27 January 2005

Myopic in their failure to see what the impact will be on the American worker

Who are those embracing the privatization of Social Security.
The best comparison is to look at what happened when corporate America went from a defined-benefit retirement to the 401(k) program.

After World War II most employers offered a guaranteed-benefit retirement program. Employees were told "work 30 years and we will give you a lifetime pension at retirement."

But as cost of these programs mounted, corporate America convinced Congress to enact a bill creating the 401(k) program to pay for future retirements. The problem is that there are not adequate funds in most 401(k)s to pay for any type of retirement. Balances average $76,809, which at a 5 percent yield will produce a monthly income of $320 - far less than is required to fund a retirement without Social Security or a part-time job.

Social Security was never meant to create wealth. It was a promise by government to the worker that you will receive a minimum retirement benefit, regardless of what your employer offers you. The American government needs to keep its promise, not try to renege by changing Social Security. - Robert Hamer, Payson

Mr. Hamer could have also detailed how privatization schemes in other nations have turned out to be a bloddy mess.

President Bush continues the campaign to dismantle the successful social security system, even stooping to play the race card by repeating blatant lies, a despicable case of fear-mongering.

Social Security is a complex program, so it's easy to tell outright lies or make misleading statements about it with little fear of contradiction from the general public. All Americans should be on notice that the Bush administration, in its drive to start dismantling Social Security, isn't telling the truth on several fronts.

The system is not in crisis; it has money to last for about the next half century, and even then, if nothing is done the required benefit cuts would still leave retirees better off than those getting benefits today. Pay close attention to this debate, and don't get snookered. The crisis in Social Security is no more real than the "crisis" that led the United States to war in Iraq.

If enacted, this caper will essentially be a government mandated redirection of monies that will only be permitted to be diverted into selected financial avenues, no doubt, those blessed and sanctioned (and with the greatest political pull) by the government. There will be oversight committees and groups to judge and determine what the valid investment choices are, and if they are fulfilling their obligations (or taking care of the committee members!).

Leaving aside the cost in trillions of dollars to convert from the existing system to the new system, there is also the steep increase in administrative fees that will be borne by working folks and go straight into the coffers of brokers and investment planners, at anywhere from 20X-400X times the current cost of social security administration.

Despite the barrage of FUD, social security isn't broken. By even the most pessimistic of future predictions, it's on solid ground for another 40 years. And if those pessimistic predictions, repeatedly cited by Bush and proponents of privatization are accurate, would that not also pertain to payouts in a privatized system? Social security now is a trust fund, financed by Treasury notes, the safest investment in the world (if that bombs, we have bigger problems than worrying about "Social Security") – the proposed scheme is dependent upon the market (which in the long run, might be superior - remember, it took over 40 years for the market to get back where it was in 1929 and that could happen again…) and a "pessimistic" future outlook would severely dim the payback in such a concoction, and would excaberate a situation already crippled by reduced payouts as the president and his supporters have argued will be necessary.

For those reasons and others, the AARP is dead set against Bush's Social Security plan.

More obsfucations, accounting tricks, and misunderstandings that have created false impressions about Social Security's finances

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