Social Security

Oh, For a Life of Government-Subsidized Leisure

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Vegas, baby, Vegas!

With lifespans steadily increasing, shouldn't an age-based entitlement like Social Security change with the population? Ezra Klein argues that thinking like that stems from the invisible assumption that people should work longer:

Lurking beneath this conversation is an unquestioned assumption: We live longer, so we should work longer. That's pretty intuitive to members of Congress, who seem to like their jobs and don't seem to like the idea of retiring. It's also pretty intuitive to blogger/columnists, who spend their time in air-conditioned rooms opining about pension programs. But most people don't work in Congress or in the media. They work on their feet. They strain their backs. They're bored silly at the end of the day. By the time they're in their 60s, they want to retire.

You see that reflected in Social Security. Age 66 is when you get full benefits. But most people begin taking Social Security at age 62. They get less, but they can retire earlier. To them, the trade-off is worth it. And remember, the country is much richer than it was in 1935. Adjusting for inflation, our gross domestic product in 1935 was $865 billion. In 2009, it was more than $12 trillion. We have more than enough money to buy ourselves some leisure time at the end of our lives. At least if that's one of our priorities.

There's a lot of behind-the-scenes work done by the "we" in that last paragraph, which serves mainly to collapse the distinction between the individual decision to "buy" more leisure time and the collective decision to subsidize it with taxpayer funding. And Klein has some unquestioned assumptions of his own lurking beneath his argument. For starters, he equates "choosing to retire" with "taking Social Security." But there doesn't have to be a connection. If we took the relatively modest step of raising the age at which individuals could receive Social Security benefits by a few years, individuals would still, in fact, be allowed to retire at 65, just as they are allowed to retire at 60—or 55, or 45, or 32—today.

The questions that policymakers thinking about Social Security reform should be asking aren't "How many years should people work" or "When do we think individuals should retire?" If you want to head off to Mexico and start sipping fruity beverages full time, or just putter around the house, yell at the TV, and annoy your pets/neighbors/significant other(s) for as long as you and they can stand it, then by all means, break out the miniature umbrellas/fancy remotes/pet steps and have at it. And if you want to continue to crank out designer deck chairs, or write by-the-numbers romance novels, that's fine too. Whatever your decision, it's not one that Washington should be worrying about.

Instead, the right question to ask is: "At what age should we start subsidizing retirement by taxing younger members of society?"

Which brings us to the second assumption in Klein's essay, which is that Social Security is a respectable way to buy much-earned leisure time for our nation's working class. But a better way to think of it is as a wealth transfer program that extracts money from younger workers, who tend to be less economically stable, and gives that money to older, retired individuals, who tend to have accumulated more wealth. And as Cato's Michael Tanner argued recently, that's not a terribly good deal for the young or the less well off:

In fact, many young workers will end up paying more in taxes than they receive in benefits. And most important, workers have no ownership of their benefits. This means that they are left totally dependent on the goodwill of 535 politicians to determine what they'll receive in retirement. Benefits are not inheritable, and the program is a barrier to wealth accumulation. Lower-income families, African-Americans, and working women suffer disproportionately.

Later in the piece, Klein frames the Social Security debate as a question of priorities. And he points to polling that suggests that many individuals don't like the idea of trimming back the program's benefits in any way (which, let's face it, is hardly surprising). But ultimately the priorities he's talking about are the government's: The "guarantee" provided by Social Security is a guarantee only for as long as politicians in Washington decide it's in their interest to stick to it. And it's a guarantee that cannot continue without some sort of reform—which will either mean hiking taxes or cutting benefits and programs (either from Social Security or elsewhere). For younger workers, planning on Social Security requires an awful lot of trust in Washington—not just to keep promising benefits, but to actually figure out a stable way to pay for them. Wouldn't it be better to empower individuals to make their own decisions rather than rely on politically motivated handouts?

Last week, Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum asked why progressives don't support means testing of Social Security benefits.

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  1. that extracts money from younger workers, who tend to be less economically stable, to individuals who are older and retired, who tend to be less so.

    Do you mean more so?

  2. But most people don’t work in Congress or in the media. They work on their feet. They strain their backs. They’re bored silly at the end of the day. By the time they’re in their 60s, they want to retire.

    Has Ezra Klein ever had a real job in his life? That paragraph reads as if his only understanding of “work” comes from dealing with pundits and politicians all day and reading some romanticized fictional account of The Great American Laborer.

    1. Ezra Klein thinks that workers “strain their backs” because OSHA is not sufficiently stringent at enforcement of ergonomic chairs…. at least I would hope he’s not refering to some phantom physical labor force in this country, at least not one that is currently legitimately taxed and paying into SS.

      1. I would hope he’s not refering to some phantom physical labor force in this country, at least not one that is currently legitimately taxed and paying into SS.
        phantom?

    2. I’m pretty friggin’ sure that Klein has never had a real job in his life.

        1. Thanks a lot, douchebag.

          1. There is no way that anyone can not want to drive a fist into that face. The fact that he is an established and respected pundit makes me wish the East Coast had a more active version of the San Andreas fault line running through it.

            1. That picture is harsh.

            2. He looks like a retarded lizard. A punchable retarded lizard who writes columns for Newsweek.

              1. Guffaw! I’m amazed at how accurate your description is.

                1. It’s what he looks like!

              2. What the hell did lizards do to deserve that?

        2. My God! It’s so…smug…and punchable. I didn’t think a face like that really existed.

        3. AHHHHH! KILL IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KILL IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!

    3. If he’s being serious, he’ll be very embarassed someday when (or if) he gains some self-awareness. But it’s probably just spin.

  3. Ezra Klein’s analysis of the American workforce:

    1) Politicians
    2) Media types
    3) Downtrodden proletariat worked to the bone from cradle to grave
    4) Unmentioned, but likely mustache-twirling capitalists that are presumably forcing the noble proletariat into slavery in jobs with a high risk of back-strain, poor wages, and lunches made without organic produce.

    1. you forgot the tophat and monocle on #4.

  4. Social security is such a successful, efficient, easy solution to the problem of old people that libertarians have to invent fiscal crises out of thin air in order to be against it.

    1. Hee hee. That’s a good one.

    2. US life expectancy would raise 5 years if social security was not taken out of our pay checks.

      Social security kills young people.

      1. Post under your own name you goddamn coward.

        I’d be happy making up the difference by cutting payroll taxes and raising income taxes on the wealthy.

        1. I’d be happy making up the difference by cutting payroll taxes and raising income taxes on the wealthy.

          That is not the choice. Between cutting SS, which would save lives, and keeping SS, which kills people, you would choose killing people.

          You favor a bloated inefficient government program over the lives of poor people.

          You are a nut, you have lost the moral high ground and you have lost this thread.

          Have a nice day.

        2. “I’d be happy making up the difference by cutting payroll taxes and raising income taxes on the wealthy.”

          Yeah, there’s always someone who is perfectly happy to take more of my money for what he decides is best.

          FUCK YOU!

        3. So you’d be very happy to spend other people’s money to solve the problem. That’s nice to know.
          Maybe, if we didn’t have to pay into socialist security our whole working lives, we could, you know, save and invest our own money so we could retire, rather than have the savers shackled to the assholes who figured they’d either never get old or the government would take care of them. I personally never expect to see a dime of the social security money I’m currently paying in, or it will be a severely inflated dime that buys jackshit.

        4. “I’d be happy making up the difference by cutting payroll taxes and raising income taxes on the wealthy.”

          How noble of tony to volunteer someone elses income. Its like me arguing to go to war and saying “it’ll be tough, but i’m willing to sacrafice Tony’s life to fight it.”

          When you start donating more of your money to the federal government, come back and talk.

        5. I’d be happy making up the difference by cutting payroll taxes and raising income taxes on the wealthy.

          Har har har

          I’d be happy making up the difference by getting rid of social security entirely and asking people to be responsible enough to take care of themselves.

        6. Suderman’s premise: “We should, at some point, begin taking the property of some to give to others.”

          This is just fucking pathetic. It’s very difficult to recall that Tibor Machan was a founder of this publication, and when surrender-monkeys are publishing here, then it’s about time to stick the fork in this rotten turkey.

          1. Since Suderman pretty much immediately makes fun of that premise in the next paragraph, I’m not sure that’s an accurate assessment of his position.

    3. This is a poof, right? Not even a good one. Tony’s pretty ignorant, but c’mon.

      1. Iths not a poof.

    4. …a successful, efficient, easy solution to the problem of old people…

      Sorry I’m a half day late to the game, but riddle me this. Why do you progressives always cast large swaths of people as “problems” that are in perpetual need of “solutions”? It’s really kinda fucked up.

    5. Problem with old people?

  5. which will either mean hiking taxes or cutting benefits and programs (either from Social Security or elsewhere).

    How about a third way.

    Stop benefits to the wealthiest 50%.

    Lets make Social security in to what it really is welfare.

    1. The more I think about this option, the more I like it. Let’s give it the stigma it deserves, so that 30 years from now it will be understood that “I’m on SS/Medicare” is equivalent to “I lived beyond my means, so you’re paying for me now.”

      This, in no way, is meant to disparage anyone in the current SS/Medicare generation who lived/contributed under a different set of rules and mindset.

  6. But a better way to think of it is as a wealth transfer program that extracts money from younger workers, who tend to be less economically stable, to individuals who are older and retired, who tend to be more wealthy.

    This is true statistically, but statistics collectivize the same as conflationary rhetoric.

    There are old people out there who would be living on the street or eating cat food without some kind of assistance. Many (if not most) of them are in that situation because of lack of planning on their own part, but some of them have had bad luck or weren’t skilled/educated enough to know better.

    I’m not convinced that government assistance is the right solution for even these cases where means testing would reduce overall payouts.

    But drawing conclusions from statistics ignores the broad range of individual data that formed them.

    1. He did say “tend to.”

  7. “We” and “our” are easy to use when you start from the assumption that other people’s property is yours.

    1. Which is almost as bad as starting from the assumption that you get to live in an advanced civilization without paying for it.

      1. Which is a terrible assumption that government is responsible for creating the advanced civilization, rather than a drag that prevented creative and hardworking individuals from making an even more advanced civilization from arising by now.

        1. There’s always a better society that powerless libertarian boobs claim we’d have if only they could implement their quack quasi-anarchy scheme.

          1. Whoever is spoofing tony, cut it out. He’s not this ignorant.

            1. Haven’t been visiting this site long, have you?

      2. You might be shocked, but I agree that people should pay for what they use.

      3. Whoopee. Then I’ll pay for my own frackin’ retirement, if you’ll pay for yours and not pick my pocket. How’s that?

        1. Nobody’s picking your pocket. You know the terms. Don’t like them? Engage in the democratic process and get a lot of people to agree with you and demand a change in policy, or move to some libertarian paradise where old people are allowed to die when they can’t work anymore. How’s that?

          1. Nobody’s making black people ride in the back of the bus. You know the terms. Don’t like them? Engage in the democratic process and get a lot of people to agree with you and demand a change in policy, or move to some libertarian paradise where black people are allowed to ride up front. How’s that?

            1. Paying taxes is exactly equivalent to being denied constitutional equality because of your race!

              1. If you make the argument that A implies B, and I point out that A also implies C and that C is false, then I have disproven A, and I haven’t claimed that B and C are “exactly equivalent”, even if some authoritarian douchebag coward is confused by simple deduction.

          2. So like I said in the first place, all “your” property belongs to “us” if “we” want it.

          3. Thanks for justifying every institutional incursion on civil rights ever.

      4. I get to live in an advanced civilization by voluntarily exchanging my labor for the things I need.

        1. And… having a government there to make sure nobody fucks you over or kills you in the process.

          1. And… having a government there to make sure nobody fucks you over or kills you in the process.

            You got it Tony! This is what government is supposed to do! You are learning from from spending so much time around here.

            But tell me again why this means we need payroll taxes and wealth transfer schemes?

            1. It doesn’t. I’m just saying if we can pay for that, then we can pay for other useful things. Then we just disagree about policy, and not whether the very concepts of taxes and government are legitimate.

              1. —“we can pay for other useful things”–

                And almost everything is useful in some way. Nothing open ended about that.

                1. Why shouldn’t it be open-ended? To which sacred text of set-in-stone rules would you have people subject themselves to instead of democratic self-rule?

                  1. Is there a single thing you can justify leaving to the private sector by that logic?

              2. I’m glad I’m an anarchist and not a minarchist so I don’t have to parse this kind of stuff.

          2. We’re talking about social security, right?

          3. So Tony has a government issued nanny/bodyguard/retard wrangler.

          4. I have no problem paying my proportional share of the cost of government, even at its current level. Let’s see, $3.7T/230M adults= about $16,000. That cuts my federal tax bill by over $80,000.

          5. having a government there to make sure nobody fucks you over or kills you in the process

            Good, succinct, and correct. Unfortunately, Republicans and Democrats just couldn’t resist tinkering with that concept over the decades, and look at where it got us…

          6. Yes, because important stuff like eminent domain seizures for “community redevelopment” and yard maintainance ordinances are all about not fucking people over and killing people.

          7. Unfortunately, in actual practice, governments fuck over and kill more people than all other organizational entities combined.

            The primary purpose of government is to fuck over and kill people. Ideally the government fucks over and kill people that deserve fucking over and killing. Unfortunately, governments are highly sophisticated at fucking over and killing people but are seldom effective or efficient at fucking over or killing the right people.

      5. Wait, I’m confused. You’re against a system whereby “get to live in an advanced civilization without paying for it?”

        I thought you supported SocSec.

  8. How about a life of relying on donations from nitwits to spew right-wing drivel to morons? If you had that life, you would be Peter Suderman!

    1. We have that. It’s called “Social Seurity”.

      (Left wing spewing morons “donate” too.)

      We won’t have it for too much longer though, so you can take that dick out of your mouth.

      1. You don’t get it, asshole. The nitwits and morons donate; the spewers pocket the donations. God, you’re slow. Have you donated?

        1. We get it asshole; you’re a ignorant fucktard.

          1. I expected that I’d get tired of barfman, but you know, I always giggle. Every time.

            1. You have to admit, he has good timing.

    2. *ahem* Max, shut up!

  9. All I want is the ability to opt out of social security completely. No FICA contribution from my paycheck or from my employer.

    1. You’re welcome to tear up the checks when they come, but you’re not paying into your own retirement fund, you’re paying for current old people. When you’re old, young people will pay for you. Pretty direct transfer system that works well.

      1. That’s stealing.

        1. That’s perfectly fine with collectivists, Bingo. Don’t even bother to try and discuss the morality of that with them.

          1. Dude, stealing is not just fine with collectivists, it’s the whole point.

            1. Yes, but they’ll still (see below) argue that there is morality involved, it’s the amorphous “yeah but old people won’t be dying in the streets” argument, which of course, as we all know, before SS, all old people died in the street.

              Remember, Warty, that they know it’s stealing. But for their own facade/image–even if they don’t believe it themselves–they have to maintain that it’s to “help the poor”, when really, they just are so pissed off that someone has “too much” and they are going to fucking take it away from them, using the force of the government.

              Class envy is so gauche. And ugly.

              1. The thing is that the old are the wealthiest age group in the country. So it’s not even wealth redistribution to help the needy at this point. I don’t understand the justification other than retirement as some perceived “right” that needs to be reinforced regardless of need or maybe as some sort of pension fund for “serving society”.

                It’s bizarre and amounts to a modern form of elder worship, with liberals sacrificing the livelihood of the young on the altar of the AARP voting bloc.

                1. Actually it’s very simple when you think about it: old people vote, young people don’t. Old people want transfer payments from younger people. So promising transfer payments from light voters to heavy voters makes perfect sense.

                  Tyranny of the majority in action. Isn’t democracy grand?

              2. It cannot possibly be stealing because theft is something that is defined by law.

                Disagree? Exactly what legitimizes your claim to your stuff if there are no taxpayer funded police enforcing theft laws thereby preventing someone from claiming it as his stuff?

                1. Remember: If you find yourself alone on a desert island with Tony, feel free to murder him and rape his corpse, since there’s no police enforcing the law.

                  1. It’s funny that the people who claim to be acting morally are the same ones who indicate that they would act completely immorally without punishment hanging overhead.

                    The projection is crystal clear. Others must be forced to be “moral” because they themselves must be forced to be moral.

                    It actually explains a great deal of left-right mentality. Homos need to be outlawed because I have strange uncomfortable homosexual feelings and need to be stopped! People must be forced to pay taxes because I would never help a single person on my own unless you forced me! And so on.

                    What pathetic scum.

                    1. You’ve had people tell you that they couldn’t be trusted with guns because they’d kill someone, right Epi? It never fails to make me facepalm.

                  2. Remember: If you find yourself alone on a desert island with Tony, feel free to murder him and rape his corpse, since there’s no police enforcing the law.

                    If you have to pretend to be this naive, then why don’t you just give up? Is it really worth the shame?

                2. Do you refrain from taking other people’s shit merely because it’s against the law, Tony?

                  If not, shut the fuck up.

                  1. Do you refrain from taking other people’s shit merely because it’s against the law, Tony?

                    No I’m a pretty decent person. What on earth makes you assume everyone else would be in the absence of laws?

                    But that’s not even the point, which is there is NO SUCH THING as theft without laws and tax-funded enforcement of them. Your claim to your property is completely baseless without government defining what that means.

                    1. Your claim to your property is completely baseless without government defining what that means.

                      Are we sure that Tony’s not some sort of comic-book villain or something? What an evil little cunt.

                    2. Warty,

                      What magical elves are gonna protect your claim to your property in the absence of government?

                      Is a mother taking her baby’s toy away theft? They might disagree on that point. Isn’t it useful to have such things mutually agreed upon by a neutral third party enforcer?

                      What kind of pollyana prissy pants assumes everyone would obey your definition of property and morality in the absence of standards?

                    3. And here Tony reminds us that the government is our parent and the font of all morals and standards. Fuck off, you little weasel. I don’t care to talk about morals with someone who has none.

                    4. Warty your problem is you agree with everything I’m saying, you’re just not reading. You see “government” and “taxes” and your eyes glaze over and you start spewing nonsense.

                    5. I don’t think that too many people here would dispute the claim that it is a legitimate function of government is to protect private property rights, along with other natural rights, so we agree to pay taxes to support these functions.

                      That is entirely different than reaching into our wallets and taking our money to give to other people who have done nothing to earn it. If you are so concerned about the old/poor/disaffected or whatever, feel free to give them your money or other property. Leave me out of it.

                    6. If you want to call my bullets “magical elves”, go right ahead. If you want to ascribe basic human decency and everyone else’s desire to live in a civilized society “magic”, go right ahead.

                      But please, don’t pretend here that every moral standard in human society is created, arbited, and can only be legitimately stated by government. It’s insulting to humanity.

                    7. No, my claim to my property comes from my ownership of my self and the labor therefrom and the value that I create from it. That is completely independent of the state and would exist whether the police are there are not.

                      Morality is independent of the law.

                    8. Morality is independent of the law.

                      Yes, but your legitimate claim to your property isn’t. Do you really think a large, complex society could function on gentleman’s agreements alone?

                      Would 4 people alone in a room for any length of time function on it alone, for that matter?

                    9. Yes, but your legitimate claim to your property isn’t.

                      No, Tony. The legitimate claim is the proposition “I have a right to x” and the logical support for such a claim, not the actual recognition by others.

                      Your argument claims that at every stage of history, the legitimacy of morality was what the rulers mandate. Thus, slavery was moral when the law says it was OK, but now it’s not moral because the law rejects this proposition.

                      As, WTB stated, morality is independant of law.

                    10. No, Tony would never do anything bad. It’s the others that are not better than everyone else that you have to worry about.

                    11. “What on earth makes you assume everyone else would be in the absence of laws?”

                      When someone makes an argument that an action is not theft because there is no law against it, it is safe to assume that that person has his morality defined for him completely by law.

                      Don’t complain when someone thinks about the logic of your arguments more than you do.

                    12. Why are you so much better than everyone else?

                3. Most people don’t walk around stealing things the moment a cop isn’t around. Most common theft isn’t punished, pursued, or even investigated by the police force. The only exceptions to this are when it is perpetrated on a grand scale, when the crime happens to someone politically connected, or when the act is so exceedingly obvious that it is easy for the cops to do so. What are my chances for recovery if my home was burglarized or my property was stolen? If I told someone my car was broken into and the radio stolen do you think the police would do anything about it besides notarizing the insurance claim?

                  So no, your beloved government laws and enforcers don’t stop people from stealing things. Morality does.

                  1. Wrong. The intersubjective consensus (which is distinct from government) keeps people from stealing.

                4. It cannot possibly be stealing because theft is something that is defined by law.

                  First of all, stealing ? theft if we’re talking legal definitions only.

                  Second of all, even if they were the same, we’re talking about moral equivalence, not semantics.

                5. Because pre-historic man had government enforcing laws.

                  Are you really so incapable of basic thought as to assume that people didn’t decide that murder and theft was a bad idea before the omniscience of government?

                6. Well, Tony, I’ll let Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson answer you. Briefly.

              3. “Class envy is so gauche. And ugly.”

                When is class envy going to have the same social taboo as racism?

                1. When the very last Marxist is dead?

                  1. Class envy is a great American tradition.

                    Shitting on the poor and rubbing it all over their faces because you think they’re icky, not so much.

                    1. Well, it’s a tradition, just not a great one.

                    2. Shitting on the poor and rubbing it all over their faces because you think they’re icky, not so much.

                      Keep beating on that strawman! Beat him! SMACK SMACK SMACK! Let him have it! YOU DA MAN, TONY!

                    3. Class envy is a great American tradition and we liberals are experts at it. In fact, that’s how we continue to get elected.

        2. Yeah, I’d think paying into your own retirement account would actually work better.

          1. It’s still a terrible market distortion to force people to pay into some government-approved, Wall Street-managed retirement account. Though I’m sure Wall Street would love a social security “privatization” reform rather than giving people the ability to opt-out.

            1. You want to opt out, tear up your SS checks when you get old. It’s not an individual retirement plan and was not ever meant to be!

              1. I’ll probably opt-out by moving to a different country, but thanks for your suggestion. The problem is that the money gets removed in the first place. At this point, I’m willing to write it off as a loss.

              2. Sorry. I guess he is this dumb.

              3. You’re right about it not being meant as in individual retirement plan. It was designed to addict people to receiving goverment largesse.

                1. It was designed to addict people to receiving goverment largesse.

                  Because passing large-scale politically difficult legislation meant to improve the quality of life in a country is such a clever, deceptively simply way to exploit people.

                2. It was designed to addict people to receiving goverment largesse.

                  Because passing large-scale politically difficult legislation meant to improve the quality of life in a country is such a clever, deceptively simply way to exploit people.

                  1. *baaarrrrrffffffff*

              4. Tony, if I can get the government to return some of what it’s stolen, I’m going to take it.

        3. Great not only are they stealing from me, but I will be forced to steal from them.

          Fucking genius!

          The SS transfer system is far from working “well.” Population curves alone completely fuck the models it uses. Toss in immigration variables, tax variables, life expectancy, and a few others and you get a giant, well polished, turdball.

          1. Great not only are they stealing from me, but I will be forced to steal from them.

            Fucking genius!

            Sounds pretty good to me. I’m okay with paying in on average what I’ll eventually get out if it means I don’t have to worry about starving to death in my old age, or my mother from doing the same, or anyone else whose corpse I might have to step over.

            If you can get it through your head, what you call stealing is much less morally abhorrent than allowing old people to die for the crime of not having planned adequately for retirement.

            Of course it’s not stealing. You’re just calling it that so you don’t have to think and you can continue hating government. Theft is, of course, defined by statute.

            1. I’m okay with paying in on average what I’ll eventually get out if it

              That is possibly the single dumbest thing you’ve written here at H&R.

              On average.

              It’s like all the facts and numbers just go in one ear and the other. Fascinating.

              1. You mean hysterical Republican scaremongering facts and numbers about how 50 years from now SS might be insolvent if we don’t make minor tweaks to it?

                And I hardly think thats the dumbest thing I’ve ever written here.

                1. This is why you’re stupid. You don’t ever read the numbers for yourself, you just accept at face value the points other smarter liberals than you use to argue. They’re still wrong of course, but you don’t even know why you’re wrong.

                  Here’s a bit from that right wing mag the NYT about how the SS system is insolvent TODAY. Not in 50 years.

                  This year, the system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, an important threshold it was not expected to cross until at least 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

                2. You’re right, Tony, you’ve said much, much stupider things.

            2. The concept of “retirement” is one of the greatest delusions to come out of the 20th century, and making it a “right” is even more deluded. But you’re the one morally justifying theft, so it’s not like irrationality or cognitive dissonance has any sway on your outlook.

            3. Oh, fuck you Tony, you lying, snivelling asshole. Old people would be highly unlikely to die for “the crime of not planning adequately for retirement”. They probably wouldn’t have terribly pleasant lives, as they would have to depend on charity, but any old person who has social security as their main source of income today doesn’t have a terribly pleasant life, either.

              1. True and there are a lot of them out there. You want to say fuck you, go find a charity (if you can) to them and you are questioning my morality?

                1. I question the morality of anybody who thinks he has a superior moral claim to other people’s money.

                  1. I question the morality of anybody who thinks he has a superior moral claim to other people’s money.

                    But it’s not your money. It belongs to the treasury, which then disperses it. It’s written down in law for anyone to see. It’s part of the price you pay for a civilization that does not condemn the elderly to misery. Don’t like it, go away or convince enough people you’re right. But good luck with that, since old people vote.

                    1. Money doesn’t “belong” to the Treasury, you dumbshit.

                    2. Ah yes, the true socialist mindset. “All your monies are belong to the state”.

                    3. But it’s not your money. It belongs to the treasury,

                      Hey look! Another government scam! Let’s talk about fiat currency next, I bet you statists LOVE that one.

                2. Well, as a moral nihilist, I don’t believe in objective morality, but I think you’re a self-important assclown with an inflated sense of his own moral stature due to his willingness to spend other people’s money on programs he supports. That you call everyone else immoral for not supporting your preferences only serves to remove my qualms about expressing my frank opinion of you.

                3. Need on your part does not constitute an obligation on mine. Go fuck yourself, you parasite, you blight on the ass of humanity.

                  1. Need on your part does not constitute an obligation on mine. Go fuck yourself, you parasite, you blight on the ass of humanity.

                    You are the parasite. You bitch about taxes that pay for basic social services like any decent society does, yet you remain here, reaping all the benefits of said society. You want the free lunch. I just want a simple transfer system that ensures economic security in old age.

                    1. As I have told you repeatedly: I would gladly entertain a bill for all of the “basic social services” that I personally consume.

                      But you’ll never take that deal, because this isn’t about paying for the benefits of society, and you damn well know it.

                    2. They’ll also never take that deal because it would almost completely eliminate the opportunity for skimming, which is the collectivists lifeblood.

            4. Really? Stealing is less morally abhorrent than bailing out worthless assholes who had every opportunity to save enough to finance their non-working years, but refused to do so?

              1. Really? Stealing is less morally abhorrent than bailing out worthless assholes who had every opportunity to save enough to finance their non-working years, but refused to do so?

                Well, it’s not stealing. You don’t have to participate. You can move somewhere with a less humane society if you choose. Good luck finding one you don’t have to pay taxes in.

                But yes, it is less morally abhorrent by a huge margin. Or do you think the death penalty (by starvation) is the appropriate punishment for the crime of not saving enough for retirement? That of course is making the big assumption that everyone is actually able to save enough.

                1. No, “not having to participate” would mean that I could choose not to pay social security taxes AND IN EXCHANGE forfeit any claim on social security in the future. I would love to live and let live. But totalitarian socialist fuckers like you aren’t giving me that option, which is why I hate your moralizing tone so goddamn much.

                  1. I would love to live and let live

                    Of course you would, as long as you can live in a society with laws, roads, an economic system, police, safe food and water, and the corpses of the elderly not lining the streets. Stop asking for a free lunch. Grow up and pay your share.

                    1. Your assumption that roads, safe food, and water would not exist without the state is flawed. How am I reaping any benefit from social security if the system is bankrupt by the time I’m due to receive benefits? I, however, am perfectly willing to NOT constitute any burden on social security in the future, provided it does not impose a burden on me today. The only that’s not a reasonable trade-off is if the scheme is an underhanded form of income redistribution (which it is, incidentally).

                    2. Your assumption that roads, safe food, and water would not exist without the state is flawed.

                      Maybe. Prove it. These things (including SS) didn’t come into existence because of a nefarious communist plot to enslave you, but because of social needs. That is, the market hadn’t gotten around to adequately providing them. Why the fuck should I have to wait for the market to maybe someday deliver them when we’ve already figured out how to do it?

                    3. Tony, you’re the one making the positive claim (that we must have the state to provide the things you mentioned), therefore, the burden of proof is on you.
                      Not to mention, if Tony is using Upton Sinclair’s tract as the source for his statement that the free market “wasn’t providing safe food”, he should read “Of Meat and Myth”. Google it.

                    4. Tony, you’re the one making the positive claim (that we must have the state to provide the things you mentioned), therefore, the burden of proof is on you.

                      Facepalm. My claim is that these things exist now. We have a state. Correlation is not causation, but the state has hardly prevented these things, which didn’t exist before the state. You are making the new, positive claim: that these things can exist absence the state. Idiotic.

                    5. All those listed (except SS) existed before the “state”.

                    6. “as long as you can live in a society with laws, roads, an economic system, police, safe food and water, and the corpses of the elderly not lining the streets.”
                      All brought to you by S/S, right, tony?

                    7. And we had laws and police long before we had social security, you fucking sophist.

                    8. I personally hope that Tony is a young person. That way, when socialist security is bankrupt, and he doesn’t have any savings because he assumed the government would take care of him, he can live a miserable existence in the poorhouse.

                    9. I personally hope that Tony is a young person. That way, when socialist security is bankrupt, and he doesn’t have any savings because he assumed the government would take care of him, he can live a miserable existence in the poorhouse.

                      I probably won’t have anything to worry about. I’m good at managing money and have had some measure of good luck in my life. You’re completely ignoring luck in this moral equation, of course. What I am capable of is recognizing that there are people less fortunate than I am and that it’s not all about me.

                    10. Great, then you can spend your own money on them. But don’t force me to spend my money on them, and then act like that makes you the great humanitarian.

                    11. But don’t force me to spend my money on them, and then act like that makes you the great humanitarian.

                      I’m not forcing you to do anything. You agree to this system by not renouncing your citizenship.

                    12. “I’m not forcing you to do anything. You agree to this system by not renouncing your citizenship.”

                      Thats like saying a slave isnt being forced to do anything because he didnt try to run away from the plantation.

                      And you guys hate federalism too, so you dont even let people chose what “plantation” they are going to live on.

                    13. Thats like saying a slave isnt being forced to do anything because he didnt try to run away from the plantation.

                      No, it’s the opposite of that. Slavery is not a democratic arrangement.

                      And you guys hate federalism too, so you dont even let people chose what “plantation” they are going to live on.

                      Sure we do. Roughly 50 or 194 of them depending on which type of jurisdiction you’re fleeing.

                    14. Slavery is not a democratic arrangement.

                      Sure it is. If person A and person B vote that person C should be a slave, it’s perfectly democratic. Slavery was supported democratically in the states in which it existed.

                    15. I didn’t “agree” to anything. I don’t renounce my citizenship because, surprise, I don’t want to be expelled from the area enclosed by the arbitrarily defined border, and I don’t think I should have to justify living within that area provided I do not molest others within that area. I’m more than willing to pay for any and all services that I use. But I consider it the most repulsive sort of tyranny to be forced to pay for a “service” that I don’t want, and, to boot, will probably never be able to use anyway, and then told, if I don’t like it, that I should be grateful to the fuckers who imposed that system.

                    16. I don’t think I should have to justify living within that area provided I do not molest others within that area

                      Huh, and who’s gonna make sure you don’t molest others, and what’s the punishment if you do? And who’s gonna prevent others from molesting you who may not possess your enlightened morality?

                      But I consider it the most repulsive sort of tyranny to be forced to pay for a “service” that I don’t want

                      Really? The most repulsive? See this is the problem, a complete distortion of relative moral weights.

                    17. You agree to this system by not renouncing your citizenship.

                      You know that you’re paraphrasing John Locke, right?

                      Now if only you would channel the other stuff, like his thoughts on property.

                    18. You know that you’re paraphrasing John Locke, right?

                      Now if only you would channel the other stuff, like his thoughts on property.

                      Locke is pretty incoherent on property.

                    19. Locke is pretty incoherent on property.

                      Only if you think people are chattel and that the fruits of their labor belong to the state first.

                2. By the way, the love it or leave it argument? Really? Imagine if that was applied to free speech, freedom of movement, or just about anything else.

                3. Yes. I think somebody who fails to save enough to retire on, despite having had every opportunity to do so, “deserves” everything that he gets — in precisely the same way that somebody who does save enough to retire on “deserves” what he gets. In other words, I think that people should reap the natural consequences of their own decisions, good and bad — and if that means that they’re forced to compromise their lifestyles in order to survive, or even that in some edge cases they can’t survive at all, well, that’s life. My function in the workforce is to provide for me and mine, not every shitheel and charlatan with his hand out.

                  1. I think that people should reap the natural consequences of their own decisions, good and bad

                    Ah the superior libertarian morality! Where were you when Aristotle and Kant needed you?

                    1. I think that the actions of individuals should have no consequences for them. Everyone else should be forced to pay for the consequences, and if you disagree, then you’re inhumane and should be shot or exiled. Because I’m so humane.

                    2. I think that the actions of individuals should have no consequences for them. Everyone else should be forced to pay for the consequences, and if you disagree, then you’re inhumane and should be shot or exiled. Because I’m so humane.

                      No, strawfuck. I believe that random fortune plays some nontrivial role in the lives of human beings, and that letting darwinian selection sort it out is not the most moral system imaginable.

                    3. I’m pretty sure you don’t have a fucking clue what you’re talking about, since neither Aristotle nor Kant had anything to good say about the practice of expropriating wealth from the masses in order to rescue people from their own shitty choices.

                    4. Tony|9.8.10 @ 9:38PM|#
                      “Ah the superior libertarian morality! Where were you when Aristotle and Kant needed you?”
                      OK, tony, let’s see you cherry-pick that which supports your ignorance (and defend it):
                      One, two, three, go….

                  2. I honestly pray that you never have a run of bad luck, where you have to pay for your medical expenses and/or your rent out of your retirement savings, or have to live for a couple of years just on unemployment because you’re “too old”(too expensive) to be hired for work you’re qualified for. Basically, I hope for you that sh*t never happens, lest you be taken for a charlatan with his hand out.

                4. Or do you think the death penalty (by starvation) is the appropriate punishment for the crime of not saving enough for retirement?

                  It was good enough for Terri Schiavo, and she didn’t even have to retire!

            5. You’re also okay with forcing others to pay in.

              Color me surprised.

              I love the false dilemma with a twist of hyperbole. Either SS or dead old people, WE MUST ACT NOW!!!

            6. ” is much less morally abhorrent than allowing old people to die”

              How much money have you donated to starving african kids tony? Are you a morally abhorrent person?

              1. How much money have you donated to starving african kids tony?

                I can see I’ve won this round.

                1. Yeah, you won this round like the US won in Vietnam.

                  1. He didn’t even get that far.

                    He won this round like Walter Mitty won his prize fight.

                2. no tony, you are arguing that it is morally abhorrent to let people die. What have you done to prevent people from dying? You must be morally abhorrent then.

                3. no tony, you are arguing that it is morally abhorrent to let people die. What have you done to prevent people from dying? You must be morally abhorrent then.

            7. How about this, Tony: Prove that your subjective preference to take our money (and presumably give it to someone else) so that you can feel better about yourself is superior our subjective preference to not have our wealth stolen.

              1. Okay. Your premise is a lie. Taxation isn’t stealing. QED

                1. “I’m not forcing you to do anything. No, strawfuck. I believe that random fortune plays some nontrivial role in the lives of human beings, and that letting darwinian selection sort it out is not the most moral system imaginable.”

                  To the exact degree that others agree with you, charities will cover the needy, and they’ll do so more efficiently than a massive centralized bureaucracy can.

                  But forced charity engenders resentment, rather than compassion.

                  1. “I’m not forcing you to do anything. You agree to this system by not renouncing your citizenship.”

                    Accepting the democratic system doesn’t equal accepting the status quo, dumbass. Do I really need to explain this?

                    1. “I believe that random fortune plays some nontrivial role in the lives of human beings, and that letting darwinian selection sort it out is not the most moral system imaginable.”

                      The whole progress of human civilization is based on people overcoming random fortune, idiot.

                      That’s why Socialism stagnates, because nobody has to deal with any challenges.

                    2. “Of course you would, as long as you can live in a society with laws, roads, an economic system, police, safe food and water, and the corpses of the elderly not lining the streets.”

                      Yeah, because corpses were lining the streets before FDR.

                      :rolls eyes:

                      In fact, nearly every comment you’ve made has built on this absurd hyperbolic idea that elderly would be dying in the streets without social security. It’s nonsense, and shows you can’t argue your point on a realistic basis.

                    3. “Okay. Your premise is a lie. Taxation isn’t stealing.”

                      Taxation is exactly stealing. If theft was defined by statute, it begs the question, by what logic is the statute enacted in the first place?

                    4. “That is, the market hadn’t gotten around to adequately providing them.”

                      The market?

                      Most of those things came into existence under monarchies. Markets hadn’t even begun to emerge.

                      And yes, the rest were in fact, communist plots. Social security, universal health care, public education, etc. None of these arose out of any genuine “social need,” (in fact, all they’ve done is siphon resources away from real social needs as established by consumer demand) they were explicit aspects of the socialist program from day one, and the backbone of their support to this day is driven by the same ideological adherence. Which isn’t to say that all of today’s adherents understand that. Most, like you, are just duped.

                    5. “That is, the market hadn’t gotten around to adequately providing them.”

                      The market?

                      Most of those things came into existence under monarchies. Markets hadn’t even begun to emerge.

                      And yes, the rest were in fact, communist plots. Social security, universal health care, public education, etc. None of these arose out of any genuine “social need,” (in fact, all they’ve done is siphon resources away from real social needs as established by consumer demand) they were explicit aspects of the socialist program from day one, and the backbone of their support to this day is driven by the same ideological adherence. Which isn’t to say that all of today’s adherents understand that. Most, like you, are just duped.

                2. Yes, it is. You fail.

                3. Legally sanctioned theft is still theft.

                  The definition of a crime doesn’t change in the absence of an enforcing body.

            8. So is ponzi scheme, and SS fits the definition to the T.

      2. Yeah, just ignore the massive projected shortfall in social security revenue that’s probably going to lead to people who are currently paying into it getting screwed (because the young people of the future aren’t going to tolerate having their taxes raised THAT much).

        1. “Social security is such a successful, efficient, easy solution to the problem of old people that libertarians have to invent fiscal crises out of thin air in order to be against it.”

          1. Yeah, the problems that European countries and Japan are having with their old-age pension systems were “created from thin air”.

            I’m not sure if you’re a spoof of Tony or the real deal.

          2. Tony|9.8.10 @ 9:10PM|#
            “Social security is such a successful, efficient, easy solution to the problem of old people that libertarians have to invent fiscal crises out of thin air in order to be against it.”

            Arithmetic wasn’t you’re best subject?

      3. When you’re old, young people will pay for you.

        But, they won’t.

  10. “we”

    Where’s the Picard facepalm image when you need it…

    1. Jean-Luc Picard, the utopian socialist?

      1. Picard clearly failed at creating utopia, as he did not, at any time, blow Wesley out an airlock. He even had the opportunity to let Wesley be executed on that world where the penalty for breaking any law was death, but talked them out of killing Wesley instead.

        Utopian my ass. He had the perfect opportunity to let someone else take care of Wesley. Right there in front of him, and Beverly couldn’t even give him that much shit about it. And he ruined it. Shit, he could have even let The Traveler abduct and molest Wesley, but no, not that either.

        1. Back when ST:TNG was still on the air, my brother and I used to talk about how, if we became billionaires, we’d buy the rights to the show, then do a two-part special where Wesley gets slowly, painfully, and thoroughly killed.

          1. Oh, and I left out something: He’d also be totally discredited in any way you can think of.

            No offense to the actor, of course, who is also a victim of this character. Kids in science fiction rarely work, especially when they are put into totally unbelievable situations. . .like even being allowed to set foot on the bridge of a capital starship.

        2. Okay Wesley Crusher was an irritating character but Wil Wheaton is pretty darn funny, even if politically he’s a douschebag. http://wilwheaton.tumblr.com/p…..as-awesome

  11. Don’t forget that the entire reason the retirement age was set at 65 was because in 1935 most people died at 62. The whole system was set up with the assumption that no one would collect their benefits.

    1. The whole system was set up with the assumption that no one would collect their benefits.

      Today’s assumption exactly!

      1. Not sure it’s the assumption, but it’s the likely result.

  12. I never really understood the origin of the social security paycheck, this echoes how loan programs/banks work. I guess, it is better to just save for your own future.

    1. This is a shockingly elaborate post for a spammer. LOL dude I guess it makes sense when you think about it!

      Lou
      http://www.anonymity.co.tz

      1. LULz

      2. Wow, gee. I’m sorry I guess. I am relatively young, and yes, you might call naive. It was an honest, ponder of a thought.

    2. It’s called vote buying. Learn to love it.

  13. Actually, Tony, you’re the one making the positive claim, so you have to prove it.

  14. Not to mention, if Tony is using Upton Sinclair’s tract as the source for his statement that the free market “wasn’t providing safe food”, he should read “Of Meat and Myth”. Google it.

  15. Why is everyone helping “Tony” jerk off?

    1. He’s more engaging than Dan T., I guess. Even I allowed myself to help him a bit. I’m so ashamed.

      1. Well, I could taunt Max/Leftitty/Edward, but I actually feel a little sorry for the poor fucker.

    2. You are supposed to be nice to the elder, infirm and the retarded kid with the straw up his nose.

    3. I’d assume it’s because most libertarians are genuinely compassionate people who voluntarily care about the less mentally fortunate.

  16. I think that Tony admitted above that he would let his mother starve to death, and let her corpse mummify in the attic.

    From there she could, from beyond the grave, help Tony in the day to day operations of their small motel.

    Mother always did know best, didn’t she Tony?

    Does she feed you your comments here, as well?

    1. No, I don’t think he did. Actually, he said that he’d be perfectly happy to steal other people’s money to make sure she didn’t starve. Of course, the fact that she gave birth to and raised a little entitlement shit like Tony dramatically reduces my hypothetical sympathy for her.

  17. I sometimes wonder what sort of people Tony and Chad are in their everyday lives. Are they as baldly totalitarian, as self-righteous, and as obnoxious as they are on the interwebz? If so, I have to wonder what poor saps would actually choose to interact with them on a daily basis.

  18. Tony, I know you are just a sadist troll who feeds on libertarian suffering, but really – logic is not your strong suit. Your argument is that libertarians “want” a society where they have the plethora of government-provided social goods but don’t have to pay for them. This is utterly silly (not even a worthwhile straw man, as it does not even come believably close to libertarian philosophy) – anarchocapitalists want no government services, and miniarchists are willing to pay for the very minimal government services and protections provided via user fees or the least damaging/unproductive taxation possible (ex. land value tax).

    The only people that fit your description are conservatives who whine about limited government and then refuse to balance the budget by making politically painful cuts to services. But in case you haven’t noticed, libertarians aren’t conservatives and we don’t really have to worry much about the political fallout from our desired policies as we are not well represented politically.

    Moreover, libertarians argue that we could devote the extra 12% more money we’d be making to purchase inflation adjusted annuities that would be better administered and more lucrative than Social Security. Let’s say your family makes $22,000 a year. This is below-the-poverty-line income. If you had 12% more money, you’d be making $25,000 a year (ignoring inflation, and assuming zero pay increases over the course of a working career). If you invest that $3,000 per year for 45 years, you’d end up with $135,000. For that much money, you could purchase an inflation-adjusted annuity that would pay equivalent to the average Social Security paycheck for a low wage earner. You could also purchase a decent house and live off the rental income, which would also be equivalent. If you purchase a $3000 1.75% CD every year for 45 years, and reinvest the interest and principle from previous years, you would end up with >$190000 after 45 years. And these are the “safest” investments, the least lucrative, and assume no knowledge about stock investing. So frankly, it is virtually impossible to argue that even low income people can’t have lucrative retirements without the helping hand of the government. You can condescend to them and say they are too stupid to take care of themselves, but libertarians tend to have a higher view of human nature where without government distortions, individuals would make whatever accomodations are necessary to insure their and their families’ futures.

  19. Tony, I know you are just a sadist troll who feeds on libertarian suffering, but really – logic is not your strong suit. Your argument is that libertarians “want” a society where they have the plethora of government-provided social goods but don’t have to pay for them. This is utterly silly (not even a worthwhile straw man, as it does not even come believably close to libertarian philosophy) – anarchocapitalists want no government services, and miniarchists are willing to pay for the very minimal government services and protections provided via user fees or the least damaging/unproductive taxation possible (ex. land value tax).

    The only people that fit your description are conservatives who whine about limited government and then refuse to balance the budget by making politically painful cuts to services. But in case you haven’t noticed, libertarians aren’t conservatives and we don’t really have to worry much about the political fallout from our desired policies as we are not well represented politically.

    Moreover, libertarians argue that we could devote the extra 12% more money we’d be making to purchase inflation adjusted annuities that would be better administered and more lucrative than Social Security. Let’s say your family makes $22,000 a year. This is below-the-poverty-line income. If you had 12% more money, you’d be making $25,000 a year (ignoring inflation, and assuming zero pay increases over the course of a working career). If you simply put that $3,000 per year under your bed for 45 years, you’d end up with $135,000. For that much money, you could purchase an inflation-adjusted annuity that would pay equivalent to the average Social Security paycheck for a low wage earner for the rest of your life. You could also purchase a decent house and live off the rental income, which would also be equivalent. If you purchase a $3000 1.75% CD every year for 45 years, and reinvest the interest and principle from previous years, you would end up with >$190000 after 45 years. And these are the “safest” investments, the least lucrative, and assume no knowledge about stock investing. So frankly, it is virtually impossible to argue that even low income people can’t have comfortable retirements without the helping hand of the government. You can condescend to them and say they are too stupid to take care of themselves. That’s what turns me off about “progressives” and a big reason why I became a libertarian, as libertarians actually believe that poor people would take care of themselves if they didn’t have government distortions which really aren’t in their best interest anyway.

    1. Sorry for the double post…

    2. anarchocapitalists want no government services, and miniarchists are willing to pay for the very minimal government services and protections provided via user fees or the least damaging/unproductive taxation possible (ex. land value tax).

      I appreciate the explanation. I get that–so all we differ about is policy. My policies are no more evil theft than yours, right, they’re just different in scope?

      Let’s say your family makes $22,000 a year.

      Let’s say you make nothing. Say you’re retarded and have no family. Deserve to die on the street? Really curious about that one.

      If you simply put that $3,000 per year under your bed for 45 years, you’d end up with $135,000. For that much money, you could purchase an inflation-adjusted annuity that would pay equivalent to the average Social Security paycheck for a low wage earner for the rest of your life.

      This is already more complicated than SS, which works fine. Plus you leave all sorts of people out with voluntariness (like retards with no family), thus making it both less moral and less efficient.

      as libertarians actually believe that poor people would take care of themselves if they didn’t have government distortions which really aren’t in their best interest anyway.

      And I’m saying your armchair psychoanalysis of the poor is perhaps flawed. (How would you know, from your armchair?)

      All I’m asking for is a minimum standard of living for all human beings. That minimum can be debated. It’s certainly more moral than leaving people’s very ability to live, forget their ability to live lives in which they are able to pursue happiness, to the delusional hope that they’ll all plan well. Even if random luck finds a way to completely bankrupt them at age 70, which is certainly possible. SS does not prevent a single person from supplementing it with smart savings decisions. It just prevents the least of us from dying for the crime of not doing so, or worse the inability to do so.

      1. My “theft” is different from yours in the sense that user fees are voluntary (if you don’t use the service, you don’t pay it) and land rent/value taxes aren’t theft if you don’t believe in the ownership of land (which I don’t, but that’s another story). Besides that, my income, labor, property, etc. are not owned by the state and therefore should not be taxed.

        Nice dodge – I prove that even low income people can make simple investments that would easily make the equivalent of Social Security payouts, and you point out the extreme example that some people can’t work and don’t have families. If the lowest paid workers in society can save 12% of their income and have equivalent retirement, the wealthy and upper middle class would have even more money to support charitable organizations than they do today. When there is a true need, communities respond with collective, voluntary action in the absence of government welfare. Government welfare decreases the amount of charitable giving because the assumption is that the government meets all needs. Charities can accomplish more with less than government, as they prove time and time again. They’re not the only answer, and I wouldn’t be necessarily opposed to a locally controlled version of food stamps/affordable housing for those who truly can’t work, or even using the government as a intermediary to help raise money for those people voluntarily.

        Your condescension to the poor is absolutely stunning, but sadly very common on the Left. The poor tend to be very efficient with very little, despite government disincentives to work and advance, which keep them largely trapped in a state of mediocrity at best. Your Hobbesian view of human nature is clouding the reality that there are collective alternatives to government action to provide for those “rare cases;” the government does little more than encourage laziness, poverty and irresponsibility by pretending they can provide everything for us from cradle to grave.

        1. By the way, Tony, have you ever told a poor person “I support the government policies I do because I think you are too stupid or incompetent to help yourself without it”? This really sums up what you seem to honestly believe (behind the mask of compassion), but it wouldn’t surprise me if you never had the cojones to admit it to their faces. If the Left said what they actually think of their pawns, they’d never win an election.

          1. This is what Tony fears about himself.

        2. “Government welfare decreases the amount of charitable giving because the assumption is that the government meets all needs.”

          Like I said, it does worse than that. It breeds an attitude of resentment toward the needy.

          If your neighbor comes to you and says “XYZ bad thing happened, and now I don’t have anything to eat”, you’ll open your door and give all the food he needs. But if he comes over with a gun in his hand making demands (what the government does), you’ll likely have the opposite attitude towards him from that point forward.

      2. “I appreciate the explanation. I get that–so all we differ about is policy. My policies are no more evil theft than yours, right, they’re just different in scope?”

        No. Your preferred policies are still evil, because they’re fundamentally coercive.

      3. My policies are no more evil theft than yours, right, they’re just different in scope?

        They’re far worse, because of the scope. The scope is the difference between an economic collapse and a sustainable future.

        Keep listening to those voices, Tony. What you want is going away. Your ‘scope’ is not sustainable, and therefore will end, regardless of what you and your klepto friends want.

        It’s theft Tony, regardless of the legality. It’s theft because of both the action and the result. When a theft occurs, value is removed, but unlike a transaction, no value is gained.

        After enough theft, there’s nothing left to steal.

        We’re approaching that point now.

        Everyone knows it. Your lack of response to this shows that you agree.

      4. All I’m asking for is a minimum standard of living for all human beings.

        Bullshit. You’re arguing for the maintenance of Social Security, which pays benefits to people regardless of need. Do you really think the gulf between Social Security and an Old People Dying in the Street Tax is a puddle? I’d say the vast majority of people would get along just fine even if Social Security never existed.

        If you want me to pay an anti-old-people-dead-in-the-street tax, fine, make that argument. That’s not Social Security. If you want to argue that people should be forced to set aside their own money for their own retirement, complete with redistribution, fine, make that argument. That’s not Social Security either.

      5. Okay, so because 1% of the population is retarded and has no family (or the equivalent) then EVERYONE must be forced to accept the loss of 12% of their income and receive some pittance when they are old in exchange.

        Again, why not means test.
        If the only people who get a net benefit are extreme cases like retarded people with no family, then why do we have to force the entire population to participate?

        1. In my ideal society, on your land rent bill from the government, there would be a field where you can donate an optional amount of money to a program to help the mentally and physically handicapped with no family support (the truly unfortunate) have a house/food/water/electricity and receive care. I can almost guarantee you this voluntary option (as long as the program was as efficient as a very efficient charity and strictly excluded lazy fraudsters) would put more money directly into the pockets of these people than this current system ever has, as helping the unfortunate is a fundamental characteristic of human nature. Were I to not have income, sales or property taxes, I would gladly give a lot of that windfall to people in true need – heck – I do my best to even with this heavily taxed system. I have enough confidence in human nature to believe that most people are goodhearted enough to support the unfortunate without government coercion.

  20. People can save for their own retirements, enough to draw down over 20 years or so. Social Security should kick in when people turn 90, since people don’t routinely live that long. Since idle hands are the devil’s workbench, we can make the 90 yearolds give talks to youngsters in exchange for honoraria.

    1. Wouldn’t even need that. If purchased young, a lifelong annuity that kicks in after you turn 90 would be dirt cheap, as 85% of people would not even reach that point.

      1. Also, the expenditure would be 90-[age] years out. If you’re 20, that means the people you give money to have 70 years to invest it before they’ll have to give you a dime.

        By my calculations, using these mortality tables and the going long-term swap rate of 3.40%*, a $25,000 per year policy will cost you the following lump-sum payment right now based on age (ignoring fees that would probably be significant):

        20 – $1,100
        30 – $1,580
        40 – $2,250
        50 – $3,300
        60 – $5,000
        70 – $8,500
        80 – $18,800
        90 – $93,500 (yes, even at 90 it’s not that expensive because you’re so likely to die).

        If you wanted the annuity to start paying at 65 instead, it would be 50x higher, which is still not bad. Seems like a hell of a lot less than ~11% of my paycheck for the next 45 years.

        * And swap rates are at historical lows, which means you’d be paying more now than ever before.

  21. Congress, who seem to like their jobs and don’t seem to like the idea of retiring.

    Klein sold me. We should have mandatory retirement at age 60 for all members of Congress.

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    1. SugarMommyDate

      Tony already has a Sugar Mommy. And Sugar Daddies, too, for that matter.

      They’re the American taxpayers… except that he wants to fuck them and call it moral.

  23. In order to retire, you have to be financially able to retire. It seems there’s a presumption in this Reason piece that anyone can retire at any time, regardless of finances. Just a personal choice, a matter of freedom. Obviously Klien is talking about the people who can’t afford to retire without getting SS payments.

  24. I have a really, really hard time understanding why people actually pay credence to the idiocy Ezra Klein spews.

    I almsot ask myself why Reason even bothers with a retort to this kind of blatant bullshit. Then I remember: There are people in the American public who eat up every word he says.

    And I am ashamed.

  25. I challenge Reason and Tanner to back up the claim that “In fact, many young workers will end up paying more in taxes than they receive in benefits”.

    Tanner certainly did not back this up in the cited article. He just asserted it. I want tables with numbers, including expected rates of inflation, annuity assumptions, the whole nine yards. When I run the numbers, even if I assume benefits are cut 25% when I retire, I STILL get my money back, adjusted for inflation. And I am a high earner, who will hit the cap well before I retire. Returns are better if you make less money (by design).

    In the meantime, your market God has shat upon small investors.

    http://www.slaughter401k.com/w…..he-market/

    No real return from the “market” for the average Joe…which means its a tie with the worst-case SS assumptions.

    1. Holy crap, what a comparison.

      Look, here’s a a trial PDF of the actual survey for 2010.

      You’re comparing geometric returns with dollar-weighted returns (i.e. time-weighted vs money-weighted). That is, you’re saying that investing $10,000 in 1990 in the S&P index should equal $10,000 invested progressively over 1990-2010 each month. For very, very obvious reasons, this should never be true unless a) the S&P has been flat every month or b) the S&P fell early in the measurement period and then rose.

      The relevant comparison is the systematic equity investor on page 8 (3.44%) versus the average equity investor on page 7 (3.17%), where the systematic equity investor is a hypothetical investor who invests the same dollar amount each month in the S&P. There is a difference, and I know it’s due to irrational behavior and mutual funds siphoning fees, but the real difference is 0.27%, not 6.48%.

      That company’s doing a real, real disservice to investors by comparing such ridiculously different calculations.

      1. No, Amakudari: what is relevant is that over the last twenty years, small investors are earning NOTHING in the markets. NOTHING. Zero! A big fat NADA. Zilch. Zippo. This is despite the overall “market return” of some eight percent nominally and about five percent after adjustment for inflation.

        If no laws were changed, my SS benefits represent about a 2% real return on investment. Perhaps more, as I used today’s annuity costs…however, lifespans will increase and therefore annuities will become more expensive by the time I retire. Additionally, I had to use inflation adjusted annuities. SS is indexed to wages, which increase faster than inflation. If SS were cut by 25% to balance the books around the time I will retire, which is plausible, my return drops to zero percent real. In other words, the same as your Market God provides, with infinitely less risk.

        In the end, SS is linked to wages, and the markets are linked to corporate profits. Unless you have a solid reason to believe the latter is going to grow faster than the former, their returns are going to be about the same. And if you DO believe profits will grow faster, and the capitalists will keep gaining an ever larger share of the pie, you are all but admitting that your ideology is bunk, as it is implausible that capitalists would be earning that ever-growing share of the total because they were working ever-harder and were becoming more brilliant by the hour.

        1. Chad,
          Read my long post above. I explain that even without putting your money at any risk by investing in the stock market, even a person making near minimum wage can set aside enough money to have an equivalent retirement to Social Security via CDs, annuities, rental income, etc. Nice try, but your economics are poor. Also, the pinch for Social Security is coming due to the smaller ratio of retirees to workers. If you have 2 workers for every retiree with full Social Security, you can’t support the retiree with 12% of each worker’s income without careening towards national bankruptcy or inflating away everyone else’s retirement value.

          1. The reason the private market is better than Social Security is you have 12% of your income handed directly to someone else vs. that 12% saved/safely invested and gaining at minimum interest year after year.

            Now the Left is right, that there would be a huge problem if every young person opted out (which would be logical) as to how to continue to pay for those in the program currently. That’s the genius of socialist programs – once you have people reliant on them, they won’t turn back. Reforming SS for existing retirees to a needs based system to provide minimum sustenance is the only way to operate in the interim, as painful as it may be to some. It’s not the ideal solution, but there have already been too many generations discouraged by the government from saving for retirement so even Libertarian have to compromise to shift society away from the program by keeping it going in a greatly reduced form for another few decades.

        2. No, Amakudari: what is relevant is that over the last twenty years, small investors are earning NOTHING in the markets. NOTHING. Zero! A big fat NADA. Zilch. Zippo. This is despite the overall “market return” of some eight percent nominally and about five percent after adjustment for inflation.

          YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY, 100% WRONG. THESE ARE MONEY-WEIGHTED RETURNS. IF I WERE TO MONEY-WEIGHT INFLATION, IT WOULD BE MUCH LOWER (1.26%). IF I WERE TO FIND THE TIME-WEIGHTED RETURN OF THOSE INVESTORS’ RETURNS, THEY WOULD BE MUCH CLOSER TO THE MARKET RATE OF RETURN (PROBABLY 0.4-0.5% VARIANCE).

          Listen to the explanation again:
          * They are measuring the market rate of return by investing $1 in 1990. In this case, the only thing that matters is the spot level of the index on 12/31/1989 and 12/31/2010. This is called a time-weighted rate of return.
          * They are measuring the investor’s realized return by investing 5 cents a year every year since 1990. This is a money-weighted rate of return.
          * As long as the market goes up, the former will always be higher if you’re gradually contributing money, even if the investor bears no transactions or management costs. These are fundamentally different calculations. The only accurate comparison is the one I listed, which is page 8 versus page 7. At no point do they provide comparable figures for inflation, and moreover, when we compare rates of return, we should assume they’re time-weighted in the first place, for which no figures exist in their publication.

          MWR estimates:
          Inflation: 1.26%
          Small investor: 3.17%
          Market: 3.44%

          TWR estimates:
          Inflation: 2.80%
          Small investor: 7.80%
          Market: 8.20%

          I explained it clearly above: they’re comparing an 11% return since 1990 with an internal rate of return on gradually added funds since 1990. That is a false comparison. Investors have absolutely beaten inflation, and the survey is absolute shit for not pointing that out. Yes, the money they invested in 2010 did not beat inflation for the past 20 years; it didn’t exist to be invested. The only relevant benchmark is between when a dollar was available to be invested, not 1-20 years before.

          We use two different measurements, TWR and MWR, for a reason. TWR is the accepted presentation standard for fund management because it’s intuitive and the fund does not control its inflows and outflows.

          We use MWR for investors measuring their own returns, because they control the investment decisions and it reflects the actual return they receive. It is not comparable to TWR unless there are no cash flows or flat returns.

          I’m not going to address the other arguments until I spot-check your numbers, because you seem to have no clue how compounding works. You are not correct at all here. Investors have beaten inflation, and the well-known difference between retail investors and the general market is -1% at its worst.

    2. even if I assume benefits are cut 25% when I retire, I STILL get my money back, adjusted for inflation.

      Ok, so it beats stuffing it under a matress.
      But “adjusted for inflation” is vastly less than you would get buying CDs from the bank.

    3. My old man retired at age 55 – he made good coin in the later part of his working years. His 35 years of Social Security is pretty much a joke compared to what he _still_ has available in his IRA. The SS buys his groceries and that’s about it – it’s not a “living income” by any stretch of the imagination.

      How did he get to retire at age 55? The stock market – pure and simple.

  26. It is funny how people like Tony always fear monger with their ?people starving on the streets? arguments. The facts clearly point out that the starving masses happened in the collectivist states, the freer countries have obesity problems not starvation problems, last time I checked.

    Because he is in America, he is relatively shielded in his intellectual ivory tower from the facts, here in Europe the pension finance crises is already causing real problems.

    1. The “free” countries also have generous social services. Were things great for old people prior to SS? Do you really think it was implemented because of an evil communist plot, rather than some actual need for it?

      1. I’m sure the numerous documented Communist spies advising FDR thought the idea was great, and told him the same. I suppose you could call the effort “evil,” but I thought you liked SS. And Communists.

        Was it really needed? No.

        Did it make any actuarial sense as implemented? No.

        It is a fiscal time bomb? Yes.

        Would we all be a lot better off today if Wendell Willkie had won? Oh God yes.

        1. A fiscal time bomb with a 100-year countdown? Please.

  27. 3 people like this.

  28. To the whole thread: Don’t be his porn.

    What’s the point in talking to someone posting in bad faith. I’m going to stop.

    1. Tony proclaims textbook examples of (at least) two horrible liberal fallacies: Civilization = government, and people cannot be trusted to help one another absent a gang-boss. He’s the Goofus of Hit & Run. We can all learn from his negative example.

  29. Social Security already IS voluntary! Why doesn’t the movement concentrate on that fact? The SS Administration has stated that NO ONE needs a Social Security number to live and work in the US, only to get the benefits. The EEOC will even go to bat for you if you are discriminated against for refusing social security.

    Too many people believe government has to fix this mess by repealing laws, when the truth is, we need people who will tell the truth about what the law already is.

    1. COLLECTING social security over the age of 62 is voluntary. Getting a social security number is also voluntary, but living in America, your life will be hell without one. Paying into social security is very very not voluntary. In fact the absolute fastest way to get a revenue agent at your doorstep is to not pay your payroll taxes for a quarter.

      1. living in America, your life will be hell without one

        Awwwwww.

    2. Wrong. You cannot do ANYTHING without providing – and PROVING – your SSN. You can’t get a job, or a driver’s license, or buy a gun, or do anything else without showing somebody a photo ID with your SSN. Actually, that’s not true; there’s one activity for which no ID, much less an SSN, is required. You can vote.

      Frankly, I would prefer if an ID was required in order to VOTE, and NOT required for all those other things!

  30. “Benefits are not inheritable, and the program is a barrier to wealth accumulation”

    That is a deliberate design feature.

    The strategy of liberal democrats is always to make as many people as possible as dependent on government as possible.

    Got to keep that welfare plantation growing to expand their power.

  31. Here in my lovely home country the pension system is already failing. 24.6% percent of the federal budget is needed for the pension system and it’s share is still rising due to low birth-rates and an population that is getting older on average.

    The US has higher birth-rates and more immigration of young people but still – in industrial societies a pension system that only relies on taxing the young to pay the elderly is bound to fail – hard.

  32. This reminds me of something…

    Drax the Destroyer|8.31.10 @ 11:11AM|#
    Social Security does have the benefit of enabling people to 1)Not give a shit about their Parents/Grandparents and 2) Not give a shit about planning for your golden years (ie: Not buying 4 Mercedes Benzs throughout your life as opposed to 2 Toyotas, Not wallowing in the debt of an overpriced house etc). These are severe and subtle distortions that Social Security has wrought. Some humorous scenarios below:

    What? Grandma is old? And SHE SMELLS? I should take care of her? Fuck that, off to the home with you. Have fun living off of 5 bucks a day (or whatever the hell SS pays out).

    And…

    Are you shitting me? I get paid how much? I should invest that? Fuck it man, cigarettes, nightclubs, and hookers are more important that caring about how I am going to afford to eat in 50 years.

    Personal relationships with parents and grandparents are PRIVATE matters. Personally, I will do my best to take care of my parents and not let them subsist on the paltry handout from their own stolen money. If that money wasn’t stolen in the first place, they would have it ALL right NOW and when they die they could have had it dispersed as they pleased. However, if you were an asshole who beat your kids, cheated on your wife, etc. don’t be surprised when you die in the street because you were a miserable piece of shit who ALSO didn’t plan for retirement/old age. Thanks a lot SS. You are keeping miserable assholes alive.

  33. “Subsidizing older members by taxing younger ones?!?”

    I’ve had a goddam shop vac connected to my wallet since I got my first job in 1974. I opened up my paycheck, and I understood state and federal income tax. But who is this FICA bastard and who said he could have MY MONEY. I was told that that was the deal, I pay for old people now, and I get paid back later.

    And I want my damn money back. And immediately after each election, I’m careful to write to my congress critters and explain to them than I’ll FIRE the son of a bitch who even SUGGESTS touching MY BENEFITS. That money was TAKEN FROM ME and I want it BACK.

  34. Don’t like means testing for mandatory benefit programs. Say you work your ass off from age 18-40 and pay and pay your SS taxes, forgoing new cars, toys etc and putting in 60 hour weeks. At 40…hell, even 50…you make it big. So you even pay more. Then at 65, the government tells you…Gee, thanks for all that sacrifice when you were young and stupid…we are now going to keep all that money you paid us and give it to someone else.

    Surprising to see libertarians promoting mean testing. What tripe. As for Tony, hey, Dude, I thing you should pay double your taxes so I can retire two years earlier. What a concept, vote to take money from someone else’s pocket and put it in your own. Geez, why haven’t the Democrat’s thought of that?

    1. What a concept, vote to take money from someone else’s pocket and put it in your own.

      That’s already happened, so I’m not sure what you are complaining about. There isn’t a big pile of money in a vault somewhere.

      I guess your the type who thinks that there’s still money in the bank because you still have blank checks in checkbook.

      1. Wrong spelling of “you’re” in the above.

  35. My father, who is now 82, paid into Social Security all his life. Deductions were, generally, fairly low. By age 74, he had received back in “benefits” every penny he put in.

    I’m now 60. With the higher deductions now, there is NO WAY that I can live long enough to get it all back. But that’s OK, too; I like my job, have no intention of retiring, and would just as soon work to the end anyway. (Not that I’m likely to have any choice in the matter!)

  36. Congrats Ken, if only there were 3-4 liberals that thought the same way….

  37. Ezra Klein is a fucking moron.

    Lurking beneath this conversation is an unquestioned assumption: We live longer, so we should work longer.

    It’s not an “assumption,” it’s the simple fucking fact that living longer means one consumes more resources. The more you stretch that correlation the lower everyone’s living standards must be. There’s no way around that.

    By the time they’re in their 60s, they want to retire.

    Oh for fuck’s sake, most people want to retire in our 20s, but very few of us get to.

    1. And I swear to God, if I hear more reality-challenged lefty say “But we can pay for it with the Social Security Trust Fund!” I’m going to start burning copies of Manufactured Consent.

  38. I love receiving the Mailed Fist of the State deep and hard, and you all should too, liberty-addicted faggots. It doesn’t hurt so much, after the first dozen times, and I’ve come to enjoy it.

  39. How about we start electing politicians who will dedicate themselves to the notion of creating and sustaining a thriving economy so that we can make enough money and protect it from the greedy government so we can retire without the need for SS?

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