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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail