Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Social Security "Ponzi" Scheme is Better than Nothing

This is not a defense of our Socal Security system as it is currently structured. But opponents of the system should understand why their ideas to ditch it often don't go very far.

Those who want to do away with Social Security almost always want to do so on the cheap. Just get rid of it. It's a no brainer if you're 20 (assuming you have a brain and many don't at age 20) but not if you're 50.

I know exactly how much has been payed in to Social Security for me. If your offer is 75 cents on the dollar to replace the system, I might go for it. I have a few years left to make it back with a better system.

But if your offer is zero, no thanks. That would be a very, very bad deal. The fact that you might be willing to take zero is no reason I should.

And for people who are retired at 70, your offer needs to be close to 100 cents, as there is no opportunity for them to make it back.

If you're going to beat me down with the Ponzi scheme, let me say two things. Even the Madoff victims are getting 50 cents on the dollar back. And the question is, where did the money go when the Social Security system has been running surpluses for the last 30 years? Into defense spending, that's where. So America got a tangible benefit, and it's not unfair to ask America to pay it back.

And even the portion that went to the elderly, that's also a tangible benefit to America. It means middle-aged people today don't have to support elderly parents who might otherwise be destitute. The benefits of Social Security trickle down, even if they don't trickle down as much as you would like.

So you want out and you don't want to buy me out. Let me opt out you say. I know how that works, you opt out but your grandmother stays in. I have to pay for your grandmother plus my own grandmother. No thanks.

How much are you willing to pay to get out? Again, if your offer is zero, I am going to just say no to what would be a very bad deal.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I want out. The Government can "keep" what I've paid in so far. The problem is, they immediately pay out what comes in so there's really nothing for them to keep. I still want out.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

It's easy to get out, just walk across the border into Canada or Mexico.

It's not that I don't sympathize, it's just that I am not prepared to leave with nothing.