Thursday, February 17, 2005

Clinton Hatred

Emmett Tyrell, writing on Social Security, can't help throwing in a few slams on President Clinton.
The other day, while visiting a sick aunt in Little Rock, Ark., I happened upon the Clinton Library and thought I might check out a book. I, in my innocence, presumed that the Clinton Library is a lender's library. How wrong I was.

True to the Clinton tradition, it is a taker's library -- and they took my attache case, my camera and some loose change.

Alas, this is the monument created for the former Boy President, who shimmers in the eyes of many Democrats as "one of our greatest presidents." If so, among his peers would be numbered, perhaps, Warren G. Harding and Millard Fillmore.
Poor Tyrell, mugged at the Clinton Museum. But he soldiers on to suggest that Social Security gives a lousy rate of return.

That's because it is not an investment program. Social Security is a guaranteed benefits program. They are not the same thing.

To take a parallel situation, various taxes I pay go to support public education. I don't have any children and it seems unlikely that I ever will. If I did think I would have children, or if I had children, I might look at those taxes as an investment--but I don't. So am I just getting ripped off? Is Uncle Sam taking my money and giving me nothing in return?

No. Because I live in a society. And while I may not directly benefit from having good schools, society as a whole benefits from them. And it is in my best interest, in everybody's best interest, to see that society does well. To see that society functions. By the same token it is in my best interest that the Seniors of America are able to participate in the American Economy and are not consigned to lives of degradation and poverty.

Tyrell also says that under the President's plan (although let's be perfectly clear, the President has yet to actually reveal his plan), people will be allowed to pass on their retirement accounts to their descendents. This may not be accurate--at least one version of the plan requires you to purchase a non-transferable annuity at the time of retirement. If you've done well and have extra money after purchasing that annuity some of that money might be able to go to your heirs. But the bulk of it will be tied up in that annuity. Of course this might change somewhere between now and the time that President Bush actually presents his plan.

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