Social Security & the Fallacy of Government Compassion

By David Bozeman

Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – Republicans such as House Speaker John Boehner, governors Tim Pawlenty (MN) and Mitch Daniels (IN) have expressed support for upping the age to 70. Bush 43 spokeswoman Dana Perrino recently proposed on Fox News phasing in, not affecting anyone now at or near retirement, an increase to age 69. Fox News analyst John Stossel, a staunch libertarian, echoes the same idea as the first solution to saving the program.    

The chatter is becoming a roar. With the first baby boomers approaching the legal retirement age and concern mounting over the solvency of Social Security, the first solution on the table is to raise the age even higher.

Social Security, of course, remains the vaunted third rail of American politics, the crown jewel of Roosevelt-era liberalism. Even conservative-minded Americans consider the program the one saving grace keeping the elderly out of the poor-houses.

Like a national institution or memorial, it will be saved come whatever. Just the mere concept is an American value unto itself and we will make it endure, regardless of the costs or the puny payouts or the toll on the American worker.

Nothing written here is meant to endorse the privatization of Social Security, but I do submit that the American worker should not be coerced into planning his or her future on the edicts of Washington politicians and policy wonks.

Social Security, like most government programs, offers one-size-fits-all solutions for a diverse nation of 300 million-plus and fosters dependency and conformity.

From where in the Constitution does government derive the power to set my retirement age?

Furthermore, Boehner, Pawlenty, Perrino and the rest of the raise-the-age-nowers make their livings in the halls of government and in temperature-controlled studios opining on the issues of the day.

Consider that millions of Americans work with their hands. Pipe fitters, bricklayers and construction crews labor in the most intense heat and extreme cold. Factory workers spend 8, 9, 10 hours a day on concrete floors, lifting heavy boxes and other materials, leaving hundreds of thousands of Americans with back and knee problems as early as in their thirties.

  • How many of those who publicly advocate raising the retirement age plan to cut six-inch thick telephone wire or load tractor trailers when they are approaching 70?
  • How many would take comfort in their parents or grandparents forgoing precious leisure time late in life to continue punching the time clock?
  • Is this the brand of government compassion for which agency officials are always beating their chests?

The point is not to lament poor working conditions. Most honest work confers honor, dignity and great benefit for the employee, and advances in technology and freedom (with a modicum of government oversight) should offer a promising future for the American worker. What we require is greater choice and flexibility in planning our retirement.

One need not advocate the abolishment of Social Security to see that while some of us enjoy careers we want to continue through our 70’s and 80’s, some of us have jobs.

We must further discard the conventional wisdom that we must follow the dictates of a bi-partisan blue-ribbon commission in planning when to retire. Our individual lives and the financial markets still offer options for early retirement (as tall an order as it is), which we can explore while we still enjoy the freedom.

Greater market-based choice would tailor plans to suit the needs of workers and their families, lest the customer go elsewhere. Government plans, by contrast, are predicated upon their own survival, and it is the worker bee who must sacrifice so that a noble endeavor can endure.

Government cares little about your aching back, broken knees or frayed sanity, so unless 70 miraculously becomes the new 40, I’d like to enjoy my golden years while I can still walk.

Still, if there’s an opening for a congressman or a pundit on a cable news channel, I’ll consider it.

David Bozeman is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

15 comments

  1. C.W. I thought you were a retired school teacher, their not eligible for Social Security are they? We all know William Laatsch is right about age discrimination. We all know Norman is corrcect. If politicians over the years hadn’t used Social Security for their pork barrell projects it would have more money in it than we would know what to do with, and Christian I agree with you I would have been much more happy to have invested my money over the years instead of being forced into paying into Social Security. We all knew a day of reckoning was coming and thanks to our gutless, spineless worthless politicians it is now upon us. What should we do? print more money? borrrow more money from China? or cut spending, do away with worthless and often redundant bureaucracy and live within our means or is this somthing that politicians have no concept of?

  2. OK all you self serving people let’s look at it this way.

    I worked everyday of my life as did so many other people. I paid into the SS system as did so many other people. Part of that SS payment was for Disability Insurance. Yes I made good money while I was working and tried to give my family all the nice things in life. I put back a great deal of money in my 401K program just like I was advised to. I had plans to have all my debts including my home paid off by the time I was 60 years old. Then I could really start sticking back money for retirement.

    Well, guess what. That didn’t happen. At age 55 I became disabled unable to continue to work. After all the years I put in working 60 to 80 hrs a week, raising two boys and now one grand child I find myself having to get by on less money per month that I made gross in one week. Oh and that 401K money, well after the stock market got through with it didn’t even amount to 4 months salary which I burned that up trying to get by until I could get SSDI.

    How would you like it if you paid all your life for life insurance and when you die your family was told “well, it has no longer been profitable enough to insure people because so many people are dieing and we no longer have the money to pay out the policies because we spent the money on other things”. That is basically what you people are saying about Social Security.

    So, now just how am I supposed to get by if all of the sudden I have no more SSDI? Get my kids to support me. LOL That isn’t ever gonna happen. They can barely get buy them self. Oh and one more thing, the Medicare you get on SSDI, it isn’t FREE. We have to pay for that out of the little we receive each month.

    Yes I agree some people take advantage of the SS system but that doesn’t mean everybody is.

  3. So if we end Social Security plumpers will be able to retire at 40 years old?

    Social Security provides disability insurance, life insurance and pension benefits, it is very unlikely Goldman Sachs will provide a plumber a better deal.

    But nice try.

  4. Social Security is one issue that the liberals and conservatives can almost see eye-to-eye regarding it’s mishandling. There are three things you never mess with: a man’s wife, his kids, and his money.

    Pnut your swipe at conservatives is laughable. There is plenty of information and statistics to prove that conservatives are more compassionate and bigger givers than you left-wing liberals. If social security recipients were destitute, I trust my conservative friends would pull money out of their pocket faster than the liberals. The liberals want to use other people’s money through collectivism and government programs. Pnut, put conservatives vs. liberals in charitable giving in your search engine.
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/03/conservatives_more_liberal_giv.html

    The nation of Chili, usually run by dictators, had a social security system similar to ours. They privatized their system and the results were fabulous. Read the following article and see for yourself. http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/pr-ja-jp.html

    “From where in the Constitution does government derive the power to set my retirement age?” This sentence in this article gets me fired up. This is a constitutional issue much like the personal mandate in ObamaCare.

    Garywfbg and CWJ, good posts! I’m living my life in such a way that I’m not depending on Social Security as my primary source of income. I could retire now but I’m not going to do it. I’ve paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into the system but expect to see very little of it. When I was in my 50’s, I wish the government would have given me a chance to opt out of the system. I would have said then, keep all the money I’ve paid in and let me have just half of it. Then let me keep all the money you deduct from my paycheck for S.S. and Medicare and invest it the way I WANT. :-)

  5. Every article and every pundit talks as if the only people receiving SS payments are retirees. Why doesn’t someone take the time to visit the SS website and see the true demographics? Only 67% of those receiving SS and Medicare are retirees; the remainder are disabled and immigrants seeking asylum, in which there is no requirement to have ever paid into the system. It seems the common sense thing to do is reserve SS for those workers who paid the minimum of 10 years into the system . A good beginning would be to axe non-retirees from SS.
    If you study the SS website, you will also find that a retiree who had multiple divorces receives full benefits, along with each ex with 10 years of marriage to the retiree, plus retiree’s spouse if the retiree passes away. It really is a giant Ponzi scheme that has expanded over time.

  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_%28United_States%29
    1935-2010.
    75 years………………………….the greatest problem with SS is like most IDEAS formulated by government bureaucrats they under estimate the resolve and resilience of the average American.
    In 1935 the government geniuses figured in 30 years the greatest number of participants that contributed would die without collecting a dime.
    As usual the government geniuses seriously underestimated the results of the payout on the lottery.
    “During the Social Security program’s start-up period between January 1937 and December 1939, the SSA only made one-time, lump-sum payments. According to SSA historians, Ernest Ackerman was the first recipient of Social Security benefits — 17 cents, paid to him in January 1937. The first person to receive monthly benefits was Ida May Fuller from Vermont, who retired in November 1939 and started collecting benefits in January 1940 at age 65. In the three years that Fuller worked under the program, she contributed a total of $24.75. Her first benefit check was for $22.54 and she went on collecting benefits for 35 years, until 1975, when she died at age 100. In this time she collected a total of $22,888.92.”
    A hell of a return on YOUR money………………………………….all PONZI schemes eventual are exposed for what they are.
    $24.75 RETURNS $22888.82 A 100% return would be $49.50 by moving the decimal point to the right one place and adding your original investment you can calculate Ms. Fullers return on her in vestment was close to 100000%.
    A whole bunch of people have to collect NOTHING to keep the peasants from storming the Bastille ?

    I doubt very seriously if many mathematicians every expected to collect Social Security. I am absolutely positive they had sense enough to start collecting as early as possible.
    I sure did.
    So maybe if y’all would have paid more attention in mathematics instead of promises of politicians you would at least be aware of what was coming.
    One other thing Social Security is expected to pay out more than it takes in this year. Why is that important? That Social Security lock box is empty just like the promises of the politicians that spent it while you were NOT watching:)

  7. So social security is bad because you can’t irresponsibly put your life’s contributions on black and lose it all, then become hopelessly dependent on your children or the state? Because that’s what would happen.

    You may sneer and call it “one size fits all” but there’s something else it is: a guarantee, in a life and world hellbent on working you to death, and taking all your joy and means along the way.

    News flash people – if you want to retire AT ALL, you’d better be saving aggressively in “market based” solutions, regardless of whether or not social security even exists. For the vast majority of people who work for a living, the enticing prospect of retiring early is unrealistic.

    Pray that you are never wholly dependent on social security (more than 60% of retirees are), because then you’ll:
    1) Have to choose between groceries and heart medication
    2) Be typecast as a deadbeat freeloader by conservatives, as they try to retroactively strip your benefits

  8. Sean Johnston
    We all might as well cut our throats and just end it all—What a bunch of negativity!!
    Myself–I’ll work as hard as I can and and try to keep a positive light on things until they get better or the Lord comes back, whichever comes first. The same gloom and doom folks spewed this nonsense when Jimmy Carter was president. 4 years later, we were proud to be Americans again and we had a spiritual resurgence that has taken until now to wear down. It’s coming again—Like the old preacher says–GIVE HOPE A CHANCE.

    BTW–For every negative, there is a positive—I don’t have to tell you which entity supports their negative side.

  9. Surprise PEOPLE………………………….Back in the 70’s the wise saw the handwriting on the wall.
    Those of us refereed to as BACK to EARTHERS left the “comfort of the GOOD LIFE” and became self sufficient. During that time we learned to live without debt and managed to accumulate modest wealth. Instead of blaming someone else for what we did not have we learned to provide for ourselves.
    It is called self reliance. Our country was founded and settled by self reliant individuals.
    This is still the greatest country on EARTH. The new immigrants can become self reliant or join the every growing problem of government dependence.
    Those that came to America for 200 years looked ONLY for opportunity and the fittest survived.
    They survived by INVESTING in themselves. The age old formula for long life and wealth is hard work,long hours and frugality.
    BTW
    The caring for parents has been a priviledge for thousands of years in many civilizations.
    Some where in the last 20 years it has become a burden by the me first generation.
    Who remarkably were so indulged by parents they failed to learn to respect them.

  10. If Congress and the Executive did not take two trillion dollars out of the fund or if they repay now what they “borrowed”, the fund would be not only solvent but will be the best performing fund in the US. It could lend money to the banks with interest and bring big COLAs to its members. We should prosecute those who dipped into the fund through the years and bring them to justice then make the government pay the fund members according to the sound banking principles. When you take punishment out of the system, politicians and Wall Street becomes little babies sucking the tits of ordinary taxpayers to no end. White collar crime at the highest levels should be punishable. Otherwise, the system is no good and can collapse.

  11. Why contain it? Let it spill over
    into the schools and churches,
    let the bodies pile up in the
    streets. In the end, they’ll beg
    us to save them.

  12. America is dead. It’s future is chaos, then slavery. The Billionaires that used a thoroughly corrupt government system to destroy the Middle class are using the class war to pit American against American. Republicans are the selfish greedy fascist party. Democrats are cowards that want Big Brother to punish people.

    America had a good run, the Golden Generation sacrificed their lives to make a generation of Baby Boomer brats who then gave birth to the Rap Punk Scum and the whole thing will become Biblical.

    Then the future will be minus 80% of the world’s population with the Rothchild’s running the world until the next shift.

    It’s called evolution. How selfish for those that think life on Earth lasts beyond their meaningless lives without God.

  13. A lack of Social Security Insurance means the burden of caring for the retired and elderly really will economically fall on their children and especially hard on the middle class which is already faltering.

  14. This LOOKS to be all well and good. There is the practical matter of how does one maintain the status of “employed” all the way to age 70? This is not an easy proposition. If they were doing this to me right now I would be really sunk. I am 66 years old, unemployed and looking for a job to make enough money to afford to live, which at this time I do not. Companies look for ways to move older workers out, this is no secret in this equal employment world. So work your butt off get to 50-55 years and get the boot. Then go looking for a job to sustain you to age 70. Fact is…it probably is not going to happen. Age discrimination not only exists, it is rampant! Like I said looks all well and good…it just wont work in the real world.

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