Friday, December 17, 2004

Deconstructing the deconstruction

I have been thinking about the Administration's assault on Social Security -- not the merits, which are of course non-existent, or even so much the drawbacks, which are manifold. I have pondering the "why." Paul Krugman has pointed out that the Bushies hate SS not because it is broken, but because it is so successful -- the last New Deal program standing.

What is interesting about this jihad is that SS is, in real terms, a pretty sweet deal for Richie Rich -- one of the most regressive taxes there is, because (a) it is a tax on wages, not returns from capital (which means that Warren Buffett could cut his SS payments to zero by doing without a salary without noticeably affecting his income) and (b) the wage limit on contributions means even if Buffett pays himself $100M in salary, he pays the same in SS as a low-level computer programmer in Silicon Valley.

So the objection is not concrete -- it is another philosophical windmill to them. Like a Japanese anti-Semite, they hate something they have little or no direct experinece with, just because. And like Quixote, they see such overwhelming evil in that windmill that they will do great damage to see it destroyed.


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