Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Alan Greenspan's Got a Plan


It's been a month now since Alan Greenspan sat down in front of an awed House Budget Committee, so it's long since become yesterday's news and what else is new? House and Senate committees are always awed by Alan. Part of it is they seldom understand what the hell he's talking about and take it for profundity.

Al's been around a while.

Anyway, in case you missed it in between flash news reports about Paris Hilton falling for this guy or off that horse, Alan peered through his bottle-glass spectacles and told the House and the world and whoever else happened to be listening that they better trash Social Security for the good of the country.

Talk about falling off a horse! But no one even walked over to nudge Social Security with a toe, see if it was hurt or maybe needed a cigarette. Just nods at the profundity of it all, just chins rested on steepled fingers, brows knitted in concentration as they took in the Guru's prescription. Or tried to take it in, but you know it's hard when he uses these compound sentences, throws in a little tricky syntax. All that financial stuff can make a senator or representative sleepier than a four-course lunch.

Now, for sure, Alan's not going to need his Social Security and that probably makes it a bit easier to watch it sprawled all over itself, lying there in the dust, a leg in each corner, pupils dialated and ears pinned flat against its head. Easier to shoot it and call the glue factory than ease it back to its feet.

If you don't need to ride, who gives a damn? If the Boomers aren't out in the street (and they're not), it's easy to step into the limousine and drive around those poor bastards on horseback.

So, let's see. Who's likely to need a horse, any horse, even a lame horse in this fast track society of ours. Probably not anyone who matters, at least not to Alan. The only people who come immediately to mind are cleaning ladies, who scrub floors in those office buildings at night. Thirty or forty years of scrubbing floors and trying to feed a family at the same time isn't likely to build much of a retirement nest egg. Next time you work late and the cleaning lady shuffles by, ask her about her 401-K. She'll probably think its an office she forgot to clean and ask you where it is.

A few others who might be damned glad to get what little Social Security provides, are holding down jobs that don't have pension or health benefits and pay minimum wage, or a wage that's so close to minimum that they'll never own a home or get ahead of their MasterCard debt. Probably forty million or so. But I'll tell you something.

Alan Greenspan doesn't know a single one of them.

Blowing smoke off the barrel of the gun he had pointed at Social Security, Al paused to praise the president's 1.5 trillion tax break to people like himself. People that actually count, people you can talk to and have drinks with at the club, maybe hang out with on the yacht. A million bucks is pretty hard for us regular folks to visualize. A billion is a thousand million. Whew! A trillion is a thousand billion. Damn, buddy, down at the old union hall, that's a lot of money. I can see right off why they'd have to cut the hell out of the retirement for forty million of us in order to do all that good for the top few. That Alan Greenspan must be a pretty smart feller.

What was it old Joe Stalin said? “A single death is a tragedy, but a hundred thousand dead is a news event." I guess it's the same with getting old and having nothing when you can't work any more. A single old person without a safety net is a tragedy, but forty million of them are a committee meeting.