1.12.2005

Looking Enviably Upon Social Security

A Bloody Mess The American Prospect (01.11)
All this talk about private accounts & privitization of Social Security? Well it's been tried before:

A conservative government sweeps to power for a second term. It views its victory as a mandate to slash the role of the state. In its first term, this policy objective was met by cutting taxes for the wealthy. Its top priority for its second term is tackling what it views as an enduring vestige of socialism: its system of social insurance for the elderly. Declaring the current program unaffordable in 50 years’ time, the administration proposes the privatization of a portion of old–age benefits. In exchange for giving up some future benefits, workers would get a tax rebate to put into an investment account to save for their own retirement.

George W. Bush's America in 2005? Think again. The year was 1984, the nation was Britain, the government was that of Margaret Thatcher –– and the results have been a disaster that America is about to emulate.

Uh oh, we're not sure we like the sound of this...
For all the fanfare that surrounds the Bush administration’s efforts to present a bold new idea on pension reform, the truth is that it is not new at all. In fact, the proposal looks suspiciously like the plan set in train during Thatcher's first term in 1979 and which has since led Britain to the brink of a crisis. Since then, the nation's basic pension, which is paid for out of tax receipts, has shrunk dramatically. The United Kingdom has the stingiest state pension program of any G8 nation, and there is growing consensus –– even among British conservatives –– that reform is needed. And ironically enough, considering that America is on the verge of copying Britain’s mistake, most experts seek reform in the direction of a more generous, and simpler, basic state pension –– one similar in design, in other words, to America’s Social Security program.

There you go kiddies, right there in black & white: been tried and now they look upon us with envy.

As always, don't believe us: read for yourself, but don't ever assume that the folks in power have your best interests at heart. Be aware, be critical and always think for yourself.

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