Two thumbs up

PS sees a little Fonz action going on:

I think you may have ‘jumped the shark.’ I read everything and agree with the vast majority of what you write, but subverting the private ownership of retirement accounts (something you would be presumably be in favor of ideologically) on the basis of your dislike for its proponent (and his overall political philosophy) does not seem to me to have been done out of a desire on your part to function as a paragon of enlightenment and virtue.

Your argument was set up very nicely rhetorically, but your desire to see such an initiative fail seems a bit petty to me: “But this does not mean that the Bush administration’s plan to allow a modicum of private investment in the stock market is necessarily a winner or even an expansion of individual freedom in America.” How about substantiating this assertion instead of proceeding to do something analogous to a Democratic ‘scare the old people’ scam?

This made me think of a story from an Ann Coulter column a number of years ago . . . with you cast in the role of the Russian, I’m sorry to say: “There’s a joke about a Frenchman, an Englishman and a Russian who are told they have only one day until the end of the world. The Frenchman says he will spend his last day with a bottle of Bordeaux and a beautiful woman. The Englishman says he will take his favorite sheepdog for a walk across the moors. The Russian says he will burn down his neighbor’s house. I’m with the Russian.”

I’ve enjoyed your columns for a long time . . . but think this one appears to me to be going down a new and different road.

Yes, and many people thought NAFTA was actually about free trade too. Not so many believe that now. I have no objection whatsoever to people controlling their financial assets or making money in the market, but the Bush plan is MANIFESTLY not about returning freedom, (not to mention money), to America’s workers, but is intended instead to shore up a failing government program. You’ll notice that the emphasis is on fixing and funding Social Security, not eliminating it so that people can keep their 15 percent and do whatever they want to do with it.

I don’t hope the Bush plan will fail if enacted. I don’t have to. I know it will. My opposition to the plan is not based on it being proposed by Bush – I predicted that Social Security money would be moved into the markets back in 1998 – but because it is a overt measure to use government force to inject more money into the stock markets.

My position is the same as it was when I was on the board of a company being acquired by a public company. The CEO, who was staying on with the new owners and was acting as their sock puppet, argued vociferously for accepting a stock deal, because “the investors want to be invested in industry X”. I won the rest of the board over by pointing out the obvious – that in accepting a cash deal, every single investor who wanted to be invested in industry X could do so by using their cash to buy the publicly traded stock of the new owners.

None of this is to say that the Bush plan is worse than the existing Ponzi scheme. It isn’t. But don’t pretend that it is a massive blow for freedom and the individual investor either. It’s not intended to be.

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