THE REALITY OF IDEOLOGICAL THEORY

Wednesday, August 3, 2005   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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The problem with America's economic policy today is that it's written by economists. And the problem with too many economists is that they live in a world of theory...or, worse yet, a world of ideological delusion.

For example, George W's plan to privatize social security is written by a bunch of laissez-faire economic ideologues who theorized that Americans really don't want a guaranteed security program, but would prefer a chance to "own" their retirement. How? By investing their monthly social security payments in the stock market. Let the people manage their own retirement accounts, cry these free-market theorists, and they'll make wise decisions that'll put the gold in their golden years!

But in real life, most people"including Big Surprise top economists) have neither the time nor inclination to be savvy investors. Even with the private retirement funds that people already "own," they fail to do the homework it would take to maximize their investments, mostly tucking their money in low-return, safe havens, like money market accounts.

Even the brainiest economists do poorly. The LA Times surveyed the eleven economists who are the most recent winners of the Nobel Prize and found that nearly half of them are poor managers of their savings, failing to get even the most elementary investment decisions right. One Nobel economist confessed that he even messed up the investment of the money he got for winning the prize. Another conceded that his retirement nest egg is drawing only about two percent a year in the market way below the six-percent return you'd have to get just to break even under Bush's social security privatization scheme.

This is Jim Hightower saying...Being good at making investments takes lots of time and a money-focused mind-set. Most of us have real lives and work to do, and no interest in shuffling through a jungle of investment accounts and we damned sure don't want our basic retirement security based on doing it no matter what the economic and political idealogues theorize.

Sources:
"Even Nobel laureates bungle investments," Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2005,

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