Thursday, November 17, 2005
Samuelson slams the AARP: For those of you who missed Robert J. Samuelson's Wednesday column in The Washington Post, you should check it out.
Samuelson slams the AARP for defending the status quo when it comes to Social Security -- with good reason.
This year AARP spent $25 million, mostly on TV and print ads, to defeat President Bush's proposal for "personal" Social Security accounts. The punch line of one ad is revealing: "If you have a problem with the sink, you don't tear down the entire house." Translation: The problems of today's retirement programs resemble a clogged sink; "personal accounts" are a radical solution, akin to demolishing the house. Only modest tinkering (fixing the sink) is needed. Brilliant imagery -- and totally misleading.
Like AARP, I oppose personal accounts. But I do so because they divert attention from the basic problems and don't do much to solve them. It isn't just the sink that's clogged; the roof is leaking, the porch is sagging and the wiring is faulty. Unless we renovate the entire house, it will become uninhabitable.
Don't expect this to happen anytime soon. President Bush tried to start addressing the problem with personal accounts -- a measure Samuelson opposes -- but any serious fix to what is essentially a government-run Ponzi scheme takes courage and fortitude that can't be found in Congress. Why else do they keep on appointing outside, blue-ribbon commissions to study the problem?
If you're under 40, don't count on Social Security to provide for part of your retirement because the odds are good -- and getting better every day -- that it's not going to be there for you.