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OPINION

Oh No, Too! America Regains Record Household Wealth

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

More bad news from the Associated Press.

American households have regained all the wealth they lost in the Great Recession, and since then have added to their equity, setting a new record for household wealth.

“A surging stock market and a steady recovery in home prices drove Americans' wealth to a record last summer,” reported the Associated Press. “The nation's wealth rose 2.6 percent from July through September to $77.3 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Monday. Household wealth has been rising gradually since bottoming at $57.2 trillion in 2008. Early this year, America finally regained all the wealth it had lost to the Great Recession.”

Yesterday I wrote about how the U.S. was minting more millionaires than ever before and how this was very distressing to the folks at the Associated Press.

The AP “news” organization has manufactured news in order to decry the obstacles to creating a society where we all have the same crappy high-rise apartment, with the same government-mandated car, with our children in same state-run daycares disguised as schools.

Millionaires kind of muck that up, especially when created in record numbers.

Now, news comes that we all have more money than ever before.

What a disaster!

Stock market gains have added about a trillion dollars to net worth in the summer while, home equity gains added another half trillion.

“Still, the gains haven't been equally distributed,” says the Associated Press. “The wealthiest 10 percent of U.S. households own about 80 percent of stocks. And home ownership has declined since the recession, particularly among lower-income Americans.”

I guess the AP has difficulty understanding the concept of “wealthiest.”

As a matter of definition, wealthiest only includes, um, the…wealthiest... and they have the most...um...by definition, being wealthiest and all.

That’s why I will offer the AP this simple solution:

You want more Americans to participate in stock market rallies? Then let more Americans participate in the stock market through a government-controlled program that is already in existence.

If two-thirds of wealth gains have come through the stock market, it would only make sense to normal people to extend those benefits to EVERYONE, especially as this cool government program could use only money people contribute themselves.

The program is called Social Security and as it’s set up now, it requires people to work today to pay for today’s retirees. The more workers and the fewer the retirees, the more benefits that politicians promise because ultimately it’s a program that is supported by taxes, not individual contributions.

If we changed people’s tax bill into an individual contribution and allowed them access to the stock market, not only would EVERYONE benefit from the rise in stock prices, it would also make Social Security solvent and self-sustaining.

Already, some governments have gotten the memo.

Even liberal governments.

Democrat mayor of Democrat City of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, has supported a free-market type of “pension” reform for the city offering 401k-style stock market participation.

Like all other cities, Baltimore is on the hook for pension benefits that they promised, but can’t pay without bankrupting the city.

“New civilian city workers would be required to contribute 5 percent of their paychecks to a 401(k)-like investment vehicle,” says the ultra-liberal Baltimore Sun in support of the plan, “and the city would contribute 4 percent. But it would not be on the hook for pension payments in perpetuity.”

As a comparison, my own plan only contributes a 3 percent match by my employer.

But it’s found money, so I’m happy.

Other municipalities are doing the same thing as Baltimore for the same reason: Pension plans too often are used by politicians as a political IOU. Politicians who get campaign contributions from unions promise union workers benefits twenty years from now that the city can’t afford.

Even ultra-irresponsible, liberal Illinois, which has the most troubled pension system in the country, has adopted a 401k-style stock market participation plan in their reform package.

Supporters in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose are each looking for similar reforms in municipal pensions.

So why not Social Security too?

I know it would be hard for the Associated Press to write a story about how EVERYONE is benefiting from the rise in stock market prices as the result of a Social Security reform.

But if they can’t do it, the rest of us will fill in the blanks.

I want EVERYONE to be rich, not poor.

Too bad liberals want the opposite and call it equality.

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