Dazed and Confised --- conversations with real Americans

Dazed and Confused

by digby

Dday has an interesting post up about the latest bogus plan to "save" social security by destroying it. Long story short, they want to cut benefits for the middle class and give a teeny little bit more to the poor. Evidently, they think this is a good trade-off because it will equalize things in old age --- all those middle class people who fail to save enough will now be just as poor as the working poor. So that's good. (He also highlights a race in Mississippi in which both Republicans and Democrats are arguing against cuts of any kind. Of course, that would be the majority position in the country, but that's not really influential in politics, so I don't think it's too relevant.)

I think we are all going on the assumption that they won't be able to get this done because the people won't allow it. But I'm here to tell you that the people may not understand that's what they are doing. I had a conversation yesterday that will make you hair stand on end. (I swear this actually happened.)

I was at the local Albertson's yesterday, very crowded. The check out guy, aunion member who went out on strike with all the other grocery workers in LA a couple of years ago, was chit-chatting with a woman who was checking out about $400.00 worth of items. So they had a long time to talk. The woman was saying that there's no money left in the social security system, that they'd spent it all. The clerk said, "Yeah, I heard that too, there's nothing left." The women went on to tell this horror story about how her mother died and when she went down to sign up for her mother's social security, they told her she wasn't entitled to it because she was over 18. (She was in her 40s.) The clerk and the two people ahead of me gasped and said "you're kidding" and "what happened to all that money she paid in then?" The clerk sagely replied, "it went into the congressmen's pockets that's what happened."

At this point I couldn't take it and I interjected that nobody has ever been entitled to inherit their mother's social security and they all insisted that you used to be able to do it. All three of them. I wasn't going to get into that absurdity in the grocery store, so I just said, "Look, the most important thing is your social security and it will be there for you unless you let your representatives mess with it right now. You should tell them you don't want them to do anything to social security." The clerk looked at the other customers and sort of wryly laughed, saying "I don't think that's right. It's not what I've heard." The woman whose mother had died recently said, "It's not true. When I went down there to collect my money they said there wasn't any left in the system. I want to know what happened to all my mother's money." The other person (also in her 40s) said, "all I know is that everybody says there won't be any money there for us."

If people are really this misinformed, I see no reason why the deficit scolds can't convince them that they are saving social security by cutting it. They're already there. At a time of economic insecurity, people are getting panicked about all sorts of things and the right wing media machine is using that panic to advance their agenda.

There's a name for that.