Monday, May 09, 2005

Ensuring Future Pain

I know a lot of you will have already read Krugman today, but I thought it worthwhile to at least include this segment because I think it deserves further attention:

Before I take on this final insult to our intelligence, let me deal with a fundamental misconception: the idea that President Bush's plan would somehow protect future Social Security benefits.

If the plan really would do that, it would be worth discussing. It's possible - not certain, but possible - that 40 or 50 years from now Social Security won't have enough money coming in to pay full benefits. (If the economy grows as fast over the next 50 years as it did over the past half-century, Social Security will do just fine.) So there's a case for making small sacrifices now to avoid bigger sacrifices later.

But Mr. Bush isn't calling for small sacrifices now. Instead, he's calling for zero sacrifice now, but big benefit cuts decades from now - which is exactly what he says will happen if we do nothing. Let me repeat that: to avert the danger of future cuts in benefits, Mr. Bush wants us to commit now to, um, future cuts in benefits.

This accomplishes nothing, except, possibly, to ensure that benefit cuts take place even if they aren't necessary.

I also think another part of his column is important but for different reasons and pertaining to a different subject.

Hell hath no fury like a scammer foiled. The card shark caught marking the deck, the auto dealer caught resetting a used car's odometer, is rarely contrite. On the contrary, they're usually angry, and they lash out at their intended marks, crying hypocrisy.

This sort of introduction would apply equally well as a response to the high-jacking of religion for alterior purposes, the sort of which is being carried out by Dobson's posse, by the National Right to Life Committee (which is backing the Bush court nominees unreservedly, like a good GOP flack should, despite the fact that, as it seems to me, other equally ardent foes of abortion are likely to be found among other, more qualified nominees, and that perhaps the NRTLC might think about that before throwing themselves under the bus on behalf of these nutcases that want to roll back the clock of progressive economic reforms to the pre-New Deal era), and from goons like this guy.

Al Gore and current Colorado Senator Ken Salazar have started calling the Christian Right out. Naming names. And the Christian Right hasn't liked it. Hopefully, other courageous leaders will step up to do the same. Despite the angry harping that will come as a result.

As the Republican majority has increased its hold on government, religious groups once content to play significant, if behind the scenes roles, are increasingly coming out of the closet, if you will. And I think they'll be sorry they did (and so will the rest of us, regardless of the long term outcome). Whatever figleaf nonpartisanship that might have previously characterized their endeavors, has been discarded. And the images they're now making of themselves as their radicalism becomes more widely seen has not been a pretty sight to behold. The further they inject themselves into partisan politics, the greater will be their organization's challenge to maintain at least some facade of genuine Christianity.

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