Friday, April 15, 2005

Lubbock DFA meets with Randy Neugebauer

...or rather, we met with his deputy chief of staff--Randy was in Washington. Overall, I think the meeting was successful for multiple reasons.

1. We were able to stay on message.
Big props on this one all around. Our host tried to put the onus of the problem on our group with a straw man. Our purpose is not to do Congress' job for them. Though they tried to switch it on us and make the meeting about OUR plan for SAVING Social Security, we stayed firm to presenting our case AGAINST privatization. I still believe that our plan IS Social Security, that we shouldn't think it needs to be SAVED. We definitely could do something to fix the system, but the same could be said about Medicare, Medicaid, the Military, Homeland Security, and probably every other government program we have. Whether he likes what we said or not, Randy will have to know that his own constituents believe privatization does nothing to save Social Security, in fact, it will likely do HARM to it.

2. We were able to keep the meeting cordial.
Really happy here. We passionately disagree with a lot of what comes from the Republicans these days, but the people we met with were genuinely nice. Meeting directly with our representatives is something we want to do many more times, and this group is more than up to being opposed and civil at the same time.

3. We dominated the meeting
I was nervous beforehand that we might get bullied around the room. Not the case. Of the 35 or so minutes we spent together, Lubbock DFA spoke for about 31 of those minutes. They sat, and they listened to what we had to say. Confidence boosts are always nice.

4. We were pretty good with counter-punching
This may be do the (well planned) practice session we had the night before, but we were offering up cohesive arguments against privatization--both emotional and rational. Perhaps they didn't just have much to work with, but the general argument seemed to be roughly:
Something has to be done to fix Social Security --> Privatization is something


On another note, the Chilean Privatization Plan was brought up by the other side as a model plan. I hadn't heard much about it so I did some digging. When I looked, I pulled up a propaganda piece by the Cato Institute. Those Cato guys have been pretty vocal about their support for Bush's privatization plan, so I wasn't too surprised to see them touting the Chilean example. I did some more digging and found an article by the New York Times

It turns out the model the Republicans want so much to compare with was forcibly (mandatory) put in place under the regime of noted economist and full-time fascist Augusto Pinochet. Yeah! Sign me u… wait a minute. Was it really Pinochet?
But now that the first generation of workers to depend on the new system is beginning to retire, Chileans are finding that it is falling far short of what was originally advertised under the authoritarian government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
But wait! It gets worse:
For all the program's success in economic terms, the government continues to direct billions of dollars to a safety net for those whose contributions were not large enough to ensure even a minimum pension approaching $140 a month. Many others - because they earned much of their income in the underground economy, are self-employed, or work only seasonally - remain outside the system altogether. Combined, those groups constitute roughly half the Chilean labor force. Only half of workers are captured by the system…

"What we have is a system that is good for Chile but bad for most Chileans," said a government official who specializes in pension issues and who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing retaliation from corporate interests. "If people really had freedom of choice, 90 percent of them would opt to go back to the old system."
Wow, does that sound like a Social Security system that you would want? I prefer our current model that is good for America AND Americans. Thank to the Times, I also found out who the architect for the Chilean system is. You’ll never guess where he works now.

The main architect of the Chilean system is José Piñera, who was labor and social security minister from 1978 to 1980 during the Pinochet dictatorship. Mr. Piñera is now chairman of the International Center for Pension Reform, co-chairman of the Cato Institute's Project on Social Security Choice, and he has been a board member of several Chilean corporations. (emphasis added by
author to imply that Mr. Piñera is a no-good crook)
I am always amazed how these social criminals can disappear for a decade or two, only to reemerge with money and power. We need to put a stop to this crap.

I am also amazed by how Republicans attempt to bolster their arguments with evidence that is unsubstantial and even HARMFUL to their cause. It is not like Computer with internet access is a particularly hard to access and utilize. I have two of the darn things in my home, and I’m not even rich. Not to mention the 8 jillion (not an exact count) machines that are publicly accessible. The Republicans are out of touch BIG TIME.


At 9:58 PM, Blogger Sue said...

I sent this message to Rep. Neugebauer this morning. I also posted it at "I was a member of a group that met with Jim Clark in Lubbock yesterday. The subject was Social Security. We urged Mr. Clark to convey to you our opposition to privatization of any part of Social Security. Mr. Clark said he could not assure us that you would vote against privatizing Social Security and that you favored a plan like that in Chile. This causes me great concern because of what the people and government of Chile have experienced: The Chile model has been a disaster for all but the most well-off. Fees have eaten up about 30% of peoples accounts and now the government has to make up the difference for many destitute retirees.

Mr. Clark pointed to privatization as a solution for the solvency problem, but President Bush has already acknowledged that privatization will not solve that problem.

I urge you to reconsider your position and protect Social Security from privatization. Thank you, your constituent, Sue Weninger"

I regret not remembering during the meeting that bit about President Bush admitting that privatization doesn't solve the solvency "problem". Problem in quotes because we probably shouldn't concede a problem.


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