FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ubasuteyama, USA

by LINH DINH

Modern industrial civilization weakens the family, which is not necessarily bad, since it allows children to escape tyrannical parents. In such a society, the home is not so much a socializing haven as a motel, where wage earners drive back each evening only to ignore each other. FaceBook has become a hearth and shrine, and independence is having your own flat screen TV. Behind locked doors, the kids chill in solitary confinement, while you and the spouse can have separate finances, night outs and flings, and all is good until everyone grows old, likely alone, which brings us to the question of Social Security.

Until 2010, Social Security had always been a net gain, meaning that money contributed by workers had always exceeded the amount sent to retirees. This surplus means that Social Security, as is, should be sustainable until 1936, but that’s assuming the economy won’t seriously unravel, but even if it will, Social Security should be the very last program to be tampered with. Waste is needless wars and bank bailouts, not money spent on the old and the disabled.

In a traditional society, one must take care of one’s aging parents, and let’s not sugarcoat this. There is a Vietnamese proverb, “One mom can feed ten children, but ten children can’t feed one mom.” In Saigon, an old lady also confided to me, “My daughter pinched my inner thigh out of spite the last time she gave me a bath, so I said to her, ‘Why don’t you go ahead and kill me already?’”

In the Republic of Goldman Sachs, NASCAR and Lady Gaga, however, most kids won’t be around to pinch our inner thighs as we fade into senility. Also, more American women won’t have any children. In 1970, it was only one in ten. Today, it’s one in five. Fewer of us are also getting married. What you have, then, is a huge aging population without any income beyond the Social Security check that arrives each month.

Substituting for the missing children, three workers now support each retiree, but this is only fair, since for decades, these old people were the de facto filial sons and daughters of other senior citizens.

As working citizens, we have no choice but to participate in Social Security, but this has never been a problem, since the vast majority of us has always recognized its necessity. Who’d want to be old and curled up under a bridge?

At $1,177, your average social security check will pay for a one bedroom apartment in a semi-slum neighborhood, plus enough leftover for discount groceries, bought with several fistfuls of coupons. It’s not much, but it’s survival, and not something to be messed with, unless, of course, you belong to the very rich.

The wealthy hate Social Security because they don’t need it. Even the concept of surviving on a grand a month boggles their minds. That is so pitiful! Such chump change won’t even get them three bottles of Pinot Noir at Bistro Bis, a favorite of belt-tightening advocate, Paul Ryan. Never been there, but if I go, I’ll order a Spam musubi. Can I have an extra plate, please? Me and the wife will share.

For the wealthy, for people whose earnings derive mostly from investments and dividends, and not grunting work, it is somehow scandalous that we should get a thousand a month after a lifetime of honest labor. They can steal from us to finance their endless war and banking shenanigans, but it’s not OK for us tapped out lumpens to have a minimum income in old age? Instead of gutting Social Security, we should wipe out the superfluous Department of Homeland Security.

This vicious campaign against Social Security is nothing but class warfare, pure and simple. Unless we do something about it, and soon, the ruling class will continue to rip us off as we sweat, and starve us when we’re no longer useful. They and their enablers, Bush, Obama and Boehner, et al, are not of us or among us. Never on the streets except when hustling votes, they never see the senior citizens already sprawling on our sidewalks.

Old people of limited means are a drag, really, since they can’t be sent to war, and you may have to clean up after them, instead of the other way around, as is customary with the poor. What good is a poor person who won’t clean your toilet, give you a sensual massage or kill and die for the empire?

According to Japanese legends, Ubasuteyama is a mountain where old people are abandoned to die. With each cut to Social Security, we will be erecting our own Ubasuteyama.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a just released novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s Slurs Against China
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail