Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, January 21, 2005

Columnist's Social Security arguments flawed

On Jan. 14, columnist Matt Gray took on Bush's Social Security reform proposal. There, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the administration's plans to partially privatize Social Security on the grounds that:

1. It costs too much in the short term, and

2. Better options exist since the inherent risk of investing in the stock market is something that could lose people a lot of money, thus putting future government budgets at risk of having to take care of them, should things go bad. Instead, he offers a compromise - namely, direct government investment into the stock market, as opposed to the creation of private investment accounts.

So, Mr. Gray argues against partial privatization, but for direct government investment in the stock market. But his solution entails a caveat: imperfection. Despite its flaws, it would not be nearly as complicated or expensive as overseeing millions of private investors, he says.

Question 1: Does the risk of investing in the stock market differ for an individual as opposed to the government? It seems that one of Mr. Gray's central criticisms of the Bush plan's "inherent risk possibly leading to future costs" undermines his own solution.

Question 2: Will Social Security run out in 2042 (Mr. Gray suggests, incorrectly, that it will)? The answer is that it begins to run a deficit, though the dedicated payroll tax still pays into the system under current law. However, SSA actuaries do project in their intermediate (between best and worse case) scenario that roughly 30 percent of scheduled benefits will not be paid for. That gap, Mr. Gray, is the crux of the Social Security reform issue. And it should be understood that the Bush plan denies the existence of a dedicated tax for Social Security - the very same dedicated tax whose existence Reagan, Greenspan and Congress validated in 1983 with a regressive tax increase, which required neither partial privatization nor government investment into the stock market.

Kent Walker
UofA Bookstore employee

Majority opinion isn't always correct opinion

In Wednesday's Wildcat, Chris Biagi claimed that 90 percent of college professors are liberals because they are brilliant. It should be pointed out that this is not only false but it is also a moronic statement. The academic establishment is overwhelming liberal, just as the academic establishment in Russia used to be overwhelmingly communist. Just because the majority of people are taken in by something doesn't make it correct.

One must recall that there was a time when America's "most brilliant" and "liberal" people also thought slavery was acceptable. There was a time when these same "brilliant" people told us to appease Hitler. College professors' political views have been proven wrong time and time again. There is no reason to assume today's liberal academic mafia are any more correct then their ancestors. Rather it was the 10 percent who opposed slavery, who said "no" to Hitler and who opposed Stalinism, that have been proven prescient and correct. I know that the UA has an academic conservative underground silenced, but existing, and it will train the leaders of tomorrow.

Seth J. Frantzman
UA alumnus

Government investment is conflict of interests

I'm writing in response to a Jan. 14 column by Matt Gray regarding social security privatization. What concerned me the most was Gray's proposed solution: government investment. This seems like a very bad idea for a number of reasons, and adds some unique problems to those already inherent to privatization. At least with private accounts, the government would not have direct ties to corporations. The so-called "government investment" system reeks of conflicting interests.

Government ties to big business are already bad enough, with many officials having close relationships with corporate executives and large companies donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bush's inauguration ceremony. But this problem would be exacerbated if we allow the government to invest directly in securities. It's hard to imagine a government willing to aggressively reform the FDA if it has millions of dollars invested in Pfizer. It's hard to picture the United States not being affected in its foreign policy in the Middle East if its money is tied up in oil companies like Exxon-Mobil.

The author cites that Alan Greenspan has reservations about the government investing in the market, even though Greenspan was once a close associate with Ayn Rand and is a strong advocate of unfettered capitalism. If he isn't going to support such a program, few respectable people in Washington will.

I'm also disappointed that Gray doesn't address the ideas brought up by politicians who oppose privatization, even to refute their ideas. It's almost to imply that you either support privatization in some form or you're simply sticking your head in the sand. But other options are out there and are openly being discussed, such as reforming the extremely regressive payroll tax, which places more of a burden on lower income workers. Many experts say that modest changes in taxation and benefits can solve social security's problems, and that expensive reform is not necessary.

Gordon Davis
math and physics junior

Conservatives, not liberals, dominate country

Conservatives all over the country claim that their voice is being drowned out by constant liberal bias in the media, in academics and in every aspect of life. Mr. Riches' poorly-researched "shoot from the hip" pablum of an article is the latest example of conservative whining over nothing.

He claims that our education suffers when the faculty is more homogenized in certain ideologies. He uses the University of Colorado and Berkeley as examples, stating that 95 percent of Berkeley employees (apparently professors are included, but he doesn't say) that donated to a political campaign donated to Kerry and that Democrats outnumber Republicans 31-1 at the University of Colorado Social Sciences and Humanities Departments. Yet, he doesn't examine the math, engineering, science, agri-business or the business departments. He will notice a majority of them are Republican. But that kind of research is too complicated for his narrow political beliefs.

Mr. Riches seems to believe this concentration of political power is bad. Yet, Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate 55-45 and 232-201 (with one independent) in the House. Republicans also control the executive branch and seven out of nine Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republicans. Seems to me that the decision makers are Republican by majority and, instead of our "collective education" suffering, our collective country will suffer.

Also, Mr. Riches implies that the lack of diverse political ideas will hurt the public (in this case, university life). Tell that to Clear Channel (Limbaugh/Hannity), Westwood One (O'Reilly/Hewitt), Talk Radio Networks (Savage/Gallagher) and the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. The only liberal voice on the radio (AM or FM) is the 34-station Air America Radio. Tell that to the WSJ, Washington Times, New York Post, Newsmax, WND,, et al. who never let a liberal view in. Conservatives have their outlets, both in life and at the universitylLevel. Shamefully, Mr. Riches didn't research out his propaganda piece well enough to notice or care.

Aram S. Katz
political science senior

Don't claim to know what King would think on war

Spiritualism was a quasi-mystical-religious movement started by a couple of New York farm girls in the 1840s. The girls claimed the ability to channel spirits and converse with the dead. It was all a scam of course, but the draw was vast, allegedly all the way to the White House, where Mary Todd Lincoln was said to be a devotee. The scam ended in 1888 when one of its originators came clean, exposing the con for the bunk that it was.

Apparently, there is a revival of Spiritualism taking place in the pages of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. In Dan Post's article from Wednesday, he seems to have done some channeling of his own, communing with the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Post's assertion that "Martin Luther King Jr. would not be pleased" with the current war is, plainly, bunk. Post has no earthly (or spiritual) way of knowing what King, or any other deceased person, would think about contemporary issues.

Post also alleges that were the president only to follow the examples of Dr. King, "then at least King wouldn't be rolling in his grave." Not only can Mr. Post interpret Dr. King's departed thoughts, but it seems that those deliberations are smug and conceited, as Post's King is seemingly displeased with the president for skirting conventions.

Equally absurd is Post's contention that President Bush "spins King's message for his own political good." If this is true, why not supply the audience with an example? Whining, mewling, and the presumption of discerning what a long dead person might have thought are rather weak validations.

Patrick McNamara
journalism senior

Educated dialogue not a pragmatic solution

This letter is in response to the bumper sticker critique given by Dillon Fishman.

Although noble, Mr. Fishman's idea of educated dialogue is far from a pragmatic and sensible solution to the ignorance that has plagued this great nation. This can be portrayed by the bumper stickers that he loves to hate.

The fact of the matter is, the bumper sticker paradigm illustrates just how divided our country is, and particularly why common conversation will never suffice. The recent re-election of Mr. Bush should clearly illustrate that performance is not a factor; however, moral values, ethics and religion seem to be.

Unfortunately, such subjects are guarded by unspeakable boundaries in which educated deliberation is no match. Conversing about the particulars of Iraq, Social Security, stem-cell research, and so on will continually produce sub-significant results because of the radical division among us citizens. As a nation, we now audaciously represent our preferred political party's position, as opposed to the reciprocal - our political leaders representing the thoughts and opinions dictated by the citizens (which is precisely what a democracy is intended to do). As a result of the "trickle-down politics," citizens are left with nothing more than a clearly defined ideology to abide by, and a bitter resentment for the opposition. Such a sour division unfortunately cannot be solved by a civil discussion, although I do admire the simplistically harmonic proposal.

Byron Farley
political science sophomore