Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing, Baby

I have a new piece up at Fox News on the the relative political security of personal retirement accounts and the Social Security status quo. Reform obstructionists like to say that the status quo is at least as secure because Social Security is so popular, and, in any case, Congress could just tax the hell out PRAs if they wanted. This argument doesn’t work because the reason SS is so untouchable is that it was designed to create the illusion of property, contract, and insurance. If fake rights are the electricity in the third rail, then real rights should pump out even more wattage.

My conclusion:

The political vitality of Social Security-as-we-know-it was designed to be parasitic on the American commitment to property and contract. But parasites cannot be more secure than the host. If Congress fears to trespass on illusory property, it will not be bolder when encountering a real legal fence. Personal accounts — real ownership, real rights — offers in reality what the status quo offers only in appearance. The shadow, as Plato would remind us, is not more solid than the form.

Americans deserve real ownership, real property, and real retirement security. Unlike the slowly eroding status quo, PRAs offer Americans the real thing.

Whole thing.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center