December 21, 2004

"the risk-taking verve of a Denmark!"

Rich Lowry writes about how the main characteristic of those idealistic reformers of the Left is now resistance to reform and change. Including, of course, reform of Social Security...

...Reactionary liberalism will be the order of the day in President Bush's second term. Take Social Security. The program was started in the 1930s. Back then, there were 41 workers for every retiree. Now, there are three workers for every retiree. Back then, life expectancy was significantly shorter than its current 78 years. In other words, in 70 years the world has changed, but the structure of Social Security hasn't — and liberals desperately want to keep it that way.

Never mind that dozens of countries have implemented some version of the Bush-proposed private retirement accounts. "It's just too dangerous" will be the mantra. We don't have the reform acumen of a Kazakhstan! We don't have the risk-taking verve of a Denmark! We don't have the keen governmental competence of a Chile! We don't have the reckless faith in markets of a Sweden! No, no. We are Americans, and all we can manage is a defensive huddle around the status quo...

Private accounts are not rocket engineering. Though I think the recent debates about whether or not they can "save" SS are missing the point. What they are meant to save us from is the pernicious notion that we are weak creatures who need to be cared for by big government. The payoff of private accounts will simply be when people notice that the heavens haven't fallen, and start to think of things like this as normal. After that, bigger reforms will be possible, perhaps a task to give the next generation of Republicans something to get their teeth into...

Posted by John Weidner at December 21, 2004 2:57 PM
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