Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hsieh OpEd at PJM: "Government Grab of Retirement Accounts"

As a slightly off-topic post, PajamasMedia has just published my latest OpEd, "Government Grab of Retirement Accounts a Matter of 'Social Justice'".

Although it's not directly related to health care, it covers many of the same themes of freedom and individual rights vs statism and the entitlement mentality.

In this piece, I criticize the latest Obama Administration proposal to convert some of our private 401(k) retirement money into government annuities in order to help prop up the failing Social Security system. I also attempt to make the moral argument for the phasing out and eventual elimination of Social Security.

Here is the opening of "Government Grab of Retirement Accounts a Matter of 'Social Justice'":
Uncle Sam wants your retirement money.

The Obama administration has just solicited public comment on their proposal to take money from Americans' private 401(k) retirement accounts and convert it into government-backed annuities. In other words, they want to take your money now to purchase U.S. Treasury bonds, then pay you a monthly sum later after you’ve retired.

Although this proposal is being initially portrayed as a voluntary choice, Americans already have the ability to purchase Treasury Bonds with their retirement money. Moreover, the Obama administration is considering making these annuities the default option. And as analyst Karl Denninger noted, "'choices' have a funny way of turning into mandates." Nor is his concern unjustified.

In 2008, Professor Teresa Ghilarducci of the New School of Social Research testified before Congress proposing a similar scheme to convert private 401(k) accounts into government-run "Guaranteed Retirement Accounts" that would pay a 3% return. And in 2008, the Argentinian government attempted to nationalize private retirement funds to help cover its runaway deficit.

As the U.S. Social Security system moves ever closer to bankruptcy, the billions of dollars Americans have saved in their private retirement accounts will become an increasingly tempting target for our politicians...
(Read the full text.)