Saturday, January 08, 2005

George Will wants to mess with your head:

In an OpEd entertaingly titled, Let's Not Count on Projections, George Will tries to make the case for privatization of Social Security. After obligatory praise for Bush ("bold"), disdain for Democrats, along with the inevitable Churchill reference, Will makes his case.

Since we can't know the future, any claims that the Social Security program is not in trouble are suspect: (excerpts, emp add)
  • [Democrats] may be right but cannot know that they are ...
  • The size of the solvency problem is unknowable.
  • [There is] a familiar form of political fiction, the 10-year economic projection.
  • ... we cannot ... know the future GDP
  • [We cannot know] America's future birth and immigration rates...
  • Surely the beginning of wisdom is to begin not with such speculations ...
Well now. George Will is saying that it's pretty murky out there. Best not predict anything. But then he does something strange. In an effort to make the case for investing in stocks, he makes some forward projections of his own:
  • In no 15-year period in the past eight decades has the growth of stocks ever been negative;
  • in no 20-year period has the average growth been less than 3 percent ...
You see, non-Republican projections are to be ignored, but Republican projections are okay.

Bonus "Cat out of the bag" element: In a sign that privatizers are getting desperate, Will concludes by making the case for Bush's plan a moral one - not financial. Even if the existing plan is in reasonable shape, it should be abandoned. To wit: (emp add)
[Bush believes] believes such reform would be conducive to civic virtue, as conservatives understand that -- individualism, self-reliance, limited government.
Privatization - good for civic virtue!

Will praises "individualism" and "self-reliance"; he doesn't like pooling of risk. So much for insurance of any type.



Projections that stocks will yield historic returns rest on assuming the economy will perform as it did in those years. Plug historic numbers into the current model of the Social Security Trustees and the problem is solved. Plug in numbers lower than that then any solution based on stocks will fail.

If Privatization is Necessary it Won't be Possible, If Privatization is Possible it Won't be Necessary.

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By Blogger Bruce Webb, at 1/09/2005 1:48 AM  

This was my response to Will: "Gee, George, once the Democrats realize that George W. Bush is smarter than you are, they may listen to him. By the way, have you ever thrown your cap over a fence? If so, details; I can hardly wait. What a comparative you have provided: cap tossing over a fence to explore space to cap tossing over a fence to reform Social Security. What boldness, what adventure. How about George W (the George smarter than you) tossing his cap over the fence re: Iraq as a first step in democratizing (and perhaps Christianizing) the Muslim world? Isn't that a more daring comparison to the space program? Unfortunately, the space is between George W's ears, and by proxy yours. This column is dribble. I trust it's not a Williams clone column."

Will loves to toss in Churchill and others to boost the former Yale cheerleader captain (is that how he got his CEO experience?) that he so admires.

By Blogger Shag from Brookline, at 1/09/2005 4:28 AM  

George Will want's to talk "political fiction"?!?! The same guy who used a CRICHTON NOVEL to try to debunk global warming?

These guys don't even TRY not to be hypocritical.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/13/2005 10:22 AM  

So Georgie,

Since we can't know how the global climate will change in 50 years, you're saying that it's safe to assume that we are heading to a global warming crisis and must act now, or we all die?

Good to know.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/14/2005 1:00 AM  

Now that we've agreed that pooling risk is a bad thing, I'm sure all of Mr Bush's insurance industry contributors will readily cede their businesses in the interests of self-reliance and civic virtue...along with their crusade for tort reform.

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