Friday, February 25, 2005

An object at rest . . .

So it seems that, at least for now, the effort to privatize Social Security (read: gut SS) has stalled. And the question now must be, when will it start again? And, maybe more importantly, when it starts again, how will it get going?

The nature of political momentum seems to suggest that Bush will need to generate some external force from somewhere in order to get the death of SS rolling again. As a lame duck president, it's not entirely clear to me where he's going to get that from. Some have suggested that he'll look to another security crisis. I'm not sure how a security crisis that renews people's insecurity will give him momentum to eviscerate a program with the word "security" in it, but I guess if he can spin it well enough, anything's possible. Furthermore, word on the street is that Bush is talking "incentives" with the Europeans on Iran, though Scott Ritter, former weapons inspector, claims that Bush has plans to bomb Iran in the spring.

(Really quickly, let me just say that bombing Iran would be a monumentally stupid idea. One good reason, that might not be immediately obvious, is that the newly elected government of Iraq will most likely have a religious Shiite leader with, at least, religious sympathy for Iran. The new Iraqi government are not people we want to piss off. And any sort of Iran-Iraq entente is also something we don't want to see.)

So, where will Bush get his momentum from? I think, ironically, it could come from hints of weakness on Wall Street. Fund managers and stock traders would really like to see their coffers grow as millions of Americans channel funds into their hands, and it would do a lot to increase the demand for American shares. It might be that a wobbly stock market could bring about arguments that we need to inject the economy with more money for investment, through the privatization of Social Security accounts. Now, that argument is horribly wrong, since by most accounts our stock market, despite some declines, is still overvalued, and any influx of Social Security money would be a temporary, transitory, and ultimately counterproductive action.

Okay. So. Weak post after not posting for a while.


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