We have it on good authority, from The New York Times' estimable economic columnist Paul Krugman, Molly Ivins, and various economists, that the much-vaunted "crisis" in Social Security is something of a phantasm, being played by the Bush administration as an excuse for a needless and potentially risky exercise in privatization. Realistic estimates are that the Social Security fund (currently being raided to cover the administration's derelictions in other areas) is sound enough, with virtually no change, to last unscathed at least until mid-century, paying out all benefits as currently scheduled. And even then, somewhere around 2052, only mild restructurings are predicted to be in order.
What the administration's current proposal -- to encourage the allocation of a portion of Social Security revenues into private investment accounts -- amounts to is something of a Ponzi scheme. Our descendants will have to finance the $2 trillion the government must borrow in order to cover the "transitional" expenses incurred in reducing their own long-term benefits. That's the bottom line. •