Today in USA Today, "Social Security far from a 'Ponzi scheme'"
As a fire breathing, right-wing tea-party sympathizer, I will agree that Social Security is a popular program, perhaps the most popular program in American history, even if its existence is constitutionally troubling, it is here and has served millions and millions of seniors. In all likelihood, some other means of forced savings could have served seniors better (let's put it this way, I'm 46, and looking forward to the payout from my 401k more than my social security check), but social security has a valid use as part of the social safety net, which was its intent.
So, there. A right wing nut job has stipulated that much. And, to the left-wing editors at USA Today, you are intelligent enough to stipulate the salient point in this debate:
"Yes, Social Security has major funding problems. It pays out more in benefits than it takes in, and the gap will grow steadily worse as Baby Boomers retire."
From here, you proceed to go off the rails defending social security from Gov. Rick Perry's charge that it more resembles a Ponzi Scheme than retirement program. I have to give you credit for the effort, but, it's weak, let's look:
- "Ponzi schemes have two salient features. First, they are criminal enterprises, which Social Security is not." - I think this is certainly the entire point of the comparison, isn't it? We can operate something just like a crminal exercise, but, because it has the blessing of Congress, the imprimateur of a President, and the wide support of the American people, and extremely wide support of the beneficiaries, it is acceptable. This defense falls to the level of technicality. You say potato, I say potato.
- "They work only until people get wind of what is going on, at which point they inevitably collapse." - At least until the 2000 election, we had a candidate running on a major party ticket trying to convince people that their social security savings were all in a "lockbox." I bet you if I looked at that 2000 election I can find a USA Today editorial telling me Al Gore was right. People are catching wind now to what is going on with Social Security. Does that mean an inevitable collapse? Perhaps.
- "Social Security's finances are plainly visible for all to see. The imbalances emerging now are a surprise to no one"
This really is the major difference between Social Security and Ponzi schemes. In the Ponzi Scheme potential investors aren't forced to invest. They at least have to believe that the risks of the pyramid are not so great as to topple it before they recoup and expand on their investment. At least in a Ponzi Scheme, there's some element of choice. As a criminal exercise, when the cops put the bad guys away, the investment stops and boom, everyone's out their money, except the few at the top. In social security, however, we can "adjust tax rates, benefit formulas, and the retirement age." Why can we do that? Because the government, and legislators hold the power to tax that money from young workers to pay retirees. And if the younger workers refuse to pay their new, higher taxes, well, we can just haul them off to jail. In the REVERSE of the Ponzi Scheme puinishment, it's the investors who are guilty, not the perpetrators of the crime.
Finally, to the Editors at USA Today, and Leftists everywhere, us lunatic tea partiers are not against social security. We believe in the safety net. What we are against is the LIE that is the program. End the lie, be honest to the American people that this is, indeed, another transfer program, and let's go from there. But, as Governor Perry says in his editorial, we can't have this debate without being honest about this program, and USA Today's editors, rather then being honest, have chosen to regurgitate left-wing talking points rather than face true issues.