Sunday, December 19, 2004

Cutting Holes in the Net

With all the current talk over the state of our social security system, I've found my opinion slowly shifting. At first, it was obvious: we were doomed. While I'm still cynical enough to believe that we're in various forms of trouble, I no longer feel that our social security in particular is terrible. Recently, both Matt Yglesias and Nick have been voicing similar arguments, saying that while our current system isn't perfect, it doesn't need drastic changes. Matt cites Chris Bowers and Nick points to a Kevin Drum-provided graph of the receding predicted bankruptcy date. Their words helped convince me that we didn't need to change the status quo.

But that doesn't mean that privatization would necessarily be a bad idea. After all the bureaucracy I've dealt with in my life, it would seems that getting social security out of the government's hands might be more efficient. However, it seems that in this instance, it's not the case.

In Paul Krugman's op ed piece from friday, he points out that our current system is working just fine, with "more than 99 percent of Social Security's revenues go[ing] toward benefits." What he does that others haven't done is make a case for why Bush's plan would actually be a bad idea, using Britain's privatized approach as a prime example of inefficiency and waste. He points out that private investments would leave many unlucky retirees stuck in poverty, and also reduce benefits to everyone via fees to investment companies.

So... not only is the current system merely in need of minor tweaks, but the proposed Bush plan will actively make things worse. Strangely enough... my opinion is the same as it used to be: we're still doomed. Social Security is supposed to act as a safety net, and I'd like someone reliable to be holding the corners.

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