If little else, the stock market meltdown has been good for one
thing: Its cooled the fervor to stick Social Security funds
into the stock market.
For sure, W and his lets-turn-everything-over-to-big-business
gang havent given up the silly idea to privatize part of the
Social Security system, but the American public is having serious
And if the people say leave Social Security alone, thats
going to make it tougher for this administration to turn over the
most successful program in American governmental history to the
money changers on Wall Street.
What the past couple of months have shown, of course, is that the
stock market isnt a never-ending 20 percent per year ride
to riches. It can also be a 20 percent per year or 30 or
40 percent ride to the poorhouse.
And while everything from the dot-coms to the blue chips tumbled
last year and are performing even worse so far this year, the governments
Social Security system continues to earn its 3 percent or 4 percent
and serve as an insurance policy for millions of widows and orphans
and disabled folks throughout the United States.
Thats what so many critics of Social Security forget. Bush
and his cronies try to portray the system as a pension plan, equating
it with private 401(k)s and other pension funds. It was never intended
to be that. Instead, it was designed to provide at least a minimum
of benefits so that the nations elderly could pay their living
essentials without fear of being thrown into the poorhouse.
It was also designed and tweaked through the years
to give widows of wage earners and their children at least enough
funds to get by. And if a worker should become permanently disabled
before he or she reaches 65, theres enough of a benefit for
that person to pay the rent and buy food.
The beauty of it all and the main reason for its unprecedented
success despite the economys ups and downs is that
the cost is shared by everyone who works. Its a compact we
all have with each other and its not based on the greed and
utter lunacy that dictate the stock markets.
Certainly, some dont collect all theyve contributed
because they die early. Others, however, collect much more because
they live longer. Its the same as an insurance policy. If
the house burns down, we collect on our homeowners policy.
If it doesnt thank goodness were out our
Start tinkering with the system and well soon destroy it.
What, for example, if you were turning 65 this month and a goodly
percentage of your Social Security benefit was in the stock market?
Must you take less if you retire? Or will the rest of the system
be forced to subsidize the pension you would have otherwise received?
How long can a system survive with that kind of strain on its finances?
Lets learn from this latest and there will be many
more, to be sure lesson from the stock market and leave Social
Copyright 2001 The Capital Times