Death Tax for Everyone!

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The Cato Institute's David Boaz argues in this Fox News column that Social Security is the most heinous "death tax" of all–since its forced saving of over 12 percent of our income leaves us with nothing that we personally own and can pass on as part of our estate.

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  1. That’s a pretty convincing argument to me. I don’t mind forced saving, that might actually be a good thing for most Americans who are (to be politically correct) “savings impaired.” The problem with Social Security is, as Boaz points out, that Social Security is not really a savings account for an individual at all. The only thing that you and I get for our Social Security payments that we make today is a political promise to be paid back a certain sum in retirement. I don’t build up any assets by paying into Social Security, but I do have the government’s word. That’s not very comforting. As political promises are made, they can also be broken, and I’m pretty much banking on Social Security being undone by then. I just hope someone will have the foresight and the guts and the wherewithall to either fix or get rid of Social Security soon.

  2. Having spent the latter part of the 70’s in the armed services, I’m pretty used to politicians breaking promises (I’d be happy to list them if anyone would like, but it’s too long for here).

    I think referring to S.S. as a death tax is really not telling the whole story. The money is forcibly extorted, then given to another (Ya never get back “your” money, you get money belonging to someone younger). That would be illegal if you or I did it, but since it’s the government, it’s ok.

    At the rate I’m going and the market is going, I’ll retire when I die. If I had that 12.4% to invest instead of give to the older generations, since 1970 or so (when I started working), I’d be retired already.

  3. Well, it’s “Social” Security, isn’t it?

    It’s also based on the obsolete notion of “retirement”.

    I say scrap it.

  4. Ranald – that’s part of the problem. When Social Security was passed back in the 1930’s, I don’t think it was intended to be a “government-sponsored retirement plan” at all. You couldn’t receive benefits until you were 60, which was a tad higher than life expectancy at the time. What Social Security was supposed to be was a safety net for those who really, absolutely could not support themselves. Today, however, many people see it as a “government-sponsored retirement plan”, sort of like a 401-k for the masses. And therein lies the problem.

  5. YOu wingnuts really make me laugh. All you care about is money.

    Lets say you make $100k/year. Society gives you this. Then you only pay back $30K in taxes. This means you have received $70K in WELFARE. Just like companies that get tax cuts (like Walmart). Just like the poor people get.

    Now you Right-Wing capitalists whine when you have to pay Social Security? ANd you are the same people who want to ban WELFARE??? Get a clue!

  6. Commie – given your chosen “handle” and the nature of this forum, I’m going to assume your post was simply bait for flamers. I don’t think I even have to comment on the ridiculous notion that the portion of my paycheck that does not go to the federal government is “Welfare”.

  7. Commie – the right wing capitalists are greedy scumbags because they want to keep what they earn by their own labor and be assured that what they earn can support them in their later years.

    What do you call a person who wants to sit back and relax and have Uncle Sam change his diapers for him with stolen funds? *holds up a gun* But since yer such a fine communitarian, I’m sure you won’t mind handing me your wallet right now would you? What? Stealing is against the law? *directs the gallerys attention to Uncle Sam’s IRS and armed FBI to back it up*

    On a side note, I’m a bit rusty on my Marx, but from what I can tell, communism is interested in freeing the common laborer from the evil capital owners who steal up all the benifits of the laborers backbreaking work for themselves, whilst leaving said laborer with nothing. Communists say this is not just. How is using the state to steal up all my fruit any better?

    Oh I forgot, we’ll “share” it at the end of the day. “Valued Target Team Members” on a global scale. Oh goodie.

  8. One of the benefits of SS that is frequently left out is the benefit paid to those who become disabled.

    My brother had a boating accident at age of 30 and became a quadraplegic, he has collected SS ever since. In all these plans to “Fix” Social Security little mention is ever made of the issue of disability.

    Finally, It must also be argued that Social Security has been tremendously beneficial to today’s retirees. Not only will they get back every penny plus interest they paid into the system but they are the wealthiest segment of our society. Thus the larger question of how to fix Social Security should be, How do we continue the same level of benefits for those contributing now?

  9. That’s exactly the point. social Security benfits a small number of the people at the expense of the larger numbers. How is that right?

    disablility payments? I don’t mean to make light of your brother’s situation, but isn’t it your responsibility to take care of him? Just as it is mine to take care of my own family. why should you be able to pick someone elses pocket for that if they are unwilling?

    And (if I’m mistaken, someone let me know) aren’t retirees the richest demographic by age? Many-I might even say most-retirees have pension plans that the rest of us will probably never see. Why do they need social security.

    If my facts are wrong, flame away. I can handle it.

  10. Joe: If I steal $50,000 from you, then “pay” you $51,000 decades later, would you be upset? You got your money back with interest. Sure, it’s something like .1% interest, and you needed that $50K back then to send your kid to college … but you’re still ahead, right?

  11. Steve:” I don’t mean to make light of your brother’s situation, but isn’t it your responsibility to take care of him?”

    What about people who don’t have family members to take care of them?

  12. I believe it’s “provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare”. If I am correct, it’s an ENORMOUS difference and makes most government givaway programs unconstitutional.

  13. Being a rich white male, I have little to no problem with the government forcibly taking money I (or my parents and their parents and so on) have earned over the years to pay for programs that I too ultimately benefit from. Do I think all people should be coerced through physical threat to do the same? Yes. Why? I’m just not that optimistic about human nature and a scenario in which charities run by svengalis and charlatans distributed money to the people they deemed worthy (often based upon social, religious, or class networks). The money needed for people in serious need who through no fault of their own require assistance would never reach a sufficient amount and its distribution would be atrocious.

    If you want to restructure or disband social security then we need to address the cost of prescription drugs (something the government can do through market forces and better consumer protection laws).

    Additionally, throwing social security to the states would be the most egregious error the federal government could make. Though I’m for progressive taxation, at the least I expect a neutral tax system (and please don’t talk to me about user fees which are just convenient ways of shifting an even greater burden of taxation (a fee is a tax, a tax is a fee) onto the backs of the poor and disenfranchised). States currently tax the poor at a much higher rate than the wealthy, making state taxes regressive. In Kansas (where I live), the income group comprising the lowest 20% pay 11.5% in state and local taxes while the top 1% pay 5.7% in state and local taxes. Maybe this is an argument for why we should get rid of taxes altogether. Regardless, social security and its like, while certainly not perfect programs, are necessary and worthwhile endeavors that the federal government must continue.

  14. JonH: Private charity does exist, although I’ll admit I don’t know if current foundations could cover what’s covered by SS. That said, is there any reason why disability payments should be a federal responsibility instead of a state one? Standardization and portability of benefits is one argument, but I still kinda missed the part of the Constitution that said the feds have this burden.

  15. Sorry Dakota. experience with Government shows it is NEVER the answer to social problems. If you have an example of a social problem a government program has fixed, please let me know, because I’ve never seen it.

  16. Marshall Plan, GI Bill, Social Security.

  17. Jon H.: I’m not saying there isn’t a MORAL responsibility to take care of others. What I’m saying is that the government (local, state OR federal) has no business taking my money and giving it to someone else for any reason that isn’t delineated in the Constitution of the United States of America.

  18. Joe Dokes:
    In theory it would be ideal if people had private insurance that could cover them should a tragic accident occur. Failing that, why should both disability and retirement benifits be bundled in the same program? It seems that a much smaller portion of the funds go to the disabled than the retired, and it would be more honest for those benefits to be a separate program, paid out of regular taxes rather than a special tax like Social Security.

  19. Steve writes:

    “What I’m saying is that the government (local, state OR federal) has no business taking my money and giving it to someone else for any reason that isn’t delineated in the Constitution of the United States of America.”

    Article I, Section 8:

    “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States …”

    You can argue that Social Security is a bad idea, but it’s not unconstitutional.

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