Social Insecurity and "The Fear of All Sums"

"During the 2000 election campaign, George W. Bush was able to get away with the nonsensical claim that private accounts would not only yield high, low-risk returns, but save Social Security at the same time. For whatever reason, few reporters pointed out that he was claiming that 2-1=4," notes New York Times economist Paul Krugman. "But when it came time to produce concrete plans, the arithmetic could no longer be avoided. Sure enough, the plans laid out by Mr. Bush's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, though presented as confusingly as possible, involve both severe benefit cuts and huge 'magic asterisks,' infusions of trillions of dollars from an undisclosed location. ... As the facts about Social Security privatization gradually emerge, the general strategy of the privatizers seems to be to keep the public confused as long as possible."