3 Reasons to Fix Social Security Now!

Established during the Great Depression, the Social Security retirement system is funded by a 12.4 percent tax, split between workers and employers, on all wages up to $113,000.

It’s the nation’s oldest entitlement program and one of its most beloved. Yet it’s also a fiscal and demographic disaster that desperately needs to be reformed right now for at least three reasons.

1. Social Security is broke.

Social Security is already paying out more in benefits than it brings in via payroll taxes; it makes up the difference by drawing on surpluses built up over the past decades. According to the most recent report by Social Security’s trustees, those surpluses will be totally gone in 2033 and unless taxes get jacked up, the system will only be able to pay 75 percent of current benefits.

2. Social Security is a terrible investment.

People think of Social Security as a retirement account, but it yields a terrible rate of return. Researchers at the liberal Urban Institute estimate that virtually all people retiring in 2010 or later will receive far less in benefits than they paid into the system via payroll taxes. Nobody would stand for that in a voluntary retirement plan.

3. Social Security Screws Younger Workers.

Not only will younger workers get smaller benefits – if they get any benefits at all – we have no control over our contributions. What's more, we can’t will savings or unpaid benefits to heirs. The result is less disposable income now – and in retirement.

Whatever sense it may have once made, Social Security is now a program that is insolvent and unfair – and that will only get worse as the baby boom generation starts retiring en masse.

If we want to protect seniors from poverty in old age, we should address that directly through welfare payments to the truly needy rather than creating a system that pits one generation against the other.

Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. Produced and edited by Meredith Bragg. 

About 2 minutes.

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  • CE||

    Here's how I'd fix it:

    1. Stop collection of all Social Security wage garnishments, and return those in process to the people who earned them.

    2. Stop the check printing machines and stop sending out checks.

    When you uncover a Ponzi scheme, you don't "fix" it, you shut it down. Whatever assets exist should go back to the victims, in proportion to what they lost. You don't keep paying off the luckier early "investors" who are getting some of their money back. Since SS has no assets, everyone is basically out of luck, but at least the looting would end.

  • Tony||

    And the starving would begin. Life is about priorities.

  • MoMark||

    Whose priorities Tony? And why should I have to live under your priorities?

    Tony, why don't you organize a commune based on your communal theories and demonstrate to us on a smaller scale how well your theories work.

  • Tony||

    Because we have several hundred of them already. Why don't you take your own advice and come up with just one functioning libertarian society. Just one.

  • MoMark||

    I stand corrected, and it looks like a small nit group of likeminded individuals (a family) can actually function over time in a communal setting. However can you tell me how a large group of individuals can solve the problem of the free rider and still function as a commune? I don't believe you've ever address that here.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Good thing we can prevent it with just a little theft. Ends justify the means, don't they, Tony?

  • Tony||

    Except it's not theft. The government has the authority to tax and always has.

  • ||

    Earlier, you seemed to have a problem with arguments based on tautology.

    You seem quite willing to embrace the concept here, hypocrite.

  • Tony||

    If it's tautological so be it, it's how the world works. Government has the authority to both tax and to define what theft is. Never in the history of the world has a government equated them. People have gotten their feathers ruffled over taxation without representation, rightly so, but calling taxation theft is to claim that anarchy is the only acceptable system, at which point you're not contributing anything valuable to the discussion.

    I realize libertarians think that some taxes are good (to pay for the things they like) and some are theft (those that pay for the things they don't like), but that doesn't really cut the mustard.

  • ||

    If it's tautological so be it, it's how the world works.

    So your response is to double down on tautologies being A-OK, as long as "that's the way the world works." Hope you enjoy the status quo in pretty much everything, then.

    Why doesn't this apply universally?

    "Poor people suffer. That's the way the world works."

    "Gays can't get married. That's the way marriage works." etc.

    Never in the history of the world has a government equated them.
    Appeal to authority, appeal to practice.

    People have gotten their feathers ruffled over taxation without representation, rightly so

    Oh wait... now we have an exception. taxation is bad without representation. But, there's a lot of taxation without representation, historically and globally. Why isn't taxation without representation "how the world works"? It's government authorized, and widely practiced.

    So, does taxation magically stop being theft the moment one has some infinitesimally small ability to possibly effect an election, usually between almost ideologically identical opponents? If so, why?

    I realize some progressives think some rights are good (gays getting married, abortion), and some are bad (keeping what you earned, not being a slave, etc.), but special pleading doesn't really cut the mustard.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    I am actually going to take the "progressive" side here, but do so by using a more libertarian-friendly way of getting there...

    Social Security is not comparable to a Ponzi scheme, because "investors" were forced to participate. Rather, it is a mandatory insurance scheme that does not recognize actuarial realities and is only saved by political "adjustment" (i.e., fraud). Therefore, your prescription does not necessarily follow.

    (Full disclosure: I am a nasty "pragmatic" libertarian who advocates the phaseout of Social Security.)

  • ||

    Social Security is not comparable to a Ponzi scheme, because "investors" were forced to participate.

    So it's like a Ponzi scheme, but with a heaping load of violence on the front-end. Got it.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    ...on the back-end too, if you allow for libertarian definitions. Government likes giving it from both ends!

  • Joe The Economist||

    It is much more like check kiting than a ponzi scheme. Every generation serves as a new bank. The biggest difference is that there is no capital in a check kiting operation - just blank checks. This makes the system unwind faster and more painfully.

  • GregMax||

    The Supreme Court considers it a tax. Not an insurance program. The contribution is involuntary, and the management of the contributions are completely at the discretion of politicians. You can be as clever as you want, bottom line is it's broke, unnecessary, and irrational. But thanks for mentally masturbating for us all.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Why should either of us care what the Supreme Court says in this matter, except insofar as they have the political *power* to affect governance? They do not have supreme overlordship over all matters semantic, despite their best attempts to define words in ways violating common linguistic usage, philology, and even basic logic.

    How have you made any other argument contrary to what I have said? If you are so desirous to argue semantics, that does not necessitate the dismissive vulgarities. Social Security is, indeed, a terrible program -- a terrible forced insurance scheme.

  • Stevecsd||

    At the end Nick Gillespie said we should replace the Social Security system with outright welfare for those seniors who are in poverty. Since 60-70% of the near retirement age people have not saved enough for retirement this will not fix anything. Libertarians are trying to get rid of the welfare state. We need to look at models like Chile which privatized its retirements system decades ago. From what I have read they put in less money, percentage wise, than we do & get somewhere around 3-4 times return compared to our SS returns.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Actually, it would still fix a great deal, since the elderly are "disproportionately" wealthy and Social Security is neither means-tested nor actuarially sound. Perhaps that isn't fair, perhaps that causes more perverse incentives, or perhaps there are even moral issues of entitlement, but it *would* radically alter the outlays of Big G.

    However, I do agree that we, as a nation, should be looking to places like Chile for inspiration as well as empirical evidence...

  • Joe The Economist||

    Actually Social Security has been means-tested since 1984 with a test that reaches up to 1/3rd of retirees.

    Chile's system started in 1982 at the front end of a massive bull market. It covers 2/3rds of the work force instead of 94%. It requires longer working years to qualify.

    If what Chile is doing is so great why have there been no countries to follow suit?

  • ||

    Actually Social Security has been means-tested since 1984 with a test that reaches up to 1/3rd of retirees.

    Its means tested based on earnings taxed for SS, but not on wealth. If you earn close to the max level taxed, how much benefit you get for each dollar you're taxed decreases. But, if you retire with $10 million, they send you the same check they'd send someone with nothing.

  • Joe The Economist||

    You may not understand how the means test works. The means test is handled on outside income. If your income is above $25,000, the IRS will clawback benefits from you at your marginal rate.

    This isn't a tax. The revenue collected is returned to SS not the general fund.

    So if you have $10 million dollars you only get the same check provided that you don't 25K on it.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    "If what Chile is doing is so great why have there been no countries to follow suit?"

    I must confess that it is difficult for me to take this argument seriously. There are numerous sensible policies that are followed by no countries. How is this not one giant "appeal to practice"?

    As for the particulars of Chile's retirement scheme, please note that I did not advocate that specific system, except as something to be studied and looked to for inspiration. We can do better.

    Brian covers the main point, to my mind, about means testing.

  • Joe The Economist||

    Brian shows that he doesn't understand how the means test is applied. It is applied to your current income - not wealth and not past contribution.

    We should study Chile, but even a modest amount of research tells you that it is not a substitute for Social Security. Chile's pension system did not have legacy costs that exceeded the nation's GNP.

    Other countries have tried, only they were less successful because their implementation did not happen coincide with the greatest bull market in history.

  • JWatts||

    Practically Social Security is permanent. So assuming that, we need to raise the retirement age from 67 to 70 and go to a Chilean model where everyone has their own account.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Seeing as those are my two favourite suggestions, I declare you the winner.

  • Tony||

    1. Social Security is fine for several decades and relatively easily fixable by people acting in good faith. 2. Social security is not a retirement account, but a safety net. 3. See #2.

    Furthermore, get your grubby libertarian hands off one of the most successful government programs ever devised. Because you sure as fuck wouldn't take any responsibility for any of the consequences of undoing it, as there will still be an evil big government to blame for all the starving old people.

  • larry hammond||

    Tony,

    If SS is one of the most successful government programs ever devised, then there is no stronger evidence that government should be limited in scope. If you really believe that SS is as good as it gets you should be a libertarian unless your brain is broken, oh wait...

    SS doesn't work. It only appeared to work for as long as it did due to a demographic anomaly. It is broken by design and has to be radically revised before it (and government involvement in providing/paying for health care) bankrupts the country.

  • ||

    Success is measured by popularity. And popularity among old people counts more than others. Where's that equal protection thing when you need it?

  • larry hammond||

    Equal protection? I thought the constitution had "evolved" to equal outcomes?

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    A significant proportion of American political values and policies were based on that demographic anomaly...

    "Broken by design," indeed. But remember, we need high-paying, unionized manufacturing jobs. It worked then! We need more one-earner families. It worked then! We need higher taxes on the wealthy. It worked then!

  • ||

    1. So is global warming
    2. You can call it social awesomeness, but it still sucks.
    3. See #2.

  • ||

    Also, you assume that reforming the system, while leaving benefits for the poor and the disabled, would have disastrous consequences for the poor and disabled.

    Way to argue for welfare payments to rich, old people.

  • MoMark||

    Good point, and we might ponder how the loss of Social Security would change the family unit and its cohesion, in that children, parents , and grandparents would once again have to be more supportive of each other and how that would affect our sense of wellbeing and gratification. Tony is incapable of seeing the unintended benefits for getting rid of this program and how this program has damaged the family unit for the last 50 years.

  • ||

    To some people, relying on the government = independence.

  • SoCal Soccar Mom||

    Unfortunately, you are correct...in every aspect of life. And this is why things only get worse. More big government for all those people who don't want to take responsibility for themselves. I had the audacity to post about being responsible, in response to this, "Women in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, along the southeastern border with Mexico, said it’s already harder for them to control their reproductive lives since the state cut funding for birth control in 2011," that it's not really hard controlling my reproductive life with or without medical intervention. I was called a moron. I guess taking responsibility for one's actions and living with the consequences is now moronic.

  • Tony||

    It's like you guys don't see that money is money. What you're really talking about is transferring the cost from society as a whole (meaning the risk is shared by everyone) to individuals, meaning some people (a lot of people) will simply be bankrupted trying to pay for the care of their relatives. SS frees young people from this burden to an extent and thus makes the market WORK BETTER.

  • ||

    What you're really talking about is transferring the cost from society as a whole (meaning the risk is shared by everyone) to individuals, meaning some people (a lot of people) will simply be bankrupted trying to pay for the care of their relatives.

    Actually, preserving the program for the poor and disabled wouldn't do that.

  • Tony||

    Gee I'm so convinced by a libertarian arguing in favor of a welfare program.

  • ||

    Appeal to motive. Apparently, fallacies only apply to Libertarians. For progressives, they're powerful arguments.

  • Tony||

    Means testing will save almost no money (there aren't that many old people who can afford to do without SS), and the only reason it exists is so that anti-SS conservatives can turn it into "welfare" and thus more easily kill it.

    No word from anyone on what to do about all the old and disabled people once that happens. Scold them for not having been responsible enough to be rich, I suppose.

  • ||

    Means testing will save almost no money (there aren't that many old people who can afford to do without SS), and the only reason it exists is so that anti-SS conservatives can turn it into "welfare" and thus more easily kill it.

    Conservatives can turn it in to welfare? Every time anyone mentions the slightest tweak to SS (i.e., try not putting rich people on government benefits), you progressives come out bleating about the poor, starving elderly who can't live without it, and the poor, starving disabled people.

    If anyone's acted like it's a welfare program, it's you.

    I'd say preserve the program for the truly poor. Sending checks to rich people, under any circumstances, is ridiculous. And, if it's just a minor reduction in the program, so be it. If we want to take care of the poor and the disabled, why not do it with a tax, just like any other tax, for a program, just like any other program?

  • Tony||

    Why fix what's not broken? It's a much simpler program the way it is than what you want to turn it into. Not because it will save anyone money, but because of the principle that it's ridiculous to send checks to rich people.

    But libertarians defend sending checks to rich people all the time; it's in their DNA. You just pretend that's not what we're doing because they're tax expenditures, and you think you are being consistent because of a semantic loophole.

  • ||

    Why fix what's not broken?

    Well, cutting the benefits by 25% when the trust fund runs out seems like a much harsher thing to do to poor people than to rich people. If someone's just barely above the poverty line with SS, and you do that, it could be really bad. And you care about the poor, right?

    But libertarians defend sending checks to rich people all the time; it's in their DNA. You just pretend that's not what we're doing because they're tax expenditures

    What's more hypocritical? A libertarian arguing for a tax expenditure, or a progressive arguing for welfare for the wealthy? Hmmmmm.

  • MoMark||

    “Furthermore, get your grubby libertarian hands off one of the most successful government programs ever devised.”

    Why Tony, why don’t you punish libertarians buy letting us opt out of the program and letting us all starve to death as our just deserts?

    “Because you sure as f*ck wouldn't take any responsibility for any of the consequences of undoing it.”

    Tony, we don’t care if you or anyone else starves to death, and your use of vulgarities seems to be increasing, I wonder why.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    "Why Tony, why don’t you punish libertarians buy [sic] letting us opt out of the program and letting us all starve to death as our just deserts?"

    Pick your preferred Tony response:

    1. "Because you can't bind your future self from making a claim on benefits, or any other kind of assistance. Therefore, you cannot be allowed to be irresponsible now, lest you choose not to suffer the consequences later. Therefore, slavery is freedom."

    2. "Social contract!"

    3. "Serfs can't leave; the Lord has an obligation to care for you, which he cannot fulfill in your absence."

    4. "General welfare!"

    Bonus:

    5. "Somalia, roads, corporations, Bush, the Koch Brothers, theocracy, the General Will, and FYTW."

  • Tony||

    I know you don't care. Libertarianism is political psychopathy. Someone has to wear that mantle, I suppose. But for obvious reasons society should keep you far away from policymaking institutions.

  • ||

    Yes, and Democrats are political insanity: let's do the same things over and over again, expecting different results.

  • Joe The Economist||

    Tony, Social Security is not a safety-net now. Not one penny is based on need. Millions of Americans aren't even eligible.

    The people who designed SS Old-age insurance specifically rejected the concept of welfare. The man who ran it in 1944 specifically said that it should not be welfare.

    The idea that it is part of a Social Safety net is promoted by the DC wonk's who don't want to admit that it is horribly broken.

  • mgd||

    2. Social security is not a retirement account, but a safety net.

    Bullshit. People that have no need of SS payments still get them. My step-daughter got SSI payments starting at the age of 16 when her father retired, even though he had his own very well-funded retirement account and she was supported by three other fully employed and well-compensated adults. She's gotten more from Social Security than I ever will. She certainly never needed a dime of that money.

    Likewise, my parents have been retired for 30 years between the two of them. Both have well-funded pensions and retirement accounts, and neither needed a penny from Social Security. It is not a safety net--it is a transfer of wealth from the relatively young and poor to the relatively old and wealthy.

  • Tony||

    Old people are not wealthy as a group, they just tend to own houses, which is factored into that bullshit talking point.

    Since you'd need more bureaucracy to means test SS (you have to make government bigger), and since it won't save any money (there aren't actually that many old people who are rich enough to do without), then the only purpose of such a scheme is to turn it into a poor people's program, aka welfare, the only purpose of which is to make it unpopular with non-beneficiaries. No scheme will take away payments from current recipients. This is a political strategy that has nothing to do with sound fiscal policy.

  • ||

    Since you'd need more bureaucracy to means test SS (you have to make government bigger), and since it won't save any money (there aren't actually that many old people who are rich enough to do without), then the only purpose of such a scheme is to turn it into a poor people's program, aka welfare, the only purpose of which is to make it unpopular with non-beneficiaries.

    Since you enjoy taking care of poor elderly people, I assume, then, that the only reason for giving benefits to everyone is to make the program popular with everyone. Is this correct?

    Anyway, you progressives usually say it's horribly unfair to judge the future of a government program by reality, instead of it's wonderful, rosy predictions (i.e., Obamacare, etc.) Now, suddenly, we can't stop welfare benefits to rich people because it might put us on a slippery slope.

    Just admit it: you don't like government power for the poor and the sick. You like participating in welfare programs yourself. It's par for the course: government takes care of the sick and the old, so we can't limit anything, ever, even welfare benefits to the rich. It's just a guilt trip, for the purpose of stopping the conversation.

  • Tony||

    Okay, go read some studies on what the effect of means testing SS will be. It's already clear that you want to increase the complexity of the SS bureaucracy to satisfy some itch of principle (though you're not shy about government looting the country for the rich in much larger ways). But it just isn't necessary as far as fiscal soundness goes.

    I do not prefer welfare programs or handouts. I prefer social insurance. I think it's much fairer that people who paid into SS their whole lives get to benefit if they are lucky enough to live long enough. Wouldn't turning SS into welfare make workers who are working hard and paying in to the system have an even bigger grievance? What if they end up above the cutoff?

    But that's exactly what you want. Much more politically easy to kill big government programs that only help dirty poor people.

    Because you sure as shit aren't arguing in favor of a welfare program in good faith.

  • ||

    It's already clear that you want to increase the complexity of the SS bureaucracy to satisfy some itch of principle

    Yeah, it's really hard to estimate income and wealth, especially since we're filling out tax returns every year at the point of a gun, anyway. How would we ever establish the bureaucracy to estimate income and assets? Oh, wait: we already do.

    And you sure as shit aren't arguing against bureaucracy in good faith.

  • Joe The Economist||

    "Old people are not wealthy as a group, they just tend to own houses, which is factored into that bullshit talking point."

    What is your source. The data from Pew Research says that seniors are the wealthiest demographic of all, and have the lowest incidence of poverty.

  • ||

    get your grubby libertarian hands off one of the most successful government programs ever devised.

    Right up there with the Purges and the Holocaust. "Success" is relative to what you're trying to achieve.

    Get your grubby hands off my money, slaver.

  • Tony||

    Get off my roads, thief.

  • ||

    I'd like to sell my portion of the roads to you. How much can I get for them? Oh, that's right: I am not allowed.

    But, hey: no reason for me not to fantasize that I am participating in collective ownership. Look at my Golden Gate Bridge!

  • Tony||

    Some things in life you can't opt out of. Welcome to adulthood.

  • ||

    Yes, but I can always choose whether or not to be a pathetic statist, worshiping state power, and cheering for the people with the guns and the jack boots.

    If I were you, I'd reevaluate that.

  • ||

    I can also opt out of fantasizing that being forced to support government programs = partial ownership.

    You can join me in adult rationality anytime. Until then, enjoy Candyland.

  • trshmnstr||

    I hate to godwin this so fast, but good gosh i can see the tan uniforms and swastikas in my mind when reading this

    Some things in life you can't opt out of. Welcome to adulthood.

    Just replace adulthood with Auschwitz and Tony's Charlie Chaplin mustache starts appearing.

  • Tony||

    Paying taxes, obeying laws, driving on the right side of the street, taking care of your children... JUST LIKE THE HOLOCAUST.

    I revise my statement above. Libertarianism is the politics of perpetual childhood.

  • ||

    I revise my statement above. Libertarianism is the politics of perpetual childhood.

    This from a progressive who favors a nanny state and cradle-to-grave income, provided by the state. Ironic.

  • ||

    Another important part of adulthood is occasionally having an independent thought and not just bootlicking authority. "Just following orders" doesn't make you an adult. It makes you a morally vacuous bootlicker. QED, Tony.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    I understand that such additions would make the video unpalatable to Middle America, but I suggest these:

    4. "It's fucking unconstitutional as all hell, and the rule of law matters."

    5. "The system is obsolete, both in terms of its stated purposes and its functionality."

    6. "Social Security is a forced insurance scheme, and all such schemes are immoral."

  • 16th amendment||

    6. Maybe immoral, but constitutional because Roberts said so. Force people to pay into the system, call it a tax, and voila you are all set.

  • GroundTruth||

    Isn't that what it already is? A tax paid at the point of a gun? My paycheck sure shows it, and my business records also show it.

    And yes, it is immoral. It is always immoral to take from those who produce and give to those who do not.

    But I don't recall Justice Roberts ruling on SS. Remind me what case?

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    I have a serious question for anyone more knowledgeable in the ways of American jurisprudential history:

    Is that, effectively, U.S. v. Butler, or just "FYTW"?

  • Joe The Economist||

    6. "Social Security is a forced insurance scheme, and all such schemes are immoral."

    Do you have the same problem with auto insurance, which is required for everyone who owns a car whether they drive it or not.

  • ||

    Do you have the same problem with auto insurance, which is required for everyone who owns a car whether they drive it or not.

    Now that you mention it, forcing people who never drive to have liability insurance for the people they may injure while driving, seems kinda stupid.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Yes, I do, although I believe there to be sensible arguments for *conditional* insurance requirements, even if I reject them.

  • mgd||

    First, that's not the federal government requiring that. State governments have police powers reserved to them that the federal does not. So I don't have the same constitutional issue with it.

    Second, it's not as sweeping. If I really object to carrying the insurance, I can choose not to drive, or move to a state that doesn't have this requirement. There is no state to which I can move or anything I can refrain from doing to avoid the Obamacare mandate.

  • Jason A||

    Automobile insurance is only required if you want to drive on public roads. If you own land, you don't need to register or insure your vehicle! You can drive all over private land without vehicle registration or auto insurance. The same cannot be said for SS taxes, unless you simply choose to not work.

  • Joe The Economist||

    I don't know what state in which you live. If you have a car, you legally have to have it insured. In GA, you have to have it insured even if it doesn't move. If someone steals your car, and wrecks it. Guess who gets the bill?

    SS covers about 94% of the workforce. There are millions of people who do not pay anything for SS.

  • lap83||

    My generation will lose big time with ss unless they wake up and realize how angry they should be about it. The program is a big fuck you from the old and relatively rich to the young and relatively poor. We need to take to the streets.Occupy Florida

  • Joe The Economist||

    What are you doing about it today?

    I work with Fix Social Security Now. Our site is FixSSNow.Org. Or you can find us on FB.

    I disagree with you about the who gets the FU out of this deal. It does not seem to me to be the young or the poor, but that probably is because I see the system in a more precarious state.

  • Joe The Economist||

    Oddy, enough, this article outlines the problem and argues for the status quo.

    The welfare for the needy will come from the working generation just as the revenue does now. The only difference will be that the system will not give workers anything in exchange. It will be garden variety tax and welfare.

  • ||

    The only difference will be that the system will not give workers anything in exchange. It will be garden variety tax and welfare.

    It seems to me that taking money just to give it back is kinda silly. If people want to put money into something so they can get it back, there are better ways than SS.

    If the idea is to lift disabled and elderly people to at or above the poverty line, then why not just do that directly?

    And, if it isn't, and it's about all of us saving for retirement, there are much better ways to go about that. If you want to let the government borrow it, you can just buy bonds. Or invest. Either of those would probably work out better.

  • ||

    But that would never work. There's no coercion involved in that. People can't be trusted to save their own money. They need to give it to the government and then hope and pray the same government can steal enough from younger workers 50 years in the future to return at least part of what they paid. Forward!

  • Joe The Economist||

    First, Social Security works like old-age insurance. You contribute over your life, and get a promise of benefits in return. That isn't silly, but the way Social Security is run. That is silly.

    Second, The idea that Social Security is a safety-net is nothing more than myth. It isn't possible to track the history of the program or the cashflows to helping the disabled, elderly, or needy. Disability was added in 1956. Most of the elderly were excluded from the original system, and even to this day not one penny of benefit is based on need.

    Where do you get the idea that 'the idea is to lift disabled and elderly above poverty'? This is largely an myth pushed by the left to justify a system that is completely out of control.

  • ||

    First, Social Security works like old-age insurance. You contribute over your life, and get a promise of benefits in return.

    Right, except the part where the insurance company doesn't compel you to participate and has no obligation to pay you.

    Where do you get the idea that 'the idea is to lift disabled and elderly above poverty'?

    Probably from the same politicians who sell it to the public all the goddamn time as a retirement account when it isn't. Because whenever it's suggested that maybe we shouldn't send checks to, say, Warren Buffett just because he managed to live 68 years, the first thing we hear about is old people dying in the streets spending their last nickel on a can of cat food to keep themselves alive.

  • ||

    ...and has no obligation to pay you.

    For the sake of clarity, since I didn't phrase that very well, I meant to point out that, unlike an insurance company, the government has no legal obligation to pay social security benefits to those who've participated in the program by paying the social security tax. Which is to say, social security isn't jack shit like old age insurance. The only similar private market mechanism is a ponzi scheme. But to be completely accurate, social security is exactly like a tax.

  • Joe The Economist||

    If a private insurance company goes belly-up, the legal obligation is worth zero. In terms of health insurance, the company can cancel your policy.

    If you get no promises, then Social Security is a tax. If I build a private driveway, I can't really call the building cost a tax even if it is forced by the govt.

  • Joe The Economist||

    "And, if it isn't, and it's about all of us saving for retirement"

    Payroll taxes aren't about your retirement. It is about paying off the promises of politicians past. Every penny of payroll taxes since 2009 have gone to paying benefits. There isn't anything left over to 'save for retirement'.

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    Tony forgot that in America we, the people, are the Government. So if a tax is unfair or a broken system is way past it's expiration date and needs to be shut down, it is not some entity called "The Government" that decides what's fair and taxable. It's us. Seems as though poor misguided Tony would've fought for the British some years back, but the British lost and they lost because the folks of this land embraced a new form of people based Government. It worked quite well until people like Tony fell in love with the Nanny complex.

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  • Steven P. Mitchell||

    So what is the purpose of a critique without an accompanying proposal for a solution? I feel manipulated.

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