Thursday, January 31, 2008

Groucho and Chico Marx and The Privatization of Social Security

[A guest editorial from EngineerofKnowledge]

I remember years ago Dick Caveat interviewed Groucho Marx on the Dick Caveat show. Groucho was telling the story of his brother, Chico, and himself. Before their break into the movies, they had a very successful career in Vaudeville and later shows on Broadway. Groucho went on to say how every dollar that Chico got paid from the shows, he would just party it away and would be broke within a week’s time. Groucho on the other hand would save a portion of his pay each week in the bank or invest in the stock market money towards his retirement. Groucho finally took over Chico’s finances and money and started to save a portion towards Chico’s retirement. He had to make Chico put money aside explaining that he needed to save towards his retirement. Even though he really wanted to party away the money he made each week, Chico finally reluctantly allowed Groucho to set aside some of his pay check to be saved and invested.

Then came the stock market crash of 1929 which bankrupted most of the banks in the country. Groucho had lost everything including the money he had made Chico put aside. Groucho was feeling depressed and like a failure. He not only lost his money but his brother’s money also. After the news reached Chico and just how bad it was, he went to visit his brother, Groucho. There was Groucho sitting there feeling lower than low and Chico came and sat down next to him. Chico broke the silence by saying, “Ok, so you’re broke and I’m broke…..Who had more fun?”

Groucho had to laugh because Chico obviously had the most fun, but more importantly Chico was telling him that it was fine and even though they were in their mid 30’s they would just pick up and start again.

Now for the big historical picture. Chico and Groucho were not the only ones who had lost every bit of their retirement savings with the bank failures and market crash. Many people of retirement age had lost everything and had nothing to fall back on. Many were too old to start over and could not even work anymore. This is when Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Social Security System to provide for this demographic aged segment of society.

Now in the State Of the Union Address from George W. Bush last week, he was back on the “Privatizing Social Security” drone again. In reality, Bush wants to return the system the way it was back in the 1920’s. We are again looking at bank buyouts to keep them from going bankrupt; real estate market has crashed because of deregulated / unregulated banking policy systems. Everyone should remember Bush’s 2000 campaign statements like, “Industries can regulate themselves. Get government out of industries business so they can get down to doing business.” Well now the world stock markets are being brought down because of the real estate crash and defaults. Stock brokers have invested in risky and now crashing stocks because they were nothing more than a shell game in the first place. Let us not forget the “Junk Bonds” of a few years ago. The Social Security was set up as the safety net and buffer to these conditions.

Those of the Bush administration have their eternal medical, dental plans in place for them. They also have a secure retirement paid for them and family for life. Any citizen should ask that they have the same benefits for them also. If it is good enough for them, then it’s also good enough for me. At best don’t proactively jeopardize what I have been promised for the last 35 years of my working life with your “Privatizing Scheme.” This is just too much wealth lying around that will be too tempting for someone not to try to get their financial hands on. Why do I suspect that if looked into this one a little deeper, it probably benefits one of his campaign contributors and yes, may even make it easy for those parties to raid and rob what the baby boomer working class has set aside for their old age?

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