Date: February 6, 2005
Sent to but not published by New York Times

Could someone please explain to me what I do not own in my forthcoming Social Security benefits.

The benefits are registered in my name. No one else has access to them, except my spouse who may draw benefits on my death.

To be sure there are some limits in how these benefits are created and delivered. But those limits are exactly the same as those incurred by term life insurance and the purchase of an annuity that pays an income to me and my surviving spouse it is also an annuity with inflation protection which is an expensive option in the private market.

The argument that private accounts will benefit one's children is false. Transaction costs will, as they did in the U.K. eat up funds in these private accounts. If, on retirement, one is forced (a policy inconsistent with the myth that these accounts are under the individual's control) to purchase an annuity then, on one's death, (despite the Administration rhetoric) nothing will be left for one's heirs.

Lets stop this barrage of misinformation and lets undertake a sensible, modest upgrading to the Social Security system.