By Lee S. Pinkard, Jr.
Earlier this month, the Biden Administration announced “big news” on Social Security.
“For the first time in over a decade, seniors’ Medicare premiums will decrease even as their Social Security checks increase. This means that seniors will have a chance to get ahead of inflation, due to the rare combination of rising benefits and falling premiums. We will put more money in their pockets and provide them with a little extra breathing room.”
The news media obediently parroted the White House, praising “the biggest cost-of-living adjustment in 40 years in 2023!”
I’ve spent 73 years on this earth, survived a tour in Vietnam and weathered all the economic and socialistic undulations of our society these past seven decades. As I see people cheering at the prospect of a bigger monthly check from the government, I can’t help but say:
This is not a good thing.There is a bigger story here, and it is a matter of cause and effect.
Social Security to me is more than a check. It is inextricably linked to the sustainability of American culture and values. Its original intent was to establish a pension system through employer and employee contributions, “to promote the economic security” of American workers.
Over time, this system has become unrecognizable as it’s been expanded and leveraged as an ever pending crisis for politicians to solve. The causes are political interference, and their effect is insolvency.
Social Security solvency should serve as a counterbalance to sinister forces using chaos and change to reshape America. Unfortunately, sinister forces on both sides of the political aisle have wielded the system for political gains.
In this, Social Security serves as a metaphor for America more broadly, and its current state mirrors our inability to rely upon the once bedrock principles of our culture.
A New Culture of Dependence
American society – from government, media, and education to corporations and NGOs – have, like social security, become unrecognizable during my lifetime.
American institutions have gone from serving the population, whether through policy or profit motives, to a place of central control: Unaccountable overseers of every aspect of American life.
The objective has shifted from serving the needs of constituents and customers to controlling outcomes. With that shift we lost our power of consent. They no longer seek information about what we want or need. Privacy has been discarded. They scoff at our faith and values, even going so far as to criminalize them.
Our values are an obstacle to their objectives.
Rather, in today’s America, the institutions see the American people as a faceless cash cow, taxpayers and consumers, enslaved to fund it all.
They tell us what we can have and what we cannot. What we can think, and what thoughts are forbidden. They attempt to tell us what’s right and wrong, not by cultural standards but by government edicts combined with corporate execution.
These are the new drivers of change, responsible for our current inflation and societal upheavals. Not war, race, or the coming election, but the reduction of American identity into pride of dependence. Think about that. Futurists say, we’ll own nothing and love it. The new meaning of “e pluribus unum” redefines “one.”
Truth, hard work, and the (rightful) shame of dependency have been devalued in 2022 America, replaced by comfortable lies, unbridled entitlement, and pride in accepting handouts. The former values built America. The latter will destroy her.
Learn from History, or Repeat It
As I sit here, retired and watching those now in the arena, I lament that, at this moment in history, we stand to lose the very essence of what made America the greatest nation. Still, I have hope that my people, the American people, will rise to the challenges now before us.
While Social Security solvency may be unattainable, restoring America is still within our reach. In my seven decades, the strength of American values – our cherished protection of life, defense of liberty, and demand of honor and integrity in those who serve – has always righted the ship of state. We must return to these values now.
And, for the record, the 8.7% increase won’t even cover inflation.
Lee S. Pinkard, Jr. is a former US Army Pilot, Vietnam Veteran, and retired PwC Principal.