Thursday, February 17, 2005



In testimony before a Congressional committee today, Alan Greenspan seemed to say (I am never exactly sure what he said or meant) that the problems with Medicare will be several times as expensive and difficult as the problems with Social Security.

He said that one important reason he believed in private accounts for Social Security is that poorer people do not feel like money in the present Social Security system is really theirs, and they will feel richer if their Social Security account is privatized. And that it is important that they feel richer. (That's what he seemed to say, but it did not sound as silly when he said it.)

In response to a question from Barney Frank (who is one of the brightest minds in Congress, and one of the most interesting when questioning witnesses), Greenspan said something that seems really shocking. Asked whether he (Greenspan) would have voted for Social Security when it was first proposed in the 30's, Greenspan indicated he did not know if he would have voted for it.

Sometimes the context (such as a person's underlying political philosophy) in which someone makes a statement (such as support for privatization of Social Security) is important for understanding the significance of the statement.

There is an old joke (probably older than Social Security). A visitor to Honolulu asks a man she meets on the street whether the name of the state is pronounced Ha-Wa-yee or Ha-Va-yee. "Ha-Va-yee," the man answers. "Thank you," the visitor says. "You're Velcome," the man responds.

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