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RANT FROM JULY 1998
"Privatization of Social Security"
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     Here in Albuquerque we have just had one of the most
disgusting political campaigns ever anywhere.  I tried to take
part, at the level of the exchange of ideas, but the ALBUQUERQUE
JOURNAL is still censoring my "letter-to-the-editor" offerings,
by pretending that they didn't receive them.  They've been doing
that for twenty years -- I could rant about that at length...

     But this rant is about the topic of that unpublished letter,
which follows:

     "Persons who are thirty years old this year will be eligible
for Social Security, at age 62, unless someone changes it, in the
year 2030.  Everyone, including even the most vociferous crisis-
monger, states that the Trust Fund is adequate until the year
2032.  Any person thirty years of age or more, who votes for
either Republican Heather Wilson or Democrat Philip Maloof for  
Representative in Congress, does not understand his or her own
enlightened best self-interest.  Both candidates state openly
that they are in favor of "privatization" of Social Security.
 
     "What Wilson really intends to do in detail is far from
clear, except that she insists it does entail privatization. 
What Maloof intends to do is hand 5% [for now] of the Trust Fund
to Wall Street stock brokers.  Green Party Candidate Robert
Anderson insists that the fund be left alone, and that the cap on
taxable earnings be raised.  He is exactly right.  The 'crisis'
can be easily and painlessly solved.

     "The only real crisis in Social Security is that persons who
are thriving and well-off want an even larger portion of the
total of what there is, and that those who are getting along on
much less in comparison may not defend ourselves effectively. 
But, if adults figure this out, and discard the worthless
remnants of  'party loyalty,' Anderson will win the office and the
greedy ones just may learn to back away from our Trust Fund.
    "Sincerely, …etc."

     Well, Anderson did not win, but he did take 16% of the
votes, after spending less than $6,000, compared to his
opponents' many hundreds of thousands.  If all those who held
their noses and voted against someone had voted what they really
believed instead of what the media told them about who is and who
isn't "electable," Anderson could have won, and may yet in
November, if adults figure this out.

     Privatization of Social Security may yet become the telling
issue.  The cap on the FICA taxable income, somewhere around
$60,000 annually, means that those making more than that do not
pay the same percentage as the rest of us.  This tax isn't even
flat!  If there is danger of a shortage in the Social Security
Trust Fund, that cap can be raised, and the only persons who will
notice are those who already have vastly more "disposable income"
than the majority of us.  Until that cap has been raised, or
removed, other attempts to change things will lay the burden on
persons who have less disposable income to begin with.

     Conversations, real and imaginary, reverberate in my head.

     "Why would a Democrat suggest privatizing Social Security? 
I thought Democrats were the party of working people?"

     HE DIDN'T RECOMMEND PRIVATIZING ALL OF IT.  HE RECOMMENDED 5%.

     "Why would anyone want to give 5% of the people's money to
persons who already have more than their fair share?"

     HE DIDN'T SUGGEST GIVING IT.  HE SUGGESTED INVESTING IT.

     "Newcomers to the Stock Market bring their money and invest
it.  They get a piece of paper back, describing the stock they
bought.  Later they learn that the stock is worthless.  Who has
that money?"

     THE ONE WHO SOLD THE STOCK.

     "A veteran player in the stock market, right?"

     VETERAN?

     "When you first enter the stock market, you have to buy,
right?  You can't go up to the stock market for the first time
and say, 'Hey, I wanta sell!'  ‘Watcha got to sell?' they'll ask. 
You can't say, 'Oh, nothing.  I'm just getting started.'  You
can't do that.  You have to put money down, risking losing it, in
order to get started.  And experienced sharks are there waiting
for you to bring your money.  Just like at the carnival or the
casino."

     YOU MISUNDERSTAND AND MISREPRESENT THE SITUATION.

     "I do not.  The people who own and operate the stock market
are looking for new suckers to bring in fresh money and lose it,
so that they can have it.  And that Social Security Trust Fund
has a huge pile of money that they'd love to get their dirty
little hands on.  Commissions all around, and then plain old
losses, crashes, crash-and-burn disasters...  All with the clear
intent of destroying Social Security, which they think is a
socialist idea anyway.  Besides, that side lost the cold war, they think."

     It is hard to imagine that AARP, and thoughtful persons not
yet 55 years old, will allow this to happen.  It really should be
nipped in the bud immediately.  Even if Social Security is a
socialist idea, which it is, it is nevertheless an excellent
idea, and more and more persons are finding out that it makes
life liveable.  Not only for the elderly, but for adult offspring
of the elderly, who would have to cauterize some fairly deep
nerve endings in order to ignore the sufferings of their parents,
if it weren't for Social Security.  

     This privatization idea needs to be made very, very clear to
all, and then reduced to a laughing stock, a damn fool idea put
forth by persons who are greedier than should be allowed among
decent people.
* * *
Copyright © 1998 Harry Willson

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