Representative McCarthy unintentionally highlighted an instance in which a woman — herself — would have been far better off under a system of personal retirement accounts. Her story is not the exception: according to a recent study published by the Cato Institute, nearly all women — whether married, single, divorced or widowed and of all income levels — would be better off under a system of personal retirement accounts. By taking advantage of the power of compound interest, the overwhelming majority of women could expect to receive considerably higher benefits than they can under the current pay‐as‐you‐go system.
It is certainly important that legislators and academics consider how changes in the law affect women. Earnings sharing (whereby contributions are split equally between husband and wife) should be part of individual investment proposals in order to protect women from a loss of income due to divorce. A minimum safety net should also be provided. Most important, however, women must be regarded as individuals and equal partners who need to face the reality of a crumbling federal retirement program that threatens the financial well‐being of their children’s generation.
Instead of focusing on stereotypes of women as incompetent investors and natural dependents of the state, female Democratic legislators should welcome the opportunity to give women the benefits of personal retirement accounts. This system would allow families to own their retirement savings, free our nation’s children from a growing entitlement debt and, most important, empower individuals by treating them all as equals. Isn’t that what feminism is supposed to be all about?