If They Were Right About That, What About…, by Eddie Huff

A New Visions Commentary paper published May 2000 by The National Center
for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct., N.E., Washington, DC 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax 202-543-5975, E-Mail [email protected], Web
http://www.nationalcenter.org. Reprints permitted provided source
is credited.

In light of reports that African-American and Latino unemployment is at an all-time low, I’d like to reflect on some things.

In 1994, when the Republicans took control of Congress for the first time in decades, I wrote a commentary for the Oklahoma Eagle newspaper in Tulsa entitled, "Time To Put Up Or Shut Up for Republicans." I suggested that if the noise Republicans spouted for years about welfare reform, getting rid of affirmative action and other laws they believed were detrimental to minorities and the nation as a whole were true, now was their time to prove it or go away.

It took six years, but the results seem to indicate that these areas of change – which the left screamed would literally destroy any hope for people of color – have done just what fiscal conservatives said they would. With jobs, incomes and minority enrollment in universities at an all-time high (especially in California, where the anti-preference Proposition 209 was supposed to spell the end of any minority enrollment), it does make one sit up and wonder. Maybe the conservatives are right.

It also brings me to a new issue. Actually, it is an old issue called Social Security – but with a new twist. One of the cornerstone issues of Texas Governor George W. Bush’s presidential campaign is his call to partially privatize Social Security. At this point, we’re probably only talking about allowing individuals to control two percent out of the 12.4% of their current FICA income tax. To tell you the truth, I am disappointed to hear that they are only talking about two percent, which the government has been taking from us, for private use. Even a private stock investment during the Great Depression earned a better return than our current Social Security system offers.

As with welfare reform and affirmative action, the same old cronies on the left are predicting the end of the world if we allow people to invest their own money for their retirement. What is hilarious is that many of those who are most concerned about poor old us are those who have access to a plan which is almost exactly what they are trying to deny the rest of us.

In addition to Social Security, members of Congress and their staffs have a private thrift plan. The government matches their private retirement investments. It is similar to many private pension plans allowing employees to bolster their retirement investments with corporate profits. These plans often offer returns many times that of Social Security, but not everyone works for Congress or a company that has a plan like this. The rest of America must rely on the meager returns of Social Security.

Vice President Al Gore calls Bush’s Social Security privatization plan risky, yet I ask Gore where his retirement security is coming from. As the son of a senator and a public servant himself for most of his life, Gore had access to this type of private retirement plan for quite a while. It reminds me of the politicians who do not want private school vouchers for us, but send their own children to private schools on their federal incomes. Why is what’s good for them not good for us? Do I see a pattern here? In fact, it is almost to the point where if I hear what is not good for us but have for themselves, it is a sure sign we all need it.

The one great thing separating the haves from the have-nots in our society is independent wealth and access to it. As long as others are allowed to dictate how much people may give and receive, the people remain controlled. As long as minorities and others at the low end of the class struggle are under this control, their freedom remains limited.

In the next few months, liberals will tell us how risky partially privatizing Social Security would be. Look at the stock market, they will say. I say don’t buy it. Are the rich and the politicians (sometimes one in the same) opting out of their private retirement plans? No?! Then neither am I.

When it comes to retirement security, let’s make the big-government liberals show us why it can be good for them and not good for us. If they cannot, then we should reject their agenda. This goes for school vouchers, privatized Social Security, medical savings accounts and all those other things they call risky schemes. We deserve to make our own dreams come true, and we need to demand it now.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.