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.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
Robert Koehler
Stop the Killing
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Of Dog Legs and “Debates”
Yves Engler
The Media’s Biased Perspective
Victor Grossman
Omens From Berlin
Christopher Brauchli
Wells Fargo as Metaphor for the Trump Campaign
Nyla Ali Khan
War of Words Between India and Pakistan at the United Nations
Tom Barnard
Block the Bunker! Historic Victory Against Police Boondoggle in Seattle
James Rothenberg
Bullshit Recognition as Survival Tactic
Ed Rampell
A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Kristine Mattis
Persnickety Publishing Pet-Peeves
Charles R. Larson
Review: Helen Dewitt’s “The Last Samurai”
David Yearsley
Torture Chamber Music
September 22, 2016
Dave Lindorff
Wells Fargo’s Stumpf Leads the Way
Stan Cox
If There’s a World War II-Style Climate Mobilization, It has to Go All the Way—and Then Some
Binoy Kampmark
Source Betrayed: the Washington Post and Edward Snowden
John W. Whitehead
Wards of the Nanny State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail