Thursday, October 9, 2008

This is why people shouldn't be able to invest their own social security funds

Over 10 years,

stocks are essentially flat with no gain.

stocks are down 2% adjusting for inflation including dividends.

stocks are down 17% adjusting for inflation.

Since most finanical planners use a 5 year horizon for risk, that means for 2 investment cycles, many investors have either lost money in real terms or lost purchasing power to inflation.

You can see all that the government is doing to "help" the markets today, imagine if there were trillions more of social security dollars at risk.

The fact is politicians will not allow significant losses to future retirees. They will first try to interfere and "save" the market, and if not they will supplement the losses to investors as they retire.

No one thinks voting retirees will willingly accept a 10%-20% loss in real or purchasing terms and not demand the government make them whole.

Conservatives and some Democrats were not honest when selling the idea of personal accounts. They focused on the historic gains in the stock market rather than the well known erractic nature of a free market. Creative destruction is a feature of capitalism that helps the people renew their economy and lifestyle. In the process, many people are wiped out.

For instance, people who owned horses as transportation got wiped out as cars took over.

What happens when too many people (especially those ready to retire) invest their life savings in horses as cars are coming on the market?

I believe in a free market that has downside risk that we must acknowledge on a personal basis.
We should mandate that people participate in a social security program that keeps a healthy portion of retirement savings free from risk. Beyond that people should be on their own to risk what they want and accept the consequences.

Were we in a stronger country where people had integrity to accept losses when they were prepared to accept the gains, I'd support more personal freedom, but it is clear very few people would be intellectually honest and not beg the government to pay them for their losses.

For the sake of our own prosperity, we must begin to accept more personal responsibility, and the consequences of our failures.

Craig Farmer
making the word "liberal" safe again!

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