King George II says he truly wants to strengthen Social Security. So do we! To us, strengthening Social Security means raising not only the benefits, but also the economic security and living standards of retired and disabled people. The productive capacity to do so already exists — one-third of U.S. productive capacity is currently sitting idle for lack of paying demand.
In the interest of reframing the debate constructively, we would like to propose a novel approach to strengthening Social Security: good jobs for everyone, including good jobs for all youth. Our calculations are that this would fund increased Social Security benefits for several centuries.
There are thousands of unmet needs, from food and health care to housing, schools, roads and bridges, to childcare and eldercare. Youth have plenty of great contributions to make on all these needs. Programs of public works are needed to address all of these needs; their total cost would be less than the interest on war expenditures alone.
The King is reportedly worried sick that the ratio of employed workers to retirees is declining. Good jobs for everyone would solve his worry in a hurry. Consider, for example, that the King’s own Department of Labor reports that 63 percent of the 16.3 million people ages 16 to 19 in the U.S. do not currently have paying jobs; 78 percent of African Americans in this category do not have jobs. That’s a lot of potential Social Security levies that are not being collected!
Good jobs for all youth would yield other gains. For example, there are now over 12 million vacant homes and apartments in the U.S., by Census Bureau count. Vacant apartments means no rents are being paid; this can endanger the financial system. With good jobs, young people could afford the rent on their own apartments. And that, in turn, could also mean better sleep and better physical and mental health for parents, youth and ex-roommates alike.
In fact, we will be so bold as to call to strengthen real social security with good jobs for everyone. That means all African Americans, all Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Hawaiians, Native peoples, immigrants, people with disabilities — everyone. No more racism, no more last-hired, first-fired policies!
Public health experts have known for decades that physical and mental illnesses, disabilities and deaths rise inexorably with joblessness. Good jobs for all would cut disability rates, and thus further strengthen Social Security for another century or two.
So why hasn’t it entered the mind of King George that good jobs for all would also solve the pension “problem” he seems to be seeing? The fact is, it is beyond the power and interests of the King and the unjust, racist, sexist, crisis-ridden capitalist class that he serves, to achieve full employment.
As in the Great Depression, it is up to the Communist Party, the left, and the unions to take the leadership in the struggle against unemployment and for full employment, and genuine economic security and solidarity among young and old alike.