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Best ... Argument ... Ever

From the GOP's proposed speech to be delivered to your over-50 constituents about the need to phase-out Social Security:

Let me leave you with a question: Why should young people who will retire around the year 2035 be forced to live with a system that was invented in 1935, especially when that system is in such deep trouble? So many things have since changed then. When Social Security was created the Golden Gate Bridge didn’t exist and neither did Mount Rushmore. You couldn’t see the Wizard of Oz because it hadn’t been filmed and Cheerios hadn’t been introduced as a breakfast cereal. Americans in 1935 couldn’t imagine our world of cell phones, computers, or landing a man on the moon—and that was more than 30 years ago! Times have changed, even if the values behind Social Security haven’t. Young people ought to have a chance to do it differently than their grandparents. So let’s press our leaders for this change now, and start putting money into personal accounts as soon as possible.
So . . . my benefits should be cut dramatically while I'm forced to work my whole life paying off trillions in debt . . . because we now have a bridge across the San Francisco Bay? Awesome.

I also note an interesting piece of polling data included in the GOP game plan. They say you should ask the old folks to raise their hands if they think the economy will grow as rapidly (or more) over the next 75 years as it has over the past 75 years. According to the GOP planners, people who say "yes" are likely to support ending Social Security. Interestingly, if the economy grows as quickly over the next 75 years as it has over the past 75 years, Social Security isn't even close to being in trouble -- it'll be running huge surplus from now 'till the end of time. Nobody really thinks the economy will grow that fast, since population growth will slow down. If, despite slower population growth, we do see that kind of growth, we're all going to be stinking rich on a per capita basis irrespective of what we do with Social Security, which would be pretty cool. At any rate, it's good to know that popular support for the Republican plan is intimately tied to people having beliefs about the future that, according to the two parties' shared premises, are totally false.

January 31, 2005 | Permalink

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» Social Security... get rid of it cause it is old from Craig's Thoughts, Theories, and Tantrums
Matt Y. found a nice piece from a GOP speeh to give to seniors: Let me leave you with a question: Why should young people who will retire around the year 2035 be forced to live with a system that... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 31, 2005 5:44:18 PM

» Framing SS Debate from Polemic Propaganda
Evan Bayh's performance on This Week has been making the rounds, and from what I've read about his general performance, it was rather astounding. Here we were, thinking this wet-behind the ears kid from the Midwest would fold up and accede to the deman... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 31, 2005 6:17:03 PM

» Matthew Yglesias: Best ... Argument ... Ever from Poor Richard's Anorak
Link: Matthew Yglesias: Best ... Argument ... Ever. Matthew weighs in on the proposed retirement destruction legislation that will be spun in the State of The Union speech Wednesday night. Remember what was spun last time? [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 31, 2005 9:13:20 PM

» Bird in Space from Paperwight's Fair Shot
That entire block of speechification there is phatic language, intended to convey something about the speaker and his relationship to the rest of the world. [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 1, 2005 1:40:56 PM

» Political reasoning for five-year-olds from Brendan Nyhan
I'll have a lot more to say about the Republican Social Security memo (PDF), but I have to start by joining Matthew Yglesias in ridiculing this passage from a suggested speech, which might be the dumbest thing I've ever read: [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 5, 2005 11:42:51 AM

Comments

Isn't the administration using different economic forecasts for the Social Security debate and for the Tax Cut debate. What would happen if you switched forecasts? (i.e., use the pessimistic forecast to calculate the costs of the tax cuts, and the optimistic forecast to calculate the extent of the Social Security 'crisis')

Posted by: jt | Jan 31, 2005 5:24:52 PM

Here is another good paragraph


>Don’t say, “Social Security lifts seniors out of poverty”: People don’t appreciate all that
Social Security does, and believe that despite the program, many seniors are still in poverty.
Instead, talk about how Social Security is a “floor of protection” that keep seniors out of the most dire circumstances.

Apparently, the republicans want to scale back social security to be the minimal level protection that many people think it currently is. “Social Security lifts seniors out of poverty” We need to keep saying how successful Social Security is.

Posted by: joe o | Jan 31, 2005 5:29:50 PM

No one ever lost a money by underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

Posted by: ScrewyRabbit | Jan 31, 2005 5:30:24 PM

I do not understand how a person of conscience could work for a tobacco company; nor be a Republican.

Posted by: John Casey | Jan 31, 2005 5:33:17 PM

since baseball did exist prior to 1935, i guess i've been wasting my time following the game in lieu of the exciting new X games; it's amazing how conservatives used to like the past, but modern right-wingers hate anything that doesn't support their ideological predispositions.

Meanwhile, matthew's 75-year point must be made over and over again: if the economy grows at the rate it has grown over the past 75 years, then the "crisis" strikes, not in 2008, or 2018, or 2042, but right after infinity....

Posted by: howard | Jan 31, 2005 5:36:27 PM

Two things...

1) This all reminds me of the quote from Mark Twain, "Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated".

2) The proposed argument boils down even further to: We should change social security because it is old... just like you.

Craig

Posted by: Craig Press | Jan 31, 2005 5:37:06 PM

I'm frankly at a loss for words regarding Republican dishonesty over Social Security, but I do know that referencing the Wizard of OZ and Cherrioes in the same sentence is weird. Who are these people?

Posted by: fnook | Jan 31, 2005 5:48:29 PM

Maybe I've got my dates mixed up, but it seems to me that Christianity is even older than Social Security -- in fact, even older than that first, silent version of The Wizard of Oz.

So I guess it's really got to go.

Posted by: William Rabkin | Jan 31, 2005 5:49:15 PM

It's part of the whole "modernization" spin point that has been taken out for a few drives by the GOP but has never really become a central element of their argument.

Posted by: Chris Andersen | Jan 31, 2005 5:49:55 PM

Let's try this instead:

Let me leave you with a question: Why should young people who will retire around the year 2035 be forced to live with a Constitution that was invented in 1789, especially when that Constitution is in such deep trouble? So many things have since changed then. When the Constitution was created, the Golden Gate Bridge didn’t exist and neither did Mount Rushmore. You couldn’t see the Wizard of Oz because it hadn’t been filmed and Cheerios hadn’t been introduced as a breakfast cereal. Americans in 1789 couldn’t imagine our world of cell phones, computers, or landing a man on the moon—and that was more than 30 years ago! Times have changed, even if the values behind the Constitution haven’t. Young people ought to have a chance to do it differently than their grandparents. So let’s press our leaders for this change now, and start revamping that tired old document as soon as possible.

Posted by: Clueless | Jan 31, 2005 5:50:46 PM

Clueless -- don't give them any ideas!

Posted by: ScrewyRabbit | Jan 31, 2005 5:53:39 PM

Clueless beat me to it. But they've already got those ideas, it seems to me.

Posted by: froh | Jan 31, 2005 5:58:42 PM

"So . . . my benefits should be cut dramatically while I'm forced to work my whole life paying off trillions in debt . . . because we now have a bridge across the San Francisco Bay? Awesome."

If we are going to be precise, the Golden Gate bridge doesn't span the Bay, but the golden gate, a strait. The main bridge across the bay is the much uglier and prosaically named "Bay Bridge."

Posted by: Sweeney | Jan 31, 2005 6:09:29 PM

Maxspeaks and Talking Points Memo provide links to this document. Angrybear just made a couple of comments as to the utter lack of a GOP case for deform (I meant 'reform' - sorry). But I love this excerpt. #1 - it does not say WHY the system is broken (it's not). #2 - it fails to say what has changed since 1935 but then we know the answer to that - we have had now two two-term Presidents (Reagan and the current one) who'd give tax breaks to the rich paid for by deferring taxes way out into the future. So yes, we all must toil with high employment taxes with no soc. Sec. retirement benefits to look forward too. It is the "American way" (said with a Texas drawl).

Posted by: pgl | Jan 31, 2005 6:10:35 PM

William R. Great comment. Cheerios casues homosexuality and the Wizard of Oz was Al Qaeda propanganda. Didn't you know?

Posted by: pgl | Jan 31, 2005 6:12:07 PM

Would you please give a link or citation for this? This will make a good example for an intro philosophy class.

Posted by: Franklin Scott | Jan 31, 2005 6:12:21 PM

Wow, this is a very compelling argument. I agree with those sugesting we should abandon Christianity and the Constitution, and I'd like to raise them one. Let's end our slavish devotion to oxygen--for millions of years, this substance has stymied the progress of humanity!

Today, let's begin our trek to the stars by learning to breathe methane, the atmosphere of Jupiter's beautiful moon Titan! No longer will our children be earthbound by slavish devotion to "traditions" like breathing oxygen! Progress cannot be stopped by arguments like, "No, dude, that will never work. You're making up the math." Your fuzzy math and "science" will not hold us back! To Titan! To methane!

Posted by: theorajones | Jan 31, 2005 6:16:40 PM

Matthew

The use of excessively small type is quite a burden to older readers. Please try to enlarge the size as you once did.

Thank you so much,
Lise

Posted by: lise | Jan 31, 2005 6:23:57 PM

Franklin S. - Joshua Marshall has a couple of blogs on this with a link to the actual document. Matt might wish to read the latest from Talking Points Memo as Josh has the scoop on a Mr. Thau who wrote the portion Matt picked up on. Yep - Thau is as 'unbiased' on these matter as his colleague Frank Luntz.

Lise - I find that C&P these quotes into Word and then changing the font helps my weary eyes.

Posted by: pgl | Jan 31, 2005 6:37:07 PM

This speech is real? It's not from The Onion or something similar? I was going to mention the US Constitution, but I see others have beaten me to the punch.

There is almost something nihilistic about this kind of "argument." It used to be considered frightening and disruptive that all the rules of living could change within a human lifetime--Toffler's Future Shock, etc. Now I suppose it's not enough for just some things to change. Everything must change... because, um... because otherwise it won't be the future! And if it's the not the future, it'll be the present or past, and we sure don't want that.

In fact, a surprising number of elements of modern life have not changed materially for hundreds of years. In 1935, there was a sophisticated system of finance including long-term loans, stocks, bonds, insurance, defined benefit pensions, annuities. If you studied all of this from a textbook written then, you'd have a very good understanding of how it works now. I'm sure there have been tweaks, but people weren't stupid 70 years ago, and they mostly used money in similar ways (more cash, less credit, but some of both...) and lived almost as long as they do now. There's no reason to think that a plan conceived at that time should not apply to today.

But this brings me to my pet peeve. It's 2005 already, and while cars are more available and better in many ways than cars of seventy years ago, they still basically do the same thing. Four tires, gasoline, steering wheel, yawn. I mean, about Social Security, what I want to know is, where's my personal helicopter???

Posted by: Paul Callahan | Jan 31, 2005 6:43:27 PM

So . . . my benefits should be cut dramatically while I'm forced to work my whole life paying off trillions in debt . . . because we now have a bridge across the San Francisco Bay? Awesome.

May I just this once praise the eloquence and succinctness with which our bloghost persistently cuts through the rhetorical claptrap we are confronted with on a daily basis?

Thanks Matt, keep it up.

Posted by: novakant | Jan 31, 2005 7:17:07 PM


Lise: Try this: Depress the control key while moving the roller thingie on your mouse backward.

Posted by: Blue Iris | Jan 31, 2005 7:28:27 PM

Wow. Thanks Blue Iris.

Posted by: fnook | Jan 31, 2005 7:32:32 PM

Why should our citizens be confined in the same old strictures of conventional, heterosexual marriage now that we've landed a man on the moon? Moreover, why shouldn't we require Christy Turlington to sleep with Brian C.B. now that Apple has released the iPod? Back in the day of telegraph, and horse-drawn carriages, it was fine that gay people couldn't marry, and that a supermodel could file a restraining order against me, but now, our technology demands sweeping social change for gays and for my miserable hook-up prospects.

Posted by: Brian C.B. | Jan 31, 2005 7:57:41 PM

Why does Bush always lie to the American public? Because he doesn't believe in democracy. He doesn't think the people know or can figure out what is best. But, he thinks that he knows what is best. Neocons don't believe in democracy either. In fact they hold democracy in utter disdain. Strange isn't it?

Posted by: ken melvin | Jan 31, 2005 8:07:37 PM

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