I want to believe that it can’t happen here. But … I’m starting to wonder. Argentina pioneered the large-scale theft of private pension assets for political purposes. Now it is happening all over Europe. Jan Iwanik of the Adam Smith Institute writes:
People’s retirement savings are a convenient source of revenue for governments that don’t want to reduce spending or make privatizations. As most pension schemes in Europe are organised by the state, European ministers of finance have a facilitated access to the savings accumulated there, and it is only logical that they try to get a hold of this money for their own ends. In recent weeks I have noted five such attempts: Three situations concern private personal savings; two others refer to national funds.
The most striking example is Hungary, where last month the government made the citizens an offer they could not refuse. They could either remit their individual retirement savings to the state, or lose the right to the basic state pension (but still have an obligation to pay contributions for it). In this extortionate way, the government wants to gain control over $14bn of individual retirement savings.
With Uncle Sam’s finances deeply in the red, and growing worse every day, one can imagine an eventual congressional attempt to grab private financial assets in one form or another. Hopefully not, but eternal vigilance surely is called for!