Thursday, December 02, 2004

 

Why privatized social security may not be such a wonderful idea

Which doesn't mean it won't happen...
Frist Political Fund Can't Cover Bank Loan
Senator's Investment in Stock Market Has Lost $460,000 in Value Since 2000


By Dan Morgan and Brian Faler

A campaign fund controlled by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has lost almost $460,000 in stock market investments since 2000 and now does not have enough to cover a sizable bank loan, according to federal election records and the manager of the Frist account.

The heaviest losses, totaling more than $500,000, occurred in a stock index fund in 2001 and 2002, years when the securities markets suffered a major downturn. But the Frist campaign account lost an additional $32,050 in July and August, a setback that was only partially offset by a gain of $11,472 in September, according to Linus Castignani, treasurer of "Frist 2000," which was created to finance the senator's successful campaign for a second six-year term in 2000.

Democrats yesterday seized on the reports of the losses, which were revealed by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Todd Webster, spokesman for outgoing Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), said in an e-mailed statement that the losses raised questions about a Republican plan to let Americans invest a portion of their Social Security contributions in the stock market.

"He still thinks we should put seniors' Social Security funds in the stock market?!" Webster said. In a departure from Senate protocol, Frist journeyed to South Dakota this fall to campaign for Daschle's opponent, John Thune (R), who narrowly won the election.
Granted, it's not Frist's personal money (he's a millionaire from family ownership of numerous profit-making hospitals), but the fact is, investing is inherently risky. Most people want at least some security (remember, it's called Social Security?) for their retirement.

I mean, let's say, we create these privatized plans, and some people make great (or lucky) choices and others make lousy (or unlucky) ones. Do we let the dumb or luckless starve? If so, what does that say about us? If not, then what the fuck is the difference between what we might have to do for them and what we have now?

(Okay, making some people richer might mean we'd have fewer people we had to take care of. Also, it's possible that those who got richer would be charitable enough that private charity could take care of the unfortunate. But we've been down that road before. If private charity really could take care of all those with problems - and professional caregivers dispute that - it would. Better to plan for an unfavorable future than to merely hope for a favorable one. But that goes counter to Bush's belief that merely announcing an idea is absolutely equivalent to actually implementing it.)

But if Bill Frist - with the access he must have to the best possible advice - can lose money in the market, what does that say about the likelihood that any of us will make money?

Bush and the Republicans obviously don't give the tiniest flying fuck about caring for the elderly. They just want to destroy the last vestiges of the welfare state, no matter whom they harm. That, and give away billions if not trillions in fees to Wall Street.
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