The General Fund crisis

We don’t have a Social Security crisis. We have a General Fund crisis. Let’s not fix the wrong problem.

I’ve been despondent about the prospects for explaining to the professional chatterers — let alone the voters — how phony the “Social Security crisis” is. Of course it’s clear as daylight the whole thing is a scam, but neither Max Sawicky’s calculations (the excess returns from stock investments that make the Bush plan work will only come in under economic circumstances so favorable there’s no problem to fix in the first place) nor Paul Krugman’s crystalline prose seem to me likely to penetrate the hive-mind that is public opinion.

But Brad DeLong comes up with something far more potent than analysis or a clear essay. (He’s given us those often enough in the past, and will in the future.) Brad comes up with a phrase that’s potentially a slogan: we don’t have a Social Security crisis, we have a General Fund crisis. Not only is GWB offering us the wrong fix, he’s offering us a fix to the wrong problem.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: