It’s the “Social” in Social Security That I’ve Been Working For


5-20-05, 10:31am

Philadelphia demonstration to save Social Security at Sen. Rick Santorum's office building

Some comments on the Bush administration’s drive to privatize part or all of the payments that we make to the Social Security program. These contributions amount to 6.2% of your earnings and are matched by an equal amount that is paid by your employer. If you earn $20,000 per year in gross wages, that is $1,240 out of your paycheck and an additional $1,240 paid in by your employer. These Social Security deductions and payments stop when your year-to-date earnings reach $90,000. Privatization in this instance means allowing or requiring us to invest part or all our Social Security dollars in the stock markets.

George W. is out and about trying to sell this idea. His smashing success in selling the invasion of Iraq with false claims has convinced him and his handlers that he should be able to sell this bill of goods as well.

Where will your money go if this plan is approved? First, into the hands of money managers who will take their cut and then send the remainder off into the big-time corporate world. If times are bad in the stock market when it is your turn to retire and draw benefits, your account may be in fine shape, or it may be worth only a fraction of what you had expected. It’s a game of chance with a corporate financial officer holding your chips and a corporate executive officer holding your cards. Whether you win or lose, these corporate officers and their buddies will usually end up with multi-million dollar severance pay arrangements and/or their retirement next eggs…….plus Social Security benefits. If your dollars are lost in one of these deals, it is not that they fell down behind the water cooler……they have been redistributed, so to speak, back to those people who hold positions of power in the corporate structure. Kind of like a reverse Social Security program. Look for another multi-million dollar trophy home somewhere in your neighborhood.

In 1981, in Chile, a group of economic advisors promoted a social security privatization program much like the one being pushed by the Bush administration. Their campaign was successful and a program known to Chileans as the AFP was instituted by the administration of General Augusto Pinochet. After 23 years, the program has resulted in the taking of Chilean worker’s assets by worldwide capitalists and has left millions of Chilean people with little or nothing to show for their decades of hard work and “contributions”. According to the Chilean economist and U.N. researcher Manuel Riesco, a member of the board of the Center of National Studies of Alternative Development, “If two co-workers reach retirement age in Chile today, both with the same salary and the same number of years paying into social security, one of whom remained in the old pay-as-you-go system and the other who changed to the AFP system back in 1981, the latter will receive less that one half of the pension of the former”. Dean Baker, co-director of the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, states that “It (the AFP) hasn’t provided security to people”, and that the system has failed half of the population.

Most troubling is the fact that George Shultz and Jose Pinera, the people who advised Pinochet to go ahead with the program in Chile in 1981, are now advising George W., today, in 2005, and the target is your Social Security contribution.

Let’s not allow this to happen here. Contact your representatives……township, city, village, county, state, and federal. Write letters. Sing songs. Don’t vote for these guys next time. Make it a point of discussion around the ole’ water cooler. Ring them bells!

We need to hold the government’s feet to the fire and force it to return the bags and bags of dollars that have been “borrowed” from the Social Security fund and used to support tax cuts and other programs.

And please remember, the Social Security program was not intended to be a means for anyone to make a profit. Let’s keep it that way. It’s the “social” in Social Security that is of most importance.

--Dale S. Scott can be reached at