Back in 2005 I wrote about HSAs when they were first being pushed by the Bush administration. It was a popular entry, and I thought in light of my present HSA woes I’d reprint it:
So George W. Bush called me the other day…
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-