In the first sentence of the preamble to the US Constitution, the founders of our nation indicated five purposes for the new nation, one being to defend ourselves from other nations and four having to do with the quality of our domestic life, embodied in these inter-related fundamental concepts: justice, tranquility, general welfare and the blessings of liberty.
At two times in our history, America was in danger of disintegrating. One, when the southern States tried to leave the Union over the issue of slavery, was prevented by the Presidential leadership of Abraham Lincoln and the military victory of the Union over the southern States. With the preservation of the Union, the ending of slavery and the adoption of Constitutional amendments to further guarantee due process of law, the US had updated its government to comply with the new realities of the 19th Century.
In the 1930's, when the under-regulated free market economy had collapsed in shambles, the Great Depression that ensued provided fertile ground for a revolutionary overthrow of our government. Under the leadership of FDR, appropriate economic regulations and safeguards were put in place to reassure the American people that our government did truly care about all of them and that we cared enough about each other so that we could work together to get through the Depression without the need to destroy our government. The reassurance worked and the economy finally recovered, though largely due to the War buildup, and most of the regulations and safeguards have remained in place. The US government had now been updated to meet the realities of the 20th Century.
Today America is facing a new danger, one that would try to take us back to 19th Century mentality. This danger comes from right wing reactionary ultra conservatives, led by George W. Bush, and their mission is to dismantle the regulations and safeguards that were put in place in the 1930's which have served us so well in meeting our Constitutional domestic purposes. In particular danger now is the Social Security System.
Let's be clear about this right wing agenda Bush is pushing. They want to privatize Social Security, first partially, but ultimately in total. They want to use their fuzzy math and fraudulent distortions to create a false impression that Social Security must begin to be privatized now or it will end up being totally bankrupt. These tactics have worked for them previously in fooling the American people into thinking the Bush tax cuts were something other than an enormous giveaway to the wealthy elites.
Who stands to gain by privatizing Social Securirty? The only ones for sure will be the upper crust. Large employers will reap huge profits by having their payment to employee FICA reduced, and if you think they are going to give that money to their employees rather than keep it for themselves, you must have voted for Bush. Financial enterprises will make huge profits in connection with the dealings involved in the investment of these private funds. Smart and unscrupulous financial manipulators will have a whole new pool of inexperienced investment funds to exploit.
Who stands to lose? Only one person falls into this category - the worker whose Social Security has always been there as a safeguard, not only for retirement but also for disability and survivor's benefits. A bad investment choice, a downturn in the market, or any number of other wrong moves could cause a significant loss.
We already have a tax deferred way for workers to privately invest funds for their retirement, and it has been working quite well for many years. I am speaking of your IRA, (Individual Retirement Account). For 2005, you will be able to contribute up to $4,000, plus an additional $500 if you are age 50 or over. A simple way to allow additional tax deferred private retirement investment, without curtailing the flow of funds into the Social Security System and thereby causing an immediate cash flow problem, is for Congress to increase the IRA limits.
Privatizing Social Security is part of a larger Bush/Right strategy to build an "ownership society" to replace what they mislabel as our current "entitlement society". Never mind that what we really have is a society with a proven effective framework of regulations and safeguards that promotes the general welfare in a just way to ensure domestic tranquility and the blessings of liberty for all and was good enough to get us through the 20th Century. The Bush/Right is not pleased that our Constitutional mission is being fulfilled; they want to see the wealthy elites have the right to take as much as they possibly can get, like it was back in the 19th Century.