I am writing in response to your editorial of Nov. 29.
As you noted in your editorial, I have raised and will continue to raise serious questions about the standards to be applied to our emerging market investments. It is critical that, as fiduciaries, members of pension boards fully understand the conditions in countries which might affect investment returns.
It is in that context that I believe it is essential that historical and political risk analysis provided with respect to countries be of the highest integrity. That is why I strongly challenged the information provided to CalPERS about the history of Turkey which falsely portrayed the Armenian genocide and the massacre of Greeks undertaken by the Turkish government earlier this century.
Beyond our fiduciary obligations, all of us who are privileged to live in the world's greatest democracy have an obligation to stand firmly against historical revisionism whether the revisionism relates to the Jewish holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the killings by the Khmer Rouge, or the Soviet mass murders. Given the Turkish government's denial of the truth of the genocide it perpetrated earlier this century, standing up for the truth is that much more important.
State of California
Who owns SS money?
In regard to your Nov. 1. editorial, "Misleading Statements":
Any and all monies paid into Social Security, or SSA, by any participant is only a fiction, re a statement of benefits. Your total benefits statement is the yardstick by which SSA cuts you a monthly check (at best an annuity payment).
If you say to SSA that I have paid a half million dollars and I want it all in one lump sum -- they will laugh at you!
* But if you exceed the earnings limited before age 70, you damn well better be prepared to pay (the overage) it all back and quick! If you can't, then they deduct so much a month from your monthly payment till it's fully paid back!! (If the money belonged to you, then it's yours. But it does not belong to you! It belongs to the U.S. government and you better pay it back and be quick about it!!)
* All of the nonsense about Wall Street managing the money for individuals via Congress approval, etc., is a lot of bunk! How can Wall Street manage something the participant does not own and has no right to or means of getting at (in any sort of a lump-sum basis)? Prediction: If the Wall Street sharks and the Congress continue to perpetuate this nonsense, John Q. Public will reject it and for good sense reasons!
* Your SSA monthly payment is a (monthly) annuity payment from the U.S. government based on what you paid. Once paid, it belongs to the U.S. government and that's why they can freely spend it for whatever they please.
* To insist that it is money the participant can manage like an IRA or 401(k) is mind boggling! They don't own what they have paid in! All they own is the right to collect a monthly amount based on what they paid in -- nothing more! SSA will confirm this.
I believe present federal case law would confirm all of the above!