There is a movement afoot in the Marxist left to nationalize private retirement funds, like those found in a 401(k), 403(b), or other qualified retirement plan.
What does it mean to nationalize these plans? I’m glad you asked.
The left, spurred on by the Marxist Professor Teresa Ghilarducci of the New School, were introduced to this idea at a committee hearing led by Rep. George Miller – Democrat for the seventh district of California. Nationalization is the exact opposite of privatization. This would mean that the government would take your money held in your retirement plans and put it into the national treasury. In exchange, they claim, they will provide you with an equal amount of US Treasury notes. These notes, as they further claim, will be safer and more secure than money found in the private sector.
Many people tell me that the federal government would never stoop to outright stealing our personal property. My response is that they do it at least once a week through the payroll deduction of income taxes, Social Security, and Medicare and Medicaid withdrawals. Furthermore, I point to the policy of eminent domain and the Kelo v. New London case. Others can certainly cite instances where the EPA has taken property from private landowners and Wickard v. Filburn can be seen as the ultimate in the loss of use of private property. So the precedent has certainly been set for the government to take whenever they feel like it from the private citizen.
Ok, but it still will never happen, you may say. Ah, this is where my extensive knowledge in Public Policy Theory comes in handy. There is a theory known as Multiple Streams. Think of it as if you were watching the movieGhostbusters.
From the movie we know that the Ghostbusters have these particle streams that capture the ghosts, but we also know that they are not supposed to cross the streams, because “that would be very bad.” So, Ray, Peter, and Egon harmlessly move their streams about without interaction. Now, imagine that one of those streams represents a policy, another represents a problem, and the third represents politics.
Usually some event happens, a crisis, like a giant Marshmallow Man roaming the streets of Manhattan, or like a persistent fiscal emergency like the one we are in now. The only way to deal with the problem, as the Ghostbusters found out, is to cross the streams. In the policy world this is known as a window of opportunity. Usually a person, known as a policy entrepreneur, is the one to bring the streams together – here Mr. Miller and Professor Ghilarducci. Basically what this all means is that these streams are constantly floating around through space and time just waiting for the entrepreneur to wrangle them together once a crisis opens the window of opportunity. This is why we heard Rahm Emanuel, as Obama’s Chief of Staff, say that you should never let a crisis go to waste; because you can get things done that you previously thought were impossible.
We have the policy – nationalization of private retirement plans. We have the problem – massive debt and deficits for as long as our models will project. We have the politics – precedent set through eminent domain, Kelo v. New London, etc. We have the entrepreneurs; the only thing we have yet to experience is the giant Marshmallow destroying churches in our neighborhoods. But don’t worry, the Multiple Streams approach to policy making is quite patient and will wait until a crisis comes along and needs its implementation. After all, who’s to say that that crisis isn’t right around the corner, or perhaps at the bottom of a looming fiscal cliff?