Serious consideration is being given to the merits of privatizing Social Security. Debate over privatization and the future of Social Security gives expression to two differing value systems: the community-enhancing values of the program's defenders versus libertarian values of its critics. This article examines the implications of the debate. Areas of agreement among advocates and opponents of privatization are discussed. Special attention is paid to conflicting views about privatization and to the distributive implications of proposals to address the program's projected financing problem. In shifting much risk from government onto individuals, privatization would undermine basic Social Security protections. And it would complicate the program's financing problems and in the long run weaken political support. Moreover, many alternative benefit or tax changes can address the shortfall without weakening the moral basis of Social Security.

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