What if a candidate told the truth?

Members of the ruling class from both sides of the aisle, together with various media elites, are all over Rick Perry about Social Security. The criticism began following the Republican presidential debate on MSNBC last week. In that debate, Gov. Perry characterized Social Security as a Ponzi scheme and a monstrous lie.

The received wisdom regarding Gov. Perry’s rhetoric runs along these lines: 1.) Social Security is a “third rail” issue. That is, you touch it at the risk of your political life; 2.) straight talk about Social Security to win support among your base in a nomination race will come back to bite you in the general election; 3.) ergo, you can talk in general terms about the need to “reform” Social Security but too much more specificity regarding your convictions and too much candor on the subject will frighten old people in Florida and cost you the election.

Well, apparently Perry doesn’t believe the received wisdom and frankly, neither do I.

Like Bernie Madoff, who is serving a 150 year prison sentence for a Ponzi scheme involving mere billions of dollars, the government has used trillions of dollars in proceeds from earlier “investors” in Social Security (read: ordinary citizens who had their own money confiscated from their pay envelopes) for purposes other than to provide for their retirement, which is to say the government has used the money to fund everything from the Vietnam War to school lunches. The government is now relying on the proceeds from current “investors” (keeping in mind that the term “investor” implies that the investment is voluntary when in fact the “investment” is coerced under penalty of imprisonment) to pay those earlier “investors” off. If that’s not a Ponzi scheme by the strictest definition of the term, it’s close enough.

To say that such characterization by a candidate for president is unwise presupposes that the American people are not capable of handling the truth.

I couldn’t disagree more. I think that if there is one thing at this moment in our history for which the American people hunger more than anything, it is the truth. President Obama actually admitted the truth without meaning to during the debt ceiling debate by threatening that Social Security checks would not go out if the debt ceiling was not raised. The threat was valid because Social Security no longer takes in enough on its own to meet its obligations and must rely on the Treasury to fund the shortfall.

The Social Security system is broke and the American people are fully capable of absorbing that reality and reacting appropriately. The truth is both liberating and long overdue.

It is the assumption that Americans cannot be trusted with the truth, together with the willingness of generations of politicians of all stripes to make promises that could not possibly be kept, secure in their knowledge that when the piper came to be paid it  would be some future politician’s problem, that has pushed America to the brink of bankruptcy.

Nothing Rick Perry said about Social Security is untrue. If, as our ruling and media elites condescendingly insist, the American people cannot at this pivotal moment in history be trusted with a plain-spoken assessment of our mammoth problems, a prime example of which is Social Security, then it doesn’t much matter who wins the next election.

If such truly is the case, all that is great about America will be beyond that individual’s capacity to preserve or resurrect.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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2 Responses

  1. Arthur Coleman says:

    You’re full of it. Social Security is in trouble because no one invisioned the skyrocketing cost of health care combined with a population living well into late 70s and 80s. The math is old, well known, and easily researched; which is why this little piece is so galling. Don’t write pieces about truth lauding a liar like Perry with blatant lies of your own. It’s insulting.

  2. Linda E. Montrose says:

    Mr. Coleman here is a prime example of why politicians are scared to death to tell the TRUTH…yes, Mr. Coleman, the TRUTH about the social security program. People such as Mr. Coleman here have their heads stuck in the sand and refuse to pull it out. For whatever reason, they are afraid of facing the TRUTH about what a mess the federal government has made of the social security program and how they can not keep their thieving paws out of the ss fund. The truth is that both parties are guilty of pulling money out of the ss fund to fund their pet projects and sticking iou’s in, not taking into account that at some point the robbing of Peter to pay Paul is going to catch up with them. The TRUTH is far over due. I am not a fan of Rick Perry by any stretch of the imagination, but he is right about this ponzi scheme. The only way to fix the problem is to face the FACTS and the fact is the system is BROKEN and needs fixing. Sticking your head in the sand in the hopes that the problems will all go away, just isn’t going to work…it never has and never will. So the best thing is to man up and face the facts no matter how difficult it may be. One fact we need to face is that those who put ss in place, did so with the purpose of exactly what we are seeing today. Instilling fear in those who are living on ss of it being taken away from them, therefore the reason it is such a taboo subject to tackle. It has worked for decades, but it is time we all stand up and face the truth of what is actually going on and FIX the problem. The TRUTH is, Mr. Coleman and all those like him, if the problems are not fixed, your greatest fears WILL come to fruitation sooner than you think because the road this president is taking us on will insure there is no money left to pay you with. Sometimes the TRUTH is a bitter pill to swallow, but the CURE is worth the bad taste.

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