Argentina's money grab a threat to personal property rights

In a move to help the government make current debt payments, Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is proposing to "nationalize" the country's private pension system. Translation? The government wants to take away the money its citizens have saved for retirement.

As many countries around the world feel the pain from the credit crunch, Argentina is in an even worse position. The country defaulted on its debts in 2001, and has trouble getting credit in the world markets. Another default (which is very close) would devastate Argentina's economy. The government is looking for any way it can to gather up cash to make the debt payments.

But why take away the money that rightfully belongs to citizens? The private pension system was started in 1994 as an alternative to government pension. Three million citizens voluntarily contribute to the private system, and much like U.S. 401(k) accounts, they can decide how and where to invest their money. This private pension system is attractive to government officials in Argentina, as it currently has about $30 billion in assets. Yet this temporary fix to budget problems will certainly have a massive long-term effect if it goes through, as the government will be forced to replace those assets with retirement benefits in the future.