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Monday, June 23, 2008

The Privatization of Social Securty

Interestingly, the front page of John McCain's primary web site lists a number of issues with brief comments on his position(s) but there is no mention of social security. I was a little surprised by this until I realized that along with Bush's war policy, McCain supports Bush's privatization of social security. Its not good for a rich old man, rich thanks to marrying a rich woman (what is it with guys like Lyndon Johnson, John Kerry, and John McCain and rich women?), to be meddle with the AARP.

McCain, as is his way, has waffled in regard to the privatization of social security. He both supports and opposes Bush's privatization of social security, according to statements from McCain published in the Huffington Post. On June 12, McCain said 'I'm not for quote privatizing Social Security, I never have been, I never will be." That, unfortunately, is a lie. He voted for Bush's 2006 privatization bill. And in a March interview by the Wall Street Journal, he said "On Social Security, the Arizona senator says he still backs a system of private retirement accounts that President Bush pushed unsuccessfully, and disowned details of a Social Security proposal on his campaign Web site." So, what is the truth? He backs privatization but he doesn't back it? In the unhappy event that he is elected, we will have to change his title to "Waffler in Chief." I suspect that the real truth, as in anything else to do with the economy, McCain simply knows little and thinks less.

The concept of privatization is a very tricky one. Privatization of, say, the railroads would mean selling them off to private investors of one sort or another. Privatization of social security is not so clearly interpreted linguistically. The problem we face is the words "private" and "personal" occupy almost the same semantic space. "Private" is an adjective and from it we can form the verb "privatize" and this in turn can be turned into the noun "privatization." The on line Merriam dictionary says of the adjective that it "means" "belonging to or concerning an individual person, company, or interest". Note the term "person" in this "definition." (I am snigger quoting here because as I have made clear elsewhere in this blog that dictionaries don't give definitions or meanings but instead give word and phrasal equivalents. "Personal" on the other hand is "defined" as "of, relating to, or affecting a particular person." Private thus has a broader reach than personal. Therein lies the problem.

When I have heard talking of "privatization of social security," most have been people that are sure that they can beat the returns to them of their social security taxes if they could only get their hands on this money. But, of course, neocons like Bush and McCain do not have in mind giving the Average Joe a shot at use of this money as the Average Joe sees fit. Instead, they will give it to some sort of private, as opposed to governmental, investment companies who cannot fail to profit -- they will take a cut of the money no matter what. The reason for this is clear -- the government knows that if it lets you and me invest this money as we see fit, many of us will fail to invest wisely and the government will be faced with bailing us out -- by creating an uber-safety net we might call "Social Security Plus."

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9 Comments:

Blogger SusieQ said...

As I understand, the Social Security program used to be a pay-as-you-go affair. But in the early 80's that changed and taxes were increased beyond what we needed immediately so that we could shore up the fund and money would be there for another 75 years. The architect of this plan was Greenspan I think.

By law the excess S.S. money can not just sit there in an account. It has to be invested and earning interest. It is invested in government securities. In 2006 the return on these securities was about 5.5%. Not bad.

If I am thinking clearly about this, the federal government has borrowed money from the Social Security Fund in effect so that what it owes the fund, which is about 2 trillion dollars today, is part of the national debt.

When it comes time and the Social Security program needs this money, the federal government will either have to raise taxes or borrow the money elsewhere to make good on what it has borrowed from the Social Security Fund.

What would be wrong with taking some of that S.S. excess as it becomes available in the future and investing it in Mutual Funds that are conservative? The return over a period of years would prove to be better than the return on govt. securities.

12:10 AM

 
Blogger Thr Language Guy said...

Give people any control and they will try to become rich. They will fail and have to be rescued. Too many people are too ignorant about investing to do anything sensible. To stop people failing they will have to dictate which funds they can invest in. That would lead to a fund war. Massive advertising telling us that Fund C is better than the rest while all the other plans say the same thing. Who will pay for the advertising? There isn't much difference from the government investing in safe funds and dictating to people which safe funds they can use?

1:31 PM

 
Blogger Kelly said...

Unrelated to this post, I'd like to see your take on Obama's latest attempt to talk about patriotism. I'm speaking, of course, about his recent assertion he will not question McCain's patriotism, so McCain should not question his. I think this was a ridiculous thing for him to say. Of course he can't question McCain's patriotism. We all know McCain's story, and we all know how insane it would be for Obama to question McCain's patriotism. What troubles me is the better-than-thou approach Obama has taken on the issue. Perhaps you have a different view, and, if so, I'd be interested to hear it, because I can't imagine what Obama is thinking.

5:08 PM

 
Blogger Thr Language Guy said...

There are no facts that would support any claim that Obama lacks patriotism. To suggest that absent facts is to initiate a fraud. There is one fact to support the claim that McCain might falter in this regard and this is that he did make a forced confession while a POW. He was forced but imagine how strong a claim he could make had he held out.

McCain has no significant experience as a military leader. Sitting in a POW camp after flying an airplane and bombing and shooting from on high do not qualify him any more than my National Guard service qould qualify me. They both lack qualifications as military leaders.

8:35 AM

 
Blogger Kelly said...

I guess that doesn't really answer my question, at least not directly. My question was about Obama's attempt to take questions about his patriotism off the table, and his method for doing so. It did not regard the relative merits of anyone's claims to patriotism, except it took for granted McCain's is unquestionable and Obama's is a point of contention, based on available facts. And the question certainly had nothing to do with their relative qualifications as military leaders.

12:21 PM

 
Blogger Kelly said...

I'm not certain I was clear. By way of analogy consider Average Joe off the street, who walks up to a good and well-known priest, whom we'll call Father Tom, and says, "I will not question your piety, so I expect you should not question mine." Of course the situation is somewhat different, because no one has yet questioned Average Joe's piety. But the point is, someone whose character has not been proven to be bad or good has asserted his character should not be questioned because he will not question the character of one whose character has been proven. A complicated sentence, but this is how I have interpreted Obama's recent statements, right or wrong.

12:26 PM

 
Blogger Thr Language Guy said...

One has to be a Right Wing lunatic to question Obama's patriotism. He is after all a US Senator and if his patriotism was problematic I am quite sure that would have been a bone of contention already. What would such an idiotic claim be based on? His having a White mother?

6:59 AM

 
Blogger Thr Language Guy said...

The real question is to what degree if any is McCain suffering dementia in one form or another. He is old and we have already had an old Republican President who couldn't remember anything about his involvement in Iran-Contra. One could say he was lying or one could say that he already had been seriously memory impaired at the time. I want to see relevant tests of McCain's cognitive competence, especially given his continual gaffes.

You see, Kelly, that the personal attack claim against a candidate can cut both ways. I am by the way of the opion that anyone as old as McCain should not be President.

7:03 AM

 
Blogger Kelly said...

OK, if you didn't want to talk about it, you could just say so.

9:16 AM

 

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