From a piece I

From a piece I wrote about one of the President’s 2001 pro-Social Security phase out astroturf groups, the Coalition for American Financial Security, or CAFS …

“The most striking thing about CAFS is not that it is made up of interested parties from the financial-services industry, nor that it enjoys close connections to the White House. Rather, it is the extent to which the organization has emanated from a single corporation whose interest in privatization is driven as much by ideological zeal as by the expectation of profit.

The Frank Russell Company–creator of the Russell 2000 small-cap stock index–is known within the financial-services industry for spearheading privately funded initiatives aimed at spreading laissez-faire principles of economic organization in former socialist or mixed economies around the world. This has often meant setting up organizations that advocate the privatization of social-insurance programs: exactly what CAFS is now designed to do in the United States. Russell’s efforts to jump-start the privatization debate in this country began two years ago when Russell CEO Michael Phillips started the company’s Social Security reform initiative and assigned Don Ezra to coordinate it.

Ezra is a global avatar of privatization and laissez-faire. A soft-spoken British national, he has worked for Frank Russell in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. From Russell’s European headquarters in London, he was involved in similar efforts to privatize social insurance in Europe. While in the United Kingdom, he stirred controversy with a report arguing that British pension-fund management gave too little say to investment professionals and that the managers of U.K. pension funds were overly burdened by such factors as the need for consensus and “too much caution” in choosing investments.”

That’s a bit from a July 2001 article I wrote on the Social Security privatization biz.