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Tom Adkins - Contributor
is Executive Publisher of CommonConservative.com and
frequent financial commentator on Fox News. [go to Adkins
Fixing the old clunker...
[Tom Adkins] 1/25/05
My old neighbor
Bill had a 1968 Buick Electra. Big, roomy and about 5 miles
per gallon on the freeway, it could be described
as the blue collar Queen Mary. It broke down so often, Bill should
have bought one for the road and one for his mechanic. But he
loved it. Vowed he’d never sell it. Long after it rusted
and began falling apart, he nursed it together with junkyard
parts and duct tape. On a good day, the Green Monster chugged
out of his garage in a cloud of carbon monoxide that resembled
Krakatoa. On a bad day, he borrowed his wife’s car for
work, and spend the rest of the week under the hood swearing
up a storm as he sheared a few knuckles with his ratchet. A week
later, the old tank would clank to life, and he’d defiantly
proclaim, hands on hip, “See? This baby is PERFECT! Not
a THING WRONG WITH HER!!!”
He had sworn to everyone he would keep that car forever. And
he upheld his promise. Today, it wallows embarrassingly next
to his garage, one wheel on blocks, partially covered in bushes.
But he made that commitment, you know.
a lot smarter, buys a new car every four or five years. First,
it was a mini-van for the kids. Later, they switched to
a comfy mid-sized. Now, she tools around in a sporty little model.
All along, she always got where she had to go, didn’t need
extra trips, never got under the hood, spent less on gas, and
always had exactly the right car for their lifestyle. She was
pretty smart. He was pretty dumb.
And so today,
we face the same situation with Social Security, another great
liberal program that never worked. Oh, they’ve
slapped on a few coats of paint, then proclaimed the greatness
of this mammoth Ponzi scheme. But it’s the same old bad
idea. Except it keeps getting worse.
Finally, someone has the guts to fix it. And the battle lines
have been drawn: George Bush and his supporters want to update
the program. Everyone else is reaching for the duct tape.
against Social Security is fairly obvious. When the program
was created, a 1% tax permitted 12 workers to support
every retiree. But life expectancy rose 15 years, and birth rates
dropped as contraception and abortion became popular. Today,
3 workers pay for the ever-dwindling benefits to the retirees.
In a decade or so, the massive retirement of the Baby Boomer
generation will force two workers to pay for every retiree. It
In fact, it never has worked. That original 1 % tax eventually
ballooned to 12.6%. Social Security has failed 48 times since
its inception, rescued by jacking up taxes and cutting benefits.
The program will start taking in less than it pays out in 2018,
and somewhere around 2050 it will be flat broke.
So why would anyone oppose privatizing Social Security? After
all, it returns a meager 2%, while the stock market returns about
12%. That means if you chose your stocks with a blindfold and
darts, your return is 6 times greater than Social Security. And
unlike Social Security, you have money left over for relatives
when you die. And ironically, it shafts the most vulnerable.
If a man works for 30 years, but dies before he gets Social Security,
his family gets nothing. In fact, it screws the most loyal Democrats
the worst. Black Americans pay out the greatest percentage of
their lifetime income, but get the lowest benefits due to shorter
lifespans. Black men die before they even get a check, leaving
their widows nothing.
argue that the program isn't going broke until 50 years from
now. They deceive us by ignoring the fact that the
program starts emptying out the "trust fund" a decade
from now. And besides, there is no trust fund. It's been raided
over the last four decades to fund the "Great Society" welfare
state. You know, that other liberal program that spent trillions
and didn’t work.
it right. The elderly who greedily scammed their kids and now
grandkids won’t see a change. The younger people
will get to invest their money in the marketplace. Yeah, there’s
a financial cost. But it’s way less than if we don’t
change the system. And if you think the stock market is risky,
there is nothing riskier than forcing people to spend 12% of
their money into a Ponzi scheme that has already reached saturation
point on Day One. And can you imagine injecting 14% of the nations
salaries into the capitalist machine, creating unprecedented
low rates for business borrowing, and high returns on investing.
of course, is what Democrats fear most. Allowing people to
make decisions for themselves frightens every Democrat. That’s
every defense against privatizing Social Security always offers
two options: raise taxes and cut benefits. The day America discovers
Social Security is a fraud, and they can make way more with their
stocks in the market, another swath of voters will wonder, “Who
overriding question is this: Why would anyone want to force
the entire nation to perform amazing feats of financial
sacrifice for a program that not only has never worked, but could
be done so much better? Ask Bill. He’s still got that 1968
Electra. Looks like hell. Doesn’t run. Probably never will.
But he made a promise, and by golly, he’ll keep it. And
he’ll never admit he was wrong. tRO