Jan 14th, 2012 | By | Category: Social Security & Medicare

Interpret the Language of Politics

Senior Citizen Journal has written in the past about attempts of politicians to manipulate senior citizen opinion through scare tacticsThey know that if they can just get us frightened enough, we will do whatever they tell us we need to do to remain ‘safe’. Well, that is, ‘safe’ as they define it.  However, peel the layers off the fear-mongering behavior and we find their desire for us to vote for them and their policies so they can hang on to political power.  They will even distort the truth and actually tell untruths to achieve their power-goal.

Language is a very powerful tool and can be used for good or for evil. It is our job, as diligent seniors, to learn to sort through the fear-provoking words to actually look at the reality underneath.  We sometimes need help from trusted family members and friends to be able to do that.  It is difficult to do that when the fear has already arisen inside us, and we have to deal with that emotion while trying to understand what the truth really is.

Entitlement vs Earned Benefit

Such is also the case with language that provokes anger, versus language that provokes a positive response.  We’re finding an example of that with regard to the Social Security program as politicians discuss it in their campaign speeches.  Most of us seniors have a negative response (anger) when we hear about ‘entitlement’ programs.  The suggestion is that people are getting financial benefit from the government because they are poor or fatherless or disabled–they are ‘entitled’ to government benefits because of their condition.  The message is they didn’t earn the benefits, and they don’t ‘deserve’ them.

Some politicians have also referred to Social Security as a ‘Ponzi Scheme’, that is a program that takes money from one group of people (or pot) and gives it to another group of people (or pot) with no transparency about how the money moves around.

So let’s peel off the layers and look at the reality of Social Security:

  • We seniors receive Social Security benefits because we made payroll contributions during a lifetime of work.  Social Security benefits are earned. They are not entitlements.
  • The Social Security Administration is highly transparent, providing reports annually about how many people have benefited from the program, how much money has come into the trust fund, and how much money has been paid out.  It also provides information about what loans have been taken by action of Congress from the Social Security Trust Fund.

So the next time you hear ‘entitlement’ or ‘Ponzi Scheme’ in relationship with Social Security, you can resist the temptation to become fearful or angry.  It’s just another politician trying to manipulate you with fear and anger.

SCJ recommends you not vote for people who use those manipulative tactics with senior citizens.  They clearly do not have our best interests at heart.

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