Being a native New Yorker, I'll admit there's not much about California that I'm envious of -- save for the weather in January and February and select vineyard labels which are to die for.

I'm also suspicious of every highway being referred to by number and not name - i.e. "Take the 101 to 405 south and get off at Slauson."

For years, I listened to several of my older relatives from Brooklyn curse California for convincing the late Walter O'Malley to move the Dodgers from Ebbets Field to Chavez Ravine.

To be fair, that was more a combination of O'Malley taking umbrage at Brooklyn officials for their refusal to build him a new stadium and terrific incentives offered by the City of Los Angeles, but try explaining that to passionate, but irrational, baseball fans.

But despite my atavistic distrust of the left coast, I feel a solid connection to residents of the Golden State on the subject of investing.

Recently, the California Society of CPAs polled roughly 800 residents on the subject of self-managing and investing a portion their Social Security payments, as opposed to Uncle Sam having a go at it, so to speak.

And not surprisingly, a little over half expressed confidence that they could do a better job of investing than the government could. This, despite the fact that 80 percent of that group admitted to having little or no experience with money management or investing.

If it were me, I'd rather trust Paris Hilton to manage my accounts -- Social Security or otherwise --than the government.

When polled as to what they would consider the best solution to the Social Security crisis, 35 percent of those responding to the survey favored allowing contributions to personal or private accounts.

The first thing I would try to impress upon those folks who are leaning toward the personal account system is that transitioning to private accounts and repairing the Social Security program are in reality, mutually exclusive. They're different issues connected to a common cause.

But I digress.

Meanwhile 22 percent indicated that they would continue with the system as it is, while 17 percent of the group favored an increase in the Social Security tax. Another 8 percent called for raising the minimum retirement age.

Recently, in prime time, the nation's chief executive refused to back down on his plan to create the private account system, or on his proposed changes -- where Social Security checks for low-income workers retiring in the future would in effect grow at a faster rate than for those at higher income levels, in a sort of "sliding scale" formula.

However, both the private accounts and the sliding scale have come under fire from Democrats who claim the former is a "deal breaker" with regard to any bipartisan Social Security legislation, while they claim the latter would "gut" the benefits for the middle class because it would be used as funding to transition to the personal account system.


All I know is that should a private account system be implemented, I'm locking arms with the folks from California on this one and not letting the government near my earnings.

As long as they don't take me for a ride on the 405.

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