March 14, 2005
'Advise and Consent': Social Security: Can we really afford this safety net?

icon_dollars.gifGreetings, all, and welcome to my new column for low culture. Since we've already been introduced, I'll just jump right into the fray: we're going to tackle the hot-button issues, here and now!

First and foremost on the lips of pundits on Capitol Hill is the matter of social security: White House aides will have you believe that it's in crisis, and needs to be reformed urgently, while Democratic leaders from across the aisle, such as former vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, are more temperate about this issue. So, tongues are wagging: what to do about this problem?

In my lecturing days, I used to examine the fallibility of this elaborate system of social-insurance in terms of the following analogy: If your house is on fire, you better get out! The students in my courses, after I would spring this on them with great aplomb, would often look quizzically at one another. The confusion and dismay on their university-trained faces was priceless. And then, of course, an outspoken student would inevitably question my analogy: "Professor Preminger, why would you assume going into the argument that the system is inherently flawed? Is there not room for debate on the solvency of the New Deal's greatest social legacy?"

While I was technically a guest-lecturer and not a full-fledged professor, I wouldn't take issue with the phrasing of their questions, and would instead drop the following pearl of wisdom: Social Security, I'd say while putting down my chalk and tugging delicately at my tie (an act which would often leave white marks across my chest), functions as a system of economic redistribution, whereby payments are guaranteed to those who contribute during the course of their lifetime. And what had we learned from the (then-recent) collapse of Polish and Romanian communism, other than that systems of economic redistribution must ultimately result in a subsequent economic collapse that in turn leads to said nation exporting its teenaged daughters abroad to appear in Western pornographic films? Is this the sort of legacy of social security with which we want to be burdened as Americans?

When making this last point, I would always be sure to peer directly at the various co-eds scattered throughout the lecture hall. I wanted them to understand that their livelihoods as future lawyers, doctors, and housewives were in danger if we didn't open our minds to the prospect of, say, privatizing our support network for the nation's elderly. (Also, I should add as an afterthought, women are perfectly capable of being lab technicians, programmers, and construction foremen, just to be clear. I don't want the low culture ombudsman to be over-inundated with anxious remarks from yippity feminists.)

So, returning to the point at hand, social security: is this a net that can afford to catch each and everyone of us, or has this system of public subsidies left the roping on this allegorical net dispersed so widely apart that we will all fall through the cracks someday in the not-too-distant future? And what is under this net, but the vast expanse of the Sea of Lonely Death?

That, my friends, lovers, and countrymen, is a pool in which I don't want to go swimming.

Posted in a Grave, Satirical fashion.

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