Ronda Hauben on Sun, 9 Jan 2005 04:30:53 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> BBC promotes the Bush Plan to Privatize Social Security

Here is an open letter I sent to the BBC about the program story
they had on their World Business Report on Thursday, January 6, 2005
about the need to privatize the US Social Security System.

I thought others would be interested in how the media, including the
BBC World Business Report seem to be promoting the Bush plan to
privatize the US social security without any investigation of the
actual problem if there is any, nor welcoming diverse viewpoints to
be heard.


An Open Letter to the BBC

Listening to the BBC World Business Report on Thursday, January 6, 2005, I
was surprised to hear a report about the US social security. The BBC
explained that the U.S. Social Security System was "bankrupt" and then a
CATO institute spokesperson was interviewed and he describe how the system
has to be privatized.

About a year ago I went to a panel discussion where Joseph Stiglitz
explained how privatizing the social security system in Argentina
had led to the bankruptcy of Argentina.

So it was curious that the BBC (the world business report) had
become involved in promoting the privatization of the US social
security system without any discussion, any investigation of the actual
situation, or welcoming of diverse viewpoints.

Instead this BBC World Business Report reminded me of how the US press
promoted the fiction about Iraq's supposed "Weapons of Mass Destruction"
in order to create a fraudulent pretext for the US government to invade

Reports like the one on BBC on January 6 make it clear how the news,
whether the printed press, the broadcast media, or other forms of
media are being used as weapons in a propaganda war rather than
being interested in even a pretext of providing for needed public
discussion and debate on a serious issue.

The investment community in the US will benefit royally if the Bush
agenda is pushed through with regard to social security. The social
security system will lose the contributions it needs to be maintained
and instead the private stock market interests will get a windfall.

And what will be the impact of all this on the US economy?

And what will be the impact on the people who have contributed all
their lives to the system, if it can be raided by the investment
interests and their supporters in the US Congress and White House?

There has been much discussion over the years about the nature of
social security and its importance to American society. For example
one book refuting the claims that social security has financial
problems, also helps to point out that the system is not some
private retirement system, but instead a system of social insurance.

"It is a commitment by society from one generation to another; we all pay in,
and we all draw out, because we never know how we will fare in our old
age. The program also provides disability and survivors' insurance.
The idea that "we are all in this together," on which Social Security
is based, has always been unpalatable for those who believe in "every
man for himself" and the law of the jungle."

Also, see for example, the explanation of how the supposed "bankruptcy"
of social security is but fiction which is contradicted by the official
government figures:

"Nor is there any reason to "fix" Social Security any time soon.
According to the numbers used by everyone, including the President's
Commission, Social Security can pay all promised benefits for the next
38 years without any changes at all. The non-partisan Congressional
Budget Office just upped that estimate to 48 years. By either measure,
Social Security is in better financial shape that it has been for most
of its 69-year history."

"Any shortfall that might occur forty or fifty years from now will be
easily manageable, and less than we have dealt with in the past, when
we had much less income."

Why is the BBC World Business Report acting as a mouthpiece for the Bush
White House? Why isn't there the recognition that this is an important
issue that should *not* be treated as "hype", and that the BBC should not
and act as an advertising agency for CATO institute opinions? Once the US
social security system is raided, this is apt to be a splendid model for
those who want to do the same to the public pension systems of other
countries like the UK.

The BBC needs to treat this important issue in US domestic politics
as something that important to the public interest and worthy of
more than a mindless mouthpiece for the Bush White House attack
on the social security system.


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