An investment advisory on the Internet notes that if you had bought $1,000 worth of Enron stock a year ago, you'd now be down to $16.50. If you'd bought $1,000 worth of WorldCom stock, you'd only have $5 left from your investment. But ... if you'd bought $1,000 worth of Budweiser (the beer, not the stock), drank all the beer, and cashed in the cans for the 10-cent deposit, you would have $214. So, the prudent investment strategy is clear: Drink heavily and recycle.
Yet, George W. Bush continues to put on his "What, me worry?" face and insist that the prudent strategy for us Americans is to privatize our Social Security funds. In July - even as George was in full political howl about the spreading corporate crime wave that has turned highly touted stocks into trash - he blithely said again that our retirement money should be entrusted to such Wall Street finaglers and to a market that recently has frittered away trillions of dollars of people's investment capital. It's as though reality is a complete stranger in W's head.
Bush's privatization scheme would require that you funnel your Social Security funds into the stock market through a handful of private investment groups owned and managed by such massive outfits as Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and Goldman Sachs. Hello. These are the very firms now in the headlines and appearing before congressional investigators for having been in cahoots with Enron, WorldCom and the other ponzi schemes that bilked workers and investors out of billions of dollars.
George might be a fuzzyheaded market ideologist who still believes in laissez-faire fantasies, but these fund managers are cold-eyed opportunists who know that they would reap huge annual fees if only they can get their hands on our Social Security funds.
Bush's privatization push is stupid, but stupid is no barrier to this president. To stop his stupidity, call Campaign for America's Future: (202) 955-5665.
Radio talk-show host and author Jim Hightower is a former agricultural commissioner of Texas.