Socially Constructed Security


Max Sawicky is one of a couple of people in recent days I've seen suggest that people who say the Social Security trust fund "isn't real" are somehow disingenuous, because, after all, most of our holdings are in the form of paper establishing some legal claim, rather than huge Scrooge McDuck style bins of gold ingots.

As a commenter there observes, though, there's a simple reality check: Just ask yourself (with apologies to John Searle) what functional difference the trust fund makes. As it stands, the trust fund effectively consists of the instruction "go raise some revenue to cover these bonds." And if it didn't exist? Well, the government would have to go raise (or divert) some revenue to cover its (legally non-binding) obligations to new retirees. So what's the difference? Is there some miracle of fiscal transubstantiation I'm missing?