Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Chris Suellentrop: George W. Bush, Philosopher-King

"George W. Bush, Philosopher-King: Why he won't debate the math of Social Security reform."
By Chris Suellentrop

You may be surprised to learn that the president views Social Security reform as a philosophical question, the kind of groovy give-and-take subject that's appropriate for drug-induced dorm-room bull sessions. But understanding why he framed the subject that way is critical to understanding the impetus behind Social Security privatization. Opponents of personal Social Security accounts have been trying to knock down the president's plan—to the extent that he has one—by tackling it as a mathematical puzzle and carefully explaining that the numbers don't add up. "There's no Social Security crisis," is one version of this argument, explaining how relatively minor changes in benefits and taxation can preserve the system in its current form. The other is to poke holes in the arithmetic of privatization. Slate's founding editor, Michael Kinsley, went so far as to offer a logical proof of how privatization would fail to fix Social Security. But submitting the answers to a math test during a philosophy exam is a sure way to flunk.

Entire Article


Kevin said...

LOL. I just pasted this article onto my blog. Good article. I see your Suellentrop and raise one Paul Krugman.

Michael said...

I see your Suellentrop and Krugman, and drop a pairing of Sinclair/Hammurabi... heading over to visit your site.


Michael said...

Kevin--do you have a blog? or is your profile private? I tried to click on your name but it didn't work...

Deleted said...

Suellentrop gets awfully close, but is misleading. SS is not redistributive -- there's a cap to prevent that -- and is not politically correct. It's vital to the function of a consumer economy. People who cannot work must keep spending. Support for SS was rammed through by a coalition of populists and smart rich people.

Market darwinism is part of the Bushist platform, but the financial markets are in desperate need of a huge infusion of cash right and SS has a bundle. Why did Willie Sutton rob banks? Treating the arguments of Bushists as they had any sincere content to them is a mistake.

It's a mug's game taking the Bushist privatization arguments seriously. They want to waste people's time the same way online trolls do.