The Right Coast

December 24, 2004
Double Standards
By Mike Rappaport

Sheldon Richman writes:

The New York Times had a story the other day about how Wall Street firms have been secretive about their support for Social Security reform. The Times' point is that these firms stand to gain from the kind of changes President Bush and others are talking about, since money would go into private investment accounts. Therefore, the reform is suspect precisely because Wall Street investment houses would benefit.

That prompted this thought: When did the Times last point out that politicians who oppose changes in Social Security are also acting for their own benefit? Social Security is a potent source of political power. For example, it's great for buying votes and it gives members of Congress lots of money to play with (or it has until now). It's also a source of clout for AARP, which opposes any change as well. But don't wait for any newspaper to point that out.
Richman's point is quite correct. Sadly, it is so rarely pointed out these days that it is easy to forget, even for people who are skeptical about big government like yours truly

One of the great things about Ronald Reagan's talk about government being the problem is that it focused attention on government behavior and its incentives. It made it easier for people to recognize the conflicts of interests that special interest groups and government officials have.