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Old 11-22-2013, 09:53 AM  
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Social Security: The Most Successful Ponzi Scheme in History

Social Security: The Most Successful Ponzi Scheme in History

Mises Daily: Friday, November 22, 2013 by Gary Galles

“We paid our Social Security and Medicare taxes; we earned our benefits.” It is that belief among senior citizens that President Obama was pandering to when, in his second inaugural address, he claimed that those programs “strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers.”



If Social Security and Medicare both involved people voluntarily financing their own benefits, an argument could be made for seniors’ “earned benefits” view. But they have not. They have redistributed tens of trillions of dollars of wealth to themselves from those younger.



Social Security and Medicare have transferred those trillions because they have been partial Ponzi schemes.



After Social Security’s creation, those in or near retirement got benefits far exceeding their costs (Ida Mae Fuller, the first Social Security recipient, got 462 times what she and her employer together paid in “contributions”). Those benefits in excess of their taxes paid inherently forced future Americans to pick up the tab for the difference. And the program’s almost unthinkable unfunded liabilities are no less a burden on later generations because earlier generations financed some of their own benefits, or because the government has consistently lied that they have paid their own way.



Since its creation, Social Security has been expanded multiple times. Each expansion meant those already retired paid no added taxes, and those near retirement paid more for only a few years. But both groups received increased benefits throughout retirement, increasing the unfunded benefits whose burdens had to be borne by later generations. Thus, each such expansion started another Ponzi cycle benefiting older Americans at others’ expense.



Social Security benefits have been dramatically increased. They doubled between 1950 and 1952. They were raised 15 percent in 1970, 10 percent in 1971, and 20 percent in 1972, in a heated competition to buy the elderly vote. Benefits were tied to a measure that effectively double-counted inflation and even now, benefits are over-indexed to inflation, raising real benefit levels over time.



Disability and dependents’ benefits were added by 1960. Medicare was added in 1966, and benefits have been expanded (e.g., Medicare Part B, only one-quarter funded by recipients, and Part D’s prescription drug benefit, only one-eighth funded by recipients).



The massive expansion of Social Security is evident from the growing tax burden since its $60 per year initial maximum (for employees and employers combined). Tax rates have risen and been applied to more earnings, with Social Security now taking a combined 12.4 percent of earnings up to $113,700 (and Medicare’s 2.9 percent combined rate applies to all earnings, plus a 0.9 percent surtax beyond $200,000 of earnings).
Those multiple Ponzi giveaways to earlier recipients created Social Security’s 13-digit unfunded liability and Medicare’s far larger hole. And despite politicians’ repeated, heated denials, many studies have confirmed the results.



One recent study of lifetime payroll taxes and benefits comes from the Urban Institute. For Medicare, they calculated that (in 2012 dollars) an average-wage-earning male would get $180,000 in benefits, but pay only $61,000 in taxes — “earning” only about one-third of benefits received. A similarly situated female does even better. The cumulative “excess” benefits equal $105 trillion, with net benefits increasing over time.
The Urban Institute’s calculations revealed a different situation for Social Security. An average-earning male who retired in 2010 will receive $277,000 in lifetime benefits, $23,000 less than his lifetime taxes, while for females, their $302,000 in lifetime benefits approximates their lifetime taxes. And things are getting worse. By 2030, that man will be “shorted” 16 cents (10 cents for women) of every lifetime tax dollar paid.
While those results resoundingly reject “we earned it” rhetoric for Medicare, the Social Security results, with new retirees getting less than they paid in, could be spun as “proving” Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme. However, that would be false. The reason is that Medicare is still in its expansion phase, as with Medicare Part D, piling up still bigger future IOUs. However, Social Security has essentially run out of new expansion tricks, although liberal groups are pushing to apply Social Security taxes to far more income as one last means of robbing those younger to delay the day of reckoning. That simply means that we are being forced to start facing the full consequences of the redistribution that was started in 1935. That is, the current bad deal Social Security offers retirees is just the result of the fact that it has been a Ponzi scheme for generations, and someone must get stuck “holding the bag.”



In fact, perhaps the best description of the current Social Security and Medicare situation comes from Henry Hazlitt, long ago, in Economics in One Lesson:
Today is already the tomorrow which the bad economist yesterday urged us to ignore. The long-run consequences of some economic policies may become evident in a few months. Others may not become evident for several years. Still others may not become evident for decades. But in every case those long-run consequences are contained in the policy as surely as the hen was in the egg, the flower in the seed.
Social Security and Medicare’s generational high-jacking has become “the third rail of politics” in large part because seniors want to believe that they paid their own way. But they have not. They have only paid for part of what they have gotten. The rest has indeed been a Ponzi scheme. And as Social Security is already revealing, the future cannot be put off forever, however much wishful thinking is involved. Some are already being forced to confront the exploding pot of IOUs involved, and it will get much worse.
The supposedly “most successful government program in the history of the world,” according to Harry Reid, has turned seniors into serious takers. The fact that some of them are now starting to share the pain caused by those programs does not contradict that fact. It just shows the dark side of the most successful Ponzi scheme in the history of the world.



http://mises.org/daily/6594/Social-S...eme-in-History
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Old 11-23-2013, 12:34 AM   #31
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Name one other Pyramid scheme that has lasted for 80 years. The exponential growth of Pyramid schemes makes them unsustainable for any length of time.

You're conflating the two.

Also, where was all the bitching about young people getting screwed over for the Reagan and Bush tax cuts? Where do you think that money came from?
How many workers support one retiree on social security now compared to before? How many workers are expected to support one retiree in 2030? Just because it lasted 80 years previously, do you expect it to last another 80? Do you expect it to even last 40? Just like a pyramid scheme the number of new payers dwindles until the system collapses.

As far as the tax cuts I think Reagan's were much more justifiable than Bush's but where they keep goin wrong is on the spending side. If your going to cut taxes you can't increase spending.
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Old 11-23-2013, 12:50 AM   #32
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I don't know how old you are,if your a baby boomer or a millenial but Let me ask you, would you rather have had the current social security system, or would you rather have had your employers and your contributions invested into a conservative IRA or 401k style system over your working career?

Personally I think the Government does a piss poor job managing money, I am certain that I would have a much more comfortable retirement if I could have had the latter option that I proposed to you.
You're assuming this person has the respect for other people's right to privacy and boundaries of government from invading lives of its citizens. I once thought that's what we were all raised to believe as Americans as well. Your philosophy differs. That money you earn isn't yours according to him and those who think like him.
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Old 11-23-2013, 12:51 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by 2bikemike View Post
How many workers support one retiree on social security now compared to before? How many workers are expected to support one retiree in 2030? Just because it lasted 80 years previously, do you expect it to last another 80? Do you expect it to even last 40? Just like a pyramid scheme the number of new payers dwindles until the system collapses.

As far as the tax cuts I think Reagan's were much more justifiable than Bush's but where they keep goin wrong is on the spending side. If your going to cut taxes you can't increase spending.
You can't bitch about the sustainability of social security and support tax increases that are paid for by raiding the SS trust.

Furthermore, you are confusing a small rate of linear growth with exponential growth, which is the key aspect of a pyramid scheme.
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Old 11-23-2013, 02:45 AM   #34
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This whole "social security is a Ponzi scheme" nonsense has been spouted by lots of people who make one critical, fundamental flaw.

For some strange, bizarre reason, they assumed this was intended to be an investment. It is not. It is a public government social program to use the resources of those who are middle class and doing well to provide a minimal subsistance income to the poor so that they have some kind of lousy meager elderly life without starving or freezing.

I mean, for crying out loud, social security even has the word social in it. Its not a freaking investment, its a social program. The only reason why middle and upper class people get it too, is because it is good politics to give something to everyone so that no one supports repeal.
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:21 AM   #35
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Its too bad we don't have a test case to compare.

Oh right, we do.

Looks like private returns a better investment for the investor.


You quoted the failed Chile Laboratory test. That is rich.

FAIL.
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:31 AM   #36
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most Ponzi schemes go bust because they can't raid taxpayers' pockets to keep themselves solvent
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:24 AM   #37
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You quoted the failed Chile Laboratory test. That is rich.

FAIL.
I am not sure how something that gets 73% of its worth from profit is failing.

Perhaps you could enlighten us on a system that gets even more of its worth from profit? Compared to the US social security which gets none just IOUs in increasingly inflated dollars.
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:25 AM   #38
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most Ponzi schemes go bust because they can't raid taxpayers' pockets to keep themselves solvent
True. If a private individual set up something like Social Security, they would be arrested for fraud. Somehow though it becomes not fraud when the government does it.
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:31 AM   #39
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most Ponzi schemes go bust because they can't raid taxpayers' pockets to keep themselves solvent
The government raids Social Security to keep the government solvent. Get your facts straight.
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:59 AM   #40
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So with over half the people in this country not working- how long can all these programs keep going?
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Old 11-23-2013, 09:04 AM   #41
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This whole "social security is a Ponzi scheme" nonsense has been spouted by lots of people who make one critical, fundamental flaw.

For some strange, bizarre reason, they assumed this was intended to be an investment. It is not. It is a public government social program to use the resources of those who are middle class and doing well to provide a minimal subsistance income to the poor so that they have some kind of lousy meager elderly life without starving or freezing.

I mean, for crying out loud, social security even has the word social in it. Its not a freaking investment, its a social program. The only reason why middle and upper class people get it too, is because it is good politics to give something to everyone so that no one supports repeal.
1% of the population owns 50% of all assets in this country. The so called middle class only owns 20% but are supposed to support 50% of the population?

No equations will ever make this add up.
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Old 11-23-2013, 09:05 AM   #42
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So with over half the people in this country not working- how long can all these programs keep going?
Print more money.
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Old 11-23-2013, 09:14 AM   #43
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Print more money.
One more time. You and the others need to educate yourselfs.

The government steals from Social Security. The government doesn't take money from the taxpayer and the budget to support Social Security.

GEEEZZZ education and knowledge is not your enemy.
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Old 11-23-2013, 09:21 AM   #44
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I am not sure how something that gets 73% of its worth from profit is failing.

Perhaps you could enlighten us on a system that gets even more of its worth from profit? Compared to the US social security which gets none just IOUs in increasingly inflated dollars.
IOU's, lol. It is actually Latin American Countries that cannot pay out, not America.

Oh, and you opinion pieces are bunk. Not even linking to to the study.

So, I take it you are FOR government mandates then, since the government mandates Chili's workers deposit 13.3 percent into private accounts?

Or for the government to subside workers for failing to accumulate enough money in their accounts? There are your IOU's.

You see, the returns you are claiming are false, intentionally ignoring the costs of the middle man, among other things.

Quote:
Seemingly, Chile's private system has achieved impressive average returns on investment. However, once commissions are factored in, the real return for individual workers is considerably lower. Nominally, the real annual return on investment between 1982 and 1995 averaged 12.7 percent. But a recent paper by World Bank economist Hemant Shah demonstrated that an individual's average rate of return over this period after paying commissions would have been 7.4 percent.

The real return after commissions over other periods of time is even lower. For example, although the average rate of return on funds from 1982 through 1986 was 15.9 percent, the real return after commissions was a mere 0.3 percent! Between 1991 and 1995, the pre-commission return was 12.9 percent, but with commissions it fell to 2.1 percent. Chilean regulators have sought to lower commissions, which have come down from their peak of 8.69 percent of taxable salary in 1984 to around 3.1 percent today (this includes a disability insurance premium of around 1 percent of income), but these middleman fees still represent between 16.7 percent and 20 percent of a worker's overall social security contributions (administrative costs under the old public system in Chile represented 5 percent of total contributions). By contrast, the U.S. system pays no commissions, and administrative costs are less than 2 percent of workers' contributions. Upon a Chilean worker's retirement, financial advisors charge fees as high as 3 percent to 5 percent of the worker's total accumulated funds to help the worker choose among various financial options.
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The extraordinary transition costs of privatization, and their distribution, is the most overlooked issue in the privatization debate. In a privatized system, workers stop paying social security contributions to the government, but the government must still pay benefits to those already retired. This shortfall in revenue can only be financed through cutting other government spending, raising taxes, or incurring debt. To pay for the social security debt in Chile, which is expected to be between 4 percent and 6 percent of their gross domestic product over the next seven years, the former military government ran a budget surplus while cutting spending on redistributive programs like health and education.
http://www.globalaging.org/pension/us/socialsec/kay.htm
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Old 11-23-2013, 09:34 AM   #45
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One more time. You and the others need to educate yourselfs.

The government steals from Social Security. The government doesn't take money from the taxpayer and the budget to support Social Security.

GEEEZZZ education and knowledge is not your enemy.
I am educated on the matter and I'm talking about the entire government not just social security. Print more money.
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