Alan Simpson’s cold relationship with AARP is no secret, but the former Republican Senator from Wyoming took it to a new level Friday. At an event hosted by the Investment Company Institute, Simpson delighted the finance industry audience members by aiming a rude gesture at the leading lobby for senior citizens.
Financial and investment interests have long been supportive of Simpson’s broad critique of Social Security, since privatizing the old-age and disability support program would be a tremendous boon for Wall Street’s financial managers. ICI represents mutual funds and other money managers who control more than $13 trillion in assets.
Simpson’s forceful gesture came after an extended diatribe against Social Security, which he said is a "Ponzi" scheme, "not a retirement program.”
One might expect a 79 year old former US Senator to have better impulse control, and to be capable of behaving like an adult in public. Apparently, one would be wrong. Alan Simpson should resign - voluntarily or not as the case may be.
The favorite accusation of those who are desperate to turn the Social Security trust fund over to Wall St. is: "It's a Ponzi scheme."
Well, no - it's not. Social Security is a retirement insurance benefit that we "owners" have been paying into all of our working lives. Social Security was created to prevent elderly folks from being sent to poor houses, which were still in place when Social Security was created. It has always been intended to be one part of a 3 part retirement plan. The other 2 parts of the plan were a pension, and savings.
Pensions were common at the time Social Security was created - but that was at a time when business was loyal to their employees, and those employees were likely to stay with a company for their entire work life. Those days are long gone. Businesses no longer offer pensions to most employees. They're just as likely to ship their jobs overseas. The only loyalty corporate America has is to shareholders and CEOs. Given that wages in the US have been stagnant for decades, saving for retirement is increasingly difficult for working people. After the economy crashed in 2008, many people were forced to live on those savings when they lost their jobs.
None of that is the fault of American workers, but then, they are not Simpson's concern. Simpson is not only impervious to facts, he's annoyed by them, as we see in that same article. He accused Ryan Grim of giving him numbers created by those pesky liberals, and when informed that the numbers came from the Social Security Administration, he became quite grumpy:
Told that the data came directly from the Social Security Administration, Simpson continued to insist it was inaccurate, while misstating the nature of a statistical average: "If you’re telling me that a guy who got to be 65 in 1940 -- that all of them lived to be 77 -- that is just not correct. Just because a guy gets to be 65, he’s gonna live to be 77? Hell, that’s my genre. That’s not true," said Simpson, who will turn 80 in September.
It's bad enough that this man is relying on incorrect information; it's down right chilling that his mind is already made up.
He does have some interesting reasoning as to why you shouldn't care whether Social Security is around for your grandchildren though:
Hey kids, get offa his lawn!
This is not a man who should be the co-chair of a committee charged with figuring out how to reduce the deficit.
It's interesting to note that thanks to serving in the US Senate, Simpson gets a nice pension for life, as well as dandy insurance benefits. It's almost amusing that he described Social Security as "a milk cow with 310 million teats. Simpson doesn't see himself as suckling on the public teat - he sees himself as deserving, which is at the root of the problem. When the wealthy and privileged start deciding who is and is not deserving, you can bet they're going to help themselves and their cronies.
This post is part of the Campaign For America's Future state blogger's network project.