Recent Items

Drums Beating to Privatize Social Security

Posted on by

This Real News Network interview with Bill Black provides an overview of why Wall Street and the Administration are so keen to gut well loved and socially valuable safety nets for the elderly, in particular, Social Security. This talk is a good introduction for people who may not understand how high the stakes in the budget fight are and why the economic arguments used to justify it are bogus.

Paul Jay peculiarly brings up Elizabeth Warren as a potential opponent to this initiative. Given the fact that her Senate run was a Democratic party idea, and that she was remarkably tongue tied in her first press conference, I would not expect her to take any bold moves soon.


More at The Real News

Print Friendly
Twitter25DiggReddit4StumbleUpon0Facebook168LinkedIn0Google+0bufferEmail

76 comments

  1. psychohistorian

    It is like people have been brain wiped to not believe that a purpose of government is to take care of the less fortunate for the greater public good.

    But then again we used to build in replacement costs into infrastructure development and do basic research like it was important to society. I guess that was before that cost of empire expansion and maintenance became too big and a military could be created that would turn on its own “family”….led by folks like Petreaus who we now see has the perfect moral values to decide about killing others in support of imperialism and the global inherited rich behind all of current societal control.

    1. YouDon'tSay?

      It’s not “like” that, it’s exactly that. The “less fortunate” aren’t. They’re the losers(!) in a system that by definition produces winners and losers. And in such a system, which is also predicated on ruthless efficiency and “creative destruction,” complete elimination – and NOT welfare – of said losers is the only rational response!

      Pragmatically, I view it the same way Sam Harris views religious fundamentalists. At least they’re logically and intellectually consistent. They follow their reasoning to where it naturally leads them – consequences BE DAMNED! It’s only by such moral and intellectual honesty that we can recognize the true evil that unfettered American capitalism represents. Wiemar Germany was just a preview of coming attractions, and isn’t it fitting that its conqueror would be the one to carry on the tradition and raise it to heights the funny little Chaplin looking guy could never have imagined?

      1. casino implosion

        You’re absolutely right about this.

        They want to create losers; and they haven’t properly won until the loss of the losers is absolute (don’t leave any money on the table).

        But when you ask “what then, where do the losers go”, there’s a lot of handwaving.

        Their system is designed to produce trouble for the very people who created it and who benefit by it. Cops and gated communities work for a while, but the problem is, they can’t leave well enough alone. The logic of their system demands that they keep taking.

        1. Chris Rogers

          Here, Here.

          I think it fair to say that the global ruling elite can never have enough of everything, including wealth and by association, power.

          Once you have your first billion, what the hell can you actually spend it all on – an expensive boat or backing a rightwing maniac to become President – apart from that, there is really not a lot you can actually do with it apart from ruin other peoples lives – specifically those deemed poor or redundant, basically the 99% of the planet.

          God knows where they will live once the planet is destroyed – perhaps Mars or one of the Jupiter moons!!!!!

        2. nonclassical

          …those of us who taught in “fully educated societies”=Europe, as well as states, have long defined duality of “winner-loser” construct-U.S. secondary level does exactly so-create nothing but winners-losers-and that is INTENDED..no intention of (Europe-like) taking youths in direction of their APTITUDE..I had to teach there, to find out-ask a youth, “What are you considering after grad-secondary?”, to find they all KNOW…are DIRECTED to whatever aptitude driven level they represent-university, or vocational equivalent. Intention is to create
          TAXPAYERS for social systems…U.S. intention is cheap labor force-ask American youth what they intend to pursue, after secondary level..

          Then realize, only fewer than 20% today graduate from 4 year university or vocational equivalent…as opposed to over 70%, Europe…”charter school” debate
          USES “winner-loser”-intended status to CREATE failure…just as (Naomi Klein)-WK Black describe INTENTION to USE Social Security to profit; John Boehner stated, one day after bushbama reelections, “Entitlements are the CAUSE of our
          economic problems”…we should all know what he-bushbama INTEND…

      2. Ruben

        “… complete elimination – and NOT welfare – of said losers is the only rational response!”

        I don’t agree Youdo. The losers are necessary, they drive down wages and increase the power of job-creators, and let to suffer complete elimination, they may revolt and destabilize the system. As in many other developments an egregious German statemen led the way, Bismarck, by creating the first true social safety net for losers.

        1. YouDon'tSay?

          True. The losers are required – for awhile at least – to perpetuate the subterfuge. But the end game is the same. Elimination, and for “morally justified” reasons at that! Go figure. As I said, at least they’re consistent, and their consistency will ultimately be their undoing.

          1. HotFlash

            I would have to point out that a system that produces winners and loosers will *always* produce the system’s quota of losers, no matter how many have been removed from the system previously. The remaining winners will just win bigger. So, I would think removal of designated losers would be a feature of such a system.

        2. nonclassical

          Bismarck “social security” didn’t CAUSE economic disaster-it was WWI war reparations…for pertinent example, view “MAX”..John Cusack.

  2. Gerard Pierce

    The idea of Elizabeth Warren running for the Senate was a way for the administration to ignore the fact that it had wussed out on its sort-of promise to appoint her as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    As far as her Senate Run, the party gave her nominal support but really could have cared less whether she won or lost. Losing would have suited them better because it would have shut her up and gotten her out of their way.

    Now that she’s been elected, they would like to ignore her or assign her to the committee on world tapioca production. — but that one isn’t going to work because of public outrage.

    I doubt that she will stay tongue-tied for long, and just her presence is likely to have a positive effect on the administration. She is now in a position where they can’t ignore her and they can’t shut her up.

    1. lambert strether

      When there’s a Pecora Commission and Warren advocates for throwing criminal banksters in jail, I’ll take her seriously and not until then.

      As of now, what we’ve got from her is the idea that simpler mortgage forms can rein in the FIRE sector, and a defense of the key Democratic construct of “defending the middle class,” a suck-up kick-down ethic whose social base is becoming increasingly aspirational.

  3. Gerard Pierce

    As far as Bill Black’s comments: There is something missing here. Wall Street can’t get their hands on social security funds that do not exist in cash form.

    Within a few years, FICA money is going to go back out the door in the same year it is collected.

    The social security trust fund is backed by the full-faith-and-credit thingy, but there is no file cabinet filled with dollar bills. The trust fund money has been borrowed and spent. The fund is perfectly sound as long as the federal government repays the money that is secured by the special t-bills that represent the trust fund.

    It makes sense that the government would like to find a way to welsh on the repayment of the trust fund money. Every dollar spent on repaying the fund is a dollar that is not available for corporate welfare.

    What I would like to ask Bill Black is simply: where is the money that Wall Street is drooling to get its hands on? How do you make a profit investing a fund made up of federal IOUs. There’s no there there.

    1. EconCCX

      >>How do you make a profit investing a fund made up of federal IOUs. There’s no there there.

      Those T-bills have value when sold, befitting full faith and credit. The Ponzi artists would invest the proceeds in holdings purporting to offer a greater return, paying annuities and extracting fees until the fund was no more.

      1. Don Levit

        No, the commenter above you is correct.
        There are no proceeds to invest, simply collateral IOUs.
        Until the trust fund starts running a surplus, it is too late to privatize the fund.
        THe FICA and SECA taxes, and the income taxes on Social Security benefits, are less than the benefits paid, have been so since 2010, and are projected to be so until trust fund exhaustion.
        Of course, while the trust fund still has positive numbers, they can pull general revenues from the Treasury, without an authorization.
        But this is no different than how we pay all our expenses.
        From a cash flow perspective, the trust fund is empty. That is why it is part of our total debt; it is known as intragovernmental debt – $2.7trillion worth – not intragovernmental equity.
        Don Levit

        1. Me

          You are full of it. The trust fund owns government financial instruments that have a market value, ie they can be traded for actual dollars. Wall Street wants those instruments, knowing their value. They can either use them to form the basis of more non-productive speculation or to cash in when needed.

          The US government and the bastards who want to gut the program say basically that they will only pay a portion of what they have, are morally obligated, to pay. After all, we have to give trillions to these Wall Street parasites, to start wars, to give tax cuts to the rich and corporations. The state can print off actual dollars at any time.

          To pretend that the US government’s financial debt instruments are worthless is ignorant. You either want to hand it over to the financial parasites or to allow the state to cut back payments it OWES the people who paid into the system.

          1. Don Levit

            No, they have no market value, for these are special-issue Treasuries, which can be redeemed only by the federal government. And, they redeem these bonds the same way we pay for battleships – with new general revenues, an immediate budget expense.
            Don Levit

          2. Me

            They DO have a market value, which is the amount the government will need to create in money to pay the fund when they cash the debt instruments in to pay for current expenses. IF there were a privatization they would simply allow the funds to be tradable by other parties. You are a horrible snake oil salesman. I don’t want your greedy damn hands on the peoples’ retirement money. Stay the fuck away.

    2. Ben Johannson

      1) Treasurys are a globally accepted form of currency, just like the dollar. Treasurys are a little less liquid, but otherwise just as desirable as greenbacks.

      2) The way privatization will work is by paying financial institutions fees for managing the Trust. That’s tens of billions collected by financiers as they play fast and loose with grampa’s retirement fund, and there won’t be a damned thing he can do about it.

    3. rob

      Who cares about cash?Wall st does very little with cash,besides laundering drug money and paying prostitutes….
      All those companies need is the authorization to use the digital equivalent of money… to trade/speculate with and take more digital equivalents of money into a mainframe that processes the addition of those digital equivalents of money into either payments from plastic swipe cards of digital equivalents or paper facimilies promising digital equivolents or sometimes even some real paper spending MONEY (in the paper/cash form) that is issued /made by the treasury for the federal reserve who says they have the digital equivalents of money to make their paper worth face value….whatever that is…

      to pick on worrying about the lack of “real” cash….is folly…..money in the first place is made from nothing. we have a fiat currency… at the top of the money chain…
      even treasuries are paid for or swapped with equivalents of cash….

      1. rob

        Actualy, I’m sure wall st does more with cash than just laundering drug money and paying for prostitutes….They also bribe officials and politicians with envelopes full of the stuff.They also pay their tyrant rulers all over the world with cash, they also pay the kids who chop off peoples arms and legs and gang rape and every other atrocity they need done…. and surely, that is with cash… and probable federal reserve notes too..

    4. Ethax

      “How do you make a profit investing a fund made up of federal IOUs.”

      Cash is a federal IOU. You can see cash listed as a liability on the federal reserve’s balance sheet, and the term “liability” is used in the law.

      If you have cash, the federal government owes you a credit against your tax liability; if you have a treasury security, that only changes the duration (the accounting works like a savings account)

      “The trust fund money has been borrowed and spent.”

      no, the money to pay social security taxes came from government spending and excess reserves were drained using treasury securities.

      1. casino implosion

        “no, the money to pay social security taxes came from government spending and excess reserves were drained using treasury securities.”

        Thank you.

        This entire debate is being conducted on completely bogus grounds.

        1. Don Levit

          In order to redeem the Treasury securities, new general revenues must be used. If the fund was “privatized,” the investments in the fund would be liquidated to cash without the need for general revenues. It is the difference between a pre-funded, intact trust fund and one which is empty other than numbers indicating new general revenues can be used without an authorization. Medicaid is paid the same way – by new general revenues.
          Just because the trust fund is owed the money, it makes the process no different of paying back that money as it does to build battleships.
          Don Levit

          1. nonclassical

            ….what IF the real “reason” to “privatize” Social Security” is TO place it in “funds”
            while taking it “off” government books, where it can be easily diminished-diminishing to be blamed on “others”…? Shuffling funds around becomes a shell-game…as noted, all on digital processes…shuffling is used by union-corporate interests to gain access to funds, as well as rob..

      2. EconCCX

        >>You can see cash listed as a liability on the federal reserve’s balance sheet, and the term “liability” is used in the law. @Ethax

        We can? Could you provide a link to the balance sheet to which you refer? Does it belong to the Board of Governors, or to the privately-owned Federal Reserve Banks?

    5. Gerard Pierce

      So far, I haven’t seen an answer. The special (interest bearing) T-Bills that make up the social security trust fund, by law, cannot be owned by anyone but the federal government. I believe that they are also excluded from “the deficit”. (If I already understood all this stuff I wouldn’t have asked the original question.)

      Obviously this can all be changed with a stroke of the congressional pen, but if you swapped the trust fund for regular t-bills, you have just increased the deficit by about 2.5 trillion dollars and you could hear the sound of Republican heads exploding.

      Wall Street already has more imaginary money than they have investment opportunities – that’s how they have inflated the stock market back from the lower limits.

      So it seems like there is something I’m missing here – like where is the profit in taking over Social Security.

      1. Susan the other

        The Age of Profit is over. It’s about keeping Wall Street financiers alive by giving them a job. They are asking us to be their job creators. Priceless. They will extract their usual exorbitant fees which will reduce benefits and provide big bonuses for their CEOs. Etc, etc. And they can make all sorts of arcane deals, like wash trade the special T-bills, or rehypothecate them, or write derivatives on the future of the SS funds… the sky’s the limit!

        Bill Black was right that SS has nothing to do with the deficit. So why is it suddenly so imperative to privatize it?

        1. Gerard Pierce

          I may have just figured it out myself. Wall Street does NOT want to take over social security – they want us to be scared spit-less that they WILL take over social security.

          Then they will offer a Grand Bargain and promise to leave social security alone if we give them half of medicare plus a tax rate of -1% for the 1% and the first-born child of everyone born after 1970.

          And the Democratic Party will jump at the deal and claim credit for saving social security.

    6. Syd

      I think what Wall Street wants is to have the money that is currently deducted from paychecks (FICA, and matched by employers) start going not to the government but into private individual accounts for each worker. These accounts would be administered by Wall Street and the investment options would be like a typical 401(k).

      The government would still be on the hook for the SS trust fund IOUs, but with no more cash flow from payroll taxes. These new privatized SS accounts would be a cash cow for Wall Street, just as 401(k)s are.

      1. Gerard Pierce

        That would be Wall Street’s wet dream, but it can’t work that way. Without FICA taxes, social security would have to draw on general revenues to write checks for the boomers. There is not enough money in the trust fund to write these checks without FICA money. Even our bought and paid for congress-critters wouldn’t allow that to happen.

  4. Middle Seaman

    Obama continues in his drive to get into the history books as the destroyer of the American way of life. Can a Democrat be more right wing than Obama without joining the Tea Party? I don’t believe so.

    1. YouDon'tSay?

      O.co has completely redefined conservative politics, usurping and recasting the entire GOP agenda. That’s why they hate the guy so much, although admittedly, there’s more than enough there to hate no matter your individual political stripe.

      Pragmatically, O.co’s business strategy was merely the logical evolution of political strategy. After the Repubes remade the entire political landscape with the Reagan revolution in the 80′s, it became questionable whether the Dems would even survive the aftermath. Clinton provided the model in the 90s, but Obama has surely perfected the techniques. And that is to let your opponent define the issues, relentlessly poll the electorate to find out which are winners, then merely adopt them yourself, dropping all the hyperbole and vitriol in the process, and repackaging said issues in enough marketing verbiage to either baffle, dazzle, or just plain anesthetize the voting public. The GOP rightly dubbed Clinton “Slick Willy,” and some have dubbed Obama “the Great Communicator,” although that surely underestimates his real skills. Something along the lines of “the Master Propagandist” is surely closer to the mark, as Obama, like some sort of perverse advanced AI learning program, has seemed to morph the very worst of his two predecessors into a single entity. The congenital, bald-faced, and unapologetic lying (aka, “reality creation”) of the Bush bunch, with the shameless used car salesmanship of his mentor. Throw in the thin veneer of a “wizened statesman” in his ability to deliver a prepared speech and there you have it! The Master Propagandist v.2012.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        And that is to let your opponent define the issues, relentlessly poll the electorate to find out which are winners, then merely adopt them yourself,[...]

        Seriously? Cutting Social Security and/or Medicare is “a winner”?

        How much do you make an hour pumping this bilge?

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Actually, please strike that last sentence of mine. Perhaps you are getting at something but simply need to clarify what you mean by, “relentlessly poll the electorate to find out which are winners”? Because cutting or privitizing any of the main programs that make up the saftey net are NOT popular ideas with any electorate in this country and as far as I know that has been established by virtually all the major polls done on the subject.

          1. casino implosion

            To be precise, the “winner” is deficit anxiety, in the very specific sense of “we can’t afford to go deep into debt to pay for benefits for people who, unlike me, have not earned them because this threatens my own well-deserved payout”.

            I make a habit of scanning the Yahoo News comments every day. You won’t find a better straw pole of the mood of the real proles than the “most voted” section.

            A one-sentence comment post expressing the sentiment above yesterday got about 6000 upvotes to 70 downvotes. I’ve never seen so many votes on Yahoo, or such a lopsided score.

          2. YouDon'tSay?

            Casino has it right. Make no doubt about it, the undoing of the social safety net WILL BE sold to the very public who stands to be harmed by that dismantling, one way or another.

          3. citalopram

            @Casino – I wouldn’t trust online polls if my life depended on it. Those could be easily gamed, and they don’t mean anything.

          4. JTFaraday

            “To be precise, the “winner” is deficit anxiety, in the very specific sense of “we can’t afford to go deep into debt to pay for benefits for people who, unlike me, have not earned them because this threatens my own well-deserved payout”.”

            The way social security was set up in the first place fosters this kind of thinking.

            One could just as readily have set up old age pensions for all and allowed the “hard workers” to go after their big payout in their prime, pat them on the back, and leave it at that.

            But no, they had to extend the hard workers’ payout into retirement like some kind of modern day afterlife for the sinless, while pandering to right wing producerism, which was also masculinst at the time. That’s why it pays spousal benefits (and is thus heteronormative), but doesn’t give social credit for care taking, be it elder care or even childcare.

            In the process, it promoted invidious distinctions between the meritorious and the unmeritorious in a system designed, as was said above, to produce losers. Today everyone is at everyone else’s throat, stuffed to the gills with holier than thou yaya.

            Live by the sword, die by the sword. There is no winning this game. There’s always someone more “meritorious,” and today we know who that is.

        2. YouDon'tSay?

          By the way, my red state 78 year old mother who now LIVES off of SS and MC (and damn poorly at that) is down with the idea too. Evidently (and she may be right), she believes that HER SS and MC will be exempt, so fuck everyone else behind her. Nevertheless… The continued utter naivety and/or selfishness of the American electorate never ceases to astound and amaze.

        3. nonclassical

          bb appears accurate-devolution of Social Security appears more like the end of democratic party politics…it is, after all, what they have stood for, against all corporate-plutocratic odds, over 80 years..

      2. jake chase

        I am continually amazed by the otherwise intelligent people who swallow endlessly the bullshit this guy puts out. My own solution is to refuse ever to listen to him speak, ignore the debates, mute the commercials, voiceovers, etc. George Orwell had him perfectly, and his ancestor card is just icing on the cake. He is exactly the President we deserve. My only question is whether we will now experience a crash and a depression or just a depression?

        1. Antifa

          Follow da money and see our future.

          When 93% of all income goes to 1% of the population, day after day, the logical result is a sunny morning when there is very little money out there among the “not 1%.” They get, let’s see . . . the “right to work” for going wages.

          This cash-stripped situation is what a Depression is. FDR knew that the only way out is revolution. He managed his rather well. Other revolutions have been less tidy. But revolution is the logical result.

          The only way to view the stealing of all safety net funds is as a way of extending the time before we arrive at that sunny morning.

          1. Carla

            FDR knew what the threats were, and a big one was Huey Long, who started “Share Our Wealth” clubs that at their height in the ’30′s had — are you ready? 37 MILLION members across the country. But they don’t teach that in the history books, boys and girls.

            SHARE OUR WEALTH. What an incredibly terrifying concept.

            FDR didn’t do the New Deal because he wanted to–he had to. And somebody (I don’t think anyone knows who to this day) assassinated Huey Long.

  5. Jack Lohman

    Let’s not cover our own eyes here. The only way politicians can get a piece of SSI is to privatize it. “Private” companies (banks) can give campaign bribes, and public entities (SSI) can’t!!! So politicians will take one of the few systems that works, and adds ZERO dollars to the deficit, and make it a bogeyman so they can skim off the top. You’d think that this election, with the negative connotation of politicasl money, would have smartened them up. But we’ll see.

  6. econ

    From north of the border, the USA is in a serious case of mental breakdown with nonsensical delusional images of brain warp at quantum speed.

  7. citalopram

    Wall Street couldn’t sign its death warrant fast enough when the next crises hits after the privatization of social security. Maybe that’s why we’re seeing NDAA et al?

  8. Ms G

    The phrase that needs to get out there, and fast and very loud is:

    DON’T YOU DARE TOUCH OUR MONEY. WE PAID FOR IT (SSI, MEDICARE, MEDICAID) WE GET IT BACK. IT’S THAT SIMPLE.

    1. Dan Kervick

      Yeah, but they could still propose a gradual phaseout and privatization, where everyone gets back what has been paid in but they are shifted over to a private program.

    2. Don Levit

      You are right. That money should never be touched, other than to pay SS benefits. But wait, you are 29 years too late. Ever since 1983, when the trust fund surplus started to build, the Treasury used those surplus dollars to pay for current expenses. Since dollars cannot be 2 places at once, they are spent, gone.
      All that remains is a promise to pay, not the funds to pay the promise with.
      That is why the trust fund, all $2.7 trillion, is known as intragovernmental debt, not intagovernmental equity. It is part of our total debt, not our total equity.
      Now, unless you think debt=equity, the trust fund is empty.
      If you think like Bruce Webb, that trust fund debt is better than cash, for the debt pays interst, our conversation is over.
      You see, I cannot discuss important concepts using reason and logic with a person who believes 2 plus 2 equals 5.
      Don Levit

      1. Ms G

        “Ever since 1983, when the trust fund surplus started to build, the Treasury used those surplus dollars to pay for current expenses. Since dollars cannot be 2 places at once, they are spent, gone.’

        Not our problem. They owe it. They better find a way to pay it back ON SCHEDULE.

        The “we’re broke” line is a lies, as we all know by now. While the dollars they stole from the 1983-enacted raises on payroll tax have ben “spent” on general expenditures (not a regressive tax, huh?) there’s a bottomless reserve of money available, as we saw with the $16 Trillion that magically appeared for the benefit of the banks.

        Therefore, if Prez and Congress can’t “find” the dollars we paid in, we are fully expecting them to make good on the contract. Let the Facilities Spigot Start Gushing.

        Otherwise . . . well, all bets are off, really.

        1. YouDon'tSay?

          EXACTLY the mentality required! VERY good stuff! To be more precise, if they can’t “find” it, then they DAMN WELL better get busy “PRINTING” it!

          It’s Government money (which is to say, OUR money!) after all.

      2. Ms G

        Also, too. Ledger entries such as “debit” and “credit” are accounting conventions. Not facts. You should know that.

  9. Beleck

    oh please, the whole ‘they CANT do away with Medicare and Social Security” line. they’ve got most Americans believing Social Security is an ENTITLEMENT!! ask people you know what they “believe” about Social Security, Medicare alone is such fertile ground for scamming too.

    gosh, they have the proles right where they want them. and with O’s brilliant brand name, they can take us all so much quicker. with lube or without lube, that’s the only difference. Rmoney would have been so much “noisier” had he been the Pres/spokesman for the Catfood Commission. Got to find the Right Salesman for the Scam. Why i hate St. Reagan so much, with his “There you Go Again,” condescending BS.

    yes, the selling of our money we put into the SS fund has gone on since St. Reagan’s party decided they wanted the money. just getting the Right plan and doing the “scam” the Right wing. heh, they own the Media, the Courts, the Government, and will do whatever it takes. just they realize, the “Scam” has to be done the “Correct” way.

    you can rush the scam. pulling the curtain back before it’s time would let the Proles know ahead of time just what is going on.

    as Obama says, “Look Forward, not Backward.” Who you gonna believe,” me or those Shrill sounding Nattering Nabobs of Negativity?

    no point in rushing things, when we are “this close” to finalizing the Theft.

    these are not dumb people in charge as compared to the dumbed down Idiot American they are stealing from.

    lol. boy ain’t we got “Fun.”

  10. Conscience of a Conservative

    I often agree with Bill Black, but not here. Proponents of Government run social security are proponents of big government who don’t you and I in control of our own retirement funds and how those funds are invested. Of course detractors of privatising will point out stocks can go down, but they’ll never point out the obvious counter-argument that cost of living adjustments can be altered to the disadvantage of the retiree, the retirement age can be raised, and gov’t could suddenly decide to means test. And since social security funds are invested in treasuries it winds up being a captive buyer of treasury bonds that finance other government programs, all the while funds are earning a meager 2% which is far below the discount rate one would apply to future pay-outs.

    Talking about stock market’s going down forcing retirees to eat cat food is a red-herring and/or a gross distortion. Privatied social security funds could be invested in GNMA’s, investment grade corporate bonds, CD’s and S&P 500 index funds. No where does it necessarily mean Joe & Jane public citizen would be day trading with Charles Schwab holding/churning individual stocks.

    1. Ms G

      Given that the last decade and a half of retail equity and bond investing by retail stuffees (401Ks, pension plans, etc) has now been officially named the “Lost Decade” And a Half, and since there is zero indication that for any sane person who is not engaged in HFT the “market” is a swallower-of-earned-dollars, how exactly do you justify “privatizing” our safety net programs?

      Seriously. What money managers would you trust with your hard earned dollars (ex friends + family with access to asymmetrical information)?

      1. Conscience of a Conservative

        The Fed(an organization that is anti-free marketcontrolling the price of money) fails to fight bubbles and drives interest rates so low that it would take a hundred years to double one’s money causing a lost decade and that’s a reason to abandon the capital markets as a savings vehicle.

          1. athena1

            Google “philosophical zombie” and read the wiki. I think the fact that we can OBSERVE that some people are sentient debunks the notion, but some people really do operate on the level of a p-zombie, IME.

    2. diptherio

      ” Privatied social security funds could be invested in GNMA’s, investment grade corporate bonds, CD’s and S&P 500 index funds” –CofC

      Um, isn’t this what everyone is trying to say is a bad thing? Why not fund SSI and MC directly through the Fed, something that could be done with one little law, seeing as how the Congress has the sole authority to coin money? The whole “trust fund” concept is totally unnecessary in the modern monetary context. The Fed can adjust the SSI and MC account balances just as easily as it can adjust the banks’ reserve accounts (QE). The only question should be, would doing so create destructive currency devaluation?, which I think would be hard to argue. Of course, doing it this way leaves the Wall Street con-artists out of the loop, which I guess you see as a negative(?).

      1. EconCCX

        >> The Fed can adjust the SSI and MC account balances just as easily as it can adjust the banks’ reserve accounts (QE). @diptherio

        Quantitative easing is accomplished by buying USG debt and other securities in exchange for Reserves, FedBank’s own debt. The Federal Reserve System is a private bank consortium; it cannot simply adjust its customers’ reserve balances without recompense. It was devised to be USG’s banker, not its funder.

        USG, as the sovereign currency issuer, can credit SS’s Reserve account through trillion-dollar proof platinum coins to the same (catastrophic) effect; but FedBank’s books must balance.

    3. PrairieRose

      Oh, my dear, you simply cannot be that naive. I agree with Ms. G and with my late father, a conservative banker for 26 years. Dad told me years ago that no one should have their money in the stock market who can’t afford to lose it. Which begs the question for all of us Middle Class schmucks and our 401(k)s–why?

      Why on earth would we give the banksters carte blanche to play with the only safety net left for our elderly and disabled? In a wage based society that devalues those who don’t or can’t earn wages, what are we all to do?

    4. Me

      Oh my god, Chile, Argentina and Britain say hi. Total abject failures. In both Chile and Argentina there was a poll done a few years ago by a non-partisan and well respected Chilean polling firm Latinobarómetro. Something in the order of 80% of the public wanted the state to take over for pensions. Both privatizations have been disasters. The conservative candidates have even acknowledged this. In the election before last in Chile the conservative candidate stated that the majority of people in Chile have nothing for retirement, while many who have a little don’t have enough to survive. The management of the system by private parasites has created a giant, inefficient mess, with private interests sucking up huge fees. He called for the state to take on some of the public’s pensions, with an expansion in the future. The CONSERVATIVE candidate in Chile said this, the privatization of their system has always been a model for other countries, if it worked so well you would think they wouldn’t be taking that position, no?

      “Talking about stock market’s going down forcing retirees to eat cat food is a red-herring and/or a gross distortion.”

      You are deluded, reality matters. What has finance done to people’s private retirements NOW? How have past privatization schemes gone?

      “Privatied social security funds could be invested in GNMA’s, investment grade corporate bonds, CD’s and S&P 500 index funds.”

      Its funny to hear this nonsense. Ok, if you give people their funds to invest themselves they have to go against huge, powerful investors with big fast computers. Many would go under and lose their ass. Most privatization schemes don’t allow people to make their own decisions, they don’t really even get the government out of the way. The government is to allow people to choose different bundles, so they have “choices” that will be managed by private interests.

      The who setup relies on the private interests either running the system more efficiently than the state (which has proven to be impossible in other privatization attempts) or for the increased benefits to the public to outweigh the higher fees charged by the private interests. Care to point out some examples of this in practice? Give us a few success stories.

      Keep the pension system in PUBLIC hands. Get your greedy, parasitic paws off our money. You’ve screwed up everything else you’ve touched, you are incompetent, you aren’t and shouldn’t be trusted.

      I don’t think these elites realize how explosive this would be for them, if they were to really get what they want. It would be a real awakening for many people, in a way those in power have not had to deal with in a long time in this country. The whole scheme would fail, 100% certain, and when it did there would be real hell to pay.

  11. Schtumb

    Bill Black: I think you have a smoke alarm with a dying battery somewhere in your house. The warning “Pip!” is audible in the video.

    1. JTFaraday

      Oh, you got rid of the spam! You know that spam was on-topic, given this weekend’s theme of having to spin everything at an 8th grade reading level.

  12. John Lenihan

    The plutocrats know that Social Security privatization has already gone a long way by default from deliberate policy choices:

    1. Cut wages sharply over time by giving the 99-percent the lions’ share of increased productivity and national wealth, slowly starving the SS trust fund;
    2. In combination with that, outsource as much as possible so domestic work and trust fund payments are even less;
    3. Cut taxes for the super-rich, and pay the bills with what would have gone to the trust fund;
    4. Manipulate the financial system in a blatantly criminal fashion so that catastrophic unemployment reinforces the trend even more strongly, with millions of people out of house and home plus heavily indebted government as a bonus;
    5. Talk and agitate for privatization, so that a huge pot of money becomes available for theft by the plutocrats and their political butt-kissers.

    Number 5 has not happened, but everything else has. The plutocrats and their bought pols are eighty-percent of the way to their goal of mass impoverishment!

    It will take a lot more than reasonable discussion to overcome the President’s hero worship of Timmy, Professor Larry, and the other clowns who wish to beggar us all.

    About the only thing in our favor is the arrogant plutocrat fault of believing their own vowel movements, always rejected by everybody else, even pols.

  13. Lindsay Jane Walker

    Hey, nice blog and thanks for the useful content you put up. As a fellow blogger, I can recommend you a website where you can purchase “laser” targeted unique visitors, for a pretty good price, so you get specific visitors that match your content, not just random people. It’s called Growstats. Many fortune 500 companies are using it, and from my personal experience, the investment pays off in time. I did increase my online sales significantly, as I was able to bring in thousands of visitors, specifically targeted for the products I sell. Also the quality traffic helped me increase my google rankings.

    Alright, hope you found my recommendation helpful for your blog.

    Keep up the good work

    Cheers from rainy Vancouver, Canada

Comments are closed.