You Say 'Ponzi Scheme,' I Say 'Fraud'

Rick Perry and Mitt Romney's Social Security spat highlights frequently denied truths.

At the Republican presidential debate in Tampa on Monday night, Mitt Romney said Rick Perry has needlessly "scared seniors" by calling Social Security "a Ponzi scheme." Romney, more sensitive to the anxieties of retirees, prefers to say "the American people have been effectively defrauded out of their Social Security" (as he puts it in his 2010 book No Apology) because Congress has spent the program's surplus revenue instead of saving it to pay for future benefits—the sort of crime for which bankers "would go to jail."

See the difference? Neither do I. Both the former Massachusetts governor and the current Texas governor understand that Social Security is a transfer program disguised as a retirement plan and that its frequently mentioned "trust fund" does not actually exist. Their spat over how exactly to characterize that situation is illuminating not because it reveals substantive differences between the candidates but because it shows how often these simple truths are overlooked.

The day of the debate, for instance, USA Today opined that "Social Security is most certainly not a Ponzi scheme," because Ponzi schemes "are criminal enterprises, which Social Security is not." Fact-checking Perry after the debate, CNN declared that "Social Security is not a fraudulent criminal enterprise designed only to benefit current participants in the program." Rather, "It is a legitimate government program meant to serve both current and future generations of retirees."

Digging a bit deeper, my colleague Shikha Dalmia observed that Social Security is in some respects worse than a Ponzi scheme, since participation is mandatory, money is diverted not only to earlier investors and the fund manager but also to various "programs for politically favored groups," and the con goes on and on, even after it is  revealed. I might add that Ponzi schemes offer much better returns (initially).

At Monday's debate, Perry pointed out that Social Security "has been called a Ponzi scheme by many people long before me." It's true! And what did they mean by that?

As CNN helpfully notes, "the Securities and Exchange Commission defines such a scheme as 'an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors.'" Social Security benefits likewise are funded not by returns on money that current retirees "paid into the system" but by payroll taxes collected from current workers. Yet the government misleadingly portrays Social Security as a pension program, periodically informing us about the retirement benefits we've "earned," as if our money is being saved and invested for us.

Don't be embarrassed if you've fallen for this scam. So has The New York Times. It recently tried to set Perry straight by reporting that "economists of all stripes agree" Social Security won't "exhaust the money in the trust fund" until 2037.

But as the Times itself conceded last year, this trust fund is no more than "an accounting device" that represents how much the government owes itself—or, in other words, how much must be extracted from taxpayers to cover all the surplus Social Security money Congress has squandered over the years. The surpluses themselves are long gone, replaced by Treasury bonds that can be redeemed only through higher taxes or further borrowing (which eventually translates into higher taxes).

"This trust fund is an elaborate illusion cooked up by government magicians," Perry observes in his 2010 book Fed Up! In No Apology, Romney agrees, calling the trust fund a "fiction that's often used to obscure the extent of the crisis."

Social Security's benefits already have begun to exceed its annual revenue, meaning the program is contributing to the deficit instead of making it seem smaller. By the 2040s payroll tax revenue is expected to cover only three-quarters of promised benefits.

All of the possible solutions ultimately involve raising taxes or cutting benefits. But in settling on a particular fix, it is helpful to understand the true nature of the system we are reforming.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist.

© Copyright 2011 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  • johnl||

    For people retiring now, they have contributed 12% of their gross for decades, and that's more than enough to fund a retirement, even if invested in the most conservative way. But the SS Trust Fund was never "invested" in a defendable way, such as 30YT. That type of fraudulent disposition, splitting funds that are claimed to be invested in a non earning account and paying early investors, is commonly called a Ponzi scheme.

    Mitt is lying. He knows he's lying. Everybody knows Mitt is lying,

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    If Mitt wins the Republican nomination, you'd better believe I'm voting 3rd-party.

  • { }||

    That sounds like a threat. Is that a threat?

  • Barack Obama||

    Let me be clear.

    Thank you very much!

  • Hank||

    Oh noes! If I vote third-party, I might accidentally assist a statist in being elected!

    ...Now which one is which, again?

  • sunny black||

    Obama would be the socialist statist. The one who created a big, new, shiny entitlement. That statist.

  • CE||

    Sort of like Bush?

  • Herpa Derp||

    But I heard a vote for a 3rd party was a vote for Obama.. or vice versa. Fuck. I forget.

  • anon||

    And if voting 3rd party doesn't work, there's always revolution.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Present!

  • ||

    Hate speech!

  • ||

    That doesn't mean that (many) people beleive Him.

  • Jim||

    i really hope, one of them will make it!!!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Meanwhile, AOL and other distinguished media outlets are plugging a story that the audience cheered at the idea of a sick uninsured person dying.

  • MJ||

    "The day of the debate, for instance, USA Today opined that "Social Security is most certainly not a Ponzi scheme," because Ponzi schemes "are criminal enterprises, which Social Security is not."

    So, according tom USA Today, if the government did not consider what Bernie Madoff did to be criminal, Madoff's ripoff of his investors would not be a Ponzi scheme? How can they oresent such a weak and twisyed version of logic?

  • sarcasmic||

    If the law authorizes government employees to do what would be considered criminal acts if done by mere civilians, then it's not criminal.

    Theft, fraud, murder... if the law says government can do it then it's not a crime.

    'Rule of Law' is the modern 'Divine Right of Kings'.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I think that's actually just good ole circular logic.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Also, like sarcasmic said, "Divine Right of Kings".

  • johnl||

    Solyndracal reasoning.

  • MJ||

    Apparently USA Today believes that "legal" is a perfectly interchangable term with "ethical". What is legal cannot be unethical.

  • sarcasmic||

    Slavery was perfectly ethical while it was legal because it was legal.
    It only became unethical when it was outlawed.

  • DLM||

    All else being equal, what is legal is more ethical than what is illegal. How much more so is open for debate.

  • M||

    [citation needed]

  • Rich||

    This.

    "[Social Security] is a legitimate government program meant to serve both current and future generations of retirees."

    As sarcasmic notes, a "legitimate" program by definition cannot be criminal. And, of course, since SS is "*meant* to serve" [emphasis added], it's OK regardless of the actual outcome.

  • Joe M||

    It's only a Ponzi scheme if it's illegal, duh! Therefore the government, by definition, can't ever engage in a Ponzi scheme because everything it does is legal! Isn't it nice how that works out?

  • Matrix||

    The government does not have to follow the same laws as the rest of society. Take labor laws, for example.

    In the private sector, a non-exempt employee working over 40 hours in a work week is supposed to get time and a half in pay compensation. If they elect for comp time in lieu of pay, they get one and a half hour for ever hour over 40.

    The government is quite different. You don't start getting overtime until you work beyond 80 hours in a two week period. I work 44 hours one week and 36 the next, so I have every other Friday off. I'm not complaining. But suppose I work beyond that 80 hours in that two week time. Will I get time and a half? No. I get less than time and a half. And the higher the paygrade I go, the less I'll get. How about comp time instead? Unlike the private sector guy, I'll only get 1 hour for 1 hour over. I don't get 1.5 hours.

    Now, I am in my job voluntarily. I understand that. If I don't like the rules, I can go somewhere else. However, I think it is grossly unfair that that government imposes the rules on the private sector and does not follow those same rules for itself.

  • sarcasmic||

    Lucky you. At least you get paid if you work over 80 in a pay period.
    If I work overtime I don't get paid, yet my employer still bills for my time.
    If they pay me then by law they must pay me time and a half. But that doesn't work because they can't bill for time and a half.
    By law they can't pay me straight time, so they don't pay me at all.

  • Matrix||

    Is that even legal if you're not classified as an exempt employee?

  • sarcasmic||

    I wouldn't know. I'm exempt.

  • Matrix||

    Well, exempt employees are different. A company can make you work 100 hours and still only pay you for 40. Sucks, I know. But it's only supposed to be for certain professions and managers. However, a lot of companies misclassify jobs to get around it.

  • sarcasmic||

    I just wish they could at least pay me straight time. I'd work extra. They'll bill the same and make the same money on the margin.
    But they can't.
    If they pay me they must pay me time and a half, so the solution is to not pay me at all. Big help that is to me.

  • kinnath||

    No true. For years, my company paid straigh time to engineers working more than 40 hours a week. That policy ended with the market crash a couple of years ago, and I imagine it will never come back.

  • Matrix||

    http://www.flsa.com/coverage.html

    Not a .gov site, but pretty helpful. Degreed engineers doing engineer work are classified as exempt.

  • kinnath||

    Yes. That's the point. Exempt means exempt. If an employer decides to pay an exempt employee for hours worked over 40, then the employer can pay any amount that he/she desires. The argument that it's time and a half or nothing is wrong.

  • sarcasmic||

    This wouldn't be the first time, or last time, a manager has lied to me.

  • ||

    "Are you lying to me now, or were you lying to me then?"

  • kinnath||

    So now you have some evidence ;-)

  • Matrix||

    Right. As an exempt employee, you are not entitled to any compensation beyond 40 hours. But they can pay you any amount they choose. They don't have to pay you time and a half. They can pay you straight time, or even pay you half time or even $1. But to say they have to pay time and a half, so they won't bill or pay it at all is not true.

  • ||

    From the USA Today:
    Social Security is most certainly not a Ponzi scheme, which is an undertaking designed to swindle people out of their money by using incoming revenue to produce bogus investment returns to attract more money (see Ponzi, Charles and Madoff, Bernard).

    Ah well. That clears that up. No wait...

  • sevo||

    THAT is amazing!
    They describe S/S exactly (except the gov't uses force to 'attract' investments), and then say; 'See? It's sorta not like this!'

  • Watoosh||

    Also, seizing(stealing) drug money and killing civilians in wars aren't immoral acts because only criminals do immoral acts and the government gets to decide who's criminal and who's not. Ergo, state-approved rubber stamps nullify commonsense morality. News at 11.

  • ||

    MJ, HI!
    It's DIFFERENT Honey Chile, because Government theft "is what it is"; Protected !

  • Au H20||

    Riggs, it's called a fucking alarm clock.

  • ||

    or an Aspirin.

  • ||

    S.O.P.

  • DK||

    This is what those economists mean by "Social Security won't exhaust the money in the trust fund until 2037."

  • ||

    That's one an jet fighter, $27 billion, might want to hand onto that one.

  • ||

    "I can't believe there aren't any jobs in this whole stinking town!"

    "Yeah, not unless you want to work forty hours a week!"

  • Louis Armstrong||

    You like potayto and I like potahto, You like tomayto and I like tomahto
    Potayto, potahto, Tomayto, tomahto, Let's call the whole thing off

  • ||

    Anybody else see that Timmy G. was on CNBC this morning? I was at the gym and it was muted, but it looked like he was reassuring Jim Cramer that Europe would bail out any industry necessary or something like that.

  • ||

    Sy!
    Wouldn't it be simply fabulous if B.O. cared even half as much about America as he does the Europeans?
    That's the problem with "Globalists": they'll sell out their own Mothers to advance the cause of One World Control!
    You don't suppose all this money America (read, Americans)has been sending to European banks is an act of bribery, a payoff if you will, so The European Common Market won't promote a different world currency over the Dollar?

  • NotSure||

    Politicians do not tend to honour the promises of the politicians that came before them. Anyone who puts their faith in a government run pension scheme to cover their future finances is frankly an idiot.

    Invest in yourself, not in politicians.

  • Tango Mike||

    What if they don't leave me enough to invest in anything other than groceries?

  • ||

    If you have enough money left over for groceries then you have to much money so we will have to tax you more so that we can give you food stamps.

  • Kroneborge||

    You have to join a union to get to keep more. See how that works?

  • Allen W. Smith, Ph.D.||

    "this trust fund is no more than “an accounting device” that represents how much the government owes itself — or, in other words, how much must be extracted from taxpayers to cover all the surplus Social Security money Congress has squandered over the years."

    THANK YOU FOR POINTING OUT THE TRUTH ABOUT THE TRUST FUND!

    I have devoted the past ten years of my life to researching and writing about Social Security and to trying to expose the "great Social Security theft." In February 2004, I appeared on CNBC to respond to Greenspan's call the previous day for Social Security benefit cuts. I held my newly published book, "The Looting of Social Security" in front of the camera and refuted what Greenspan had said. That book was pulled from the market by unknown entities a few weeks later, and my New York publisher refused to revert the publishing rights back to me so I could publish it elsewhere. I was effectively silenced during the period when Bush was waging his campaign to privatize Social Security. The government has for the past 25 years been diverting Social Security surplus revenue into the general fund and using it to fund wars, tax cuts, and other government programs. The money was replaced with non-marketable IOUs that could not be sold to anyone even for a penny on the dollar. As this article pointed out, Social Security began to run permanent deficits in 2010, and the IOUs are of no use in paying benefits.
    Allen W. Smith, Ph.D.
    www.thebiglie.net
    ironwoodas@aol.com
    1-800-840-6812

    I am Professor of Economics, Emeritus, Eastern Illinois University

  • Allen W. Smith, Ph.D.||

    THE TWO BIG LIES ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY:

    LIE 1. Social Security has no financial problems. With no government action of any kind, Social Security can pay full benefits until 2036.

    LIE 2. Social Security, in its current form, is unsustainable. It is going broke, or it will go broke.

    THE TRUTH: All of the $2.6 trillion in surplus Social Security revenue generated by the 1983 payroll tax hike has spent by the government, as it came in, for other government programs. The year 2009 was the last year in which the Social Security budget ran a surplus. Beginning in 2010, Social Security began running annual budget deficits. In 2011, and all future years, the cost of Social Security benefits will exceed the payroll tax revenue, and the government will have to dig into the general fund in order to pay full benefits

    If the $2.6 trillion had not been spent on other things, Social Security could pay full benefits until 2036. Social Security could be made fully solvent for decades beyond 2036 with a single legislative act. If the cap on earnings subject to the payroll tax were removed, Social Security would be fully solvent for at least another 75 years.
    Allen W. Smith, Ph.D. www.thebiglie.net

  • Byron||

    Did you just say 'millionaires and billionaires'?

    Changing the tax by collecting from every last dollar earned doesn't exactly refute what you call LIE 2.

  • Allen W. Smith, Ph.D.||

    The Great Social Security Theft

    On March 16, 2011, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) uttered the following words during a Senate speech.

    “Congresses under both Republican and Democrat control, both Republican and Democrat presidents, have stolen money from social security and spent it. The money’s gone. It’s been used for another purpose.”

    The following morning, during an appearance on MSNB, Senator Coburn said,

    “We have stolen $2.6 trillion from it. We put paper money in there. But the problem is we spent the money. We didn’t just take it. We took it and spent it.”

    Every word that Senator Coburn spoke was absolutely true, and all members of Congress, and the President, know that they are true. The mainstream media honors the government’s wishes that the story not be reported, but the American people have both a need and a right to know that the Social Security money has already been spent.

    To learn more about the “Great Social Security Theft” please click on this link. www.thebiglie.net


    Allen W. Smith, Ph.D.
    ironwoodas@aol.com

  • Tony||

    It's a Ponzi scheme if we accept the description of it by people who think it's like a Ponzi scheme. Got it.

  • Matrix||

    It's legitimate because the gubment sayz so... got it!

  • Tony||

    Legal maybe... Whoever your higher authority is, I don't trust it anymore than you trust government.

  • ||

    As long as you admit government is your version of a 'higher authority'.

  • ||

    From Wiki:

    "A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to separate investors, not from any actual profit earned by the organization, but from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors. The Ponzi scheme usually entices new investors by offering returns other investments cannot guarantee, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent"

    In what way does this not describe social security?

  • Tony||

    SS is not fraudulent or misleading and is indefinitely sustainable. Any Ponzi scheme that has worked continuously for 76 years would be the world's most successful Ponzi scheme by a huge margin.

    Did you know that the projected shortfall in SS over 75 years is roughly the same %/GDP as the high-end Bush tax cuts?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Any Ponzi scheme that has worked continuously for 76 years would be the world's most successful Ponzi scheme by a huge margin.

    It's only been sustained by exponential growth in inflation and population the last 76 years, and even now that game is over.

  • Tango Mike||

    Don't forget the guns! Crooks who run Ponzi schemes can't force people at gunpoint to participate.

  • some guy||

    Tony, We already know that you're OK with paying SS benefits out of the general fund. We also know you're OK with the fact that all the excess money collected for SS via the payroll tax (through 2009) was spent rather than being placed in a Trust Fund. We already know that you are OK with the government taking from poor, young people and giving to relatively wealthy old people. Lastly, we know that you believe the "rich" need to pay their "fair share", where "fair share" is always defined as "more". We know all this. Do you have anything new to add?

  • Tony||

    Since government prints its own money, many of these concerns are overblown. That's also another reason SS is not like a Ponzi scheme.

  • some guy||

    Since government prints its own money, many of these concerns are overblown.

    Oh, I see. In SS, the government promised to take "value" from us and return "money" to us at a later date. There was no guarantee, implicit or otherwise, that the returned "money" would still have any "value".

    Yeah, there's nothing "fraudulent or misleading" going on, is there? Also, SS is NOT "indefinitely sustainable" because it already depends upon an outside source to pay its benefits (the general fund).

  • ||

    Printing money causes inflation which decrease the value of retirement plans which requires more people to depend on S.S.. Hence doubling down on it ponzi scheme similarities and quickening the pace of it's unsustainability.

  • seguin||

    It's the most successful Ponzi scheme in history because the people in it don't have a choice.

  • sevo||

    "SS is not fraudulent or misleading and is indefinitely sustainable."

    Shithead just flat out lies and isn't decent enough to be embarrased.

  • Matrix||

    Well, my higher authority is government. I'm a citizen of the United States, so I am under it's jurisdiction... like it or not.

  • Tony||

    But why worry about SS when there are so many other things that aren't exceedingly simple to make solvent indefinitely?

    Complaints about SS are motivated by exactly one thing: it's an example of a successful government redistribution program, and that contradicts the political argument that government can't do anything right. They want to destroy it because it works.

  • NotSure||

    First of all it is not successful, it needs huge amounts of tax money to keep it going all the time.

    Secondly, your politicians do not say it is redistribution so either you are not telling the truth are your politicians are not.

  • Matrix||

    If it was completely voluntary, I would be okay with it. Since it is mandatory, I will always have issues with it.

  • Tony||

    Mandates become necessary if you start with the premise that society isn't going to let people starve to death for the crime of not saving enough for retirement.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Complaints about SS are motivated by exactly one thing: it's an example of a successful government redistribution program, and that contradicts the political argument that government can't do anything right.

    If it's so successful, it wouldn't be out of money now. That sort of contradicts your whole "it's indefinitely sustainable" argument.

  • Matrix||

    Nor would it ever have to raise taxes in order to maintain the same level of compensation.

  • Tony||

    If the population continues to get older, you have to raise more money. It's pretty simple. It's just a matter of whether you value a safety net for retirees, or if you prefer a) old people dying more of poverty and b) there being fewer jobs for young people.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    How does SS factor into the jobs-for-young-people equation?

  • Tony||

    Because more old people would be forced to work in what would otherwise be their retirement years.

  • sevo||

    "If the population continues to get older, you have to raise more money. It's pretty simple."

    Shithead now admits it's a Ponzi scheme and isn't decent enough to admit he lied earlier.

  • CE||

    If it were really a "safety net for retirees", why do rich retirees still get benefits?

  • sevo||

    "But why worry about SS when there are so many other things that aren't exceedingly simple to make solvent indefinitely?"

    Shithead drags a red-herring around and isn't decent enough to be embarrassed.

  • Jeff Perren||

    "They want to destroy it because it works."

    I want to destroy it because it is immoral.

    It is wrong to force you to pay me support, no matter whether my need is the result of short-sightedness, bad luck, or anything else.

  • Tony||

    Well Jeff this is a secular country and your kooky ideas of morality should play no role in public policy.

  • ||

    Take a hike Tony! Your position is utterly indefensible.
    As an aside, it is the complete lack of MORALITY in public policy/ fiduciary issues such as this, which caused Congress to treat SS as their private "slush fund"; so don't be trashing MORALITY with this bunch of folks! We're knowledgeable and ready to take on chuckle-heads such as you.

  • Jeff Perren||

    I am an atheist. Are you suggesting that only a religious person can believe there is such a thing as right and wrong? Clearly not, since you believe there is such a thing - and that it should be applied to public policy.

    Moreover, Madison was one of the "kooks" I guess:

    "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

  • ||

    To Jeff.P.
    Why would you assume that I believe "only a religious person can believe there is such a thing as right and wrong"?
    I did not say that at all. You were the one trying to put words in my mouth.
    Why would you equate morality to being religious? I don't!
    Ever hear of Aesop's Fables? They have MORALS! I learned more about ethics from them, early on in life, than I have ever heard from organized religion; with the possible exception of the Parables.
    And, that's what we are really talking about here: Ethics.
    Clearly, both Congress and many Presidents have been devoid of them.
    "The Art of Compromise", which is touted as a "must-have" characteristic in order to reach accord, has resulted in the compromised ethics of too many Congresspersons. Laws enacted after much compromise have wound up with plans which are half-assed, fiscally irresponsible, ill-thought out, Un-Constitutional, and often totally irrational and counter intuitive.
    Such legislation pleases neither negotiating side; and we, the citizenry, most always "take it in the shorts" because of their lack of ethics/morality.

  • Jeff Perren||

    Joanne,

    I agree with your comments. I was addressing Tony and his comment to me. Your comment had not appeared yet when I was composing my response to him.

    Regards,
    Jeff

  • Aimeng||

    You can refer to http://www.aimengcrystal.com

  • Allah ka derpa derpa||

    "Congress has spent the program's surplus revenue instead of saving it to pay for future benefits"

    Err yeah, that's what a Ponzi Scheme is, derp.

  • ||

    'SS is a Ponzi Scheme'

    Is that a simile or a metaphor? I am beyond the point of remembering or caring. The point is, why the hyperventilation over the use of a figure of speech?

    I thought that everyone understood that a private retirement fund is restricted by law from operating identically as does the SS Fund.

  • ||

    To H. Reardon: I can understand the inertia or apathy of trying to remember the ABC's of parsing English; it may help to remember one thing however. Regardless of whether it is a Simile or a Metaphor, one only needs to remember that Semantics are Everything in the deceitful arena of politics!
    Hyperventilating "over the use of a figure of speech" is what has birthed great ideas: such as the Tea Party Constitutional Patriots!

  • ||

    Pres. Bush didn't pay for two wars and the Democrat party didn't pay for social security.

    Next

  • johnl||

    The taxpayers paid for SS. But the idiot boomers decided to "invest" their retirement accounts by locking each other up in prison and invading random places.

  • Nixon||

    When the government does it, that means it's not illegal!

  • ||

    [I]t would be most accurate to describe Social Security as a transfer payment--transferring income from the generation of workers to the generation of retirees--with the promise that when current workers retiree, there will be another generation of workers behind them who will be the source of their Social Security retirement payments. So you could say that Social Security is a transfer payment, but it is not a pyramid [or Ponzi] scheme. In a Ponzi scheme the fact there is no return generating mechanism beyond just contributions from new entrants is obscured whereas Social Security payouts have always been openly underwritten by incoming tax revenue. there are numerous ways to sustain the trust fund, from raising the cap on taxed income to increasing the core tax itself to increasing the retirement age to decreasing benefits.

  • ||

    Social Security is still pay-as-you-go, with the difference being that future generations will pay for both the benefits outlay and the repayment of principal and interest on the special government bonds in the trust fund. Principal and interest on these bonds must be repaid by future generations, according to law.

  • Byron||

    John,

    Your whole argument works only if average lifetime SS benefits paid are less than or equal to average lifetime SS contributions. That's not the case, which is what forces the pyramid shape. The fact that this particular Ponzi scheme is conducted in the open with most folks being too stupid/self-interested to realize it doesn't change the nature of the scheme.

  • Grey Panther||

    I'm old! Gimmee! Gimmee! Gimmee!

  • ||

    It is obvious to this pewrson as I assume it is obvious to any thinking person living today that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme exhibiting fraud and also theft since we have no freedom of choice in the matter. Therefore Romney and Perry scare no one. In fact, they insult everyone by
    not moving on to other issues unless
    they have a plan for giving us all our freedom back by ridding us of this abomination. This I highly doubt because they choose to bat this one
    issue back and forth. I'll be voting for someone else on that panel for sure.

  • ||

    SS itself is no more responsible for the "theft" and "fraud" you mention then a company is responsible for the money stolen by an embezzler. It's assinine the way you guys equate the criminals with the institutions they steal from.

    And if you don't your side isn't scaring people by your tear-it-all-down-and-let's-have-every-man-for-himself attitude, you're crazy. There's a reason Ron Paul is nothing but a distraction every 4 years. Any rational person can see the inevitable human disaster that would result with the domestic policies he espouses within 60 seconds of logical thought.

    But what I get the biggest kick out of is watching all these middle class Ron Paul fans who think they are the "have's", and think that like the billionaires who's policies they parrot, they too no longer have a need for public education, worker rights and standards, safety nets, environmental laws, regs to keep Wall Street in line, and so on.

    I laugh listening to them convince themselves they are self made....of course not realizing that no one in America today is self made, everyone owes the government for their success(from roads to airlines to ports to having educated employees to courts of laws to police to protect them to legal business and commerce protections, etc...), and usually in a massive way.

    Of course it's true for the billionaires. They don't even need clean water or air, they can buy those things. But listening to anyone below them, which is 99.9% of Americans think could survive without all that the gov does is hilarious.

  • ||

    Hey fuckstick, go outside, find someone who was born before 1972 (that would be anyone over the age of 40, and ask them what it was like to wear breath masks since the air was so black. If they're up to it, see if they can recall what it was like when the EPA cleaned the air so they could see the sun for the first time.

  • ||

    For a site that calls itself "reason", there certainly was none exercised in this article.

    The only "fraud" going on is the way our corporately owned politicians and media, as well as anarchist websites like this one continue to mislead people about SS in their on going effort to create an anti-government movement to serve the trillionaire rain makers.

    First of all, there is nothing mythologolical about SS's $2.5 trillion dollar surplus. It's real. SS has collected $2.5 trillion more dollars then it's had to pay out, period, making it, without a doubt, the most successful social program in the history of America, and probably human history.....all while helping tens of millions retire and grow old with dignity and providing much needed assistance for orghans, widows and the disabled.

    Now, here's where it gets funny. According to our corporate politicians and this author, because somewhere down the road Washington decided to start spending this surplus, well that that must mean the system itself is the problem, not the politicians!

    It's funny because this is how all right minded people think. It's not that the very politicians we elect are corrupt, no, it's that government itself is corrupt, the institution itself is born of pure evil somehow. LOL, this of course is like saying since there are thousands of corrupt cops, the "police" itself is bad and must be eradicated.

    Anyway, and so thanks to the fearmongers, the American people will be convinced that indeed, SS is bad, gov is bad. And that we need to cut SS benefits, raise the age of retirement.

    No where will you hear that instead of such dreadful, harmful "fixes", we could instead simply raise the salary cap on income taxed by SS from $100k to $150k, which would make SS solvent for the next 100 years.

    No where will you hear that we should investigate and jail the theives of SS.

    Nope, all your hear is the puppets of big business who control all the messaging in this country convince you that now that they've stolen all the money, we really just need to end this "ponzi sceme".

  • some guy||

    Long-winded troll is long-winded.

  • ||

    I've never met an intelligent person who uses the word "troll", but I'll keep looking.

  • some guy||

    You probably think this guy is "intelligent".

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c.....27/trolls/

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    First of all, there is nothing mythologolical about SS's $2.5 trillion dollar surplus. It's real.

    That lie invalidated the whole rest of your argument right there.

    There is no $2.5 trillion surplus. It's gone. Spent. It doesn't exist anymore.

    What's left is an IOU--a bond that only the Treasury can purchase, and must in turn issue one of its own bonds for cash to purchase it. In other words, when SS is paying out more than it takes in, in order to draw off of the surplus, the government has to issue even more debt to pay for it--further burdening future generations with payments to buy what's owed today.

    Seriously, you stupid little menshevik, stop lying.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    No where will you hear that instead of such dreadful, harmful "fixes", we could instead simply raise the salary cap on income taxed by SS from $100k to $150k, which would make SS solvent for the next 100 years.

    Someone can't do basic math, because in 20-30 years, those millionaires and billionaires will be drawing off an even higher percentage of the Social Security benefits than they would have otherwise. The whole fucking point of capping the income contribution was to prevent this.

  • some guy||

    The whole fucking point of capping the income contribution was to prevent this.

    I'm sure Rob wants to fix this by means testing SS to make sure "rich" people get nothing back at all.

  • ||

    If only we had the RIGHT people in charge!

    Also, drink!

  • troubled kid||

    I think we should vote Obama again, give him a fair chance. I mean, Bush got 8 years, didn't he? Let the man put some of his ideas to work.

  • ||

    I stand corrected. Washington DC and its' players didn't pay for two wars and social security.

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