Plotting to Privatize

Cato Journal, vol. 3, no.2 (Fall 1983) (700kB PDF) xlnk.gif. copyright © Cato Institute.

It began in 1982 at the “Rebuilding Social Security” Conference at the radical-right Heritage Foundation, but the plot against Social Security was fleshed out by Butler (a Cato director) and Germanis (an analyst at Heritage) in the Fall 1983 issue of Cato’s journal, summarized through quotes here: [Emphasis added.]

Lenin recognized that fundamental change is contingent upon … its success in isolating and weakening its opponents. … we would do well to draw a few lessons from the Leninist strategy. (p. 547)

“we must recognize that we need more than a manifesto … we must … construct … a coalition that will … reap benefits from the IRA-based private system Ferrara has proposed but also the banks, insurance companies, and other institutions that will gain from providing such plans to the public.” (p. 548)

“By approaching the problem in this way, we may be ready for the next crisis in Social Security.” (p. 548)

“From a purely political standpoint, it should be remembered that the elderly represent a very powerful and vocal interest group.” (p. 549)

A Plan of Action 
“The first element consists of a campaign to achieve small legislative changes that embellish the present IRA system, making it in practice a small-scale private Social Security system. … thenatural constituency for an enlarged IRA system must be … welded into a coalition for political change.” (p. 551)

“The second main element … involves what one might crudely call guerrilla warfare against both the current Social Security system and the coalition that supports it.” (p. 552)

Creating a Private Model  
“The reason for designing a “super IRA” law with these restrictions is purely political.”  (p. 552)

“Social Security reform requires mobilizing the various coalitions that stand to benefit from the change, … the business community, and financial institutions in particular … “(p. 553)

“The banking industry and other business groups that can benefit from expanded IRAs …”

“… the strategy must be to propose moving to a private Social Security system in such a way as to … neutralize … the coalition that supports the existing system.” (p. 555)

The next Social Security crisis may be further away than many people believe. … it could be many years before the conditions are such that a radical reform of Social Security is possible. But then, as Lenin well knew, to be a successful revolutionary, one must also be patient and consistently plan for real reform.” (Concluding paragraph, p. 556