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Old 11-22-2013, 09:53 AM  
Lzen Lzen is offline
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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, 11:52 PM   #61
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Ok, i'm not sure you've ever noticed but I'm totally Issues based.
Whatever. Delude yourself all you want. All of your "issues" happen to be straight out of the Republican plan. None out of the Democratic plan.
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Old 11-23-2013, 11:57 PM   #62
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Whatever. Delude yourself all you want. All of your "issues" happen to be straight out of the Republican plan. None out of the Democratic plan.
Antiwar without a DAMN good reason? Ya straight out of the Democrat plan. Keep trying.
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Old 11-24-2013, 06:09 AM   #63
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The article you are quoting from is from 1997. Of course the article you post also forgets to point out that there are fees associated with social security management, they just aren't paid transparently through the social security tax. They are paid out of general operating funds which come from other taxes and well social security taxes. Remember, the government doesn't follow GAAP.

The Chilean system is just more upfront and transparent to the consumer as to what those costs are. The social security system is not. Just like the canard that medicare is more cost efficient than private insurance. Its not, its actual cost is hidden and covered by other function of the government.

Another problem with social security is that congress at a whim can stop paying benefits. There is no individual account for you, you don't own any of that money and it has already been spent. Also, soon social security will have a negative return on investment and there is no way switch to another fund like the Chilean system.

Finally, I am not for the government coercing people to save for their retirement but if the government is going to do it. I would rather have those accounts and funds in private hands. You can only sue the government after all if they decide to let you. Not so with a private company.

So you are against mandating people to save for retirement, even though Chili's entire system depends on that?

Or are we going to let old people die who don't save enough?
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Old 11-24-2013, 08:04 AM   #64
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Social security isn't a ponzi scheme.
Technically true. SS was not started by Charles Ponzi. Unfortunately, it shares many of the negative features of Ponzi's schemes.
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Old 11-24-2013, 08:07 AM   #65
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Nope, I stopped at Mises Daily.

Social Security doesn't fit the definition of a Ponzi. Not worth investing time into reading useless tripe from the Miserableans.
Duh. This is a dodge from a guy who refuses to read the article and refuses to interpret the headline in a reasonable fashion.

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Old 11-24-2013, 08:09 AM   #66
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Israel has been running a Keynesian, social contract government correctly for years. Paying down debt in good times, being responsible. But when you have people in charge of government that want to see it fail, that is their premise and desire, you can run the country into the ditch and let it rust. You will get something to fill the vacuum and it will have little democratic or even representative capacity. Raise the contribution of the very rich. Seeding money to the general population puts purchasing power to allow those choose in the economy. Otherwise the people who are both closest to the bottom and TOP of the economy will be able to corner the economy.
Watch it. His supporters may call you racist.
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Old 11-24-2013, 08:14 AM   #67
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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?
In the case of the tax cuts, some of the money coming from the people it always comes from simply stopped coming.
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Old 11-24-2013, 08:18 AM   #68
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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.
A real ponzi scheme isn't an investment either, but the people lured into it don't recognize it (much like SS). You're making the point made by the article (which you apparently didn't read) except that you're blaming the wrong people.
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Old 11-24-2013, 08:24 AM   #69
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Really? Welfare? I have never taken a dime from the government and they have gladly taken a slice of my pay starting when I was 14 years old. How would it be considered welfare for me to get my money back? They can keep the money they took from my employers but it would be nice to get the money they have taken from me forcibly over the years~
Some people pay way more into the program than they get out. They've encountered a net tax during their lifetime to (partially) fund the welfare program.

Others pay way less into the program than they get out. They've been the beneficiaries of the welfare program.

I don't know which one you are.
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:38 AM   #70
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So you are against mandating people to save for retirement, even though Chili's entire system depends on that?

Or are we going to let old people die who don't save enough?
Yes, because I want people to be responsible for themselves. I am just saying that if you are going to do it, do it in a way that most benefits the populace and not the government.

I highly doubt we are going to see that. We didn't see that before social security and we won't see it after social security collapses. Society and culture will adapt much quicker than the government will. Older folks living on their own is actually an outlier in human history and not the norm.
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Old 11-25-2013, 09:05 AM   #71
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
Technically true. SS was not started by Charles Ponzi. Unfortunately, it shares many of the negative features of Ponzi's schemes.
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Duh. This is a dodge from a guy who refuses to read the article and refuses to interpret the headline in a reasonable fashion.
How cute. Patty thinks he knows something about finance now.

SS doesn't share any of the negative features of a Ponzi.
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Old 11-25-2013, 09:16 AM   #72
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How cute. Patty thinks he knows something about finance now.

SS doesn't share any of the negative features of a Ponzi.
That's silly. They're both unsustainable wealth transfer systems built on promises that won't be kept and that seems pretty negative to me.
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Old 11-25-2013, 09:19 AM   #73
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That's silly. They're both unsustainable wealth transfer systems built on promises that won't be kept and that seems pretty negative to me.
Social Security is easily sustainable. Lifting the cap on taxable wages for SS makes it sustainable. If the cap is raised then no reductions in benefits is necessary.
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Old 11-25-2013, 09:20 AM   #74
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I'm very confident that any SS benefit will be long gone by the time I'm 70.
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Old 11-25-2013, 10:03 AM   #75
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Social Security is easily sustainable. Lifting the cap on taxable wages for SS makes it sustainable. If the cap is raised then no reductions in benefits is necessary.
No, it's not sustainable. The fact that it needs to be fixed by doing something like lifting the cap on taxable wages demonstrates the fact that it's not sustainable. Each time it gets "fixed", the bargain is unilaterally changed. Ponzi ended up in jail because he wasn't able to do that so I guess there's another difference.
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