Sol Yurick writes radical novels, good ones, and loves to speculate on how culture gets inside people’s bones. In the early 1970s, Sol and I spend a lot of time musing over Monopoly, a game many leftists love to hate, others hate to love, and practically everybody plays. According to Shelly Berman, the comedian, “Monopoly evokes a unique emotion, the surge of thrill you get when you know you’ve wiped out a friend.” But what else is going on as we accumulate property and scheme how to beggar our neighbors? Are we simply expressing some atavistic urge for power, or tuning in, consciously or unconsciously, to the attitudes that are most highly prized in our business-oriented society?
In a recent speech, the head of the main government workers union in the United States accused the Reagan administration of “bleeding” the nation in order to finance defense spending and tax breaks for the rich. It is now clear that one cherished national social institution which is scheduled by the Reagan crowd for a major blood-letting is the Social Security System.
Jacob Morris has effectively exposed the attack on Social Security for what it is, and he has done this within the framework of the existing system. The underlying assumption is that Social Security must be paid for out of an accounting reserve supported by payroll taxes. Based on this premise, generally accepted by liberals and conservatives alike, the financial integrity of the reserve is taken as equivalent to the integrity of Social Security itself. But the real questions are different. Why use an accounting reserve and why apply the test of financial integrity? No such tests are applied to any other part of the federal budget, surely not to the enormous armaments expenditures. Basically, what is at issue here is not a financial but a social problem.