It’s rare to find a more condescending and tendentious article than this one in today’s WashPost: “Bush Social Security Plan Proves Tough Sell Among Working Poor.” Bottom line: because a handful of lower-income workers don’t understand Social Security reform and simply refuse to take responsibility for their long-term financial security, we’re all stuck with a compulsory program careening towards insolvency.
"I don't know what's going on with it [retirement savings]," she said one night at a tax clinic in Southeast D.C. "I just know I have these three accounts, so I just say, 'Let's hope and pray. Let's hope and pray it's not going into Enron. Let's hope and pray it's not going into Tyco.' It's just hard to absorb all I'm supposed to absorb."Said the woman studying to be an accountant. How would you like to have her preparing your taxes? “Let’s pray we don’t get audited.”
Nowhere in the article does reporter Jonathan Weisman disclose that any personal account program would be completely voluntary. Furthermore, there’s no mention that current proposals stipulate that any benefit cuts would be subjected to “progressive indexing” such that low-income workers would receive the full benefit as calculated under the current system. These are both highly relevant points omitted from the story in favor of a winding discourse about bus routes.
And, most critically, if there is no reform then automatic benefits cuts kick in when the mythical Trust Fund is exhausted. This point was not lost in the heated rebuttal from the Ankle-biting Pundits:
And if the Post was honest it would point out that she doesn't have to join the new system and she's still going to get her check. But that check is going to be a whole lot less if we stick with the old system.I’ve been appalled at the self-serving rhetoric from groups like the AARP who appear to find virtue in keeping lower-income Americans in an endless cycle of dependency. Voluntary personal accounts, for all their flaws, offer the opportunity to build real equity that can be passed on to family members. But because some people “don’t want to think about it,” all Americans will remain chained to this Ponzi scheme.