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Reply #16: Fear of 'pension fund socialism' drives the 'Social Security reform' [View All]

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AirAmFan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-23-05 01:03 PM
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16. Fear of 'pension fund socialism' drives the 'Social Security reform'
effort too, but the White House and Rethuglican Congress have been much less candid about this than Ahnold's allies. Most people still don't realize just how radical Dubya's second-term agenda has become.

For Rethuglican ideologues, much more is at stake in Social Security "reform" than a huge payoff to greedy Wall Street supporters (20 percent of FICA as "management fees" for privatized Social Security).

For ultraright economic thinkers, including especially Alan Greenspan, designer of the currently up-for-grabs 'Social Security Trust Fund', nothing is more frightening than the prospect of workers' collective ownership of voting rights affecting the governance of large US corporations. As Social Security moves toward negative cash flow in ten or fifteen years, the right fears pressure from baby boomers will become overwhelming to "pre-fund" their retirement benefits with centrally-managed investments in stocks as well as T-bonds. When Greenspan was in charge of Reagan's Social Security Commission 24 years ago, he was very careful not to create any structure that would assure his 25 percent FICA tax increase would actually be invested to pay Baby Boomers; Social Security benefits.

The ultraright is incredibly afraid of repetition of successful progressive efforts, like South Africa Disinvestment, to use ordinary Americans' economic power against continued control by wealthy stockholders over the world's pursestrings. This is an aspect of the Social Security "reform" debate that has gotten very little attention so far. For this reason, I found this passage from the NY Times article especially informative:

"Some opponents of privatization also detect a subtler agenda among those pushing private accounts - to silence the voice of workers and their pension fund managers, who oversee some of the largest institutional investment accounts in the nation.

Calpers has been a leader in an effort to bring greater accountability to corporate boardrooms. It pulled its money out of tobacco companies in the 1990's, voted its shares against Michael Eisner, chairman of The Walt Disney Company and leaned on the Philippines to do more to protect worker health and safety.

Critics say the role of pension funds is to safeguard their members' money, not make social policy. "There is an overriding issue of what happens when you have these superlarge retirement systems straying from bottom line of the benefit of members and straying into corporate governance, even social engineering," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. "A motivation for us, as you move to a system of individual accounts, is that over time you will depoliticize the retirement system in the state of California."

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