Thursday, January 20, 2005

That's Why They Call It Gambling

By Rich Miles

January 20, 2005

Attention Young People!

I’m not quite sure what that means, since no one has actually put forth a plan, but it would be safe to say it includes those in the range of -30 to about 45. That’s right – MINUS 30. People who won’t be born for 30 years. That’s the age range I’m going to address here. You older kids, help the little ones out, OK?

There has been a lot of talk about “reforming” Social Security lately, and I’m writing to you young folks because, if what President Bush says he wants to do comes to pass, you will be the key to how the reforms will work. And folks like me – over that age range – are pretty worried about it. So I’d like to cut through the massive numbers of numbers, and offer some observations that I feel certain the White House will not provide for you. Forgive the somewhat brusque prose about to come. There’s a lot to say.

The President says, based on projections that virtually no one else can see, that the SocSec program is “in crisis”. What he doesn’t tell you is that his projections for the economy’s growth if we DON’T change anything is only about ¼ of the projection of economic growth if we do it his way. It can’t be both ways, but he’s trying to tell you it can be, and will be.

Bush wants to set up privately held accounts which will require a huge amount of borrowing to get started. We’re already in deep debt due to his tax cuts, and the costs of this start-up exceed the projections for what will happen if we do nothing all the way up to 2042.

He wants all of us to become savvy investors – to pay close attention to how the stock market works, and know when it’s time to adjust or increase or decrease the investments in our private accounts. If you don’t do this, you’ll get about the same return from it that you will if no private accounts are ever set up, and even if you do pay attention, it might not be any better. Are you willing to put in that amount of effort to learn about markets and then monitor your account, for an iffy return?

He also doesn’t mention that the only people – the ONLY ones – who are guaranteed to come out better in a privatization plan are the people who administer the plans – the stockbrokers and fund managers, who will take their account maintenance fees no matter whether your investments go up or down.

But the best part is this: in the guise of creating an “ownership society”, what he’s really saying is, if you choose the private account and it goes belly-up, or you become disabled before you retire, or anything else unexpected happens – you’re on your own for the retirement income that would have been produced by the account. You will, by most estimates, still get some kind of reduced benefit from the government, but your private account is yours – for good or ill.

Are you willing to run that risk? Are you willing to support the President in dismantling pretty much the only social program ever created in this country that WORKS? Are you willing to let him bribe you into gambling with not only your future, but that of your children, and your parents, and your brothers and sisters?

Remember the old adage – “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” And this plan – as vague as it remains to this date – doesn’t even look that good.

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