social insecurity

President Bush will be here in four hours to talk about revamping social security. My generous side wants to say that his plan is a moderate way to solve a relatively threatening economic situation. My cynical side wants to say that--especially since no one is sure that there is a real economic threat--this is a plan to allow the wealthy and those with enough stability in their lives to prudently plan their economic futures to invest in publicly-traded companies, thereby giving mutual plan blue chip regulars like WalMart, Halliburton, ExxonMobil, McDonalds, GE, and Westinghouse a hot cash injection of mammoth proportions. Who wins? Those who can see far enough into the future to invest their cash wisely. Who loses? Single parents who don't have time to invest, people living paycheck to paycheck already, those with large medical bills, etc. Social security was designed in the 1930s to mimic Europe's govenmental safety-nets so that the poorest of the poor would not fall off the economic radar screen. Since we can't stomach anything remotely like socialism in this country, FDR and economists during the depression fought to create some sort of barrier between laisse-faire capitalism and the working class that worked within the system of capitalism. Now, we're eroding that barrier steadily. The gap between the richest and the poorest in our country has grown tremendously since the beginning of the Reagan years. If you don't believe me, check these reports. Now I'm not saying that social security is fine the way it is. I'm just saying the general trend is toward greater inequality between rich and poor in this country since 1981. I'm not sure that the best thing for everyone is to continue to widen that gap by relaxing social security, by allowing SS to collect and pay-out so much less overall and rely on people to take that extra couple of hundred dollars they'll get each year (not in one lump sum, mind you) and put it somewhere that it will gain greater-than-inflation interest. Banks won't promise that. Neither will stock brokers. At least, they're not supposed to. And are most people really going to notice that extra $10 a week? Are they going to say, I'd better make sure to hold on to this until a good investment opportunity comes along and I have enough money to invest? I think that's wishful thinking. The people that need the money are going to spend it right then. (Which is what the neo-con economists are counting on anyway, despite their rhetoric.) For a solution to the social security problem (assuming there is one) check out this very boring but informative site.


Post a Comment

<< Home