The real issue of Social Security privatization is this: How much involvement should the "Government" have in our personal lives.
My political thinking on government involvement in our lives has come a 180, starting out as a registered Libertarian. I also hold a degree in Marketing and was once a firm believer in allowing "Natural Market Forces" to control society, the less involvement from government the better. Now, I'm a registered and active Democrat who firmly believes in using the force of government to regulate the market.
There were three major factors that changed my thinking.
1. LIVING IN ITALY
The first was living three years in Italy, which gave me the opportunity to know many native Europeans, learn how they lived and see their world. Where I once thought a 30, 40, or even 50% tax bracket was horrendous, I saw what that tax rate provided.
I saw a regulated business environment that offered most workers security from arbitrary firings and layoffs. People had six weeks of annual vacation and two-hour lunch breaks that allowed them time for family. Fully funded medical so even the poorest person could get an adequate level of care. A public education system that assured anyone who had the talent and drive could earn a college degree, regardless of means. Yes, there were problems with this system. But it worked, and I saw that in many ways, the Europeans I lived with had a more balanced life than many people in this country, but with just as much "freedom" and opportunity for advancement. Living in a "Socialist system" changed my way of thinking about government.
2. ENRON AND THE PRIVATIZED ENERGY INDUSTRY
The second major influence was watching the meltdown of ENRON, followed by the Northeastern power blackout. Libertarians believe in letting the free market manage everything, and I had always believed that the free market could do a better job of providing basic energy services. I had been a firm believer that the 1930's Rural Electrification Act was one of the worse programs ever - that if the free market had been left alone, rural communities today would be much better off.
I was horrified to learn how easily one corporation was able to manipulate the energy market for a state with the world's sixth largest economy. And I was again horrified to learn how quickly a national power grid could deteriorate when private energy companies were in control.
I started thinking about the impact of a multinational corporation controlling my community's drinking water.
I started thinking about the impact of privately owned roads, and how much it would cost me to drive to work if I had to pay tolls on every stretch of roadway. Then there were the railways. I realized that auto and truck manufacturers didn't directly pay for the roads their vehicles drove on, and the airlines didn't directly pay for building airports. Barge owners didn't directly pay for maintaining waterways. Only rail operators had to pay directly for maintaining their rails, which led to the realization they were operating at a financial disadvantage compared to other transport systems.
3. THE IMPACT OF WALMART ON SMALL COMMUNITIES
The third and final factor on my thinking was watching Walmart decimate communities. I understood this on a very personal level when a Walmart moved into my community. At the time, there were two privately owned photo labs here. Within two years of Walmart opening both were gone, unable to match the price and "convenience" that the Walmart developing service offered. When the competition from these two private labs were gone, the Walmart developing service degraded to the point where I will no longer use it. In fact, I will no longer use Walmart at all for any shopping.
I am now seeing that the Walmarts in my region give nothing back to the communities. They artificially lower wages, artificially lower prices, increase demands on local public services, and manipulate local regulatory agencies through their ability to spread profits and costs on a global basis. And our communities are much poorer for this.
I realized that government regulations create a basic operating environment, which forces businesses to compete on an equal footing regardless of size. I realized that a multinational corporation has its first loyalty to its stockholders, with loyalty to corporate executives second. I realized that a multinational corporation really does not have any loyalties to customers in small communities, even if those customers have nowhere else to go.
I now realize that the tighter the operating environment, the better chance a small mom-and-pop shop can compete against a multinational. Tighter regulations that level the playing field forces even the largest businesses to support instead of destroy the local community.
I changed my party affiliation to Democrat in 2002, inspired by Governor Howard Dean. I am dead-set against privatization of Social Security.