Tuesday, April 26, 2005

And *That* Makes All The Difference


In suggesting that we should emulate Chile's system of private pensions to replace Social Security, John Tierney states:
You may suspect that Pablo has prospered only because he's a sophisticated investor, but he simply put his money into one of the most popular mutual funds. He has more money in it than most Chileans because his salary is above average, but lower-paid workers who contributed to that fund for the same period of time would be in relatively good shape, too, because their projected pension would amount to more than 90 percent of their salaries.

By contrast, Social Security replaces less than 60 percent of your salary - and that's only if you were a low-income worker. Typical recipients get back less than half of their salaries.
Okay... all well and good. But what if the stock market underperforms? Tierney explains that "But if you contribute for at least 20 years, Chile guarantees you a minimum pension that, relative to the median salary, is actually more generous than the median Social Security check."

You know what, John? If President Bush were to propose private accounts with an accompanying guarantee that nobody's Social Security benefits would be reduced as a result, we wouldn't even be having a debate. If he guaranteed benefits more generous than those which would be paid under the current system, as you assert is the case under the Chilean system you wish for us to emulate, the nation would stampede to support him. When can we expect your column explaining why Bush doesn't offer such a guarantee?

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