This is the White House calling. Please hold for the President of the United States.
Hey, groovy, baby! Put that hoopy frood on the rap-rod, pronto!
Never mind. I’m ready when he is.
It’s Avdi, sir. A-V-D-I. Remember?
Oh right, sorry ’bout that.
No prob’. So what’s up, dub?
I’ve got a propositation that ah think you’re gonna lahk.
Yessiree! See, ah know you read them librarian magazines about free markets an all-
Wait a sec. First of all, it’s “libertarian”, not “librarian”. And how did you know that?
Never mind about that. Anyways, I got a plan that ah think will be right up yer alley.
OK, I’m listening…
See, I wanna make ‘merca into a “Ownership Society”. I want people to feel lahk they own the things they, uh, own.
Sounds good so far.
Now, here’s the deal: Social Security’s gonna go bust before you’re old enough to retire. How’d you like to be able to invest that money in the stock market, instead of letting the government take it?
So, you’re talking about privatizing Social Security? That’s great! I’ve been saying we should do that for years!
Shhh! Don’t say “privatize” so loud. Mah people say that word don’t poll well, for some reason. We call it a “Personal Retirement Account”. But the money’s alll yours, instead of belongin’ to the government!
Gee sir, that sounds terrific. So, I’d really own it? Like, it’s my money?
All of it?
Well, up to 4% of your pay. That’s about a third of your social security payroll tax.
Oh. Okay… but that 4% is all mine, to do with as I please, right? So, theoretically, I could blow it all on beer and hookers instead of saving it up? Not that I’d do that, of course…
Heh heh, ahm sure you wouldn’t. But some folks might be less, ah, careful with their money, so we can’t let you just spend it. You still gotta invest the money.
I see. But I can invest it any way I please now, huh? I could throw it all into SCO stock if I wanted to?
Uh, well, there are a few limitations. You can choose from a small selection of low-risk, highly diversificated funds that we pick out in advance.
….right. But it’s still technically my money, yes? I can make withdrawals whenever I need to?
Are you kidding? What kinda retirement safety-net would that be? You can’t get at the money until you retire, o’ course!
So I can’t cash out until I retire. But then it’s all mine?
Exactly. After you retire we’ll start paying out the money you saved up over a period of years, based on your life expectancy.
Oh, so it’s STILL not mine after I retire? You get to decide when I get it, and how much?
No no! It’s still YOUR money!
Uh huh. Well, I suppose it’s still better than the current deal. Count me in.
Assuming congress passes my plan, you won’t be elligible for another year. We’ve gotta phase it in, understand?
Right. Gotcha. You know what, Mr. President? With all due respect, this Ownership Society thing sounds great on paper, but I think it’s pretty clear just who’s getting 0wnz0red here.
I beg your…
As a matter of fact, you can take your Ownership Society, and you can ram it right up-HEY! What are those men in dark suits doing on my lawn? Hello? HEY!!! I just installed that door! Get your-
I don’t mind the concept too much….
But my one question is….if I die, what happens to my account balance? would my children receive it? my wife? my estate trust?
As I understand it, it’s part of your estate just like everything else… no special rules apply, once you die. I don’t know for sure though.
well that’s good to hear…I was wondering about that.
kudos on a BRILLIANT piece of social satire!
You once told me I should write professionally for magazines and such; ever considered that yourself?
I can’t stay consistently funny long enough to write professionally. Thanks for the complement, though!
Although you neglected the “three percent above inflation to come out ahead” bit, and the accompanying reduction in benefits should one choose this option, and the possibility that you can end up with a reduction in benefits and squat in your PSA if you pick the wrong investments, …
* * * *
A co-worker describes the proposal as “smoke and mirrors”. Except I don’t see the mirrors.
Well, I was highlighting my objections to it from a libertarian perspective – a perspective that a Social Security privatization plan should theoretically appeal to.
Glad you enjoyed it 🙂
I not nearly as enthused about privatizing SocSec–mainly cuz’ I’m not as hip about letting large segments of the populace mistake themselves into poverty as old people–but I’m getting partisan here.. 😉
anyway.. despite these reservations.. that was quite the brilliant…
Personally.. I know soc sec. needs some basic reforms–it has to deal with demographic realities that have totally skewed it all to hell.. (that’s why the bloody rate is so damn high now…)–and I’m all for fixing those problems—but I think that Bush’s plan is a whole lot of shite as he currently has it set up… the contradictions that he is using to justify his plan.. (forecast GDP growth rate of only 1.8% for next 50 years–even though in all of his other governmental plans–including the rate he at least needs for his own privatized plan to get the returns that he needs–the GDP rate he uses is like 3.6%… ) and a lot of the nit-picky details make his plan a whole lot more hot air than reality…
If we want soc-sec reform.. let’s fix the crucial demographic problem–i.e. that the system was originally set up to pay for the retirement of the small percentage (Bismarck picked age 65 because only 1% of people lived to that age) of people that lived that long…
So.. let’s pick a decent–even compassionately conservative–% of people to support, say like 5% of the populace.. and figure out the retirement age for that.. It’s prolly like 75 or so… (and the longer people work, the more likely they’ll die! A self-correcting system, YAY!) and then we can reduce the rates that people need to pay…. and we can even then, perhaps, work out a way to give people some personal type accounts without having to add $15 trillion (The real amount of cash inflows that the Bush system will need until it becomes self-sustaining around 2050) to the National Debt…
This is my radical-liberal solution…. Screw Entitlements… Want a true system that acts according to the principles that it was set up with… (i.e. being a safety net to keep vast numbers of elderly people out of poverty)–then we can make changes.. and people can work harder….
And.. if people say.. “but I don’t want to work until 75!” then.. they don’t have to.. but the deal will be that the gov’t isn’t gonna kick in until the demographically sound retirement age is met.. prior to this.. if you want to retire early.. then make other fucking plans…
How does that sound?
Re: Even tho…
Sounds pretty good, actually…
The Bush plan doesn’t seem to address anyone’s issues with SS.
In case I forget to tell you later — you amuse me very much!
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