Letter to the Editor

Nebraska halts private accounts

Friday, April 1, 2005

To the editor:

Critics of privatization have often pointed to Chile and Great Britain, where privatization has been tried and failed. One may argue that this is America and those examples don't apply here. For those of you who follow this line of reasoning, here is a down -home example of privatization: Nebraska.

Nebraska is the home of super-investor Warren Buffett, whose stock-market savvy has consistently beat the market and who is currently worth a cool $44 billion. Apparently that savvy hasn't rubbed off on his fellow Nebraskans.

Nebraska instituted private accounts for public employees in the early 1960s. After more than 40 years of experience, state officials discontinued this plan for new employees in 2003. Why? Officials discovered that individuals consistently did worse than the state pension programs run by professional managers.

A USA Today article quotes Anna Sullivan, the executive director of Nebraska's Public Employee Retirement Systems: "Frankly, people have too many other things to do than manage money. They are busy working and taking kids to soccer games and Cub Scouts."

Why does the president continue to push this scheme in light of what happened in Nebraska?

What happens when some of these private accounts flop?

Is America prepared to watch their seniors fall into poverty as happened all too often before Social Security?