Gingrich's 'Right-Wing Social Engineering'

Today Newt Gingrich announced a plan to let younger workers opt out of the current Social Security system and instead invest their payroll taxes in private investment accounts. In my view, that would be a move in the right direction. But in Gingrich's lexicon, doesn't it amount to "right-wing social engineering," the label he applied last spring to the Medicare proposal offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)? Ryan suggested converting Medicare into a premium support system that would help retirees pay for private insurance policies, which Gingrich said was a "radical" idea and "too big a jump." The former House speaker's spokesman later conceded "there is little daylight between Ryan and Gingrich" on Medicare.

When the dust had cleared, Gingrich's only intelligible objection to Ryan's plan was that it did not include the option of staying with the current version of Medicare. Gingrich's Social Security plan would let workers stick with a defined government benefit, so on that score it is a smaller jump than Ryan's Medicare proposal. But it sounds more radical than George W. Bush's Social Security plan, which would have let people invest only part of their payroll taxes. In any case, as the criticism of Gingrich's privatization plan floods in, he may regret identifying reforms that offer people more options and more control over their money as "social engineering." 

Addendum: Gingrich also called for replacing school janitors with students, one example of the "extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty in America" that he plans to push. So now radical is good?

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  • ||

    Gingrich's only intelligible objection to Ryan's plan

    I don't know about intelligible...but i am pretty sure Newt's biggest problem with Ryan's plan was that he did not come up with it.

  • veemee sashimi||

    "am pretty sure Newt's biggest problem with Ryan's plan was that he did not come up with it."

    That was my thought as well.

    Gingrich really is a special piece of work.

  • Capitan of the Newt||

    Gingrich: Laws preventing child labor are 'truly stupid'

    Newt Gingrich proposed a plan Friday that would allow poor children to clean their schools for money.

    http://politicalticker.blogs.c.....ly-stupid/

  • ChrisO||

    Apart from the scare quote, I don't see anything wrong with his idea. In fact, it sounds like a great way to teach kids a work ethic and show them the value of an education, along with paying them real money for real work.

    Of course, the federal government has absolutely no legitimate role to play in primary and secondary education, so there is *that* objection. But Newt's not exactly Mr. Federalism, so I expect overreach from him.

  • Capitan of the Newt||

    Don't forget minimum wage is also evil.
    Newt's America: 6 year olds working for $3/hour

  • ||

    when I was six I would have been really happy with three bucks an hour. And I was from a middle class household. I bet the poor six year olds would think it was great and be better off for it

  • Oliver Twist||

    Mr. Gingrich, can I have some more soup please?

  • protefeed||

    Yes, prohibiting willing workers and employers from entering into a mutually beneficial contract is evil, while it's praiseworthy to force people to be unemployed because they don't have the skills yet to make some arbitrary cutoff level of wages.

  • veemee sashimi||

    In Catholic High School they referred to this as JUG (justice under god), and was what you did when you got detention: cleaned the school after school.

    What's most interesting about it is how many libertarian lessons you learn from this. First off, experienced juggees know that the last thing you want to do is to do your assigned task quickly, because if you still have time left, they'll give you more work. So when they give you a job, make sure it lasts the whole hour or most of it anyway. Lessons: conscripted labor has less incentive to do good work. Hourly wages are inefficient when employees can't be held accountable.

    Secondly, if you happen to have a really useful skill to the school (in my case it was mathematics skill) you would wind up being conscripted for better work (in my case competing in Mathematics competitions with other schools that I would ignore if I wasn't being forced). Lessons: not all labor is equally valuable. Labor that is more physically difficult or less desirable is not necessarily more valuable.

    Third, the financial benefits to the school in this brand of detention created a very high rate of detention, with offenses that would be trifling and ignored at basically any other school (EG, not bringing a handkerchief to class) resulting in detentions at this school. Lesson: profiting from punishing law breakers results in a substantial increase of punishable laws.

  • ||

    Does anyone really think the schools are going to turn poor kids into wage slaves?

    Come on now. What is the principal going to start flunking students so they can become janitors on purpose? Doesn't this sort of thing usually only exist in the sort of dystopian fantasies that libertarians tend to imagine?

  • BigT||

    Janitors are valuable, and some can aim no higher. I bet many kids would compete for these jobs.

  • Alan||

    Indeed, Newt's defense of the rights of children is the only reason I'm willing to give him the time of day.

    Soldier on, Newt!

  • ||

    Why would any parent subject their kid to that if their taxes are already paying for their kids to attend (standard disclaimers apply)

  • BigT||

    Maybe to keep costs down, reduce taxes.

  • ||

    One thing that is interesting is that Ryan is this Congressional generation's Newt.

    Newt gained notoriety by speaking on C-SPAN about nuts and bolts policy plans. Ryan got his notoriety by talking about nuts and bolts policy plans on the internet.

    The stark difference is back then the republicans were smart enough to give Newt the speaker's position when they gained the house....with Ryan they instead chose Boner.

  • ||

    Caption:

    "They really are calling me Newcular Titties on the Interwebz?"

  • ||

    The stark difference is back then the republicans were smart enough to give Newt the speaker's position when they gained the house....with Ryan they instead chose Boner.

    Notice that Boner has done the exact opposite of how Newcular Titties handled business whilst Speaker.

    Boner has gone to great pains to be the Anti-Newt.

  • Tony||

    These people won't stop until they've completely wrecked the country with their right wing social engineering, the inevitable failure of which won't be blamed on their idiotic dogma, but the nearest Democrat, of course.

  • ||

    These people won't stop until they've completely wrecked the country with their right wing social engineering, the inevitable failure of which won't be blamed on their idiotic dogma, but the nearest Democrat Libertarian, of course.

    *cough*

  • BigT||

    How is letting people choose their own retirement etc engineering? You are obviously completely clueless about engineering (along with science)

  • Hugh Akston||

    I don't think janitors should be replaced by students, but I do think every student should spend a semester with the janitor learning basic cleaning and maintenance skills, and applying them in the school.

  • ChrisO||

    If actual janitors and maintenance people are employed by the D.C. schools, and not just no-show friends of Marion Barry, they should be fired immediately. Replacing them with 15-year-olds could hardly make the situation worse.

  • ||

    You do realize how old mannish you sound, right?

    Dang kids these days!!

  • Mr. Chartreuse||

    Well, in this case it is Buddhist social engineering
    (kidding...)

    In a country known for rigid hierarchy, the sight of the school principal on hands and knees might seem strange. But in Japan, it's just souji time-the period of about 15 minutes each day when students, teachers, and administrators all drop whatever they are doing, pull out the buckets and mops, and give everything a good scrub.

    Most Japanese schools don't employ janitors, but the point is not to cut costs. Rather, the practice is rooted in Buddhist traditions that associate cleaning with morality-a concept that contrasts sharply with the Greco-Roman notion of cleaning as a menial task best left to the lower classes.
  • ||

    Shouldn't Newt go back to doing what he does best, like funneling laundered money to the Pope and Medicare Fraud?

  • Headbanger||

    the Pope and Medicare Fraud

    That's an awesome band name.

  • Some Guy||

    I'm not sold on this proposed massive increase taxes to pay for social security.

    Because if you institute "private accounts" without cutting benefits for current retirees, that extra money doesn't come from thin air.

    And let's be real, they're not cutting benefits until we've got one foot over the cliff.

  • BigT||

    Too late.

  • protefeed||

    Today Newt Gingrich announced a plan to let younger workers opt out of the current Social Security system and instead invest their payroll taxes in private investment accounts.

    A classic case of not knowing when to end the sentence. End that sentence at "system" and then STFU and maybe I might respect Gingrich. Oh, and lose the word "younger", too. Instead he's saying the government still gets to essentially control people's money even if they allegedly "opt out".

  • ||

    Or, he might just be a pragmatic politician who realizes that the only way Social Security is going to be dismantled is gradually.

    It's like Michel Collins versus De Valera and the Irish Free State. Took 20 years but they actually did get full indepedence from Britain. The IRA blowing shit up didn't really help.

  • Terr||

    Newc wants to give people the illusion of choice and economic freedom by allowing (forcing) them to put a portion of each paycheck into a government-approved "private account."

    Titties, I am disappoint.

  • ||

    Here is Gingrich's problem.

    He started off with the Contract with America in 1994. Got a bit too ambitious. Proposed eliminating the Department of Education. Got his ass kicked by Clinton during the government shut down, and then ran away chastened and decided that he would kiss him some entitlement ass from then on just to make sure everyone knew he wasn't some crazy government slashing libertarian.

    Now he's in a situation where it's actually good again to talk about cutting government and he has to eat his words.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    AFRTS sent us radio and television shows on a delayed basis (sometimes very delayed basis: I saw Super Bowl VII in June of '73). As they had no commercials, they filled the time where the commercial usually went with some rah-rah "Ain't The Service Great" commercial.

    The commercial that pertains to the subject at hand was talking about putting your skills to work.
    "What do you do, Sargent?"
    "Pastry chef, sir!"
    "Sounds like you've got a job waiting for you on the outside as a baker!"
    To another soldier, "What's your skill?"
    "Security Police"
    "Well, you'll make a fine Deputy Sheriff"

    I always wanted them to ask about what job the guy who loaded bombs on B-52s had waiting for him.
    One night I was grousing about this while waxing the floor of the chow hall. My friend had the answer, "Man anywhere you go for the rest of your life you'll be able to get a job as a janitor"

    So these kids would actually get something out of showing up for school each day. They're getting a portable career that they can take with them wherever they go.

    ... Hobbit

  • ||

    Today Newt Gingrich announced a plan to let younger workers opt out of the current Social Security system and instead invest their payroll taxes in private investment accounts. In my view, that would be a move in the right direction.

    Do you realize that everything written after the bolded statement was written with the sole purpose of downplaying the bolded statement?

  • Nike Dunk Shoes||

    thanks

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