Useless Human Material - The Fascist Lies Behind the Social Security Cuts

Tiny - Posted on 10 March 2011

"They are referring to elders and people with disabilities as “useless human material,””  Michael Lyon sat in POOR’s community Newsroom speaking about how the right wing is framing the debate over Social Security. I immediately thought of Dr. Hajo Meyer, 86 year old elder activist in my Jewish community. He is a survivor of 10 months in Auschwitz, and recalls Nazis using the same language about people with disabilities, gay and lesbian people, Jews, trade unionists and all others targeted by the Nazis in the Holocaust. Refereing to people as “useless human material” is indicative of genocidal intent, and --when it comes to the proposed changes to SSI and Social Security, that is not a stretch.  

In November, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles the co-chairs of the National Commission on FIscal Responsibility and Reform created by President Obama, proposed major cuts to Social Security. Specifically, they recommend raising the retirement age to 69, slashing retirement benefits by up to 35 percent for middle-income earners, reducing Social Security's annual cost-of-living adjustments, cutting healthcare benefits, including Medicare, and raising fees for veterans. Although they are distancing themselves from George W. Bush’s vendetta to privatize Social Security, their restructuring plan is indeed a move towards privatization.

What would cuts to Social Security and Medicare mean? “Bad News” Bruce Allison, poverty scholar and activist is on SSI and Social Security. “I get roughly $840 a month to live on in a city that costs me $580 to rent, $20 for PG&E and the rest of the money goes to food or future functions.” About 8 years ago, Bruce was had to stop working due to a back injury. After being a homecare attendant for about 20 years, lifting people people out of beds and into wheelchairs and carrying them up and down flights of stairs when the SROs they lived in did not have elevators, two of his vertebrae fused together. Without SSI, “I would be pushing a grocery cart, sleeping on the streets or using an unorthodox way of renting known as squatting,” he says.

The proposed cuts would effect millions of children, disabled youth and adults and elders like Bruce, and what’s more- raising the age of retirement would only exacerbate the unemployment problems. With older folks working longer, those jobs do not become available to other people who are trying to work. Thus, the of the Senior Action Network, California Alliance of Retired Americans and the Gray Panthers have come together under the banner “Hands off Social Security- Jobs Now!”

The plans to cut Social Security and the impact that will have on the millions of people who currently rely on it or will be relying on it are bad enough. But what is even more sinister is that Simpson and Bowles have admittsed that Social Security does not actually add to the deficit.Michael Lyon, of the Senior Action Network asks “How can you justify raising the age to collect Social Security, when it’s an average 13% benefit cut, when it’s only the wealthy who are living longer, when older people find it almost impossible to find jobs, when many older people’s bodies are already worn out, when it would make it harder for younger people to find jobs, and when you say Social Security doesn’t add to the deficit?”

Right now, the right-wing is circulating lies that Social Security is in crisis. They are hoping that in a panic, we will make some bad decisions and actually end the system as we know it. They are also referring to Social Security as “entitlement,” implying that those who receive it need to “toughen up” and “get real,” that elders and folks with disabilities do not deserve to have their basic needs met. To them, the idea of someone who is not directly engaged in capitalist production receiving what they need to stay alive is a waste. No matter what wisdom, life experience, kindness, curiosity, relationships or thoughts someone is contributing to the world, if they aren’t making money for someone else, they are treated as “useless human material.”

To get involved in defending Social Security, contact

There is about $2.4 trillion in the Social Security fund. I'm sure there are quite a few people who are just drooling for access to that money.


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