Talk:Social Security debate (United States)/Archive1

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POV problems

The 'Framing the debate' section, which is a key section to this article, has major POV problems.

...advocates of major change in the system generally argue that drastic action is necessary because Social Security is facing a "crisis" -- Bush described it as a "structural problem" his weekly radio address [he] said that Social Security "is on the road to bankruptcy...Not everyone agrees. The Center for Economic and Policy Research says... Pitting Bush against a liberal think tank would be like pitting Sen. Byrd against a conservative one. It's not a fair fight.

Similarly, to blockquote a pundit like Krugman, who makes his living by his POV, hardly frames the subject in a NPOV. His assertion "it's a problem of modest size" reeks of POV. Krugman is quoted, The [CBO] report finds that extending the life of the trust fund into the 22nd century, with no change in benefits, would require additional revenues equal to only 0.54 percent of G.D.P. I'd say that Krugman's use of the word "only" proves the adage, "Where you stand depends on where you sit."

The 0.54 of GDP number may not sound like much, nor may the increase in payroll taxes from 12.5% to 15%, suggested by the Structuralists -- AS LONG AS -- the regressivity of FICA taxes, which hit the lowest-income people the hardest, is ignored. The whole history of this (IMO) dumb-assed system has been one of slowly and steadily raising the water temperature on those hapless close-to-boiling frogs known as U.S. taxpayers.[[1]]

I refer Wikipedians to my edits of this article to prove my ability to contribute NPOV information to it -- notwithstanding my own strident and unapologetic POV. And IMNPOVO, this section direly needs balancing with various reports/opinions, of equal weight. - ô¿ô 21:22, Mar 21, 2005 (UTC)

Of course Krugman's quotation is POV. So is Bush's. This is an article about a current political debate, so we present all the significant opinions, properly attributed. We could fill a whole article just with people saying that there is or is not a crisis, though, so we have to exhibit some selectivity. Bush is obviously the most prominent spokesperson on his side. The Democrats have adopted a strategy of denouncing his idea in generic terms and waiting until he submits a specific plan -- presumably because they believe that, despite all the hoopla about private accounts, the actual plan that Bush eventually endorses will include benefit cuts, and they'll train their fire on those. At any rate, regardless of their motivations, they haven't gotten into much detail, so I think Krugman is one of the most notable proponents of the view that there is no crisis.
I captioned this section "Framing the debate" to indicate that it's about how both sides are trying to influence the metaphors that will be used, the issues that will receive the most attention, etc. (The term "framing" has been popularized by the work of George Lakoff.) The section isn't intended to be a detailed analysis of what would happen under current law, under Bush's plan, or anything else. It's to highlight the point that the opposing sides don't even agree on what the question is. It seems to me that the kind of additional information you're talking about would be perfectly valid for the article but would probably be more appropriate in the section about the substance of the dispute. JamesMLane 00:06, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Structure orignally located under Talk:Social Security (United States)

I've changed the structure to distinguish between discussion of the need for reform (or otherwise), and the proposal for major change. That's a first step, but how about putting both those in a social security reform article to separate that discussion from the description of SS now and its history? (It would also be easier to find a better home for that legislation list - it looks weird in the middle of the article.) This would also allow more discussion of reform/privatisation in other countries without it looking out of place. The reform article would be summarised here. And apropos of nothing pension needs a lot of work. Rd232 08:20, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

That sounds like a good idea. This is an international issue affecting all the G8 countries and more so it seems daft to put it into an article on US social security. -- Derek Ross | Talk 02:25, 2005 Jan 31 (UTC)

It affects many countries, but each country also has its own unique issues (what system is currently in place, the country's demographic prospects, etc.). Generic considerations that affect many countries could be included in the existing Social security article (which is not U.S.-specific). If people want a separate article for some reason, it shouldn't use the problematic term "reform", but should be titled "Social security changes" or some other neutral title. JamesMLane 04:03, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Arguably considerations for how else social security might be implemented have nothing to do with demographic trends per se. The article is very long and if it were to be sub-divided at all, breaking off the reform section into it's own would be very reasonable. As for complaints about the term "Social Security Reform" The fact is that is the popular term. Obviously some people might argue that the reform is unnecessary or intended to do something other than save the program. Calling "reform" non-npov is disingenuous. It is the heading of the contention that social security is unsound. I think the people who are objecting to the word "reform" are those who are convinced the proposals are not intended to save the program, but that just means there needs to be some disclosure that not everyone believes reform is necessary or that certain proposals may be false reform. Wavestream
It's not that simple. Some people would call Bush's plan a "reform". Others would argue, as you suggest, that calling it "reform" implies that it's intended to save the program and it really isn't. Still others would say that "reform" suggests a comparatively minor change, a tweaking, like a small increase in the tax rate or the retirement age, but that the term "reform" shouldn't be applied to a major structural change like privatization. We want to avoid getting into a lot of edit wars on this subject, which use of the term "reform" seems likely to provoke. JamesMLane 06:15, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
"Reform" means to "form again", and can accomodate significant restructuring. It is a response to long standing criticisms of the program, such as because its funds earn such poor return and it is not actuarially sound many if not most retirees are being screwed, they have paid much more for the program that it is worth, in the sense that they could have purchased much better benefits on the market, benefits and funds that they would own. Obviously it is too late to correct the injustice for those who are retired or near retirement. On the face of it, it is a waste of resources to continue to invest social security funds at below market returns, and the coming crisis in social security is not just fiscal but political. Ownership rights in the future will give seniors much more security at a time when otherwise a majority hispanic population will be transferring funds to a bunch of lounging retire whites. Private property funds will be much less accessible to a changed legislature than welfare type wealth tranfer funds. Generational warfare must be avoided through diplomatic action now.--Silverback 08:33, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
"Reform" means different things to different people, and quoting one definition isn't going to avert the practical problem of incessant edit wars over what can properly be called a reform. As a matter of how best to present information to the readers, not all of whom may be using the same dictionary as you, I think we're just better off avoiding the term. JamesMLane 06:29, 2 Feb 2005 (UTC)

New democratic party chairman Dean referred to Bush's proposal as a "reform" proposal in his acceptance speech, when he was making the point that it is not enough for Democrats to criticize, they will have to put forward their own "reform" proposals.--Silverback 15:04, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
The DNC has also referred to "the George W. Bush plan to dismantle Social Security." [2] I don't think that either "reform" or "dismantle" should be used to characterize Bush's plan except in a direct quotation. JamesMLane 16:15, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I don't think User:JamesMLane is giving due weight to how the term "reform" is being currently used in discussions about proposed changes in Social Security. The above dispute over semantics will remained unresolved this side of dissecting Plato.
IMO, if Wikipedia is going to devote articles to current events, a little bit of journalistic horse sense ought to apply. I doubt that many would accuse ABC-CBS-NBC-CNN-FOX of bias for using the term "Social Security reform," nor will anyone reasonable accuse Wikipedia of a non-neutral POV for doing so.
User:JamesMLane says he fears edit wars, and I suppose that's why he wrote (below, under "Breaking the Article in Two"), "...the title you've (ô¿ô) chosen for the daughter article is unacceptable." However, in this section, which discusses the use of "reform," the only contributor who seems to have a problem with the term is User:JamesMLane.
Having a life, it's a rare case when I'm willing to engage in edit or revert wars on Wikipedia -- and the case of "reform" as it relates to Social security is not one of them. I've stated my case (here as well as below, under "Breaking the Article in Two"), and whoever wants war can have at it. ô¿ô 20:09, Mar 13, 2005 (UTC)

Breaking the Article in Two orignally located under Talk:Social Security (United States)

At risk of being flamed, I have moved the latter part of this article, which deals with proposed reforms, to a new page: Social Security reform (United States).

Since the subject of reform is a hot topic right now, and the shape of future reforms are unknown, and since the article as it stands now naturally breaks into these two sections, I believe that both the program as it now exists, and the proposed reforms deserve their own separate articles.

I apologize for any talk subjects, above, that will have to be moved to the discussion page of the new article.

No worries. I got on my flame-proof suit. — ô¿ô 21:53, Mar 9, 2005 (UTC)

It's usually better to precede such a major change with discussion on the talk page. In this instance, if you look earlier on the page you'll see discussion of the word "reform". I think that a split might be a good idea but the title you've chosen for the daughter article is unacceptable. A more objective description would be something like Social Security controversy (United States). Before I move it to there, however, I'll see what other titles people want to suggest, so the poor article doesn't get batted around from one title to another like a ping-pong ball. Furthermore, when material is split off into a daughter article, it's generally advisable to leave behind a summary at the main article. I think that should be done here. JamesMLane 01:26, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Oops! Violated Wikipedia's SOP, did I? I suppose I got sucked in by the "this article is too long" notice, without bothering to look at the notice's link on how to shorten articles. Had I done so, I would have read, "Do not take precipitious action... There is no need for haste. Discuss the overall topic structure with other editors."
Some of us learn the hard way betimes.ô¿ô I'm tempted to, like Mom always told me, "Put everything back the way you found it." But I still think the split is a good idea. I made a new page, basically, out of the second half. Here's what got moved to the Social Security reform (United States):
1 The Debate
1.1 Overview
1.2 Proposals
1.2.1 Adjustments within the current framework
1.2.2 Privatization Pros and cons of privatization
1.2.3 Bush's proposal Substance of the dispute over Bush's proposal Politics of the dispute over Bush's proposal
2 See also
2.1 Articles
2.2 Speeches
2.3 Pro-privatization websites
2.4 Anti-privatization websites]]
Note that many of the links, but not all, are duplicated on both pages.
Re: "...the title you've chosen for the daughter article is unacceptable." Hard to argue with that, I suppose. But with all due respect, allow me pose the same question that, for some years, I pestered Mom with: "Why?"
Notwithstanding the debate over semantics, above: What the President proposed, he called "reform" ("One of America's most important institutions — a symbol of the trust between generations — is also in need of wise and effective reform.") What's being talked about in the news is "reform." What the politicians and pundits are arguing is "reform." And, as events unfold, what will be updated in the new article will be the successes and failures of "reform," including any leftover or new-found controversies.
For my money, Googlers, who might be interested in a Wikipedia article on the subject, are much more apt to search for "Social Security reform" than "Social Security controversy." -- ô¿ô 19:05, Mar 13, 2005 (UTC)
I think that Social Security reform might be seen as biased in favor of those advocating Bush's personal accounts, whereas Social Security controversy is a bit biased in favor of those opposed to the personal accounts. As a middleground, what do you all think of Social Security debate (United States) ? - Walkiped 19:36, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Bush did indeed call his plan a "reform". The Democrats call it "dismantling". From the Democratic POV, "Attack on Social Security" would be an accurate title. Instead of using a title that's slanted toward either side, we should pick one that's indisputably NPOV. That's more important than boosting our Google ranking. There are, of course, ethical and unethical methods of search engine optimization; for Wikipedia, departing from our NPOV principle for SEO reasons would be unethical. As for "controversy" or "debate", they seem fairly similar to me. The former is more accurate in that it's broader. Someone might think "debate" referred to a particular TV appearance in which a White House spokesperson squared off against a Democratic Senator. I don't see a bias here. Bush wants privatization, lots of other people don't, so there's a controversy. Even if you think that Bush is completely correct, it's NPOV to report that his proposal is controversial. JamesMLane 19:48, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I'll put in my vote for "reform." Not because I like the plan, but because in the american political lexicon, reform has come to mean any proposal to change an existing system. The word has been so overused by politicians that it has come to have no meaning.--Fredrik Coulter 20:04, Mar 13, 2005 (UTC)
I think reform carries positive undertones, if unintentionally, while controversy can have negative undertones (i.e., to call something controversial casts a bit of a shadow over the topic (although I'll readily admit that the proposed changes to SS are controversial)). I think debate carries little risk of confusing people into thinking the article discusses one specific debate event (such as a televised debate), and is a much more neutral term than reform or controversy. - Walkiped 20:13, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)
...and as far as SEO goes, can't we just redirect from Social Security reform and/or Social Security controversy to whatever title we end up agreeing on? - Walkiped 20:15, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Instead of taking it personally, I'll count the backhanded and unfounded besmirching of my ethics -- by my good friend, that great American, and Concerned Citizen of the world, User:JamesMLane -- as mere lawyerly overkill in a debate that has overmuch engaged the alpha-verses-beta feelings in the more primitive parts of the cerebral cortexes of some.
I will point out, however, that all this handwringing among the Wikipedic pack about the NPOV of the common English word "reform," in the real world, when it comes to Social Security, is now moot. That is unless, from our high and lofty perch -- out here on the astral plane among the Platonic essences -- we want to label all of the below news sources as biased:
Have fun, girls - ô¿ô 22:20, Mar 13, 2005 (UTC)
I wasn't besmirching your ethics, but I assure you that the mainstream media are indeed biased. Consider this quotation from one of the very links you provide:
Dems may have forgotten how to elect a Presidential candidate, but the party still has one trick left in its threadbare bag of tricks: the ability to scare seniors silly with ads that warn of the perils of privatization. (from the MSNBC story)
More broadly, the media bias is shown by what they don't say. "Bush talks about how, in 2018, expenses will exceed tax revenues, but his plan is to divert some of the tax revenues so that the negative cash flow occurs sooner, not later." That would be a perfectly accurate statement, but the media are afraid of saying that the Emperor has no clothes. Anyway, I have no problem with "reform" used as ABC and CBS did, in a report of what some politician said. It's NPOV to report that politicians choose to wrap themselves in the mantle of "reform", whether what they're proposing is actually reform (as with Clinton) or is a major overhaul (as with Bush). As for Fox News, demonstrating bias there is certainly shooting fish in a barrel, but the link you gave is a sterling example; they talk about the benefits of private accounts without ever mentioning that the plan would involve borrowing some thirteen-figure amount, with interest and repayment of principal to be charged to the same people that Fox wants us to believe would benefit from privatization.
Getting back to the specifics of the article title, I can live with Walkiped's suggested compromise of "debate". I don't see how anyone can call that biased. JamesMLane 06:43, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Re: "reform" verses "major overhaul," see the "Protestant Reformation" (circa 1500). In that context "reform" was -- to say the least -- synonymous with "major overhaul." Synonymous, even though the Roman Catholic popes, no doubt, preferred calling it "the Lutheran heresy." "Reform" came to be viewed as NPOV because the Protestants remained Christian. That became the salient point.
That said: in this case, I can live with "reform," "controversy," "debate," or whatever-along-those-lines as the title of the article. And I can do so despite my personal POV, as one who often leans libertarian, that in reality the issue is none of the above.
In the mean time, I would warn you Wikipedians about allowing the meanings of words to be parsed by partisans in debates which, in the long run, will prove ephemeral. It's fine to let them fight over whether or not Bush's proposal is a "reform." But I fear that you may be allowing them to edit the lexicon about what the word "reform" means, and thereby, are allowing them step over a line that they, by no means, are qualified to cross.
I'd put the issue under the title of "reform," because overall, that's the rubric under which it's being argued (and I could add to the above list 200 news articles from 100 U.S. newspapers as illustrations). But the main point that I've been trying to introduce into this discussion is why -- in this article and in other Wikipedia articles that cover controversial current events -- this is a valid, nay, an important criterion. Important to avoid being manipulated by partisans.
Contrary to popular opinion, neither Wikipedic NPOV nor journalistic objectivity hinges upon "telling both sides of the issue." To agree that "major overhaul" cannot be synonymous with "reform," based upon the semantic parsings of certain partisans who are against the Bush plan, is to be manipulated by a false dichotomy. The term "both sides of the issue" is a canard in itself, because in this wide world there are many points of view.
From my particular POV, the current Social Security system is a Ponzi scheme, and in any case, the government has no business forcing people to save for retirement, whether through the current system or by wholly privatized accounts. From my POV, nothing short of returning the responsibility of saving for retirement to the citizens, along with eliminating double taxation on savings, would qualify as "reform." And Bush's plan does not qualify. From my POV, this issue isn't a "controversy," it's a "tempest in a teapot"; it isn't a "debate," it's "much-ado-about-nothing," because the salient point isn't being addressed. So how is my POV going to be accommodated by any of these words?
Clearly, accommodating every POV is impossible. So a wise journalist -- and a Wikipedian striving for NPOV -- must recognize that she or he is going to have to use her or his best judgement to determine the general terms under which a particular issue is being discussed -- all the while duly noting the objections to such terms as they arise. And she or he is just going to have to live with the fact that no matter which terms are chosen, partisan objections over semantics will invariably arise.
I would note that this criterion is used in fields other than journalism and Wikipedia theory. The counselor will recall the recent Supreme Court decision, Roper v. Simmons, where the court examined the current consensus -- among the several states and other Western countries -- regarding the meaning of "cruel and unusual," in order to justify overturning its own previous decision about executing juveniles.
They are definitely judgement calls -- whether the new article deals with proposed "reform," and whether executing 17-year-old murderers is "cruel and unusual" -- but my vote, for the title of the new article, goes to Social Security reform (United States).
BTW, is the split going to remain in effect under some title or other? Without objection, I propose moving this discussion, and the above discussion under "Structure," to the talk page of the daughter article. - ô¿ô 19:54, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)
I have mixed feelings about the split but I can go along with it, although there's still some work to be done as a consequence (how each article references the other, etc.). As for the name, I prefer "controversy", you prefer "reform", but both of us have expressed willingness to accept Walkiped's suggested compromise of "debate", so I'm moving the article there. Finally, this discussion is already referred to by a pointer on the daughter article's talk page. If you want to move it, just leave a similar pointer on the main article's talk page. JamesMLane 00:37, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Cool. With the redirect, there'll be no problem with people searching for "Social Security reform" being able to find the daughter article. - ô¿ô 19:13, Mar 15, 2005 (UTC)

Historical Social Security controversies

If someone wants to write about the controversy about social security, you might want to look at the supreme court opinions. There were three cases, all announced on May 24, 1937, with Cardozo writing the majority opinions. The voting was different in the three cases for various reasons, but there were dissenting opinions written by McReynolds, Sutherland, and Butler, that discuss why four of the nine justices thought that various parts of the program were unconstitutional from the very beginning. Morris 00:34, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)

What? Write? You mean contribute actual information? To the article?
Seriously though, great point. Portending to being encyclopedic, this article ought not get stuck on current events. And the controversies and debates over the program have a lot of history beyond the current arguments about reform whatever it is they're arguing about. Maybe the article should be renamed "Social Security controversies (United States)," and include the historic as well as the current controversies. - ô¿ô 19:21, Mar 15, 2005 (UTC)
I decided to augment the other article Social Security (United States) with more historical information about the creation of the program in the 1930's. Morris 03:09, Mar 21, 2005 (UTC)
The Reagan Administration, the Clinton Administration and now the Bush Administration all proposed "Social Security Reform", because if not it will be bankrupt in 10years - (source: Michael parenti - speech on "The Hidden Ideology of the Mass Media" to UVS in '96)

I've moved your query to the bottom because we usually put topics on a talk page in chronological order.
Your second point is a very good one and I agree that this article should have more on that subject. Your first point, however, poses difficulties precisely because of the insurance-vs-investment issue. Bush has focused on retirement benefits. His explanation of how survivors' and disability benefits would be handled has amounted, so far, to the assurance that people will be taken care of. Right now, there really is no "Bush/GOP plan" that we could compare to the actual program. Whenever Bush releases an actual plan, he'll have to come to grips with the hard question about the other components of current Social Security.
Here's an example. I heard Michael Tanner, of the Cato Institute, arguing for private accounts by describing a hypothetical single mother, who works hard for years, but dies at age 59, all of her children then being older than 19. She paid Social Security taxes all those years but gets nothing from it. She wasn't old enough for retirement benefits, she was never disabled, and the children were too old to receive survivors' benefits at her death. Tanner was arguing that, with private accounts, she would have accumulated something that could be passed on to her heirs. The problem is that, across town, there's another single mother who died at a young age, leaving two children, a one-year-old and a three-year-old. Those kids will receive many years of survivors' benefits. Furthermore, because their mother didn't work all that long before her untimely death, what the children receive will far exceed what she paid in Social Security taxes. The current system functions in part like an insurance program, in which many different people pay in but only the few who suffer some misfortune receive any benefits. If the woman in Tanner's example can leave part of her private account to her heirs, then where do we get the money to pay the survivors' benefits to the other woman's children? Bush will have to disclose this aspect of his plan, along with several other specifics, before anyone can do a meaningful comparison of the type you suggest. JamesMLane 02:59, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)


I believe it would be helpful to create a graph of actual benefit payments since SS inception superimposed with a hypothetical graph based on what would have been earned in private accounts according to the Bush/GOP plan had it been the original implementation (based upon the actual performance of the stock market/investment options over the same period of time) or something that would show the difference in a real implementation.

Also, since I don't feel qualified to adjust the actual article what about the philosophical differences in the approach to fixing the problem (i.e. SS as an insurance vs. an investment)?


Yes, but

The historic results that would be shown would not include the effect of the withdrawals by the retirees. The point is that the population that invests in or uses Social Security is huge: most of the entire US population. The transactions by such a huge population would have a major effect on the market, would they not?

The Bush-backed plan depends completely on financial markets. Those who advocate the Bush-backed plan seem to lose focus when it comes to markets. In reality markets reflect trades by buyers and sellers: prices reflect the trades. (That's what markets are: the locus of trades. Prices in the markets are determined by the trades.) In the projection you request you in effect request that a graph be made that pretends that the sales transactions by the retirees would have had no effect, had Social Security been historically in the spirit of the Bush-backed plan. That makes about as much sense as adding up all one's paychecks as representing one's net worth, ignoring all that was spent. Next the incorrect claim would be made that the graph made ignoring the withdrawals by retirees indicates the Bush-backed plan would work. That would be claiming that the retirees would be supported on the basis of data that did not include support for the retirees - which the historic data does not include. Right?

You can extend that analysis: when the demographics are such that there are two workers per retiree - maybe 30 to 50 years from now - the workers will be supporting the retirees, just as much as they would under the current Social Security plan. Bush said at least 4 times on his road trip that retirees would have no access to their principal. That restriction on access avoids the downward pressure on stock prices that would result from selling off assets, which means that the retirees would be getting all the income they would receive from the dividends alone. If the retirees have a good standard of living the workers will be paying for it. If the load on the workers remains unchanged and if the retirees cannot access their principal then the quality of life for those retirees will go down. There s a porental future problem wrapped up in all of this but the Bush-backed plan provides nothing like an intelligent solution to it.

If retirees are allowed access to their principal under the Bush-backed plan then when the number of retirees becomes large then their monthly sales to support their retirement (that's the purpose of Social Security, right: support retirement?) would create downward pressure on stock prices. Stock prices would go down, all investors would experience a negative rate of return on their investments. The Bush-backed plan is a bubble.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Bush tried to sell a free-lunch plan.

I'd love to see some of this in the actual article - but I suspect I'm not the one to insert it.

Minasbeede 16:09, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

Another Request

I have a very strongly anti-Bush-scheme attitude toward Social Security reform but I believe my atittude is a result of the flaws in the scheme, not from Bush's advocacy of it. In my strongly-held POV what we see from Bush and the other privatizaton proponents is propaganda, not reasoning. It's a bad plan, no matter what connection there is between it and Bush.

Example: the "crisis" in Social Security is visible because of annual analyses of the system made by the governors of the Social Security system. OK, I can accept those, even though they and I and all know they cannot be 100% accurate. They do, however, seem to do a reasonably credible analysis. The analysis shows a problem: let's fix that.

The privatization proponents very decidely do not show any analysis of the effect of their scheme. The closest they come is a totally absurd reference to the average stock market returns over the last 70 years - or some similar time frame. If they're making a serious proposal, let's see an analysis of the same quality as that used to indicate there is a potential problem. (Question as an aside: why do any of us accept the meager analysis that Bush gives? If his scheme is enacted then retirement security will be tied to market performance. Is it actually true that the attitude is that only the existing scheme need be analyzed, that any change can be wrought without ever showing it makes sense?)

I see the Bush scheme (and it's the "Bush scheme" only in that he advocates it - it's a bad idea no matter who is for it) as being a government-mandated and government-controlled stock bubble scheme. That's right, a bubble, followed by a crash. Check it out: you'll see.

Seeing how strong my views are I very wisely have made no change at all in the article. I would suggest, though, that the issue of "propaganda always" from the privatization advocates and the issue of the "complete lack of analysis" from the privatization advocates should each get more attention, somehow.

As a research task you might go to the White House web site and read what Bush actually said in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. What he said was that under his scheme the participants in the scheme would not, in their lifetimes, get back any of their investment nor would they get back any of the accumulated growth and earnings from prior to their retirement. The scheme is touted with grand claims about the possible (and more far attention should be paid to the non-promise inherent in "possible") higher rate of return but the calculations of the "rate of return" include the principal, capital gains, and earnings. As Bush loudly and clearly says these will not be returned to the investor the "rate of return" has to be recalculated on that basis. When that is done the chance the actual monthly income a retiree would get would equal that from Social Security as it is today is very small.

One can also note that the change in demographics that is leading to there being only two workers per retiree is unchanged by the Bush scheme (unless the Bush scheme forces people to work much longer, which is a very strong possibility.) There is no such thing as a free lunch, the markets are not magic money machines. They are markets.

If there are any exceptions to not getting back the principal the only group who would have that luxury would be, of course, as you'd expect: the rich.

Minasbeede 19:57, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

OK Now

OK, now I've made a couple of changes.

Minasbeede 18:31, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

Made some edits under the Proposals section to correct POV problems. AARP and CBPP are not "non-partisan and well respected for the accuracy of their numbers". They are simply left-wing sources, and we should either say so or avoid stating their idological leanings and let the reader decide.

Secondly, the section I rewrote contained serious POV problems with phrases such as "slash" "devastate", etc.

Third, I have a dispute with the framing of the CBPP analysis. I do not consider a "reduction in the rate of increase of benefits" to be a "benefit cut". Stating that price indexing would "cut" benefits by as much as 66% is misleading, when in the end the buying power of a SS check will not decrease under any proposal. I added a disclaimer to let the reader know there is a discrepancy in views.


It looks like you've added POV problems under the guise of removing POV problems. AARP is non-partisan and asserting that it is "left-wing" doesn't in any way demonstrate that their numeric analysis is incorrect.

You may not consider a "reduction in the rate of increase of benefits" to be a "benefit cut" but the effect of the cut is to reduce the benefits below what they would otherwise have been. There's a good and useful point to be made on this issue but you don't make it. If Social Security is left as it is (not diluted with any ill-characterized "personal account" scheme) the options for keeping it self-supporting and pay-as-you-go are increasing the FICA tax, lowering benefits, or some combination of the two. It's perfectly valid to claim that changing how SS benefits are indexed will not lower the buying power of retirees (if that is true) but it's over-the-top to insist that the article not call a reduction in benefits precisely that.

Nonetheless I've made no alterations nor restorations - but I hope someone (perhaps you) will do so.

You could sign your additions with four tildes. that translates into a time stamp that identifies you as the author.

(This is a "Talk" page. I assume I can "get away" with blatant non-NPOV phrases like ill-characterized" here.) There'd be no loss at all if those words disappeared.

Minasbeede 15:16, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

To address your points:

1. My changes did not mark AARP as "left wing", I simply removed the statement that AARP is "non-partisan" (although I do think AARP is left wing). We may disagree on this point, but the reality is that AARP is the single largest entity opposing personal accounts. If they are actively opposing a plan to create personal accounts, then I would argue that they have moved beyond "non-partisan analysis" and into "advocacy". They spent $10 million opposing personal accounts for heaven's sake! Even if we strongly disagree with each other, is it not a good compromise to simply remove the offending language and leave it up to the reader to evaluate the source for partisanship?

2. I see that we also strongly disagree about the "benefit reduction" argument. Again, I think we are at an impasse regarding this language, but I don't see anything wrong with stating that there is disagreement over the terminology. In a related analogy, I don't see how anyone could call smaller future raises at your job a "wage cut" either, but that seems to be your argument. Why can't we agree to disagree and let the reader know that we disagree?

Armethius 16:11, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, OK. I did refrain from changing any of your words and instead simply posted here, in the discussion section.

For point 2 I suspect that the urge to closely define what is and what is not a "benefit cut" comes from a non-NPOV stance. SS is designed to be a self-supporting defined-benefit government program. As the demographics change it may become necessary (as has already happened with regard to the "baby boomers") to alter the program. The alterations that can be made are, broadly, of two kinds: increase the revenue devoted to SS or reduce the defined benefits from SS. If both sides of the debate can't agree on that then they need to engage in discussion until they do. Changing the formula by which benefits are calculated might better be called a "benefit formula cut" but shortening that to "benefit cut" seems to me to not do any major violence to the English language. Incidentally, I am quite comfortable with the idea of making a "benefit formula cut." I simply prefer to not try to mask that by being very pedantic about language.

For point 1 removing "non-partisan" from AARP seems to mark it partisan, which would mean supporting one or the other of the political parties. If you didn't call it "left-wing" I haven't a clue as to where I got the notion you had. It isn't "partisan" to oppose the personal account scheme. The goal of the AARP doesn't seem to be to provide any benefit to any political party, the goal seems to be to preserve the benefits to the existing (and future) constituency of the AARP.

I've added other language to the article that I'd like to be NPOV but I suspect is not. That deserves some attention. I'd at least like the message to be clear that to date Bush has not given a description (a single description that could be the basis for discussion) of a "personal account" plan (or "scheme" - in Wikipedia discussion I don't think NPOV is as necessary) nor have the Republicans in Congress shown any draft legislation for such a plan. It seems extremely clear that they want first to sell the notion of the plan without showing what it would be and without committing to anything and only after they've gotten some sort of approval of that go ahead and reveal what the plan would be. That ought to be a major "red flag" warning: the government wants to first get a plan established (that is, beyond the consideration and debate phase) and only after that has been done reveal what the plan is. A pig in a poke. While the plan is nebulous they can make contradictory assertions about how it will be without the contradiction being obvious. It's like selling a car under a tarp. Only after you've signed the contract do you get to see what the vehicle really looks like. Who would buy a car that way? When we show a preference for blue the salesman says that there's some blue to the car. when we want speed the salesman says the car is lightning fast. When we want economy the salesman says the car barely uses any fuel. The contract, of course, specifically states that what the salesman said wasn't authorized and is not part of the deal. After the contract is signed he can pull off the tarp and reveal a 1980 Oldsmobile with one flat tire - but he has a signed contract and what he promised doesn't matter. That's how Bush is selling the scheme.

This is an important and major government program. Don't we deserve an honest (and FULL) description of the changes being proposed and shouldn't we be suspicious of any politician who tries to talk us into making a change without giving an honest description of that change? At a minimum I want to see something equivalent to a mutual fund prospectus - and also an analysis of the personal account scheme at least as thorough as the analysis made every year of SS. So far it's just "may be's" and "could be's" and "perhaps similar to's" and a lot of sales pitch language. Show me the money. Minasbeede 16:11, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Issues with the Political section

IMHO, this section is full of random opinions, inconsequential events, and selective uses of data, and I really think the whole section should be scrapped, as it's just a place for each side to whine about the other.


Coming soon after the disclosure of government payments to commentator Armstrong Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind Act, the revelation prompted the objection from Dana C. Duggins, a vice president of the Social Security Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, that "Trust fund dollars should not be used to promote a political agenda."

I see no reason to mention Armstrong Williams or the NCLB act. Further, the quote from Dana Duggins is simply one woman's opinion stated out of context. Are the article authors making the claim that the Trust fund is promoting a "political agenda" or are they claiming that others make the claim? Ridiculous.

In the weeks following his State of the Union speech, Bush devoted considerable time and energy to campaigning for privatization. He held "town meetings" at many locations around the country. Attendance at these meetings was controlled to ensure that the crowds would be supportive of Bush's plan. In Denver, for example, three people who had obtained tickets through Representative Bob Beauprez, a Republican, were nevertheless ejected from the meeting before Bush appeared, because they had arrived at the event in a car with a bumper sticker reading "No More Blood for Oil". [40]

This one is even worse. What relevance does this have at all to a wikipedia article? Are we really going to include every instance of questionable campaign tactics by either side here, because it could easily overwhelm the original article...

Can anyone give me a good reason why learning that three people were ejected from a rally years ago is relevant to someone trying to learn about Social Security reform as an issue? Armethius 05:09, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Bush supporters would want it noted that he put an unusual amount of effort into this campaign, making numerous appearances on behalf of privatization. Bush detractors were indeed critical of these events on the grounds stated here -- that they weren't intended to explain government policies but were taxpayer-funded political rallies. The idea is to try represent each POV fairly without saying everything that its proponents would want included, but without suppressing it completely. The method used here is to cite a specific well-publicized example. JamesMLane t c 02:11, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Agreed, this section is mostly just a random assortment of anecdotes. Part of the problem is that how the 2005 efforts and counterefforts unfolded hasn't become part of encyclopedia-certain accepted knowledge yet. A few political books on the subject came out in 2005 trying to influence the debate (e.g., Michael A. Hiltzik's 2005 The Plot Against Social Security) and some recent histories of the Social Security program have at most one chapter on the 2005 debate (e.g., Nancy J. Altman's 2005 The Battle for Social Security: From FDR's Vision to Bush's Gamble and Daniel Beland's 2005 Social Security: History and Politics from the New Deal to the Privatization Debate). For the most part, though, it's too soon for there to have been any history written that an encyclopedia article could summarize. (I can see maybe a timeline of events in the debate along the lines of SourceWatch's dated wiki article, but the length would require a separate article.) As for this one, as long as the choice is between nothing and some cherry-picked synopses of tangential wire service stories, it ought to be nothing. - RamseyK 22:01, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

I am removing the Political section for the reasons stated above. I would also request that people take a look at section 3.3.1, which is really just a biased rehash of the Pro/Anti Privatization section. I don't think it really belongs either. Armethius 16:34, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

Where is it djecreed that the article must concern nothing but the merits of the different proposals? Who was lining up on each side, and who did what to promote their point of view, is a legitimate topic for encyclopedic coverage.
The absence of some kind of book-length history of the subject is not a valid objection. Wikipedia had extensive and detailed accounts of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake within the first day after it occurred. If "cherry-picking" means that editors are deciding what's important enough to include in the article and what isn't, well, yes, that process is going on -- as it is on the vast majority of Wikipedia articles. I'm restoring this section. If you think that particular aspects of the debate should be given more emphasis, or less, you can certainly raise those specific points. (I'm reverting to the next-to-last version, though, to remove the anti-privatization POV introduced by Chivista.) JamesMLane t c 02:05, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Who was lining up on each side, and who did what to promote their points of view, is definitely a legitimate subject for encyclopedic coverage. The question here, though, is whether the Political section does even a remotely good job of it. What we currently have is a patchwork of tangential events that does a monstrously bad job, to the point that it tells almost no coherent story at all. In comparison to a basic, indisputable timeline of major events from reliable media sources or reliable histories, this mess probably actually decreases a reader's understanding of the debate.

Obviously, Armethius and I currently hold different notions than JamesMLane when it comes to what is to be done about it. (Something of a "better to do nothing than to do harm" vs. "approach minimum competence by incremental improvement".) Had we multiple, book-length reliable sources this would be much, much easier. But we don't, so we'll have to work harder to keep this section salvageable and within the confines of Verifiability and No Original Research. Piece by piece:

The political heat has been turned up on the issue ever since Bush mentioned changing Social Security during the 2004 elections, and since he made it clear in his nationally televised January speech that he intends to work to partially privatize the system during his second term.

Adequate; all it needs is a tense adjustment (to describe what happened in 2005, not what is happening) and a double-check to make sure that either article references or paragraph citations document this thoroughly undisputed statement of fact.

* To assist the effort Republican donors were asked after the election to help raise $50 million or more for a campaign in support of the proposal, with contributions expected from such sources as the conservative Club for Growth and the securities industry. [37] (In 1983, a Cato Institute paper had noted that privatization would require "mobilizing the various coalitions that stand to benefit from the change, ... the business community, and financial institutions in particular ..." [38]

The donors part, eh, worth mentioning but it needs a better (read: journalistic) source than some Molly Ivins "Lynching Social Security" column on AlterNet. Shouldn't be too hard to find. The Cato part, though, is very much out of place. The 1983 article is significant to the overall history of Social Security privatization efforts (say, in an earlier section), but throwing it in to the 2005 Bush push section just muddles things. The Cato part also needs a better source than what amounts to some random dude's personal website.

Soon after Bush's State of the Union speech, the Club for Growth began running television advertisements in the districts of Republican members of Congress whom it identified as undecided on the issue. [39]

A start toward documenting major think-tank, interest group, and social movement participation in the 2005 debate. Ideally, this section should list the major group activities (including the COMPASS coalition, AARP, AFL-CIO, Heritage, Cato, Americans United, the FreedomWorks "single mother" debacle, investment firms and their bowing out after union protests, etc.) as verifiable in reliable newspapers of record. Currently, the inclusion of just Club for Growth severely overemphasizes this group's importance. Press releases are poor sources of first resort, as well, simply because every group overstates its own significance in the debates it enters.

On January 16, 2005, the New York Times reported internal Social Security Administration documents directing employees to disseminate the message that "Social Security's long-term financing problems are serious and need to be addressed soon," and to "insert solvency messages in all Social Security publications". [40]

Currently reads like a random fact out of context. Why is this here? For instance, in the context of the Bush administration's persistent influence on the SSA, nudging the agency's arguments from "Social Security is adequately viable" to "Social Security is a problem in need of a solution soon".

Coming soon after the disclosure of government payments to commentator Armstrong Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind Act, the revelation prompted the objection from Dana C. Duggins, a vice president of the Social Security Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, that "Trust fund dollars should not be used to promote a political agenda."

Also needs context. Why is this relevant? We can't do the original research ourselves here, so what are reliable sources saying about why it matters at all that some officer in some union made some public statement once? Could be part of the politicization of SSA, could be part of the patterns of interest group involvement, but this needs to be grounded in something.

In the weeks following his State of the Union speech, Bush devoted considerable time and energy to campaigning for privatization. He held "town meetings" at many locations around the country. Attendance at these meetings was controlled to ensure that the crowds would be supportive of Bush's plan. In Denver, for example, three people who had obtained tickets through Representative Bob Beauprez, a Republican, were nevertheless ejected from the meeting before Bush appeared, because they had arrived at the event in a car with a bumper sticker reading "No More Blood for Oil". [41]

Oy. Bush's public efforts and town meetings, yes, just double-check for references or citations somewhere. The rigging of attendance, eh, maybe worth mentioning but mostly iffy. Is this something specific to Bush during his Social Security push, or is this just standard practice for "town hall" events in American politics these days? Three people getting ejected from one event, total tangent, toss it. The AP article cited is a dead link, now, too.

* Opponents of Bush's plan have analogized his dire predictions about Social Security to similar statements that he made to muster support for the 2003 Invasion of Iraq; see, for example, this advertisement[42](80k external PDF file).

Translation: said it was very bad once. Bleh. As above, context: why is this relevant?

* A dispute between the AARP and a conservative group for older Americans, USA Next, cropped up around the time of the State of the Union speech. The AARP had supported Bush's plan for major changes in Medicare in 2003, but it opposed his Social Security privatization initiative. In January 2005, before the State of the Union Address, the AARP ran advertisements attacking the idea. In response, USA Next launched a campaign against AARP. Charlie Jarvis of USA Next stated: "They [AARP] are the boulder in the middle of the highway to personal savings accounts. We will be the dynamite that removes them." [43]

Painfully compressed. AARP participated throughout 2005, later in cooperation with the AFL-CIO. So did several much smaller conservative AARP-competitors. These scattered facts - so far mostly just around January 2005, before the bulk of the debate this section is attempting to summarize - aren't adding up to much of use.

The tone of the debate between these two interest groups is merely one example among many of the tone of many of the debates, discussions, columns, , articles, letters, and white papers that Bush's proposal, to touch the "third rail," has sparked among politicians, pundits, thinktankers, and taxpayers.

Bleh. This is original research (interpretation/analysis), and without any sources too. Toss it.

Some of the critics of Bush's plan argued that its real purpose was not to save the current Social Security system, but to lay the groundwork for dismantling it. They note that, in 2000, when Bush was asked about a possible transition to a fully privatized system, he replied: "It's going to take a while to transition to a system where personal savings accounts are the predominant part of the investment vehicle. ... This is a step toward a completely different world, and an important step." [44] His comment is consonant with the Cato Institute's reference in 1983 to a "Leninist strategy" for "guerrilla warfare against both the current Social Security system and the coalition that supports it." [45]

Bleh again. The first part is a summary of an unsourced summary (a Jonathan Chait column at TNR), and confuses more than it enlightens when it depicts Chait's analysis as "some critics" / "they". The second part - the reference to the 1983 Cato article again from that same personal web site - is original research: is some reliable source for analysis arguing that this is going on? Toss this, too, or back it up with some kind of reliable political history making this chain of argument.

Immediately after Bush's State of the Union speech, a national poll brought some good news for each side of the controversy. [46] Only 17% of the respondents thought the Social Security system was "in a state of crisis", but 55% thought it had "major problems". The general idea of allowing private investments was favored by 40% and opposed by 55%. Specific proposals that received more support than opposition (in each case by about a two-to-one ratio) were "Limiting benefits for wealthy retirees" and "Requiring higher income workers to pay Social Security taxes on ALL of their wages". The poll was conducted by USA Today, CNN, and the Gallup Organization.

We're still stuck in January 2005. Just throwing in one public opinion poll from right at the start of the debate is not helpful. What would be helpful would be some reliable source or sources assessing the change (or not) in public opinion during the months of 2005 efforts and counterefforts. Good luck.

Bush's April press conference, in which for the first time he expressly endorsed benefit reductions, sparked disagreement about where the burden would fall. Bush referred to "people who are better off". [47] Many media summaries accepted the characterization that "wealthy" retirees would be affected, and that benefits for lower-income people would grow. [48] Opponents countered that middle-class retirees would also experience cuts, and that those below the poverty line would receive only what they are entitled to under current law. [49] Democrats also expressed concern that a Social Security system that primarily benefited the poor would have less widespread political support. [50] Finally, the issue of private accounts continued to be a divisive one. Many legislators remained opposed or dubious, while Bush, in his press conference, said he felt strongly about the point.

Ugh. Just... ugh. A string of sentences, not a paragraph making a point.

It has been suggested that "even without broad Congressional or public support, President Bush just may... enact his private accounts idea... [b]y executive order" as he did with his faith based initiative, parts of the war on terror, and relaxation of business regulations. [51]

Total speculation from a CNN story that doesn't even have a byline. Who was doing the suggesting? Utter dreck, toss it.

Despite Bush's emphasis on the issue, many Republicans in Congress were not enthusiastic about his proposal. In late May 2005, House Majority Whip Roy Blunt listed the "priority legislation" to be acted on after Memorial Day; Social Security was not included. [52] In September, some Congressional Republicans pointed to the budgetary problems caused by Hurricane Katrina as a further obstacle to acting on the Bush proposal. [53] Congress did not enact any major changes to Social Security in 2005, or before its pre-election adjournment in 2006.

Decent, gets the point across with documentation.

During the campaigning for the 2006 midterm election, Bush stated that reviving his proposal for privatizing Social Security would be one of his top two priorities for his last two years in office. [54]

Decent, an undisputed point of fact.

All and all, a real mess and too incomplete to offer any useful account of the months of 2005 efforts from various parties. Describing an earthquake and its impact, as the example cited aptly demonstrates, is simply a matter of assembling well-established facts. Describing an extended political controversy, in which the extent of various groups' participation is not obvious and the relevance of various events toward the debate's outcomes is yet poorly understood, is nowhere near as simple. As it exists and as it is likely to exist for the foreseeable future, this section confuses more than it helps. My suggestion is to either (a) quarantine it in Talk until a minimally coherent version can be assembled (probably not feasible), or (b) delete it entirely and start a separate, timeline-of-2005 (2004-2006?) article in which the many holes in need of filling would be apparent to both readers and future contributors. - Kelly Ramsey 05:14, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Why the change?

You removed a section of this article on Feb. 3 and gave no indication of why. Could you please explain the flaw you found in the removed section?

Others: What do you think? (I could easily entertain the notion of changing the last sentence of what was removed.)

Minasbeede 22:11, 6 February 2007 (UTC)


Having received no reply I've restored the removed text, with useful revisions made to the last sentence. I'd still appreciate any comments/guidance that might be given.

Minasbeede 00:50, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Social Security: Idolatry and Slavery

Could this website ( be used to add a short paragraph to the article saying that Social Security is idolatry and slavery, & should not exist? It doesn't say that SS only exists because the wage is also slavery & idolatry & unjust, so I know we can't say that part, but can we use the website & it's heading? Sundiiiiii 17:37, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

Also, the link to "Notes" section "#29 Is Social Security a Ponzi Scheme?" doesn't work, so should it be deleted? Sundiiiiii 17:47, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
We report objective facts, including facts about notable opinions. That's why our article doesn't take a position on Bush's privatization proposal, but reports the comments made by supporters and opponents. The website you note, however, is not significant. We don't try to cover every point of view -- only the major ones. The argument that Social Security is idolatry and slavery is not significant in the current debate, so it doesn't belong here. As another editor told you on your talk page in a different context, we wouldn't include a particular religious point of view, based on an interpretation of the Bible, "unless you can provide evidence that said interpretation is widely endorsed". JamesMLane t c 23:59, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
As for the link: It's certainly interesting (though hardly surprising) that the Bush Administration has scrubbed an informative, well-researched page that was useful to the public but that happened to undercut Bush's political objectives. Perhaps in 2009 we will again have an honest government and that link will work once more. Until then, I've substituted a link to the Web Archive, which fortunately kept the page on its own server, where Dim Son and his minions couldn't get at it. JamesMLane t c 00:39, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Retirees forbidden to access principal, according to Bush

It cannot be disputed that Bush stated that retirees would be forbidden access to their principal: that is documented on the White House web site.


"That restriction would have the effect of prolonging the growth phase of the bubble"

Is indeed "Original Research." It's logical and truthful, but not sourced. Nobody, as far as I can see, ever bothered to analyze the personal account scheme on its own merits so nobody ever reported that forbidding retirees to access their principal would have the effect of prolonging the stock bubble that is at the heart of the personal account scheme. Nobody did an analysis of the scheme as it related to the nature of the financial markets and to financial market behavior. It's all examples of that forbidden "original research."

But that Bush stated in several of his presentations that retirees would be forbidden to access their principal is fully documented on the White House web site and was also reported by the New York Times. It is no surprise at all that once the NY Times reported what Bush was saying he stopped saying it.


The right desires to terminate Social Security

Part of this sentence was removed from the article:

Nevertheless, many of the proposals being debated could fundamentally change the system and there are non-candidates on the right who have been forthright in saying that they desire to end the program.

It is just about inconceivable that anyone could doubt the truth or neutrality of the removed material. They do say it, have been saying it for over 70 years. That advocates on the far right desire to end Social Security is pertinent to this discussion. --Minasbeede 19:23, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I think the statement is pertinent and true, but in the absence of a citation I can understand why someone removed it. Can you find a specific reference to some prominent spokesperson who explicitly takes this position (not just some wingnut posting on Free Republic)? If so, we can restore the statement. JamesMLane t c 09:50, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
Isn't it common knowledge that the right has opposed Social Security from its inception and wishes to see it terminated? Granted, if that's true there should be tons of citations to show it. What would be hard to find would be a citation that shows that the right wishes to preserve Social Security. I think what we have is a situation in which the right fully desires and intends to end Social Security but recognizes that no candidate can state that as part of his platform. From that we get the statement about no candidate from either of the two major parties advocating the end of Social Security, but that reflects a recognition of a political reality, not a stance in favor of keeping and strengthening Social Security. Is there any doubt at all that the Bush effort was just a first step toward a planned-for total privatization? Is there any doubt at all that the ideologues on the right will not be content until the existing Social Security is totally destroyed?
In any event it's also blindingly true that the right has not ever presented for its own scheme anything remotely resembling the annual assessment of the current Social Security system. The right hasn't even shown us what the scheme is, they just make grand promises and sweeping generalities about what the plan might be and repeat 70-year-old attacks on the existing system. If there's a real useful point to what I have to say it is that we ought to have (and demand) an adequate description and analysis of any proposed change. The current status of the "Social Security debate" is that the right does not even provide a working description of what it is that they propose. They'd have me believe that just anybody can invest in the stock markets and over the long term make a profit. (No broker could make that claim. Every broker would have to couple any prediction of future performance predicted on the basis of past performance with an explicit warning that there is no guarantee that future performance will be the same as past performance. I recall seeing the Steadman funds all clustered around the bottom of the performance listings. There is no guarantee.) Maybe the right thinks that debate rules are less stringent than SEC rules but as they are advocating what it is to be done with other people's retirement money it would seem more than proper for the SEC-level discipline to be required for all advocates of changes based on investing in financial markets. But it's "original research" to say that. --Minasbeede 15:27, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
Please leave the long blog posts for your own personal website. This is Wikipedia, not Wikidebate. Commentary on the talk pages that has nothing to do with improving the article can be removed. --Gloriamarie (talk) 20:11, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
Feel free to pare the above down to what is proper and to move the rest to my talk page. I thank you in advance for this improvement to Wikipedia. Minasbeede (talk) 21:04, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

Footnote numbers

The footnote numbering seems to be messed up. The article currently uses the Wikipedia:Footnote3 style, which is permissible but no longer recommended. I'm not familiar with its intricacies. Does anyone know why the first footnote is numbered "4"? Is that connected to the later discrepancies between footnote numbers in text and in the list at the end of the article? JamesMLane t c 05:14, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

"CON:Would alter the president’s tax-cutting plans."

Is someone trying to be satirical or what? This is very POV. (talk) 06:51, 19 May 2008 (UTC)