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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 11-25-2013, 10:10 AM   #76
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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.
Well you read my post so that should be a pretty good ****ing hint which one I am. Been paying since the mid 70's never taken a dime from them~
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Old 11-25-2013, 10:33 AM   #77
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Well you read my post so that should be a pretty good ****ing hint which one I am. Been paying since the mid 70's never taken a dime from them~
That doesn't have anything to do with whether or not it's a welfare program. It's a redistribution program. Some people are net taxpayers and some are net benefit receivers. You get to be a net taxpayer (congratulations!), at least for now.
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:21 AM   #78
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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.
fringe idiot is fringe.
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:26 AM   #79
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fringe idiot is fringe.
It was a dumb thing for you to try to defend.
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Old 11-25-2013, 12:21 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
That doesn't have anything to do with whether or not it's a welfare program. It's a redistribution program. Some people are net taxpayers and some are net benefit receivers. You get to be a net taxpayer (congratulations!), at least for now.
Is insurance a private redistribution system then? And if it is, should I be against it, because der der socialism? Or is it okay because some middle man makes a profit off of the redistribution?
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Old 11-25-2013, 12:27 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
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.
It is sustainable. In fact, it has a surplus.

Quote:
Social Security is currently running a surplus, and the two and a half trillion dollar trust fund is projected to keep growing for at least another decade.
http://www.epi.org/publication/socia...s_sustainable/
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Old 11-25-2013, 01:27 PM   #82
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Is insurance a private redistribution system then? And if it is, should I be against it, because der der socialism? Or is it okay because some middle man makes a profit off of the redistribution?
Yes. No. It's OK because it's private and not coerced or built on promises that can't be kept.
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Old 11-25-2013, 02:03 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by Loneiguana View Post
It is sustainable. In fact, it has a surplus.



http://www.epi.org/publication/socia...s_sustainable/
No, it's not sustainable despite having a temporary surplus.
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Old 11-25-2013, 02:57 PM   #84
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
No, it's not sustainable despite having a temporary surplus.
From the same article:

Quote:
Social Security is currently running a surplus, and the two and a half trillion dollar trust fund is projected to keep growing for at least another decade.

This enormous trust fund isn’t there by accident—it’s the result of changes enacted by Congress in 1983 in anticipation of the Baby Boomer retirement. The savings in the trust fund are sufficient to meet this demographic challenge, so Congress should be proud of its foresight.

The other supposed villain in this story is rising life expectancy, which has led many to call for raising Social Security’s normal retirement age to 70, or even indexing it to longevity.

Contrary to popular belief, life expectancy in retirement has been growing relatively slowly in recent years, and, like the Baby Boomer retirement, the increase was fully anticipated by the Social Security actuaries.

Because of population growth, rising life expectancy does not create a Malthusian dilemma. In fact, the ratio of beneficiaries to covered workers is projected to level off after the Baby Boomer retirement.

Similarly, Social Security outlays are projected to level off — not spiral upward like health care costs.

This isn’t to say that Social Security costs won’t increase, but this increase is manageable—on the order of 1.5% of GDP. And because Social Security is currently running a surplus, the 75-year shortfall is much smaller—around 0.7% of GDP according to the Social Security actuaries, and even less according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out that this is about the same as the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year.

This projected shortfall can easily be closed through modest payroll tax increases supported by voters across the political spectrum. As Senator Kohl recently noted, “modest tweaks” are enough to ensure solvency and even strengthen benefits for the most vulnerable.
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Old 11-25-2013, 02:59 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by Loneiguana View Post
From the same article:
Not sustainable.

From your article:

Quote:
This projected shortfall can easily be closed through modest payroll tax increases supported by voters across the political spectrum.
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Old 11-25-2013, 03:24 PM   #86
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And then they would have lost their money in 2008-9 and they would be living off the taxpayer dime after they lost everything in the stock market.

Horrible idea. Bush tried to do this as his signature piece of legislation. He did the hard sell, town halls etc. The people said **** that shit.
Wrong. People as they age would move into bonds/cash/other "safe" investements, and be fine. Plus, if they left the money in, they would have it all back now since the market is higher now than it was before the crash.

Are you lefties really this stupid?
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Old 11-25-2013, 03:56 PM   #87
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Wrong. People as they age would move into bonds/cash/other "safe" investements, and be fine. Plus, if they left the money in, they would have it all back now since the market is higher now than it was before the crash.

Are you lefties really this stupid?
You are conveniently ignoring the fact that some people would have to withdraw while markets are at lows. Timing of contributions and withdrawals have significant impacts on asset returns.

Personal accounts for SS are a ****ing stupid idea. The additional money would suppress returns on all asset classes. In addition, it would guarantee a stream of money that Wall St would find ways to fleece at every step they could.

Also, your post assumes that the average person has half a clue when it comes to asset allocation and when/where to rebalance. If that was the case, then my industry would be at least half the size it is currently.
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Old 11-25-2013, 03:59 PM   #88
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
Not sustainable.

From your article:


fringe idiot is fringe.
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Old 11-25-2013, 04:11 PM   #89
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fringe idiot is fringe.
Well, it's also kinda their political approach. In their eyes, government equals bad. Period. (offer excludes the military).

Therefore the government taking steps towards not being bad, like the changes made in 1983 to S.S. to account for new realities, is bad. We can't do that again, because bad.

They then elect a bunch of idiots who say the same "government = bad" who govern in a way to ensure government is bad.

Self-fulling prophecy.

These elected idiots then get to point at the bad and go "see told you so".

Its political maneuvering.

Noticed how he ignored everything else. The fact its not even a crisis. That we have at least ten years to work on a solution that accounts for the here and now.
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Old 11-25-2013, 04:14 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by Loneiguana View Post
Well, it's also kinda their political approach. In their eyes, government equals bad. Period. (offer excludes the military).

Therefore the government taking steps towards not being bad, like the changes made in 1983 to S.S. to account for new realities, is bad. We can't do that again, because bad.

They then elect a bunch of idiots who say the same "government = bad" who govern in a way to ensure government is bad.

Self-fulling prophecy.

These elected idiots then get to point at the bad and go "see told you so".

Its political maneuvering.

Noticed how he ignored everything else. The fact its not even a crisis. That we have at least ten years to work on a solution that accounts for the here and now.
Moronic analysis.

I never said anything about a crisis, but you admit that we need to work on a "solution". That's an admission that the system as it is today is unsustainable.
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