was made possible because Britain accomplished the world's first industrial revolution and, as a consequence, came to enjoy a big economic leader over all other countries.  Compared with the United States, however, whose share of global GDP peaked at 35 percent in 1944 (albeit in a war-ravaged world), the highest figure for the UK was a much smaller 9 percent in 1899.  The precipitous decline of Britain as a global power over the last half century has been the predictable result of its deteriorating relative economic position, its share of global GDP having sunk to a mere 3.3 percent by 1998.  If Britain took its place alongside the United States in Iraq, its military contribution was largely cosmetic.  The precondition for being a hegemonic power, including the ability or otherwise to preside over a formal or informal empire, is economic strength.  In the long run at least, it is merciless measure.  Notwithstanding this, imperial powers in decline are almost invariably in denial of the fact.  That was the case with Britain form 1918 onward and, to judge by the behavior of the Bush administration (though perhaps not Obama's)--which failed to read the runes, preferring to believe that the US was about to rule the world in a new American century when the country was actually in decline and on the eve of a world in which it would find its authority considerably diminished--the US may well make the same mistake, perhaps on much grander scale.  The financial meltdown in 2008 belatedly persuaded a growing number of American commentators that the United States might after all be in decline, but that was still a far cry from a general recognition of the extent and irresponsibility of that decline and how it might diminish American power and influence in the future.

Jacques believes that it has been estimated that the total budgetary and economic cost to the United States of the Iraq war will turn out to be around $3 trillion.  Even with this level of expenditure, the armed forces have come under huge strain as a result of the war.

U.S. Army Green Berets Accused From Within Of Lowering Standards


Members of the United States Army Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets, look through night vision goggles during a training of Afghanistan Special Forces on Sept. 10, in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

The Army's Green Berets have gained a reputation over the decades for their toughness and fighting skills. They served with local forces in Vietnam, and in recent years, they've deployed repeatedly to Iraq and Afghanistan. The list of their deployments continues to grow: Niger. Somalia. Yemen. Syria. Philippines.

Now a fight appears to be growing inside the Green Beret community.

An anonymous and scathing 12-page letter that begins — "Our Regiment has a cancer, and it is destroying the SF (Special Forces) legacy, its capability and its credibility" — has gone viral over the past few weeks among active-duty and retired soldiers.

It charges that the Green Beret command at its Fort Bragg, N.C., school has lowered training standards and graduated Green Berets who are "markedly and demonstrably weaker; and quantifiably projecting measurable risk and liability onto the teammates with which they serve."

It is signed: "A concerned Green Beret."

The letter writer's identity remains a mystery at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg. But the command does not dispute its authenticity and has responded with a letter of its own, signed by the officer who runs the school, Maj. Gen. Kurt Sonntag. It's addressed to the men and women at the school.

"Many of you have seen the anonymous letter calling into question the integrity of our training standards and the quality of the Soldiers being produced. Let me be clear," Sonntag writes in his letter, a copy of which was provided to NPR by the command, "I would be proud to serve with each and every one of our Special Forces Qualification Course graduates, and I stand behind the quality of every Soldier we send to the operational force."

The general went on to say that "no fundamental SF standard has been removed. No academic or character performance standards have been adjusted."

The Green Berets community weighs in

NPR reached out to nearly a dozen current and former Green Berets — none of whom wanted their names used — and got a mixed reaction to the dispute.

Some see the anonymous letter writer as disgruntled or lacking in sufficient experience or being unaware of the bigger picture, namely the difficulty in recruiting and retaining Green Berets.

There are some 7,000 active-duty Green Berets, and officials say they could lose hundreds in the coming years because of the strain of repeated deployments and failure to meet recruiting targets.

Others say the letter writer is raising some important issues.

They contend that the quality of the Special Forces soldiers has decreased for at least several years. "We don't want to lose quality for quantity," said one veteran Green Beret stationed at Fort Bragg, who requested anonymity. "You can't mass produce special operators."

This noncommissioned officer said that he only has a few years left to serve and that he'll stick it out. But if he had 10 more years, he says, he would opt out. He said the loss of veteran operators and the increase in less-competent Green Berets is having an impact.

"It's killing morale," he said.

Still, this Green Beret empathized with the command.

"I see it from both sides. The recruiting pool is gone. They're in a tough spot."

One Green Beret who served with Sonntag in Afghanistan praised his leadership skills and recalled him saying that all Green Berets have a responsibility to make sure every one of them succeeds.

Charges are detailed and specific

In the anonymous letter, the "concerned Green Beret" takes on physical fitness workouts — where he claims that instructors are punished for making them too hard — and says there are instances of favoritism and cheating.

The author's examples of below-standard students and maligned trainers are complete with names, rank, units and dates.

As far as training, the anonymous letter says students can no longer wash out for failing to pass physical tests, ranging from a 5-mile run to a 12-mile march with a heavy pack to dozens of pushups and situps. Instead, these tests became "diagnostic" to determine the student's level of achievement.

The only way out of Green Beret training is voluntarily withdrawal or injury.

"To say that standards have not been eliminated would be laughable, were it not so tragic," the anonymous letter states.

In his letter, Sonntag defended the diagnostic approach as opposed to simply washing out a student.

Such an effort gives instructors "more time to prepare the students for these events. Students must meet these standards prior to joining the operational force," the general wrote.

Those who applied and passed the physical tests and assessment to become a Green Beret student, the general wrote, should be able to make it through the more than yearlong qualifying course. If such an assessment "is correct, and we believe it is, the [Special Forces Qualifying Course] is not a place where high attrition rates should occur."

Sonntag declined an interview request from NPR. Instead, he agreed to address a few questions through his staff.

The anonymous letter writer says one Green Beret officer during a meeting ordered a 92 percent pass rate, though Sonntag says, "There has been no graduation percentage set by any level of command." The school declined to talk about graduation rates, but one current Green Beret said his class a decade ago saw more than 50 percent fail.

Sonntag did offer one statistic in his letter to the school: "In 2017, more than 2,000 Soldiers attempted the [Special Forces Assessment and Selection], and 541 graduated from the [Special Forces Qualifying Course]."

But he offered no numbers on how many passed the assessment and made it into the qualifying course, so there is no sense of the fail rate.

The anonymous letter writer claims there is a reason the standards are being adjusted: To bring in female candidates, a view supported by one of the Green Berets contacted by NPR. The Pentagon allowed women to apply for Green Beret training two years ago. Only a handful have tried; none have passed.

But Sonntag also denies that standards have in any way been altered to bring in more female students, saying in response to an NPR question: "That is not the case. Special operations training is inclusive, and each candidate is held to the same standard."

The general ends his letter to the troops by saying he wants a "healthy dialogue as a means of improvement."

"Every level of command," the general writes, "has been encouraged to challenge the current process, phasing and training methodology to ensure (the school's) training remains relevant."

Deployments have got steadily longer and deployments more frequent, retention rates and recruitment standards have fallen, while the army has lost many of its brightest and best, with a remorseless rise in the number of officers choosing to leave at the earliest opportunity.  Such has been the inordinate cost of the Iraqi occupation that regardless of political considerations, the financial burden of any similar proposed invasion of Iran--in practice likely to be much higher--would always have been too large: for military as well as political reasons, the Bush administration was unable to seriously contemplate similar military action against Iran and North Korea, the other two members of its 'axis of evil.'  The United States is, thus, already beginning to face the classic problems of imperial overreach.  The burden of maintaining a huge global military presence, with over 800 American bases dotted around the world, has been one of the causes of the US's enormous current account deficit [federal deficit], which in 2006 accounted for 6.5 percent of US GDP.  In future the American economy will find it increasingly difficult to support such a military commitment.

The United States has ceased to be a major manufacturer or a large-scale exporter manufactured goods, having steadily ceded that position to East Asia.  In recent times it has persistently been living beyond its means: the government has been spending more than it saves, households have been doing likewise, and since 1982, apart from one year, the country has been buying more from foreigners than it sells to them, with a consequent huge current account deficit and a growing volume of IOUs.  Current account deficits can of course be rectified, but only by reducing growth and accepting a lower level of economic activity.  Growing concern on the part of foreign institutions about these deficits led to a steady fall in the value of the dollar until 2008, and this could well be resumed at some point, further threatening the dollar's role as the world's reserve currency and American financial power.  The credit rating agency Moody's warned in 2008 that the US faced the prospect within a decade of losing its top-notch triple-A rating, first granted to US government debt when it was assessed in 1917, unless it took radical action to curb government expenditure.  And this was before the financial meltdown in 2008, which, with the huge taxpayer-funded government bail-out of the financial sector, will greatly increase the size of the US national debt.  This is not to suggest that, in the short run, the US will be require to reduce its military expenditure for reasons of reasons of financial restraint: indeed, given the position that the US military occupies in the national psyche, and the primary emphasis that US foreign policy has traditionally placed on military power, this seems most unlikely.  Being an imperial power, however, is a hugely expensive business and, peering into the future, as its relative economic power declines, the United States will no longer be able to sustain the military commitments and military superiority that it presently enjoys.

GOP's Tax Plan Nears Goal Line, With Cuts For Businesses And Possible Hikes For Grad Students

From left, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., meet with reporters after House Republicans held a closed-door strategy session as the deadline looms to pass a spending bill to fund the government by week's end, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
With guest host Tom Gjelten.

Republicans in Congress are set to iron out differences in their tax plans, near the end of the road before the bill can become a law. Cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 percent will save businesses some $1 trillion as one version of the plan ends tax breaks on graduate student tuition waivers. We discuss.

You reduce the corporate tax, you get higher investment, higher productivity and better wages.
Gordon Gray, American Action Forum

Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg News tells us that the competing House and Senate versions are "riddled with glitches" that have to be worked out before they can become law.

Dec 14, 2017

Gordon Gray of the American Action Forum told us there's a "strong consensus" that the corporate taxes currently inhibit investment.

"That’s one of the fundamental tenets of this part of the tax reform — you reduce the corporate tax, you get higher investment, higher productivity and better wages," Gray says.

Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, says if he had his druthers he'd cut corporate taxes too, but not the way Congress wants to do it.

"There still will be an incentive for U.S. companies to shift jobs, factories and profits offshore," Rosenthal said, despite promises that there would be "guardrails" in the plan.

We also heard from graduate students, who might lose tax benefits for their tuition. That proposal is in the House bill, but not the Senate version. Eric Kelderman of the Chronicle of Higher Education says the proposal faces grim prospects, with heavy opposition on campuses and in the Senate.


Sahil Kapur, national political reporter for Bloomberg News. (@sahilkapur)

Gordon Gray, director of fiscal policy at the American Action Forum. (@GordonGrayDC)

Steven Rosenthal, senior fellow, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

Eric Kelderman, senior reporter at the Chronicle of Higher Education. (@etkeld)

From The Reading List:

Chronicle of Higher Education: How The House GOP Tax Plan Would Affect Grad Students — "The Republican-sponsored bill contains a provision that would tax tuition waivers provided to employees of colleges, including those graduate students. The waivers serve as a significant benefit to student workers who otherwise would not be able to afford to pay tuition on what is often meager pay from their institutions." Slashing Corporate Taxes: Foreign Investors Are Surprise Winners —A cut in the corporate tax rate would benefit the current owners of U.S. corporate equity. I estimate that foreign investors own about 35 percent of U.S. corporate stock and thus would receive about 35 percent of the short-run benefit.

American Action Forum: What To Make Of The Joint Committee On Taxation Score —The JCT’s dynamic score offers no great surprise. It doesn’t repudiate serious arguments in favor of the bill, nor does it do the bills’ fiercest advocates any great favors. Rather, it offers observers another useful, albeit hardly dispositive, reference point for evaluating tax legislation.

Bloomberg: The Middle Class Might Not Even Notice If The GOP Cuts Their Taxes — "A funny thing happened when Congress approved a tax cut for the middle class eight years ago: Most Americans didn’t notice.

The 2009 economic-stimulus bill contained a one-year tax break worth $800 for married couples in 95 percent of working households — a little over $15 a week. A February 2010 poll found that just 12 percent said their taxes had been reduced. More than half, 53 percent, said they saw no change. A remarkable 24 percent thought their taxes had increased."

The tax bill that Republicans hope to finish before Christmas offers relief to the middle class through lower rates and more deductions; but the biggest selling point is lower corporate rates. Cutting business taxes should boost investment; that’d mean more growth and more jobs. But graduate students could face a tax increase. Up next, On Point: a look at what the tax changes would mean — for the economy, for working Americans, and for students. --Tom Gjelten

This program aired on December 12, 2017.

What's In The Tax Bill



After signing the up corporations and the elites up for welfare at the expense of so called "hard-working-American-families," so that "what little they have will be taken away" by a right-wing Congress returning back to the proletariat to seize the funds really needed to run the government using what William Ryan calls "blaming the victim," in his book Blaming The Victim (1971).  Although the book is dated, its message is current because the social Devil never changes its methodology--simple because it works.

An Outsider's View Of How the U.S. Treats Its Most Vulnerable


Philip Alston is the United Nations' special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. He speaks with NPR's Kelly McEvers about a report he is compiling on how the United State's most vulnerable are treated by the government.

William Ryan reports that sociologist C. Wright Mills analyzed the ideology of those who write about social problems and demonstrated the relationship of their texts to class interest and to the preservation of the existent social order.  In shifting the material in thirty-one widely used textbooks on "social problems," "social pathology," and "social disorganization," Mills found a pervasive, coherent ideology with a number of common characteristics.

The norms themselves are taken as given, and no effort is made to examine them.  Nor is there any thought given to the manner in which norms might themselves contribute to the development of the problems.  (In a society in which everyone is assumed and expected to be economically self-sufficient, as an example, doesn't economic dependency almost automatically mean poverty?  No attention is given to such issues.)

Within such a framework, then, deviation from norms and standards comes to be defined as failed or incomplete socialization--failure to learn the rules or the inability to learn how to keep them.  Those with social problems are then viewed as unable or unwilling to adjust to society's standards, which are narrowly conceived by what Mills calls "independent middle class persons verbally living out Protestant ideas in small town America," [or Bible-belt rural America].  This obviously, is a precise description of the social origins and status of almost every one of the authors.

In defining social problems in this way, the social pathologist are, of course, ignoring a whole set of factors that ordinarily might be considered relevant--for instance, unequal distribution of income [income inequality], social stratification, political struggle, ethnic and racial group conflict, and inequality of power.  Their ideology concentrates almost exclusively on the failure of the deviant.  To the extent that society plays any part in social problems, it is said to have somehow failed to socialize the individual, to teach him how to adjust to circumstances, which, though far from perfect are gradually changing for the better.  Mills' essay provides a solid foundation for understanding the concept of Blaming the Victim.

This way of thinking on the part of "social pathologists," which Mills identified as the predominant tool used in analyzing social problems, also saturates the majority of programs that have been developed to solve social problems in America.  These programs are based on the assumption that Individuals "have" social problems as a result of some kind of unusual circumstances--accident, illness, personal defect or handicap, character flaw or maladjustment--that exclude them from using the ordinary mechanisms for maintaining and advancing themselves.  For example, the prevalent belief in America is that, under normal circumstances, everyone can obtain sufficient income for the necessities of life.  Those who are unable to do so are special deviant cases, persons who for one reason or another are not able to adapt themselves to the generally satisfactory income-producing system.  [Poverty, like homeless are now criminalized.]  In times gone by these persons were further classified into the worthy poor--the lame, the blind, the young mother whose husband died in an accident, the aged man no longer able to work--and the unworthy poor--the lazy, the unwed mother and her illegitimate children, the malingerer.  All were seen, however, as individuals who, for good reason or bad, were personal failures, unable to adapt themselves to the system, [looser, as Trump would say].

In America health care, too, has been predominantly a matter of particular remedial attention provided individually to the more or less random group of persons who have become ill, whose bodily functioning has become deviant and abnormal.  In the field of mental health, the same approach has been, and continues to be, dominant.  The social problem of mental disease has been viewed as a collection of individual cases of deviance, persons who--through unusual hereditary taint, or exceptional distortion of character--have become unfit for normal activities.  The solution to these problems was to segregate the deviants, to protect them, to give them asylum from the life of community for which they are no longer competent.

This has been the dominant style in American social welfare and health activities, then: to treat what we call social problems, such as poverty, disease, and mental illness, in terms of the individual deviance of the special, unusual groups of persons who had those problems.  There has also been a competing style, however--much less common, not at all congruent with the prevalent ideology, but continually developing parallel to the dominant style, [which brought Obamacare to the forefront].

Steven J. Allen in Violation Of Trust: Whatever Happened to the Social Security Trust Funds? (1995) along with Dr. Robert J. Myers predicted that the untimely death of Social Security and all its benefits isn't possible if we all stick together.  Allen (writing from 1995) states that in 1995, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of Social Security.  Looking back, Americans can take great pride in a benefits system that helped so many people.  But this year and in the years to follow, we must fully realize that we face the difficult challenge of ensuring Social Security's continued survival.  Unless action is taken, the Social Security Board of Trustees warns us, the system's Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund will soon face financial strains and will be completely broke in the year 2030.  The disability Insurance (DI) Trust fund is projected to be exhausted in 2016.  Although those dates sound like the distant future, the strains and political consequences are already being felt.

Among other acts of civil disobedience, the Seniors Coalition has fought to remove the unfair tax on Social Security benefits signed into law by President Clinton in 1993.

Dr. Robert J. Myers, former deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, cautions, "Don't panic!"  The concerns expressed in Violation Of Trust are serious.  But he is confident that the American people and our political leaders will deal with them in plenty of time to prevent any collapse of the Social Security system.  [Of course this was written near the close of the 20th century and years before the Trump administration].

Current figures for the program as it now exists [1995] show that, into the next century, Social Security will have income well in excess of outgo.  According to some people, the first signs of financial trouble show up in the year 2013.  The amount of money coming in from taxes in that year will equal the money being paid out in administrative costs and benefits: $986 billion.  However as in previous years, interest on the trust fund investments is also available to meet the outgo.

By the year 2019, annual spending on benefits will be a record $1.52 trillion.   Nevertheless, the assets of the Social Security trust funds will reach the highest level in history: $3.31 trillion.

By the year 2020, the money coming in from taxes and interest won't be enough to pay benefits, and Social Security will have to start selling its bonds to meet the outgo.  That will be the beginning of the end under this scenario that present provisions of law will not change.  A trust fund that took more than 80 years to build up will decrease so rapidly that it will disappear in just 10 years, by early 2030.

This is what doomsday would look like under this scenario.  But none of us is ever going to see it.  The country wouldn't stand for it.  [But it may be presented as a patriotic duty to save the economy.]

But if Social Security is unassailable politically, why is there so much worry about its future? Why is it true, as a recent poll suggests, that more young people say that they believe more in flying saucers than have confidence that Social security will be there for them when they retire?  Or, with respect to the flying saucers, are they just answering a dumb question with a silly answer?

Dr. Myers believes that the problem of public confidence is largely the result of the system's current "roller-coaster" financing, in which a huge trust fund balance is built up and then goes downhill rapidly until it is exhausted.

A huge balance isn't necessary, however.  In a private plan, it is necessary to build up reserves because of the possibility that the employer might go out of business.  This gives some guarantee to participants and pensioners that the promised benefits will be paid.  In a national program such as Social Security, this is not necessary.  It is reasonably assumed that the national government will last forever.

This is an argument for "pay-as-you-go" financing, which is the way the system was funded in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Under such a financing system, the trust fund balance would equal only the approximate amount that will have to be paid out in benefits and administrative expenses in the next year.  This would cushion the system against economic shocks and give breathing room to political leaders who might have to step in sometime in the future to make some adjustments.  It would maintain the system on a constantly solid footing, instead of the current approach that either has the program awash in money or falling into the abyss.

Steven Allen declares that the misuse of the Social Security trust funds was supposed to be kept under wraps.  For years, many who tried to expose it were accused to lying--and worse.

On Friday, April 7, 1995, at 8pm, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, gave a nationally televised address, which marked the completion of the "Contract With America."  The Contract was the platform on which Republicans won their first House majority in four decades.  It included a specific list of legislative proposals, but more than anything else the Contract was a promise to the American people to change the way Washington works, [the same as Trump].  In one way at least Gingrich kept that promise; he spoke honestly about the problem of the Social Security trust funds.

"In fact," Gingrich said, "the money the government supposedly has been putting aside from the baby boomers' Social Security taxes is not there.  The government has been borrowing that money to pay for the budget deficit.  The social Security Trust Fund is simply IOUs with the U.S. Treasury.  So when the baby boomers get set to retire, where's the money going to come from?  Well, you might ask, can't the federal government just borrow more money?  The honest answer is no.  No system, no country is wealthy enough to have unlimited borrowing."

Social Security, Gingrich said, "would be fine if the government would stop borrowing the money."

There were those who disagreed with elements of Gingrich's statement; but the fact is that Gingrich's speech, along with similar declarations by Clinton Administration officials and by leading journalist and economists, brought vindication for those who had sounded an alarm about the trust funds, [and still does in the 21st century during the Trump administration].

Views: 71

Comment by mary gravitt on December 16, 2017 at 2:27pm

The Trump Tax Plan is sure to make the poor pay all.  He is looking out for his elite class and telling us all in the 99% to go to hell.

Comment by moki ikom on December 16, 2017 at 10:44pm

He figures we're as good as in Hell already because it's outside his empire.  He lives inside castle walls, he loves walls. We live on the outside but he's secure and powerful enough to make us live and pay for not only the way he wants us to live, but pay for his and his Kochtopus brethrens’ morally and fiscally bankrupt way of living too.  Not including this nation's tanker load of Kochtopuses and their sycophants, it seems there's about a fifth of this nation that would give this malignant president their first born for whatever purposes, or nothing at all, their cult leader wants to do with them. 

Comment by moki ikom on December 16, 2017 at 11:03pm

Speaking of Kochtopus, Rupert, Adelson and Mercer sycophants, like Bannon (Breitbart), Limbaugh, Gingrich and such as might comprise one thousandth of a tenth percent of the u.s. population,  one can surmise that they are ass-kissing sycophants for life; it affords a lifestyle to which honest work cannot begin to compare.

Comment by Doc Vega on December 17, 2017 at 7:35am

Nothing but bullshit! The standard deduction per individual will be doubled to $12,000.00 while a married couple will get a $24,000.00 deduction. US corporations paid the highest taxes of all nations at 35% want to know why more than 2 trillion dollars that could have been invested in the US economy was kept offshore thanks to Obama's pathetic economic policies! Trump's White House should have cut corporate tax to 15 or 10% what company can afford to stay in business with the government taking 35% of their bottom line! That cost ends up being passed on to the consumer making everything for the taxpayer and consumer more expensive so that the government can continue to grow bigger and bigger while sucking the life out of the private sector. This is how empires have crumbled and regimes have been overthrown and just how little liberals have any comprehension of economics! The Democrats should be allowed to elf destruct they are simply Communists! 

Comment by Doc Vega on December 17, 2017 at 7:37am

All dumbass liberals, Our Salon commenters, and especially the class warfare specialists like Mary Gravitt should take a refresher course in economics so they would actually know how a successful economy works! Reagan clearly showed how it's done and created more than 20 million jobs doing it!

Comment by mary gravitt on December 18, 2017 at 11:49am

I know enough about capitalist and capitalism economics or no, the poor will pay all.  If you have a child born in 2018, its economic future is guarantee for only 7 years.  And if you believe those forming the Kochtopus will invest in the corporations and give raises to the wage slaves, I suggest you read Hidden Hands by Kim Phillips-Fein and Naomi Klein's No! Is Not Enough.  Without the loopholes closed, corporation will be paying !0%, but knowing this can not support the government deficit, Congress will come after so-called Entitlements.  They will have to because Trump has his heart set on war.  US dumbass liberals know our economic history of the United States.  You stupidass Trumpsers believe the lie about Reagonomics and its trickle-down supply-side theories.  Don't forget after Reagan taxes went up.  And the 20 million jobs went to Asia after he broke the Unions.  Now the average job pays $7.25 to $11.  All this began in the 1970s when Prince Reagan as well as middle of the road Clinton joined to make working-class lives not matter.

I do not fear Communists--I fear that fool occupying the White House.  I have lived all my life under an oppressive system called capitalism and find that to evil of communism is a myth made up to scare Americans.  I believe the Revolution will come with the vote, not with isms.

Comment by mary gravitt on December 18, 2017 at 11:52am

Moki, WOKE has proven that there is still Power in the People.  As MLK said about the Arc of Justice.  I am planning a blog on Nance and The Plot To Hack America.  It is a very interesting book.  It shows how the American Right was seduce via cyber-space.

Comment by moki ikom on December 19, 2017 at 3:44am

It has come to pass Mary that Doc has convinced me that he grew up in Humanity's first Capitalist household.  Unlike all Humanity and naturally unlike any species surving to this day, it was in Doc's seminal family the miracle [anyone survived ;>) ] that resources were 'lovingly' distributed among the most beautiful, strongest, smartest siblings in a pecking order, much like economies of limited resources among our avian comrades on this speck of immaterial matter.  Doc's miracle family was not communal in the slightest. Quite the contrary.  Doc and his siblings evolved naturally, according to Capitalist norms of our time, to become virulently anti-communal anything, especially anti-Communist (Communism being anti-Fascism, non-corporatism) thanks to Joe McCarthy, Dick Nixon and the Dulles Zionazi brothers of our times.


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