, Gloucester, MA

November 29, 2012

Pointing out privatization errors

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor,

Harold Nelson’s recent letter (“Privatization and Social Security,” Times, Nov. 22) regarding privatization and government services was very well written, nicely phrased, and unfortunately, completely wrong.

Mr. Nelson refers to Social Security as a “program to be set aside as a protection for retirement.” It was never any such thing. Social Security was designed to be an immediate benefits program, with current workers paying for current retirees. The Social Security Trust Fund was formed to hold the excess revenue from current receipts. This fund was never “tapped” by Congress as asserted by Mr. Nelson. The Social Security Administration has a fiduciary duty to safeguard the value of the fund. Thus, it invested it — a pile of money is the worst way to safeguard its value — in the safest investment it could: U.S. Treasury bonds. The fund’s wealth still exists as much as the wealth my son has in his treasuries.

Medicare is “struggling” in spite of the fact it is government-run, not because of it. Unable to exert downward pressure on health costs — as has been done, successfully, in every other system of universal health care — due to the existence of private, for-profit insurance, Medicare’s costs are skyrocketing.

The Postal Service’s debt is a mastercraft example of conservative sabotage. In the George W. Bush administration, law was passed that mandated the Postal Service forward fund all its future obligations in full. Would not UPS or FedEx be in dire straits if it was required to immediately fund all future pensions and health care costs?

There are probably many things the government shouldn’t be doing, but if one can’t get the facts straight, he should keep searching before ending up with a case of “foot in mouth” in public.

Andrew Tarr