Star Parker

Fifty percent of those with a college education favor private accounts whereas only 35 percent of those with less than a high school degree do. More than half of those earning more than $50,000 per year favor private accounts whereas only 38 percent of those earning less than $20,000 a year do.

The specific polling on Social Security private accounts appears consistent with the more general work reported by the behavioral psychologists regarding the propensity to embrace more choice. Those who are better educated view it positively and as an opportunity and those more poorly educated view it negatively and as a threat.

Blacks, who are on average less wealthy and less educated than whites, are far less supportive of private accounts than whites _ 36 percent of blacks favor them compared to 46 percent of whites.

However, on the issue of school choice, blacks and whites are equally supportive of vouchers. Polling done by the Joint Center on Political and Economic Studies shows 48 percent of blacks and 48 percent of whites favor vouchers.

What conclusion might be drawn here? Why would polling regarding choice on private accounts appear consistent with more general research correlating level of education and preference for independence of choice but school choice not correlate?

I think that the inner city public schools are so bad that there leaves little question to blacks that they would be better off if they had the option of choosing where to send their child to school.

My guess is that the team of psychologists from Swarthmore and Stanford provides us with an accurate picture when they report that lower income, less educated individuals embrace freedom to choose less enthusiastically than higher income, more educated individuals. However, the correlation breaks down when a status quo blocking choice is so clearly unattractive that even those naturally disinclined to loosen the reins of control want choice introduced.

Regarding Social Security private accounts, it's been my view that the current system based on payroll taxes and government determined benefits hurts low income folks more than high income folks. For them the payroll tax confiscates the only funds they have available to save and invest.

But if my conclusions above are correct, we probably won't see private Social Security accounts until low income people in general conclude the status quo is not an acceptable option.

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.