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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Letter, Intercepted - Eleanor Clift and a painless fix for Social Security

TO: Eleanor Clift
C/O The McLaughlin Group

Dear Ms. Clift:

Several weeks ago, on McLaughlin, you made a statement that one of the painless ways to solve the Social Security problem is to simply raise the retirement age. We are astonished and disappointed that you would join the likes of Pat Buchanan and Charles Krauthammer. Pat Buchanan, the great protector of the working class, wants to raise the retirement age to 70. Charles Krauthammer, in his customary arrogance, says “fixing Social Security is simple. It just requires raising the retirement age.” To arrive at this conclusion involves a process of reasoning which violates nearly all of the 8 rules of the syllogism.

It simply does not follow that because one lives longer, one can work longer. This is unjust, and an insult, to the millions of Americans who work with their arms, legs and backs. These people are the assembly line workers, the men and women who hang sheet rock, the brick layers, the concrete finishers, the coal miners and all the people who toil with their bodies from the time they are 18, or even earlier. We would suggest that you ask your doctor, but we are afraid your doctor wouldn't have any idea what the working class endures. The fact is, that these people, after at least 40 years when they reach age 60, cannot work at their trades or jobs any longer. Even hairdressers who stand on their feet for 40 years are usually finished by age 60.

Of course, it's not expected that those among us who have never lifted anything heavier than half a ream of paper would give this a second thought. The elitists of this country don't even know that these people exist. They think that all these myriads of jobs performed for them to make their lives easier in all respects, are performed by some invisible robot. These working Americans do exist, their bodies do wear out, no matter how long they live. Yet, their lives are affected by the positions that people of your ilk take concerning their future.

We urge you to think more in depth about this subject before, so cavalierly, adopting an idea which is so detrimental to the millions of Americans of the working class. We also suggest that you take a hard look at the present system historically. For the first 50 years, 1935 to 1985, the system worked moderately well. Then the tinkering started and it will continue until it becomes evident to all that the present system was never designed to be viable over the long haul. There are plans on the planet which are designed to work for centuries. No doubt, there will be objection to this, especially from our leaders who will say that we know best and that we don’t have to lift any ideas from any other countries. Our response is what H. L. Mencken said when the situation demanded it. Bosh and folderol.

We would love to hear your thoughts on raising the retirement age.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Justice with Michael Sandel

Justice is one of the most popular courses in Harvard’s history. Now it’s your turn to take the same journey in moral reflection that has captivated more than 14,000 students, as Harvard opens its classroom to the world.

In this twelve part series, Sandel challenges us with difficult moral dilemmas and asks our opinion about the right thing to do. He then asks us to examine our answers in the light of new scenarios. The results are often surprising, revealing the important questions are never black and white.

This course also addresses the hot topics of our day—affirmative action, same-sex marriage, patriotism and rights—and Sandel shows us that we can revisit familiar controversies with a fresh perspective.