Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Social Security's Line In The Sand

The US is facing, and facing up to, a social security crisis challenge that should be of interest to many, since it's a harbinger of the same for Japan, France, Germany, Britain....

But what's strange to me is the reaction of columnists, like Mickey Kaus, who calls for privatizing the plan while retaining a guaranteed security from the government; i.e. a ratchet to keep the plan from dripping too low for those who invest their private portion in lottery tickets:

Democrats haven't been averse to creating private accounts for today's young workers as long as it's done on top of a solvent regular pay-as-you-go Social Security system that provides a basic floor of guaranteed benefits.
This is eerily close to what created the S&L scandal: With the government guaranteeing they couldn't lose, the public then put their money into the riskiest/high-return instruments available. Consequences followed.

Mickey doesn't quite go this far (though he doesn't actually say just how far he would go, either). But, if an SS floor is set even just a little bit higher than is absolutely necessary, say hello to S&L all over again. Of course, that was small change compared to what Social Security could do.

When does a want become a need?