I spotted this photo of Eleanor Roosevelt on her pistol permit for New York State. I noticed a similarity with Former President Jimmy Carter so I put his photo on the card next to her so you can see it too.
Her getting a pistol permit reminds me that some people hated her. Did they hate her for her ideas or just because she was a woman? My Dad’s family didn’t like her at all. I don’t know why, but ever since I found out I’ve been reading up on Eleanor and her role in helping America get through the Depression with our soul and with new social solidarity systems in place. Systems like Social Security.
On Friday the Social Security Trustee’s report came out. We found out yet again that Social Security is in good shape. So is Medicaid. Yet people like Pete Peterson still think it is a problem. For more detail on just how full of it that the Social Security attackers are, listen to this interesting segment with my friend Alex Lawson of Social Security Works while talking to Sam Seder on Monday. (Sam was filling in for Thom Hartmann)
I was struck by the fact that there are a group of people whose job it is destroy aspects of America that help keep us healthy, fed, housed and connected. Why do they hate other Americans so much? Is it because they want the Social Security money to go to Wall Street or do they also want to see others suffer? Is it because they don’t see their own connection with others?
This weekend I was reading Noam Chomsky book Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire. (I just love to name drop this book, yeah I not only read it, but did it at the beach! Look at me, I’m a badass intellectual!) In the book Chomsky talked about this fear the elite have of social solidarity systems like public education and Social Security.
‘[Social Security is] a system based on the concept that you should care for others, that you should care whether elderly people you don’t know can live decent lives. You can’t have that sort of thing. If a widow somewhere doesn’t have food, it’s her problem. She married the wrong husband or didn’t invest properly. In a society in which everyone is out just for themselves, you don’t pay attention to anyone else. ”
-Noam Chomsky Power Systems, p. 157
So how do you position yourself to people if your goal is to destroy the concept of caring for others? You do things like:
1) Downplay the real information.
So did you hear about this Social Security Trustee report? Was in all over the news you follow? On Twitter? Facebook? Did Fox have on multiple people from the Social Security Trustees to explain how they are doing? Why not?
2) Keep pushing lies.
FYI. There is not a team of people working for the Social Security Administration actively going out to shoot down the lies spread by the RW belief tanks. I’m not talking about spokespeople “being made available” to discuss Social Security on PBS’ News Hour. I’m talking about an active debunking team in DefCon 1 mode demanding to get on Fox News shows. Maybe someone at Social Security Works does some of this, but not with the kind of PR budget AEI, Cato, Heritage and Pete Peterson’s foundation does.
In today’s media environment the truth is not good enough in the face of active mischaracterization and misinterpretation of information. Today we have a “The truth lies somewhere in the middle” reporting style. Pete Peterson and his foundations spend millions, ‘educating’ the press (sometimes by paying them to write on the topic they select in special supplemental sections of the Washington Post).
People are “Swiftboating” social security. And the Social Security administration doesn’t feel it is their job to actively go after their attackers. However, if nobody fights back, the lies spread. They become “conventional wisdom.”
3) Encourage people who stoke hate of others.
These are the RW talk radio folks. These are the people who give others permission to bring out their inner Archie Bunker.
4) Hire or promote people to create “intellectual” reasons to destroy social systems.
Reinhart-Rogoff’s fatally flawed paper should have been the end to the promotion of austerity policies, but it’s not. I expect Peterson is funding new research to support their conclusions. And nobody will notice the sponsors of the new research.
I’m reminded of the studies done by Dove Chocolate and certain wine makers. “What if we can prove that eating dark chocolate and drinking red wine are good for you?”
“Great idea, but won’t people be suspicious of the results when they see that we sponsored them?”
“Nah, nobody really cares. They just want an excuse to eat and drink what they want.”
The intellectual cover for cuts in social solidarity systems is there to hide both the desire of Wall Street to get that money stream and the dark-hearted individuals who believe that they aren’t connected to others and don’t want to be. (Chomsky calls the opposite of social solidarity atomization.)
When the intellectual cover is stripped away, as it recently was, we should go into a full court press, asking the people calling for changes to social solidarity systems questions. Like:
“What is your motivation for wanting to destroy these systems?”
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about people whose job it is to attack ideas and programs that help people. I want to ask, “Why do you do it? Is it the money?” Are they true believers in a different system? Are they just haters who found an outlet for their hate and people who will fund them?” These are the kind of questions that they will not get asked by the media.
If asked, I wonder what they will reveal? My guess is that they will first use a combo of Ayn Rand and what Chomsky calls, “a capitalist pathology in its most extreme, lunatic form.”
If we dig deeper we might hit the bigotry, resentment, envy or hate, but I think their reasons will sound more like Flintstone’s appliance animals. You know the ones, after performing their task of bird intercom or pig garbage disposal, they responded to the unasked question, “Why would you DO this degrading job?” they turn to the camera and say, “It’s a living.”
I suppose I shouldn’t begrudge anyone their job, even if it is designed to make life worse for the majority of people in America. After all it IS a job. They probably have good benefits too. It makes perfect sense that “job creators” would make jobs that help only them.
Like the Flintstone’s animals, these people are being used by their masters to make a handful of people’s lives easier. While I don’t expect a much deeper level of awareness from a bird intercom or pig garbage disposal, I would like to see some questions asked by our main stream media of these individuals.
However since we know the main stream media aren’t going to ask these questions, I’m going to suggest you think about how you can get into these conversations where talk of the “necessity” of our social contract being destroyed is happening. Educate yourself with fun facts. Sign petitions to strengthen Social Security. Challenge Peterson’s “experts” in front of the press. Ask them what’s in their heads and hearts. Remind the press to question the source, find other experts and that the truth doesn’t always lie, “somewhere in the middle.”
I think Eleanor would like it if we spoke up for her and FDR’s legacy. She wasn’t really reincarnated in Jimmy Carter (although damn, they do look alike) but her ideas of social solidarity need to be reincarnated every generation. It’s our future, our lives, our social security. Let’s fight for it.
Cross posted at Spocko’s Brain