Privatization Pep Rally

Rosser Jr, John Barkley rosserjb at
Thu Jul 30 14:47:26 PDT 1998


The best response to all this garbage about privatizing Soc. Sec. have been the writings of Robert Eisner, his two columns in the WSJ, and now a paper he presented at the Post Keynesian Workshop in Knoxville in June that will be in a forthcoming JPKE. I imagine Eileen Applebaum has a copy of Eisner's paper.

He turns the uncertainty of future growth rates into an argument against restructuring social security. In any case, the "optimistic" growth rate doesn't look all that high right now, and under that scenario there is no problem at all. No need to do zip. Barkley Rosser On Wed, 29 Jul 1998 17:11:42 -0400 Max Sawicky <sawicky at> wrote:

> I said
> >>Why not read what you quoted above your note?
> >>I didn't say the report was perfect.
> to which you said:
> >No, you said that it's problems didn't completly distort their findings.
> >They start with an unreasonably pessimistic figure for future growth,
> >and then (surprise!) come out with the conclusion that the sky is
> >falling. To me, that qualifies as "distorting their findings".
> This is what I said, EXACTLY, with emphasis
> (* *) added:
> "Clinton didn't open it. The Trustees did by
> issuing their actuarial report, which they are
> required to do by law periodically, and which
> report, **while open to criticism, is not so biased
> as to *entirely* distort its findings.** "
> >My apologies for a being unclear: I was using "Depression", big "D", as
> >in "the average growth during the decade of the Thirties, including
> >contractions and expansions", which was, I believe, 1.9%. The trustee's
> >"optimistic" scenario assumes a grawth rate that is STILL below the
> >average for the last 75 years, and it shows surpluses ad infinitum.
> The proper analogue to a 75 year average is
> one over a business cycle, from peak to
> peak, not "the thirties". If you're not
> an economist, you can be excused from being
> obliged to know this.
> The trustees base their prediction on the
> slower productivity growth in the U.S.
> since 1972 or so, and lower population
> growth. All good reasons to doubt these
> are welcome (seriously). We'd love to
> hear them. We'll use them for all they're
> worth. Reference to the pre-1972 period
> is not a very good reason. It's not a bad
> reason; it just isn't good enough.
> >>The political fact with which we have to work
> >>is that the 'middle' scenario assumes anemic
> >>growth, relative to the present, so the shortfall
> >>becomes a political fact.
> >
> >This reminds me of the De Niro character in "Wag the Dog": "It must be
> >true, I saw it on TV". Have we really reached a state where we can't
> >simply respond to baldfaced lies with truth? Depressing.
> Believe it or not, this is not a war of
> ideas where the best ones win. (Sob)
> Note also my reply to my beatnik friend Henwood,
> prisoner of the proverbial New Yorker cover
> map of Manhattan, re: the uncertain nature
> of future growth rates.

-- Rosser Jr, John Barkley rosserjb at

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