Commentary: ‘Entitlements’ Won by Working People

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By ROD HOLT

The term “Social Security and Welfare” describes a huge, chaotic array of programs administered by government agencies purportedly for the benefit of those who don’t have it as easy as the average worker (or so they say).

These programs are casually thrown together and called “entitlements,” which is correct since, by law, the workers are entitled to the benefits of these programs without pleading or supplication.

These entitlement programs include old age benefits, aid to dependent children, Medicaid and Medicare, various IRS gifts such as the 401(k), disability and workingman’s compensation-for a few examples. Although they are administered by the state and written down for lawyers and judges, they are not gifts from the state nor any agency-not in the least. They mark steps forward in the worker’s long struggle against the bosses.

It is indeed a contradiction that these programs strengthening the workers are administered by a government of, by, and for the bosses. But the contradiction belongs to the bosses, for every entitlement has been won by the workers squarely in action against them.

Note that the Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935 only two months ahead of the founding of the CIO, under whose leadership industrial unionism was taking American factories by storm. All entitlements have been crafted by the bosses themselves as they sought to defuse and divert looming class action by the workers.

For 65 years, the bosses have been trying to take back these entitlement programs, and for 65 years the American workers have presented such a potent opposition that none of the bosses’ threats have worked. The Social Security Administration is not bankrupt; it is larger than ever and the tariff the bosses have to pay is still equal to the tax on the worker.

But if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The ruling class, using its most persuasive voice, Mr. Clinton, is scheming again. First, the entitlement programs are changed to resemble pension programs.

Second, once that is accepted, benefits are cut and justified by pointing to inadequate worker’s contributions. This is already evident with health care and the HMO’s.

Third, the bosses reduce their contributions which exacerbates the financial condition of the pension funds. Finally, the workers are in such dire straits that they cannot make their pension contributions. If the workers attempt to recover what they have put into these plans, they will find them bankrupt. Thus, the four-step plan closes with a miserable and impoverished working class.

Changing an entitlement program to a pension program-regardless of what it is called-is a lot more than just juggling words, which has already started. “Savings, investments,” “insurance” are being inserted wherever possible in place of “entitlement.” With a pension plan, the beneficiary can receive back only what that person has been put in, adding a little to include the employer’s contribution, etc., as is customary with pension plans.

Pension plans are famous the world around for cheating the pensioners. Inflation works to this end. Bad investments are tried and true techniques, as are fraud and skimming. Typically, as soon as a pension is really needed, the economy drops through the floor and the pension is worthless.

No pension-like plan can substitute for a real Social Security program. A real program does not accumulate funds. During any given week, the worker and the boss are taxed (equally), with the money going immediately to benefit workers in distress-including the families, other dependents in need, widows and widowers, those with disabilities, and so forth.

The tax rate goes up with inflation, changes with currency exchange rates, and is easily adjusted for demographic changes. There is no known excuse for not keeping and improving an honest Social Security program.

That is-there is no admitted excuse. Carefully concealed is the real reason: If the employer can pocket the part he now pays to the Social Security tax, it will be an added profit.

Further, since the employer is the captain of the ship of state and the ship of state is the administrator of all the programs, then the employer is the boss of bosses. Consequently, it is only a matter of time before the employer pockets what he formerly paid to Social Security programs.

Unfortunately, we have liberals and left leaders that have not reviewed this logic. To them it looks air-tight, and they are reduced to talking to various bits and pieces of the administrator, pleading for mercy.

This logic overlooks two pivotal facts: One is that the workers are not dead, just asleep. Two is that the gains embodied in the entitlement programs are gains of the workers, long-held gains.

As the saying goes, be very careful when you steal the meat from between the paws of the sleeping lion. The employers have not forgotten this saying, and they can be counted upon to be most cautious stealing. For ourselves, we and everyone we can enlist will help wake the workers.

Socialist Action News

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