The Electric Commentary

Friday, December 10, 2004

Arnold Kling on Winnie the Pooh, Paul Krugman, and Social Security

In his latest Tech Central Station column, Arnold Kling asserts that liberals and conservatives have their positions backwards on Social Security:


The debate over Social Security privatization is starting to remind me of my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh story, In Which Piglet Meets a Heffalump. At one point in the story, Pooh and Piglet are discussing the best bait to use in a trap for a Heffalump (author A. A. Milne's deliberate mispronunciation of elephant). Pooh, who likes honey, starts arguing for honey as bait. Meanwhile Piglet, who likes acorns, starts arguing for acorns. Suddenly, each of them realizes that he is arguing against his own interest: if acorns are chosen for the trap, then Piglet will have to supply them; whereas if honey is chosen for the trap, then Pooh will have to supply it. So the argument ends, with Piglet giving in first.

I think something similar would happen if the Left and the Right were to think through the consequences of Social Security privatization. Krugman and others on the Left would suddenly realize that they are in favor of it, and conservatives might decide that they should be against it.

You should read the whole thing, and make sure you notice the picture in the caption. It made my morning.


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