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What Bush Couldn't Say In A 30 Second Rebuttal.
15 October 2004 | Ron Pickrell

Posted on 10/15/2004 7:21:12 PM PDT by pickrell

One of the least debated, and easily the least understood, of the problems facing the American worker is the conundrum of Social Security. As has been explained before, and as Alan Greenspan has warned of recently, the Social Security system as structured today will be unworkable in the decades to come. But the average citizen assumes that when that crisis comes, Congress will be forced to act and will then somehow simply, miraculously and marvelously, (at someone else's expense), "fix" the system. Since it all seems rather complicated, it is much less fun to actually explore possible solutions to the problem, rather than to simply and loudly accuse the Republicans of passing out dog-food to the elderly.

The average politician knows only too well that the problems with our Social Security system do not lend themselves to a 30 second, sound-bite solution. The only way to win re-election in 2004 is to simply paint yourself as the "protector" of the young and the elderly, and promise vaguely that you will fix the problem that the "other guy" ignored. Exactly HOW it will be fixed is merely detail, and unworthy of discussion in this debate. In addition, the plan is top-secret and must be paid for. To paraphrase an old joke, Kerry could tell you...but then he'd have to bill you...

We all know this. Perhaps, the time is now coming for the adults to begin discussing what we can do to actually fix this system. First, we need to briefly detail what the President was talking about in his allotted 30 seconds during the debate.

When the Social Security system was set up in the 1930's, the structure was basically that of a pyramid scheme, whereby the contributions of the later "investors" would be used to pay the retirement benefits of the earlier "investors". None of the money was actually INVESTED in anything...ostensibly, in order to "protect" it. On the contrary, the Congress mandated by law that any surplus of receipts collected, after benefits were all paid, MUST be used to buy Federal bonds. What is less appreciated is that the effect of this is to dump all of those surpluses into the general fund, available to be used to fund the Robert Byrd memorial dam, the Robert Byrd memorial highway, and practically anything else that power politicians can honor themselves with.

This system, if attempted today by any entity other than the Federal government, would immediately trigger arrests, perp-walks for the cameras, and televised trials. In order to make the system sound reasonable at the time, however, the original salesmen of this system crafted benign and reassuring phrases, now generally accepted by the public, such as "investment", "retirement funds", "lockboxes" and "Federal guarantees".

It was brilliant at the time, pioneering new concepts for the Democrats. A new Federally imposed tax, was recast by special effects into "contributions to my retirement account"! And with the ratio of workers to retirees in the near term being more than 30 workers for each retiree, the system at first glance seemed plausible. The real genius of the system lay in the magic words described previously that mandate that all of the surpluses must go into the general fund. It sounded so innocuous at the time!

And like all Federal programs, the camel's-nose-under-the-tent-flap technique proposed a measely 1 percent or so of a worker's wages- far too small to raise suspicions at the time. After all, only SOME of the Social Security money got handed to the politicians...the rest was used supposedly for it's stated purpose, which at the time probably seemed positively conservative, at least in comparison to the other bureaucratic schemes being hatched! Like all such programs, as the unworkability of the system eventually began to manifest itself, astute politicians learned to harrumph that "We need to properly fund this noble program..." and so gave themselves political cover when they slowly, bit by bit, raised the "contribution rate".

Even that might have caused alarm, but the Democrats also cleverly realized that a conditioning process could be introduced into the American psyche. For they had also built into the system a requirement that the employer of the worker must "match", or contribute a like-amount, to the taxes remitted to the government. This promised to the worker that he was getting something for free! And when a sale is on at the Target Stores, we jump at the bargains. Free stuff!

As the small increases elevated the Social Security taxes, which soon morphed into the FICA taxes, which quietly added Medicare taxes to the mix, from an unthreatening single percent of a worker's wages to the current 15.3% of wages paid, the increases were done carefully and slowly, and sold to the public as periodic "fixes" to the Social Security system. As the old saw goes...don't throw a frog into boiling water; rather, raise the temperature slowly in tiny increments, and he'll never realize in time that he's been cooked. And anyway, aren't we getting something for free when the employer has to pay?

I have news for you,...something that I know every successful small businessman knows. We have a certain budget for overhead, a certain budget for capital items, and a certain amount available, if we wish to remain competitive- (and thereby to remain in business)-, for wages. We would love to pay our people more. When you give an employee a raise which he has worked for and deserves, it isn't only he who gets a good feeling. Employers understand that their employees are mostly who the company is, and that if they want to have workers who like their jobs and are proud of their company, then the employees need to be valued and appreciated. Also, for many of us in small businesses, they are our best friends. We earn their respect, if we are good managers and leaders.

Part of that is respecting and applauding the contributions that they make, but an even larger part is to pay them in response to their efforts. For every amount that we as small employers need to pay into Federal Withholding, State Withholding, City Withholding, State Unemployment compensation, Federal Unemployment compensation, Workman's Compensation, Social Security, Medicare.... we pay exactly that much less to the worker. Directly and absolutely. Whether it is labelled as the employer's contribution to FICA, or the employee's contribution to FICA, I have news for the novices. It's the same money!

Whether small businessmen pay it directly into the hands of the employee, as we would like to, or into a myriad of government "tax funds", as we are required to, it's the amount of money that the business can pay for labor...and continue in business.

And if the American worker even now doesn't understand that, then no amount of job training will ever do him any good at all. If he allows himself to be duped by the promise of "free government money", and cannot in his mind reach the realization that the money he was promised...was only the remainder, after bureaucratic salaries, of what would have been his money to begin with, then he will be a pawn all of his life.

The beauty for the Democrats is that this system can be milked right up to the collapse. Periodically they can "reluctantly conclude that we will have to ask the worker to increase again the amount of money that will contributed to his retirement account". And the huge flows of the present surpluses that enable and fund a smorgasbord of federal excess spending, will continue up to the precipice...and perhaps over.

But then, that's a problem for the kids and grandkids...and they are the easiest of all to dupe! Simply tell them that we are protecting their future, by spending their retirement funds now, rather than investing the money, before that money has a chance to be the root of all evil. We were all kids once- we know the drill. We read our first book...we attended our first lecture, and suddenly, we knew more than every adult combined ever dreamed of. As adults, we've been there, done that.

Now, let's examine some actual possible solutions to the problem. After all, it's now no longer sufficient, except for the Democrats, to merely raise alarm at the existence of a problem.

The President has proposed that a portion of the contributions of workers be set aside into a special fund to give younger workers some hope that they will actually have a "retirement account". The criticism from the left is the inevitable cry that the system will be bankrupted, and that the young persons will lose all of their retirement in bad investments.

Let's break apart the two parts that this argument really consists of, but are cleverly masked by never letting the public see them as separate parts.

ARGUMENT, Part 1: "The budget deficit will "explode" if this money is removed..."

FACT 1. The budget deficit will remain exactly the same if this money is removed. One of the biggest lies going is that that the deficit is lower since we are "funding" part of it with "extra" Social Security money. Feel your eyebrows raise? The actual deficit consists of all of the "admitted deficit", (the 500 billion or so of unconcealed deficit spending), and the masked, hidden deficit of the hundreds of billions of dollars that are "borrowed" from the future. The only difference is whether the amount of overspending will come from bond traders or retirement money. What really terrifies politicians is that if the true amount of overspending was stark and in the face of the average citizen, that enormous pressure would sooner develop to rein in the collossal torrent of the federal budget.

By pretending that the Social Security tax money surplus, that was sold to the public as a retirement fund, can be spent without consequence now, and yet simultaneously pretend that the same retirement money still somehow exists to make good on the promises made to the worker as his money is taken in taxes, is the biggest Ponzi scheme ever pulled off at the expense of the American public. It has no equal in history. What removing this money from the general fund will do, is to unmask to the American public the utter fraud that has occurred here.

Every investor, and most other folks as well, understand the concept of contingent liabilities. They are the committments that never make it to the balance sheet. But though off-balance sheet, they are very real. Yet the function of the balance sheet is to compare the assets, liabilities and resultant equity (or retained wealth) of a business in order to examine it's condition, or, in the case of the nation, to indicate the viability of our Republic.

Our national debt, once the complete contingent liabilities of the Social Security committments that are now guaranteed by the U.S. taxpayer are unmasked and added in, as well as the military "tail" (the committments to the health care of it's military veterans), the grand total is NOT the 6 to 7 trillion dollars as is generally agreed by the media to be the current story to feed to the public. In fact, it is over 40 trillion dollars! And the percentage that the worker of the future is committed to paying, when the numbers are crunched honestly, exceeds $ 600,000.00 per worker! Have I got your attention? This number doesn't include what tomorrow's politicians are going to add to your share of the debt...this is merely your share as of NOW!

The President tried to explain in 30 seconds, that the cost of NOT fixing this system now, would stagger people if they knew the truth!

It's long past time to abandon the sad joke that soaking the rich can solve all of our problems. What will "explode" if we continue the 1929 "feel good for now" mentality, is our very future. And I tell you, folks, that the spiral is bleak.

ARGUMENT Part 2: "Anyway, if we let young people separate out the surplus from the Social Security funds and invest all or even a part of that surplus, it will just be lost on bad investments..."

FACT 2. In the late 1960's, the Congress created a group of Federal Corporations known only to most people by their "media" names. The Federal National Mortgage Association, (Fannie May), and the Government National Mortgage Association, (Ginnie May), were created to stabilize and expand the home mortgage industry in the United States. GNMA, though it doesn't directly hold mortgages, was created a little bit later than FNMA to encourage home ownership for low income, veteran, American Indian, and a few other groups, by providing Federal guarantees of sub-prime mortgages. Since that time, some 1.8 TRILLION dollars of mortgages are now administered, held or guaranteed by these agencies. And since investment money is insufficient here in the U.S., we now have over one third of the investment money flowing into these corporations coming from...overseas!

What does this mean? Why should I care?

Put it like this...a young guy Joe, his wife Tina, and their kids move into their new house. They have signed a contract, a mortgage, to buy this $ 160,000.00 house. For the first ten years, this family will pay, say, $ 1,000.00 per month in interest, $ 50.00 per month in principal, and $ 150.00 in property taxes, if they find a good loan.

This $ 1,000.00 in interest will go to whoever buys the mortgage, along with a large package of other mortgages, collected into "pools", or bundles of similar mortgages, from the originator, and will very probably have his investment guaranteed by one of these Federal agencies. This was arranged to encourage the investor to undertake the risk of virtually eliminating the risk! If the risk was still there, your average home mortgage rate would look like your average credit card interest rate. [ Which, he intoned dryly, is considerably higher. ]

So, this young man, who BY LAW cannot have his Social Security excess payments go towards buying "bonds" in the same FNMA that he pays interest into, must instead watch his money go to overseas investors who invest in FNMA or GNMA because they can make GREAT returns...while their investment is guaranteed by the U.S. Government, which means by the same taxpayer who is denied the same deal! True, nearly two thirds of the money entering the FNMA investment flow is from domestic investors. This means Joe has the comfort of knowing that instead of enriching Abdullah, he may instead be enriching Teresa Heinz. Joe is really comforted by this. Aren't you?

You can bet the rent money, that the investors who work the spread, (the difference between the cost of borrowing on the money market, and the amount that can be made by lending out that same money, by buying mortgages), haven't erected huge multibillion dollar skyscrapers from non-profit businesses! This is real money..making real fortunes.

These investors rely on the merciful fact that the family of the young man making his mortgage payments never puts two and two together and wonders..."Why can't my Social Security money be used for U.S. guaranteed investments such as the mortgages of this country. Why, I'd realize probably a 5 percent or even better return on the money, which could then be lent out again and again! It would be like actual investing...kind of like having a real retirement fund!"

It's called compounded interest and it is magic. It is also something that the REAL power players in the world don't want you to realize.

Because if, instead of being spent and gone, your Social Security money went instead into high yield, regulated secured home loans to the same group that makes the tax payments in the first place, the home would rock the system that sees the rich getting richer.

When you've worked as a financial officer for a while, you begin to notice where the REAL power lays, and "...who's really zoomin' who...".

Joe knows that his biggest outlay each month goes to the house payment. A thousand in interest every month for thirty years. Sure the interest decreases, and the principal increases, slowly over the years. But he will pay somewhere between $ 150,000.00 and $ 300,000.00 in total interest over the course of the loan. And Abdullah will pocket that American interest money that his petro dollars are earning for him, against the day that the oil eventually runs out. But Abdullah will send that interest money right back into the system again to multiply further and further. Why not? It's an investment guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, which means Joe will back any losses out of his other taxes, whether he knows it or not. Abdullah smiles... America, what a country!

But Joe also knows vaguely that his boss is paying into his "social security account" about $ 400.00 every month. And yet he is told that even the much smaller "excess" Social Security that he pays just cannot be used to earn the same interest that he pays on his house, because that would be a "risky investment scheme". Odd, but they didn't hesitate to sign him up into this "risky mortgage scheme".... Perhaps that is because the amount is secured by the equity of his down payment and the secured asset of the house itself.

Billions are made by keeping workers ignorant of the potential combined investing power of their tax money. The huge, incredibly wealthy national and multinational corporations who have their risks guaranteed, and their profits paid, (by the same people!), would suddenly have no monopoly on risk-free earnings if the money funding these mortgages came primarily from the very wage earners who would borrow from the fund to buy their homes!

The existence of Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits, or REMICS as they are known to us bean counters, bear silent testimony to the profit to be had from compound interest.

But the only way that this money will begin to work FOR the American worker, instead of against him, will be if we take the time to explain patiently to him why the American dream seems to be draining out of this country like negative cash flow. It's because it's EXACTLY like negative cash flow!

And it is sponsored and protected by the very people who wish to protect you against George Bush and his "risky tax schemes"- that of giving your children and grandchildren the same chance at a future as your parents had.

And what the muddiers of the waters also don't want you to know, is that there are also many other guaranteed investments that are routinely graded A and AA by Moody's and by Standard & Poors rating services, and that these investments would be of the same safety and reliability as home mortgage pools.

It is nothing less than tragic that the very politicians who are robbing our youth of their financial future are now duping them into voting FOR their own abuse.

Perhaps this was why adults were invented. Because someone has to point out to these young people that the future is coming, and that the end of the party is going to bring tragedy, if we let it.

Thanks for your time in reading this treatise, and please, fire away with your comments. If you've devoted enough time to bother reading this, then you are precisely the type of person who needs to be heard from.

Ron Pickrell, Veteran for Bush, small business treasurer, compulsive bean counter.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: retirement; socialsecurity

1 posted on 10/15/2004 7:21:13 PM PDT by pickrell
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To: pickrell
average politician

When together, these are the two sKerriest words in the English language.

2 posted on 10/15/2004 7:28:23 PM PDT by quantim (Victory is not relative, it is absolute.)
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To: pickrell
compulsive bean counter..

I've asked this question before.. never got an answer, and admittedly, am not a mathematician..

How much cash has the american taxpayer invested in social security?
How much has been payed out?
What's the interest accrued on SS payments?
How much should actually be in SS administration's account?

I've got tons of other questions like this..
Like, how much does congress owe Social Security?

Any links to places that answer these questions in layman's terms?
Any basic information in digestable format?

I sure would like to know..

3 posted on 10/15/2004 8:40:06 PM PDT by Drammach (Freedom; not just a job, it's an adventure..)
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To: Drammach

I talked to the chief financial officer of SS several years ago and was informed that a yearly total was kept of SS surpluses but he did not know what had been loaned back to the government since SS was instituted in 1934. Surprise! Surprise! Did you know that the government does not know how much they spend? The Federal Reserve receives all tax monies and issues all checks for payments. When I asked for the particular balances of different departments, I got the reply that they did not keep the accounts separate. Would you like to bank at the bank where your deposits were comingled with all other accounts?

4 posted on 10/15/2004 9:03:13 PM PDT by meenie
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To: meenie
Now I understand why all my "googling" was in vain..

There are no numbers..
Just a Chesire Cat, slowly fading away...

5 posted on 10/15/2004 9:10:18 PM PDT by Drammach (Freedom; not just a job, it's an adventure..)
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To: pickrell

Dear Mr. Pickrell:

As an aspiring bean counter, I respectfully request that you post this article on your home page, so that we who read them can put you on the Favorites list. I usually check out a person's home page before I repy to their comments.
I thank you in advance for considering my request. Norski.

6 posted on 10/15/2004 9:19:59 PM PDT by Norski
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To: pickrell

Amazing essay. Thank you very much!

7 posted on 10/15/2004 9:28:12 PM PDT by Weirdad (A Free Republic, not a "democracy" (mob rule))
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To: Norski

In response to your suggestion that I provide a link to my home-page, I have to confess that I am somewhat of a novice to the net, and don't maintain a personal website, though the company I work for has a website. I think it would be inappropriate to list that, as it would be construed, and perhaps rightly so, as crass advertisement. This new medium of ours is clearly too important to do that.
I hope that having no personal webpage doesn't somehow exclude those us who spent so much time battling the 640K DOS barrier at our business computers, that Windows washed over us before we knew what was happening. But I am flattered that you would ask.

8 posted on 10/16/2004 8:07:56 AM PDT by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: pickrell

That is a great piece of work.
I hope you are working to have it published outside of our little circle.

9 posted on 10/16/2004 8:11:39 AM PDT by norton
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To: norton

Outside of our little circle, I rather suspect that forces are at work to specifically prevent nationwide discussion of what we openly peruse here.
Of course, that is also a bit of an excuse, since nearly all of my time is being consumed trying to insure that our little 6 person laboratory comes into compliance with ISO-17025. That is a regulation that the Q.A. nazis dreamed up to further punish those of us who work in a small business. It's a long story, and not very interesting.
The crux is that I wouldn't have a clue as to how to get opinions published. But perhaps so day I'll make it to the "Foods" section of the Saturday paper! Thanks for the reply!

10 posted on 10/16/2004 8:40:25 AM PDT by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: Drammach

Basically SS pays out what it takes in. Back in college, the figure was 30 billion in the overall account and what was coming in was being paid out. The money literally is not invested unless an iou is an investment likewise the same with the implied interest. Several years ago I saw comparisons between Treasuries, equities and the yield on SS. SS equaled about 1%. Currently per capita income is $37,500. Individual confiscation is 6.2% up to a max of either $84M or $87M of earned income - 12.4% for self-employed. There are 154 million SS tax payers. The problem isn't what is being paid out; the problem is when the baby boomers start receiving SS and a lot of their parents are still receiving it also. No one but no one has even breathed that yet. Why?, because it will be a means testing or an amendment that precludes children receiving SS while their parents remain alive. But instead of asking questions like that what you should be asking is ; "Is it constitutional for one group of people to be given preference over others?" Don't think so yet members of Congress didn't have to pay anything into SS until 1984 - and not the full amount. They are allowed to participate in exacly the type of plan President Bush wants to offer everybody. The City of Galveston has a private pension plan as does the Railroad union. You see to get support for this Ponzi scheme who did comrade roosevelt need to bribe? - the railroad union and Congress. You see why they call this the third rail of politics? Now if we all said no to this confiscation - and I realize there are probably only 10 million self-employed or so - could there be enough light to get an honest and constitutional plan - preferably choice. The statistical Abstract of the US has most of the data you requested and that can be accessed by seaching same. It's a lot of stuff - 50 pdf pages. The other choices are the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, The Hoover Institute, Ludwig Van Mises

11 posted on 10/16/2004 9:27:51 AM PDT by branch1
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To: pickrell; MadIvan; Travis McGee

Ah, I misidentified the item, myself.
In addition, I just did so on another important posting by someone else. Thank you for making this obvious.

I am a 2-year "lurker" myself, and just signed up to post last month. I comment on articles on the threads, and have yet to post an article.

What I actually meant re: your home page, is your "About" page, which is listed on the FR homepage, on the left list, where which you may tell a little about yourself. As I am sure you know, one may go to a FReeper's "About" page by clicking on their screen name in boldface. This is where I am suggesting you place this article, at least for the next two weeks, so that you may supply it to anyone who requests, rather than make them use the "search" feature. Also, that might be a place to provide a link to any home-page you may have elsewhere. The FReepers which come to my mind immediately as example of this are: Mad Ivan and Travis McGee. (there are many others, and I do not mean to slight them; these two are very interesting.

I always look at someone's "about" page before I post replies. Sometimes it affects how I reply or whether I reply at all. I hope you find this useful, and look forward to reading your next posted article. Thank you, Norski.

12 posted on 10/16/2004 7:03:01 PM PDT by Norski
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To: Norski

Hey, don't wait two years to reply any more! Jump right in!

13 posted on 10/16/2004 10:47:45 PM PDT by Travis McGee (----- -----)
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To: Norski

Actually, until you pointed out the "homepage" function, I had no idea that the function existed. Perhaps a few others reading this will also benefit from your suggestion. As to what is expected in this homepage, I hadn't a clue, so I "improvised". Us newbies will have to feel our way along until we absorb the customs and usages! Until we are firing on 4 cylinders, we ask your patience. Meanwhile, the only contribution I can make is to continue to post opinions backed by life experiences and research. It will be awhile before I am sufficiently well versed to even begin to place articles in some sort of order on a homepage as you described. Thanks for the tips.

14 posted on 10/17/2004 6:14:43 PM PDT by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: quantim

Bump for later

15 posted on 10/17/2004 6:16:29 PM PDT by roaddog727 (The marginal propensity to save is 1 minus the marginal propensity to consume.)
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To: Travis McGee

OK, I PROMISE not to wait two years before I make myself heard again! LOL!

16 posted on 10/17/2004 7:38:23 PM PDT by Norski
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To: pickrell

Ahh, pickrell, if you are as new to the INTERNET as you have stated, I HOPE you have purchased and know how to use "antiviral" programs such as Norton or McAfee's. Essential. And a "Spyware" blocking and removal program such as "Spybot" or "SpywareBlaster". You may wish to visit the computer columnist "Dr. Bombay" at for lots and lots and lots of free essential information. He's rude and funny as heck, and it's a goldmine of essential information. And it would be worth your time and money to get your very own "geek". I promise.
BTW, (by the way) how did you find FR? Just curious . . .
Oh, and it would probably be helpful for you to enter "Freerepublic Lexicon" into the search space and check it out for explanation of many things. :-) Norski

17 posted on 10/17/2004 7:46:09 PM PDT by Norski
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To: pickrell
Social Security was never meant to be a "Retirement Fund." It was a social safety net for widows and orphans in the depression. Therefore, it was, and remains today, a transfer payment - no different than welfare. Its purpose has changed over time and now the only means test is your age. That means its just welfare for old people.

How our country came to believe it was a "retirement system" and then a "retirement account" is the same old democrat word game. Of course we know how the federal education system is an "investment" in our young people. Well, where I come from, investments have a "principle" amount that is owned by the investor and any distribution of "profits" to that investment are taxed at the time they are realized. I want everyone on Free Republic to put me on their PING list for when they get the first taxable distribution from a government Investment. Better yet, let me know when you get some of your Principle back from that Investment.

Herein lies the lie of Social Security - It has never been and will never be a "Retirement Account" for anyone in its current configuration. It is simply a transfer payment from current wage earners to current old people.

When a president can promise that your Social Security account "balance" can be transferred into the bank account of your survivors at your death, you will have the beginning of what we call the "opportunity society." I think "that promise" is the one that destroys the socialist foundation (ponzi scheme) of the current system. May the heavy lifting begin.

18 posted on 10/17/2004 8:40:39 PM PDT by Lowcountry
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To: Lowcountry

I can't argue with what you have said. I can only say that there is only so much tolerance for the length of a post, and I didn't want to be any more verbose than I already am. But, I'll go ahead and risk it.

You are precisely right in that only if Social Security is accepted by the American people as being a "retirement program" is there any sense to much of what has been fed to us about it.

At the risk of abusing your tolerance, I am about to take the ball you threw and run with it.

Let's look at the program in the manner you describe. And let's assume that this program was indeed what it's name can be taken to imply...that of an "insurance" program for the elderly.

"Tom" sets up his small restaurant, and, knowing that a risk exists that one of his cooks will get careless and burn the place down, decides to insure himself against that eventuality, and buys fire insurance. Thirty years passes, and Tom, and many other small businessmen insured in the same risk pool, get lucky and have no losses.

Does Tom now say to his agent, "Look, it turns out that I didn't need the insurance after all. I'd like all of my money back, please."

Methinks Tom's agent would back slowly away, looking desparately for a weapon.

Is there any significant difference between that- a policy against the risk of fire- and a Social Security policy insuring against poverty?

If this program makes more sense as literally "an insurance policy against poverty", then it is certainly being abused as it exists today. It should therefore only be paid out to those persons, who through happenstance, misfortune or otherwise, fail to provide adequate income for themselves
in their declining years. We would have to agree as to whether lack of motivation and other factors would also qualify the recipient.

I can't argue with your interpretation. If so, then the program MUST then be subjected inflexibly to an income means test, as it's very reason for existence is the literal definition of "means", either in accumulated assets or else income. Possibly even some formulation of both.

As an insurance policy that, say, will guarantee that "no one shall reach advanced age, (say 65 years of age to retain continuity of the current interpretation), without having enough income not to starve to death, or be subjected to crippling poverty"; it could pay out roughly what it pays today...but only to those persons with combined income, both earned and unearned, of less than perhaps $ 12,000.00, to pick an arbitrary starting point.

This change in and of itself would be enough to "save" Social Security for the foreseeable future. In fact, it would be enough to reduce the portion of current receipts now used for payouts, to the point where no further argument would be possible against, at the option of the taxpayer, either:

1. Using the remainder to fund a "personal savings account"


2. Reducing the amount taken from the taxpayer, and allowing him a chance to make his own decision as to what to do with the amount he would thereby not be forced to pay.

You would have to apply a few stipulations, since liberals will still infest the Senate.
You must guard against a Clintonization of the phrase "..shall not reach advanced age...", which will make liberals eventually toy with the idea of dissecting poor 64 year olds to harvest their stem cells, and provide organ transplants, thereby killing two old birds with one stone, so to speak.

You would also unavoidably re-apply the same kind of stigma to not providing for your own old age, that used to apply to unwed mothers, and what were once called bums. What a shame that would be...

You would take away the game of raising FICA rates to a point much higher than necessary to pay out immediate requirements, in order to provide a covert, "back door" flow of new taxes. This has in the past been cynically termed "saving Social Security for years to come", and the explanation offered was that, "Well...sure, we're taking in more than we need now, but that will only 'pile up in the lockbox' for when we need it later".

The truth is that the rate of FICA tax could be administered and adjusted yearly, just as COLA's are, (Cost of Living Allowances), to bring in exactly what was needed to comply with commitments, and no more. But that would choke off the excess that the freespenders (of other people's money) count on. Gonna get a fight there.

You would also deprive the Democrats of an enormous number of constituents. If I am 71, and have $ 35,000.00 in municipal bond dividend income, retirement benefits from the union job, and rent on the first house rolling in per year, I sure don't want to hear that Paul, who is 23 and working two jobs to help pay for my Social Security "sweetener" check that comes in regularly, will no longer "support" me.

After all, I worked for 30 years paying into the fund, and since "my restaurant didn't burn down..." I want my money back. Gimme.

All of these things represent problems for your analysis of what this program should be.

I won't agree or disagree, though if I am accurate in my expansion of the points you made, I'd have to say "I can live with it!". But I will say that we can't continue with this ticking time bomb that we have now.

Americans will soon decide on their next President. They also need to decide how they will "adjust" the Social Security program.

Before it "adjusts" them.

19 posted on 10/22/2004 8:37:50 PM PDT by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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