Tuesday, February 05, 2013
yes, you heard that right
And no, I wasn't kidding yesterday when I posted the idea of a significant increase in Social Security benefits as a tonic for our ailing economy. But when I posted it on my usual discussion group, you'd have thought I was throwing rocks at Jesus or something.
With one possible exception, this little idea was a total non-starter. But I'm telling you, a lot the people who see it is a non-starter today are going to realize some time in the next few weeks that it's a no-brainer -- excellent social policy combined with Keynesian economics -- you know, the kind of econ that actually works.
I'm always surprised (although I shouldn't be) at how people respond to unorthodox proposals with a certain amount of fear, showing just how much the usual responses are shaped and limited by corporate propoganda delivered via TV and other media. The public is so throroughly conditioned to think a certain way that they're not even aware of the conditioning.
And the conditioned responses in this case are: 1) the deficit is scary and out of control; 2) austerity is the the way to fight it, and (my own personal favorite) 3) you can't raise Social Security befefits because if you do, somebody will get a free lunch!
I don't think I have to remind anybody that Social Security has nothing to do with Teh Deficit. I will remind you that we're paying for this as we go, by raising payroll taxes as well as lifting the cap.
And look, this is real simple. Untold thousands of little old ladies who live on $1200/mo social security have to decide, at the end of every month, whether they'll buy food for those last few days or medicine. If beneftis go up 20%, those same people would get $1440, which is not a huge windfall, but enough to make a real difference in their lives and in the economy, because virtually the entire amount of the increase will get spent, on bills, medical services, and groceries.
Meanwhile, a few hedge-fund managers would have to "get by" on a few million less, because of their greater participation in the payroll tax -- Millions that may be partially re-invested, but are more likely to end up hoarded in off-shore bank accounts. Justice would be served all around.
The campaign to make this happen begins today. It's not the cure for a bad economy, but is a part of that cure, the only social policy that makes sense at this point, and I can't wait until Krugman gets behind this.