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The Social Security Plan of 1929

What if Hoover had scooped Bush by seventy-five years?

by Everett Wilson
February 9, 2005

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[The authenticity of the following document is in doubt, because of the instructions implied in the last paragraph.]

The White House
March 5, 1929  
For the time being this must be a note only to myself.  Now that I am President I must come to terms with how I might best spend my political capital.  My electoral margin was huge by any standard, and surely the people expect me to act on it.   
One opportunity I should like to seize, but probably not until late autumn.  The burgeoning socialist movement in the world shows signs of gaining influence in the Democratic Party.  If they ever get back in power, which looks increasingly unlikely in the light of the good times we continue to experience under Republican administrations,  we may be in danger of such cock-a-mamy schemes as a guaranteed old-age pension for laborers.  Goodness knows that I am not opposed to the elderly poor being cared for, but there is no reason why the federal government should be their benefactor. It shouldn’t be hard to come up with a better idea.    

The White House
June 17, 1929 
I think I have it, but I am going to think it through before giving it to anyone to work up. What I envision is a cooperative scheme in which the government would require wage-earners to invest a mandatory portion of their income in the stock market.  There is no safer place for one’s money than the stock exchange!  By becoming investors, the laborers will guarantee their own future, and the growth of the economy will sky-rocket!  
The market is not as stable as it ought to be right now, so I will be patient. This idea is big enough to wait its time.   

The White House
October 29, 1929  
A really stupid idea, given the events of this day. One would think, reading these paragraphs, that I am a secret drinker. 
You would do better to save for old age in a chamber pot than in  the stock market. 
I am going to review these notes at least once annually  until I die, and oftener whenever I begin to think that I am smarter than most people.  I will leave instructions to burn these papers unread.  I should pass them on as a warning to my successors, but I am too embarrassed to be identified with them.     

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Real Things first appeared in serialized form on the Partial Observer in 2001. It is now available in print for the first time.

Over thirty years after a senseless crash redefined his life, Greg Thompson and his family finally learn why.

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