Never mind the fact that David Brooks once claimed opponents of the Bush Social Security plan do not trust markets, George Will is actually getting praised for the following:
Voluntary personal accounts will allow competing fund managers, rather than a government monopoly on income transfers from workers to retirees, to allocate a large pool of money. This will enhance the economic dynamism conducive to an open society. Personal accounts will respect individuals’ autonomy and competence, and will narrow the wealth gap by facilitating the accumulation of wealth — bequeathable wealth — by persons of modest incomes.
It used to be the political left that had an exaggerated confidence in the transparency of the future. The left believed — because Marx had deciphered history’s unfolding, or because the social sciences had new analytic tools — that the future had become knowable. Hence government could boldly act, sure of society’s predictable trajectory. Today some conservatives, beginning their admirable project of Social Security reform, lack the conservative virtue of sobriety about the limits of prophecy. The sober truth is that the philosophic reasons for reforming Social Security are more compelling than the fiscal reasons.
The second paragraph strikes me as Donald Rumsfeld poetry with this “knowable” babble. But Marx? Pardon me for asking but where is it written that households cannot save already? There is nothing to stop people from putting their income into 401(K) funds – except perhaps a lack of income, which the Bush Social Security plan will not change. And this bit about a government monopoly versus competing fund managers makes no sense – unless Mr. Will is under some illusion that the Trust Fund has higher administrative expenses than would a privatized system. So pray tell – what is he talking about? Maybe those 7% real returns with no risk again?