Just Above Sunset
March 6, 2005 - Reform as a Form of Sadism?

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Thomas Geoghegan says he opposes Bush’s plan to reform Social Security for a reason I has not seen before – “This is my gripe against the Bush plan: I've already got enough to do.”  It’s those personal (private) accounts.  (The Bush team is saying they’d prefer the word “personal” as calling something “private” send the wring message.  Whatever.  I’ve read lots of comment on that.  And I don’t get it.)


Anyway, Geoghegan is onto something –


The Hassle Factor
But I don't want to manage my own Social Security account!
By Thomas Geoghegan -
Posted Wednesday, March 2, 2005, at 1:27 PM PT – SLATE.COM


The key idea -


But if Bush has his way, you and I will know, early on, whether we are in trouble. Our accounts may tank. Indeed, the full-blown libertarian version of Bush's plan would create winners and losers. For some of us there will be a sickening feeling, at age 42 or 45 or 48, that we already have blown it. We picked the wrong stock. We didn't put enough in bonds. The worst part will be that we'll know.


I hate to personalize things, but since Mr. Bush's reform is his personal obsession, I think I will. It galls me that a president who has never had to dig is handing us a shovel. Look at all the freedom that George W. Bush had because Bill DeWitt Jr. and Mercer Reynolds handled all his investments. Early on, they told him, ‘You just worry about coming up with funny nicknames, and you will never have to worry about money.’ And he came into the White House with his brow unlined.


Social Security is our little taste of this freedom. The world adds and adds. Social Security subtracts. It simplifies life. Social Security is "Social" and "Secure" instead of "Individual" and "At Risk." That's what is so maddening to people on the right, the Ayn Randers, the libertarians.


They look down on the rest of us. They think of us as slugs. We aren't living authentically until we worry as much as they do.


But has it worked elsewhere?


It's not so bad when privatization flops in places like Chile or the United Kingdom. At least in those countries there is a strong social bond. In Chile, the government has stepped in to make sure people get a little. In the Bush era, we're too atomized to do anything like that. In the United Kingdom, people have more time and freedom, since they don't have to think about their health care. They have single payer. Everything is free. In the United States, even when it's free, we have paperwork. As another friend says, "It's a full-time job for a lot of people to manage their health bills." Now we have to manage our Social Security, too?


So what’s up with that?


Just Above Sunset columnist Bob Patterson adds this novel answer-


In regard to the possibility that folks will get screwed when Social Security is dismantled, Bush is a sadist.  Look at the picture of him punching the other rugby guy.  Now read the sentence about folks getting to be forty-five and realizing they invested in the wrong stocks.  Now look at the punching picture again.  The pain of the poor is the payoff for a rich sadist.  If everyone is well off and happy, a sadist can’t be happy.  If he has everything and the poor (multitudes) have nothing, that’s the pay off!  The contrast, the pain, is reassurance that he is special.


That feels right, but I don’t want to believe it.  Then I look at the picture.  I buy it.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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