Star Parker

President Bush's nomination of Condoleezza Rice to be our next secretary of state is a fitting and symbolic beginning to a new wave of change only possible in a country as strong and free as ours.

My mind reels at the thought of this elegant and learned black woman, from humble roots in Alabama, a few generations apart from slave forbears, assuming this high-profile Cabinet post.

It is doubtful that former secretaries of state like Thomas Jefferson or James Madison, or even George Marshall or Henry Kissinger, could have imagined that their job would one day be held by an African-American woman. Rice will represent America to a global community of nations that we hear is upset with us and our president. Her very presence will help make clear to these nations what we are about _ the triumph of principles, character and ideals over narrow interests, stereotypes and the past.

As Rice carries this message forth to the rest of the world, we need to place it front and center at home. All indications are that Bush is ready to provide the leadership to do this.

Our nation today is weighed down with the baggage of the past. Our Social Security, health care and educational systems are dysfunctional relics of times gone by. Their problems reflect a failed mindset that government intervention and social engineering would improve our society.

At the root of Bush's concept of the "ownership society" is the principle that individuals, rather than socially engineered systems, should be the central operating pillar of our society.

Social Security was born in the 1930s as part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. It seemed like a simple straightforward concept then that taxing a small percentage from the paycheck of every worker and using those funds to pay out a stipend to retirees would provide a simple and painless social safety net. However, the falsity behind virtually all social-engineering schemes is the notion that the world doesn't change.

When Social Security was passed in the 1930s, our society had more than 50 working individuals for every retiree. Today, as a result of massive demographic changes, we have barely three people working for every retiree. Soon we'll be down even lower. The payroll tax will have to go out the roof to maintain this concept.

Restoration of ownership is the only answer. Let every individual fund his own retirement account. We'll be free of this unmanageable social scheme and provide a framework for individuals to accumulate personal security and wealth.

Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.