According to Josh Marshall, Bush is planning another attempt to abolish Social Security and replace it with “private accounts”.
I can’t do the subject justice right now, since I’m in a small hotel room with inadequate connectivity. Here are some short versions:
1. Social Security isn’t broken and doesn’t need fixing.
2. The story you’ve been hearing most of your life, about how Social Security is broken, or running out of money, and that there’ll be nothing left for you when you retire, IS A COMPLETE LIE. Spreading it has been the work of one of the creepiest and the longest continuously funded astroturf campaigns out there.
3. If “private accounts” were a sufficient way to guarantee that you don’t spend a short, miserable retirement eating cat food, Social Security would never have been invented.
4. Remember how when Bush first took the White House, we had a budget surplus, and he announced that that meant that taxes for the rich should be cut? And then, when the economy slumped and we had a budget shortfall, he announced that that meant that taxes for the rich should be cut? And now that those tax cuts and the cost of his war have driven the national debt to levels I frankly find terrifying, Bush thinks the answer is to cut taxes for the rich? Well, he’s like that about Social Security, too. No matter what happens, he thinks we ought to get rid of Social Security. He’ll lie like a carpet to get his way on this issue, just like he lied his way into an unjustified war with Iraq.
5. There are powerful and unendingly greedy forces out there that want to get their hands on the American worker’s retirement funds. They don’t care if you die poor and in misery.
6. Remember Enron? When their complex enormous fraud began to totter, management sold out of their own stock in the company, but left employees’ 401k retirement funds tied up in Enron stocks because it helped prop up the fraud a little longer. When Enron went down, it took their employees’ lifetime retirement savings with it.
The commercial financial market isn’t about protecting you. They’ll offer retirement savings plans, if they think they can make a profit on the deal; and as the price of doing business in that field, they’ll accept a certain amount of regulation aimed at keeping those investments reliable and safe. But for them, that’s a business consideration. Seeing that you have money when you retire is not their main mission. When the chips are down, they care no more about you than they care about any other investment.
Here’s the big difference: for rich people and rich corporations, investments are the extra money they gamble with. For most working citizens, the only real capital accumulations they manage in their lives are paying off the mortgages on their houses and saving for retirement. Big real-estate speculators can absorb the occasional deal that turns sour. We don’t gamble with our houses that way, because we live in them. The same goes for putting our central retirement funds into the commercial financial market. They don’t belong there. (Investing retirement funds over and above that basic amount is another matter. People can already do that, if they want.) Our basic retirement funds belong in Social Security, where they’re guaranteed by the U.S. Government.
It would not be a bad idea to write now to your elected representatives, and let them know that even trying to dismantle Social Security would be the biggest disaster of their unexpectedly curtailed political careers.