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Life Among The Oxy-Morons

In all the fuss over President Bush's "plan" for Social Security privitization, a simple fact keeps getting ignored: It can't possibly work, because it's based on a mistaken premise. And the error is so obvious, that I find it hard to understand why people don't see that the clear goal is to eliminate Social Security altogether.

The error, to me, is the assumption that Social Security funds invested in the stock market would actually accrue enough interest to "save" the system. It's painfully clear that's almost certainly wrong, even if we consider two simple data points:

  • The President keeps assuring us that the money will only be invested in "safe" "conservative" funds. But given the safety rules that will have to be erected around those funds to keep them from losing money, it's hard to imagine how they could make very much.
  • He also reminds us at every whistle-stop that participants will be permitted to invest only 2% of their Social Security deductions. For me, last year, that would have been about $80.And I made a lot of money last year.

Really, this should be obvious to everyone, and especially to "fiscally conservative" Republicans. Of course, "fiscally conservative Republican" is an oxymoron, so what should I expect? To the American Conservative mind, "social security" is a mistaken concept. There is no quicker way to marginalize yourself in American political discourse than to take seriously the concept of a commons (i.e., to treat community as an actual community). Ecological viewpoints -- the very idea of considering second-order effects in reckoning what Might Be -- are frowned upon. That requires subtle thinking. And that's not something we go for over here.

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