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This Article explores the foundations of the Social Security privatization debate. What is frequently portrayed as a numbers problem to which a "correct" answer can be found is in fact an ideological and political argument about wealth building versus direct income support and about the reality and security of public entitlement as opposed to private property rights. Efforts to use the idea of private property as the basis of rights in the context of the Social Security system and other non-retirement social welfare programs have proven problematic. This Article suggests that Social Security, far from being a quaint, retrograde souvenir of the New Deal, was ahead of its time in creating economic rights based on effort rather than equity in support of the public institution of broad-based retirement.