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Friday, March 04, 2005

On Social Security:

Today, I perused an old article on Slate about Social Security privatization. Of course, being Slate, it wasn't exactly encouraging the idea. Perusing various sources today, I read these headlines:

See a trend here? Everyone on the left side of the debate wants to give me reasons why I should be afraid, appalled, or skeptical of this idea. Everyone on the other side wants to tell me how insolvent the present program will be if we don't fix it now. Quite frankly, I find none of the arguments overly compelling.

What I do find compelling is that right now, the Federal Government takes 12.4% of my income and puts it into a fund that they redistribute to people older than me, or more infirm than me. I also am interested to know that demographically, this scheme is unsustainable. President Bush didn't tell me so. Neither did Alan Greenspan. All it takes is a little bit of reading and research, and some good ol' fashioned cipherin' to know that when the retirement population grows, the working population grows, but more slowly, and the birthrate decreases, there is going to be a little problem with funding.

People can argue that T-bills are less risky, that some people do not want to be bothered with the custodianship of their retirement accounts, that far too many people are ignorant where financial management is concerned, that Social Security was never meant to be a retirement account, etc. In fact, many of those arguments are valid for the people making them. However, they are not valid for me.

I agree with the idea of ownership. I own property; I own responsibility. I want to ensure that my family has the resources it needs to survive. I want that responsibility to be mine, not Uncle Sam's. If you are uncomfortable with that idea for yourself, that is your choice. However, I am uncomfortable giving such a huge percentage of my income to Washington bureaucrats so that they can manage it until I am long enough in the tooth to need it. In the case of privatization of Social Security, I will always choose choice over an inflexible system. I will always choose concrete freedom over perceived security.

Fortunately, we have a president who sees things that way, too. It will be a long road to travel to convince enough legislators that he is right. In fact, I am skeptical that anything more than "reform" will pass. But it's a start. And it's a debate that's worth having, for the future of my retirement, and for my children, and for their children.


.: posted by Dave 1:07 PM

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