Speaking of gambling with Social Security, there is an extremely odd and interesting New York Times piece by Damien Cave out today about Bush's failure to get young'uns psyched about privatizing SocSec.
There are several Onion-quality passages in this article--including the suggestion that Bush needs some Youth Celebrities (maybe hip-hop artists?) to give his sort-of-plan the requisite sex appeal. But here's the money quote:
To compete, the White House might want to up the ante. Robert J. Shiller, the Yale economist and author of "Irrational Exuberance," an examination of the 1990's boom, said that for this generation, the investment options Mr. Bush's plan will probably offer - low-risk bonds and stock-index funds - are "pretty dull," especially compared to the freedom people have when they invest online or with their 401(k) plans.
Young workers, he said, are likely to see the plans as paternalistic, designed by and for their parents. The White House, Mr. Shiller said, might consider offering economic transformation, in the form of more money to invest, or more options.
"Young people today are captivated by poker," Mr. Shiller said. "All this excitement that the president wants young people to feel can only happen when they are playing the game."
From what I know of Schiller's views on Bush's plan, I suspect his tongue was planted so firmly in his cheek during the interview with Cave that he must have spoken in a muffled lisp. But if Rove and his spinmeisters take this idea seriously, they must now find a way to counteract all the Safe 'n' Sound talk about Social Security privatiziation that they've aimed at seniors and near-seniors. According to Cave's analysis, Bush needs to make his proposal sound dangerous and exciting. Gamble on your future! Get control of those payroll taxes now! Screw security! Who wants to get old, anyway? And who cares if insecurity will trouble your sleep? You can sleep when you're dead.