There's been a lot of discussion lately about the President's plan to privatize Social Security benefits. The LA Times has a great article (which you can access here) about seven states (one of which is Nebraska, where I presently live) that have offered private accounts in some form as an alternative to Social Security. Private accounts, as you can see from the article, were not financially beneficial and ended up in fewer benefits than traditional plans in most cases. In debate, we used to call that empirical evidence. It's awfully difficult to refute that private accounts are a complete sham, when the idea has been implemented and it doesn't work for most people in seven different states.
Here are some quotes from the article that I found to be quite descriptive:
"If people have private accounts in Social Security and they're left to make the decisions themselves, the results likely will not be positive," said Anna Sullivan, executive director of the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement Systems, which replaced its private account system with a centrally managed plan in 2003.
Joseph Jankowski, executive director of the West Virginia Consolidated Public Retirement Board, said: "The vast majority of people don't have the inclination or comfort level to be responsible for their own retirements."
It's not like we're talking about partisan politicians or an angry midget with a bone to pick. These are two people with jobs helping people with their retirement. It's hard to imagine that the executive director of the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement Systems has something to prove when it comes to private retirement accounts.
I've hammered on the fact in the past few weeks that none of the proposed plans to overhaul Social Security account for Aid to Families with Dependent Children, which provides benefits to children who's parents die, and Social Security benefits for the disabled. Both programs are integral parts of the existing Social Security program, but you won't here them mentioned in the current debates, because no one has any idea how private accounts would work for orphaned children or the disabled.
I can picture Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) saying "We'll make those cripples, retards, and motherless children get jobs, so they can also experience the prosperity of contributing to private retirement accounts. Oh yeah, and I hate queers, too". As ridiculous as it might seem, I find it a little frightening that we're talking about overhauling Social Security like a '78 El Camino, and no one has mentioned what we will do with these vital components of the program. Oh well, I guess all the orphans can make shoes for Nike or clothes for Kathy Lee Gifford.