The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Ownership Society Will Not Be Televised Pt II

If you missed it, the Washington Post had an excellent article about the unraveling social safety net.

Retirement's Unraveling Safety Net: "Pamela, the answering service supervisor, sees it differently. On a recent day, when Pamela's 11-year-old Ford Probe broke down, Junior Paugh made the hour-long drive to pick her up and take her to work. A starker contrast in two people's relationship to their government and employers would be hard to conjure. Here was Junior Paugh at the wheel of his silver Buick LeSabre, having moved out of poverty, into the middle class, and now a secure retirement, with the help of one employer and his government. And here, only two generations behind him, sat Pamela Cody, feeling abandoned by everything her grandfather valued.

'I see how my grandparents were able to get by, but my husband and I just struggle from paycheck to paycheck,' she said. 'I don't have a pension and I'm not expecting Social Security to hold up long enough for me. Where is all the government's money going? Who is it benefiting? Nothing is benefiting me.'"

The plaintive cry from Pamela Cody sums up the anxiety facing Americans and their sense that neither Party is there for them. It also captures their bewilderment that we can spend so much money and provide so little security for working families. A lot of that has to do with mismanagement of the budget and priorities skewed towards pork, current benefits and an ailing health care system. The article highlights that in an economy of greater risk and larger variances in outcomes, the safety net, rather than being dismantled, need to be broadened and expanded. Otherwise, the risk begins to impose external costs on the system. The Democrats need to respond to stories such as these in a credible way. This requires understanding the economic context and committing to a vision and set of programs that respond to the new realities of uncertainty that face families. This means a re-writing of the Democratic social contract -- finding a way to provide social insurance within a framework that retains the individual incentives of the free market. All at the same time that they operate within the constrained fiscal environment forged by bankrupt fiscal policies from the Right. Hmmm. Some challenge.

Read the whole article here.


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