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Michael Hiltzik: How to save Social Security

February 16, 2010 |  6:51 pm

Number-one answer: Keep it away from politicians who want to "fix" it.

As I observed last year, and reiterate in my Wednesday column, these people aim to "fix" Social Security the way one "fixes" a cat. Their goal is to shatter the social compact created by Franklin Roosevelt in 1935, when for the first time in American history the nation took communal responsibility for its citizens' welfare.

FDR in his first inaugural speech talked of the lesson of the Depression as being that "our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men." Social Security stands as the purest expression of that lesson to emerge from the New Deal.

For that reason, conservatives have never ceased trying to kill it. They've slandered it as deficit-ridden (it runs a surplus), criticized it as not worth the money (it's the only retirement plan that guarantees a lifelong pension at minimal cost), warned that it won't be there when younger workers need it (true--if the conservatives have their way). 

Isn't it time we stopped listening?

The column starts below:

Like a zombie tromping through a Hollywood gorefest, the idea of privatizing Social Security still walks among us.

The last promoter of the idea that people should personally invest their Social Security assets in the stock market was President George W. Bush, in 2001. With the dot-com crash still ringing in people's memories, the idea died in 2005.

The market hasn't yet recovered from its most recent crash, but the monster unaccountably is back on its feet. This time it comes dressed up as part of the "Roadmap for America’s Future" recently unfurled by Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), the ranking GOP member of the House Budget Committee.

Read the whole column.

-Michael Hiltzik

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