The Ignorance Strategy

Posted: May 23, 2005 12:00 AM
In George Orwell?s classic book entitled 1984, one of the brainwashing pillars used by Big Brother was ?ignorance is strength.? All citizens were constantly reminded of this principle to diminish their desire to know the truth. Adherence to this principle kept the government strong and the citizens weak.

The Democratic leadership in Congress has apparently adopted this philosophy as a strategy to defeat the idea of optional personal retirement accounts to restructure our dysfunctional Social Security system. Week after week their rhetoric attempts to deny, distort, distract, and deceive the public on the facts about President Bush?s optional accounts proposal.

The Democrats? initial denial was that there is no crisis with the Social Security system. This was despite the fact that in 1998 former President Bill Clinton said that the system was in crisis. This was also despite the fact that the crisis has been approaching for sixty years, and in twelve more years there will be more money paid out than money collected from payroll taxes. And never mind the constant warnings by the Social Security Administration that the system is approaching a meltdown.

Their next tactic was to tell people that optional personal accounts are too risky for the unsophisticated working public. This is despite the irrefutable success their own Thrift Savings Plan, the indisputable success of the Galveston, TX Municipal Employees Retirement Plan, and the fact that since 1926 the average yearly rate of return of the stock market is over 7 percent.

The Democrats? next blitz against optional personal accounts was to say they would not sit down with the president and Republicans to negotiate a solution until the president took optional personal accounts off the table. That?s ignorance code for ?we only want to raise your taxes and reduce your benefits.?

The denial of all denials came from Black congressional Democrats, who said they were insulted that Bush pointed out the inherent bias against Black people due to significant differences in average life expectancy. Had I not heard several Black congressmen say that with my own ears I would not have believed they said it. Even Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), the Democrats ?rising star,? said in an interview that he found it stunning that the president would use those indisputable facts. What is more stunning is that for decades no organization or so-called Black leader has shared this compelling fact with the public.

Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) recently stated on the Fox News Channel?s ?Your World with Neil Cavuto? that the accounts in the president?s plan could not be passed on to one?s heirs. Wrong again. It?s the current Social Security system that does not allow inheritability. The president has repeatedly highlighted inheritability as a big advantage of optional personal accounts, and that feature is included in all three versions of legislation already introduced in Congress.

The ignorance strategy hit another high when Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) recently issued a brochure critical of the president?s proposal. The brochure went beyond the usual distortions to outright lies. I know it is not politically correct to say a member of Congress lied, but the truth police seem to be missing in action.

Maloney printed in her brochure that guaranteed benefits would be cut under the president?s plan. Not true. She said the president?s proposal was not optional. Not true. She also said the optional personal accounts were not transferable to your heirs if you die before the funds are exhausted. Not true again. These statements are not just little white political lies. They are big fat political whoppers!

Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), who I deeply respect for his contributions to the civil rights movement, has said that the Democrats are winning the Social Security debate. Unfortunately, the Democrats are not debating solutions. They are digging in their heels to maintain the status quo by keeping a lot of people confused and ignorant of the facts.

Integrity used to be a virtue shared by most members of Congress. Integrity is now blatantly ignored for purely partisan political purposes. Most people elected to Congress want to solve problems. But too many members are now content to let the people suffer for the sake of political obstructionism and the next election.

As former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota found out in the last election, voters are not as dumb as Democrats think. It just takes some people longer to recover from years of liberal abuse. Some will never recover, but a vocal and persistent public armed with the right information can force Congress to enact aggressive policy solutions.

As Thomas Jefferson said, ?When people have the right information they will make the right decisions.? Democrats will soon learn that promoting ignorance is a losing strategy.