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Democracy For The Southern Adirondack/Tricounty Area
Monday, February 28, 2005
Meetup Reminder!
Hello Everyone!

This is a Meetup reminder. In this update:

1. Meetup in Glens Falls and Saratoga
2. Special Social Security Agendas
3. Also on agenda:
4. Online Polls
5. A few interesting pieces
6. Matt Is hosting Nader

1. Meetups will be held in both Glens Falls and Saratoga tomorrow, Wednesday, March 2nd.

In Glens Falls: we will be meeting at our usual place, the Rockhill Bakehouse Cafe in Downtown Glens Falls at 7pm. To reach the Cafe from the Northway, take Exit 18 into downtown Glens Falls. Past Hannaford, bear right at the Stewart's store past the Post Office and the Hospital. The Cafe is past the hospital by the light across the street.

In Saratoga the meetup will be at 7:30pm Pat Friesen's home at 36 Thoroughbred Drive. To reach Pat's home, drive south on Broadway past the Dance Museum. Turn at the next left onto Crescent Street then take the next left. #36 is at the end and around the corner.

2. Our agendas will center on our national DFA effort to reframe the debate over the right wing and the Bush Administration's effort to destroy Social Security. We will be gathering and discussing individual, personal stories about Social Security and how it has affected our families. These stories will go to DFA National in Burlington to help create a national narrative on Social Security.

We will also be discussing what we all can do personally to stop Bush and the Republicans from destroying history's most effective social program. In Glens Falls this will also include a possible coalition event for later in the month with local labor organizations and the Working Families Party. More on this at the Meetups!

3. Also, in Glens Falls we will be setting up a candidate committee. This committee will review and recommend candidates both for inclusion in the new Dean Dozen and our own endorsement as well as search for candidates.

In Glens Falls, we will also be talking about our Second Anniversary Meetup in April; it's been an extraordinary two years, let's do something special!

4. There are some good online polls we all should be participating in: one sponsored by DFA on an outrageous attempt to smash Social Security by smearing the ARRP:

Democratic Action is taking on the Gannongate scandal and the Bush effort to manipulate coverage:
Democratic Action

The Campaign For America's Future is focusing attention on Rep. Jim McCrery (R- LA) who is chairing the committee on "Social Security Reform" despite essentially being a lobbyist for Wall Street firms pushing for privitization.

Also, consider signing up for updates from the Democratic National Committee. At one time we kept our distance, but with Governor Dean now the Chair of the DNC, there is no excuse not to!

5. There's a great piece on Governor Dean in the Sunday New York TImes Magazine by Matt Bai that follows on other terrific pieces on politics this year. On the Governor:
Bai On Dean
For context, check out another piece from before the election last summer "Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy": Wiring The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy

I am also pasting at the bottom a piece by Mark Weisbrot of the Center For Economic and Policy Research on Social Security. They also have terrific email updates on key economic issues that are definitely worth signing up for.

6. Finally, our host at the Bake House Cafe and Green Party compatriot Matt Funiciello will be hosting Ralph Nader at the Cafe on April 16th. He will be at the Cafe this Wednesday to tell us about Ralph's visit and the benefit dinner Matt is sponsoring. Nader has left an indelible mark on American life over the last 45 years, beginning with his early and lonely crusade for auto safety. That we today have things like anti-lock brakes and airbags is something we owe to Nader. It is certainly to be a highly newsworthy event. For more information contact Matt at

Many thanks! See you all Wednesday,

Larry Dudley

Show Me the Money

By Mark Weisbrot

President Bush is waving the carrot of private Social Security accounts in front of millions of Americans who, perhaps too young to remember what happened to stocks five years ago, still think they are going to get rich quick in the stock market.

If you could just take some of that money that Social Security drains out of your paycheck every week, he says, and put it in a private account where you could invest in stocks, how much better off you would be when you retire!

Or would you? This is a case where it really helps to read the fine print. Although President Bush hasn't announced a comprehensive plan, he did have a "senior White House official" spill some details of the plan just before his State of the Union address.

One of the details: the money that will go into the private account isn't really yours. At the end of your working career you will have to pay it all back to the government. Plus interest: at the rate of U.S. Treasury notes.

The difference between what you made in your private account and what you have to pay back, with interest, is your "profit" -- or loss. But that's not the end of the story. There are administrative costs that will reduce your accumulation by another 5 percent (according to the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security). Or possibly a lot more: in a typical private 401 (k) account it's about 3 times that much.

You're still not home free. The President's plan will require you to convert some or all of your accumulated sum to a lifetime annual payment. But the cost of this conversion is not cheap: in the private sector it is 10-20 percent of accumulated savings; if the government does it maybe it can be kept to 5 percent.

Now let's do the numbers: say you are a 27 year-old worker with average wages when the plan takes effect for you in 2011. Assume that you put the maximum allotted amount into the private account. Let's also assume that the administrative costs, and the cost of converting the lump sum to an annual payment are the cheapest imaginable.

When you retire after 40 years, your combined benefit from the private account and the traditional Social Security system will be $1371 per month. This compares to $2127 that the current Social Security program, if left alone, has promised to pay.

Supporters of privatization would reply that the system can't pay all promised benefits. If absolutely nothing is done to increase Social Security's revenue -- a very remote possibility -- then benefits will be cut by about 24 percent in 2053. But even then, the monthly benefit in the above example would be $1,625 -- still 19 percent better than in the privatization scheme.

Interestingly, when the government takes back the money that it loaned you, it doesn't come out of the private account that it went into. Rather, it is deducted from the benefit that you receive from the traditional Social Security program. This will create the illusion that most of your benefits come from the private account -- rather than from the traditional system. This indicates that the people who designed this privatization scheme want to undermine support for the traditional Social Security system -- so as to get rid of Social Security as we know it altogether.

In the mean time, privatization won't make many dreams come true. The next time you hear someone telling you what a great deal it is, just tell them: show me the money.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: the Phony Crisis (2000, University of Chicago Press).

Center for Economic and Policy Research, 1621 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20009
Phone: (202) 293-5380, Fax: (202) 588-1356, Home: CEPR

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