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Rick Perry: Social Security Is “A Monstrous Lie”

In his 2010 book Fed Up, Rick Perry, who probably wasn’t thinking seriously about running for President at the time, called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and declared that it was unconstitutional. Soon after he declared his candidacy, of course, his book became required reading among political reporters and, inevitably questions about whether the book represented a campaign position were asked. Initially his campaign sought to disassociate Perry from the statements in his own book by claiming through a spokesman that it didn’t necessarily represent how Perry would deal with the issue as President. Shortly thereafter, though, Perry said that he stood by his claims that the program in unconstitutional, contradicting the Supreme Court’s decision in Heverling v. Davis 301 U.S. 619 (1937) when it upheld the constitutionality of the Social Security Act of 1935 Then yesterday in Iowa, Perry has hammered back on the theme that Social Security is a “Ponzi Scheme,” taking a political risk that could hurt him in states like Florida:

OTTUMWA, Iowa – Riding high in the polls, Gov. Rick Perry rode into Iowa on Saturday with tough talk on President Obama, the economy and foreign policy and a declaration that Social Security is not only a Ponzi scheme but a “monstrous lie” for younger people.

“If you’re for the status quo in America, I’m not your guy,” Perry told an overflow crowd eager to see the presidential candidate at The Vine Coffeehouse, where people repeatedly sang God Bless America – once to try to encourage Perry to come in from shaking hands with people outside.

Asked by a woman in the crowd about Social Security being viewed as an entitlement program, Perry reiterated the suggestion in his anti-Washington book, Fed Up!, that the program amounts to a Ponzi scheme.

“It is a Ponzi scheme for these young people. The idea that they’re working and paying into Social Security today, that the current program is going to be there for them, is a lie,” Perry said. “It is a monstrous lie on this generation, and we can’t do that to them.”

Later, in Des Moines, when a reporter asked about the suggestion that his campaign was backing off some positions in the staunch states-rights book, Perry said, “I haven’t backed off anything in my book. So read the book again and get it right.”

Perry went on to clarify a bit more what his vision of Social Security reform would be:

He told the Ottumwa crowd that for people who are drawing Social Security or near eligibility “like me,” he wasn’t proposing a change in the program. But he said there should be a national conversation about potential changes for others, including raising the age of eligibility and establishing a threshold based on a person’s means.

“Does Warren Buffett need to get Social Security? Maybe not,” he said.

Perry didn’t say he wants to eliminate Social Security, or privatize it. Nonetheless, raising the retirement age and means testing are perhaps the two most controversial reform ideas that have been circulated in recent years, with the possible exception of the private accounts that President Bush proposed. While I would personally prefer a move toward private accounts for younger workers, these are both good ideas, for a start. And I say that as someone who is far from being a fan of Rick Perry. It will be interesting to see how they’re received.

This morning on Morning Joe, Chuck Todd made note of the political risk that Perry was taking in touching this third-rail of American politics, especially in a delegate-rich state like Florida. Todd does have a point, the potential political backlash of being seen as “tampering” with Social Security has kept many American politicians from even talking about the issue during an election campaign, or thereafter. However, it strikes me that we’ve entered a slightly different time and that blunt talk about entitlement programs may not be as politically risky as it once was.

That position probably seems counter-intuitive if you look at the polls. Recent polls by Pew Research Center and MSNBC show strong public opposition to the idea of including cuts in entitlement programs like Social Security as part of a deficit reduction package. When the Bush Administration made just the slightest hint about a broad Social Security reform package, the opposition was so loud that the they backed away without even making a major push to pass legislation in Congress. As Jay Bookman notes, however, there are enough doubts out there about the long-term viability of Social Security that Perry’s statements are unlikely to hurt him, and may actually help him gain support with some voters:

At first glance, you might think that Perry’s position would be a liability in the GOP primary as well. According to the CNN poll, only 42 percent of GOP voters say they would support major changes in Social Security and Medicare, while a large majority of 57 percent reject the idea.

Theoretically, that should open up a two-pronged attack against Perry for somebody like Mitt Romney. By defending Medicare and Social Security against major cuts, Romney could align with a majority within his own party. It would also allow him to make the case that Perry’s extreme position might cost him the general election against Barack Obama.

But Romney hasn’t taken that course, and I don’t think he ever will. Here’s why.

It gets down to the difference between music and lyrics. Lyrics provide the words, but the music is what makes people get up and dance. It’s true in entertainment, and it’s true in politics as well.

If Romney criticizes Perry for taking an extreme view on Social Security and Medicare, he’d be getting the lyrics politically right. However, the music that GOP primary voters would hear is there goes RINO Romney, defending government entitlement programs. It is not a tenable position. It would be like standing in front of the GOP convention and singing “My Country T’is of Thee” to a hiphop beat.

There’s an another factor at work, I think, a demographic one. Talk to people in their 20s and 30s, and even some in their 40s, and they have very little confidence that Social Security will even be around when they’re ready to retire, and nearly all of them accept the reality that being prepared for retirement means saving on your own, not relying on a check from the government. For that age group, discussions about making changing to the system might just resonate in a way they wouldn’t for older voters. At the very least, casting doubt on the viability of the current system is unlikely to hurt Perry among voters who have no confidence in it to begin with.

Technically, of course, Social Security isn’t a “Ponzi Scheme” because it lacks the essential element of being intentionally created as a fraud. The problem this system has is a demographic one related to the Baby Boomers, and the fact that in only a few short decades, the ratio between retirees and workers contributing to the system will be at unsustainable levels. At some point, we need to start talking about how we’re going to fix the inevitable problems to come instead of demagoguing the people who raise the question.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rick Almeida says:

    Talk to people in their 20s and 30s, and even some in their 40s, and they have very little confidence that Social Security will even be around when they’re ready to retire, and nearly all of them accept the reality that being prepared for retirement means saving on your own, not relying on a check from the government.

    I think this is largely correct, but it’s a chicken/egg issue to me. Why do younger Americans (like me, I guess, under 40) think this? Partially because conservative politicians keep saying it and no Democrat rebuts it strenuously.

    This actually boggles my mind; it seems like it would be easy for the Dems to show that SS is easily made sustainable. Heck, it already IS mostly sustainable.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the Republicans have lead the league in rhetoric and messaging since 1968 or so. They have set the tone of the nation’s political conversation for 40 years, so it’s not too surprising their messages have resonated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  2. ponce says:

    They have set the tone of the nation’s political conversation for 40 years, so it’s not too surprising their messages have resonated.

    And yet…America hasn’t bombed Iran or imprisoned gays.

    And I bet Social Security is still around long after Perry has slithered back to Texas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. OldSouth says:

    At some point, we need to start talking about how we’re going to fix the inevitable problems to come instead of demagoguing the people who raise the question.

    Yea verily.

    As someone who has not formed a strong opinion on any of the GOP candidates, my one criterion is: ‘Is this person a grown-up, who speaks to us in Plain English? Does this person understand math?’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Technically speaking the system is a “monstrous Ponzi scheme,” not so much a monstrous “lie.”

    That said, a couple of other points are worth noting:

    – It’s good that Perry has the cojones to tackle this subject while still a candidate. Obviously he’s less concerned about pandering to Zombieland than he is about policy and the fiscal stability of the country

    – Probably the ghastliest irony about Social Security is that some of its most vocal supporters — young students — will to the extent they find gainful employment spend a lot of treasure propping up the system and thereby supporting the Boomers and then Gen. X, but will receive very few pennies on the dollar in return for their “investment.” When you factor in expected inflation rates over the next two to three decades the Millennials’ plight vis-a-vis Social Security becomes even more depressed. A large percentage of these kids will be working well into their 70’s and 80’s. As their “reward” they’ll struggle even then to make ends meet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Neill Fendly says:

    Apparently making radical statements is the new status quo for being a member of the tea partly. While I am conservative Perry is just way too far out there for me. Apparently Perry thinks just saying it will overrule a supreme court decision.

    If I am correct 2009 was the first year payments of social security benefits exceeded social security revenue. Obviously with baby boomers getting older that is going to get worse without correction but I have seem several solutions that most seem to think will work without throwing away the baby. Of course another issue no one talks about is that there is no money per se in the fund anymore as it was raided and borrowed by Congress years ago.

    The extreme right and left need to understand how much they are making themselves non electable with such headline comments that lack substance or merit. America is getting older and have paid into these programs their entire life. Regardless of the problems that need to be addressed they will tar and feather anyone who tries to take their entitlements away from them. This is not a right or wrong but rather a fact that our elected officials must accept or they will be thrown out of office like a bad habit. Of course if Perry’s opinions continue he won’t have to worry as he never will be elected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  6. John O says:

    Regardless of intent, social security (and medicare for that matter) is a fraud. The very notion of “Social Insurance” is antithetical to the concept of freedom of the individual. Roughly 15% of my worth in the marketplace is simply confiscated by the federal government for distribution as it sees fit. Bureaucrats make decisions on my behalf. The tax is a serious break on my wealth accumulation and is actually a net destroyer of wealth. Any notion of a SS trust fund would be blown away if anyone was allowed to opt out of the program. (Interestingly, FDR himself once scoffed at the notion that the SS tax would ever be mandatory.)

    Liberals need to understand the conservative position on property: It is wrong, under any circumstances, to use force to take property from one person or group and give it to another person or group. There is no moral justification for it. Period.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  7. mantis says:

    @John O:

    Liberals need to understand the conservative position on property: It is wrong, under any circumstances, to use force to take property from one person or group and give it to another person or group. There is no moral justification for it. Period.

    Please move somewhere that government does not exist, as you would like it to be, and see how great it is. Don’t come back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  8. john personna says:

    We had “private accounts” before we had Social Security. We also had a great deal of poverty among senior citizens. It’s not a coincidence that poverty declined as SS came on line.

    There is a catch-22 here. Any system that mandates involvement, and transfers funds from the lucky to the unlucky, is going to look like SS. Anything that locks your earnings to your future is going to leave out the poor and long-lived.

    (I won’t waste time on SS as “Ponzi scheme,” as no, a real Ponzi scheme has to claim profit from somewhere, and mislead by redirecting contributions. SS has no fictitious income source. It invests in Treasuries, all very above-board.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. john personna says:

    @John O:

    Liberals need to understand the conservative position on property: It is wrong, under any circumstances, to use force to take property from one person or group and give it to another person or group. There is no moral justification for it. Period.

    Do you believe in luck? Or do you believe that everyone who tries wins, because it is a sure thing?

    If you believe in luck, that life is at least some fraction crap-shoot, then there is certainly moral justification for wealth transfer … because “it isn’t all their fault.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Technically, of course, Social Security isn’t a “Ponzi Scheme” because it lacks the essential element of being intentionally created as a fraud.

    Of course, there comes a question of when delusion becomes equivalent to intentionality. Even if I somehow convince myself that people can fly, the fact I truly wasn’t intending to kill people is unlikely to protect me if I start throwing them out of windows.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. John O says:

    I am all for a social safety net, just not one run by the federal government. And its the government’s use of force to confiscate property to which I object.

    We need to eliminate all the “progress” that government has made since the adoption of the constitution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  12. snarky bastard says:

    @John O: Wow — only 11 comments in for the pro-slavery argument to come out as the government confiscated the slaves (property) of the Confederates without just compensation.

    Come on, that is liberal progress that we have to get rid of since the ratification of the Constitution…. oh the humanity of recognizing that all humanity has humanity and inalienable rights

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. John O says:

    @snarky bastard: The “Progressive” movement formed well after the civil war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. ponce says:

    The “Progressive” movement formed well after the civil war.

    Social Security is , by far, the most popular program the federal government administers.

    I wonder if fringe right freaks like Perry are serious about running when they start lying about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. sam says:

    @John O:

    Liberals need to understand the conservative position on property: It is wrong, under any circumstances, to use force to take property from one person or group and give it to another person or group. There is no moral justification for it. Period.

    Actually, there’s nothing at all conservative about that position. It’s from the property rights absolutist wing of libertarianism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. mantis says:

    The “Progressive” movement formed well after the civil war.

    So you think child labor laws are tyranny? How about women’s right to vote?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. john personna says:

    @John O:

    I am all for a social safety net, just not one run by the federal government.

    There was no “net” prior to universal Social Security. There were only some who were helped and some who were not. Sometimes the local church could or would help you, and sometimes they could or would not.

    There was no place to apply and get “your piece of the net.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. mantis says:

    I am all for a social safety net, just not one run by the federal government.

    Then you are not for a social safety net. Not at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Murray says:

    Putting the problem of SS financing on the table is perfectly legitimate, but that’s not what Perry is doing, He’s just throwing bumper sticker statements in the wind to stay in the news cycle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  20. Argon says:

    The very notion of “Social Insurance” is antithetical to the concept of freedom of the individual.

    As is treating people in emergency rooms instead of dumping them in the woods to die if they can’t pay in cash at the emergency room door.

    It’s an interesting concept for novels but I just don’t think the Libertarian Utopia is a place most people want or would choose to spend their entire lives. So in the real world what are the better options?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    OK, let me be the first to say it:

    Texas is a Ponzi scheme.

    Mark my words, they have produced 2 of the greatest grifters in a century.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. JohnMcC says:

    OK, just for the sake of argument, let’s think of a potential argument by those like Mr O that the social ethics & morality of the Gilded Age were superior to those we have in the 21st century. He’s claiming that what was called, even by the advocates of it, ‘Social Darwinism’ is better. The morality that said “root, hog, or die”.

    Do you think Rick Perry is your guy for making a defense of that? Or is he merely whipping up a crowd of yahoos?

    And do you care about the difference?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Ben Wolf says:

    @John O: Regardless of intent, social security (and medicare for that matter) is a fraud.
    The word fraud has a specific legal meaning which you don’t appear to know.

    The very notion of “Social Insurance” is antithetical to the concept of freedom of the individual.
    How?

    Roughly 15% of my worth in the marketplace is simply confiscated by the federal government for distribution as it sees fit.
    Only 15%? And you’re complaining?

    Bureaucrats make decisions on my behalf.
    Such as?

    The tax is a serious break on my wealth accumulation and is actually a net destroyer of wealth.
    Actually taxation is necessary for stable economic growth.

    Any notion of a SS trust fund would be blown away if anyone was allowed to opt out of the program.
    What does this even mean?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. Ron Beasley says:

    I suspect Perry will implode before the first primary. He’s on the wrong side of this debate:

    It’s not surprising that Americans over age 65 are virtually unanimous in seeing Social Security as an important government program. As a group, they rely on it as the single greatest source of income in retirement.

    But a poll commissioned by AARP to mark Social Security’s 75th anniversary (President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the transformational legislation on August 14, 1935) has found something even more interesting: young people line up solidly behind Social Security, too.

    In a national phone survey of 1,200 adults by the GfK Roper consulting firm (margin of error: plus or minus 3 percent), 90 percent of those ages 18 to 29 deemed Social Security important. In fact, almost half of them agreed with the statement that it is “one of the very most important government programs,” an opinion held by nearly 80 percent of those over 65.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. Herb says:

    At some point, we need to start talking about how we’re going to fix the inevitable problems to come instead of demagoguing the people who raise the question.

    Well, there’s raising the question…..

    And then there’s calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme. The former would be helpful, even welcome. The latter is not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. anjin-san says:

    Roughly 15% of my worth in the marketplace is simply confiscated by the federal government for distribution as it sees fit.

    Of course rugged individualists like John should be able to enjoy all the benefits of living in the richest, most powerful, most advanced and most stable society in history at no cost. I am pretty sure the Constitution says everyone has a right to a free ride.

    A common thread among the people who call themselves “conservatives” these days is that they tend to be deadbeats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. Jay Tea says:

    There’s a talk show host up here in New England who has repeatedly made an offer to the federal government: he will cheerfully forgo any and all Social Security benefits for himself and his family, forfeiting everything he’s paid into the system for about 40 years, if he can only be exempt from having to pay into it for the rest of his life. He says he expects by the time he qualifies, it’ll be either means-tested or insolvent — either way, he doesn’t expect to get back a penny of all he’s paid in.

    If Social Security is solid, it’s a sweet deal for them.

    If it’s a fraud, then they don’t dare accept it.

    I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be allowed to opt out on those conditions.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  28. john personna says:

    @Jay Tea:

    There’s a talk show host up here in New England who has repeatedly made an offer to the federal government: he will cheerfully forgo any and all Social Security benefits for himself and his family, forfeiting everything he’s paid into the system for about 40 years, if he can only be exempt from having to pay into it for the rest of his life.

    The “and his family” makes this tragic. Imagine that this shumuck could make that kind of commitment, and then being of course a loon, manages to lose it all in the collapse of the gold bubble, or whatever. He dies penniless.

    At that point what of his poor widow? Her only crime was sticking by a fool.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. Jay Tea says:

    @john personna: The “and his family” referred to any and all “survivor benefits.” And he’s quite comfortable, and has said he is very secure in his arrangements for his family. (Howie Carr, by the way.) He’s said nothing about his children’s individual benefits — and several of his kids are adults.

    But yeah, I bet you know how to manage money better than a guy who — allegedly — pulls down “800 large a year.” Plus he’s written two New York Times best-sellers and is also a columnist for a major newspaper. Your sympathy for this millionaire is duly noted.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. snarky bastard says:

    @John O: You said “We need to eliminate all the “progress” that government has made since the adoption of the constitution. ” Nothing about the Progressive era, indeed, your time restriction is 1787, not 1865 nor 1896 or anything that deliminates the Progressive era as the scourge and source of all evil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. mantis says:

    But yeah, I bet you know how to manage money better than a guy who — allegedly — pulls down “800 large a year.” Plus he’s written two New York Times best-sellers and is also a columnist for a major newspaper.

    And he has a hard time paying the Social Security tax? Doesn’t sound too smart to me.

    One wonders if he would have such a successful career and luxurious lifestyle if progressive taxes and our social safety net did not exist, as folks like Carr wish. Let’s see….all wealth would be accumulated to a tiny percentage of the population, and the poor, elderly, and infirm would all be left to fend for themselves and die “natural” deaths of starvation and disease. In this modern gilded age, how many author/talk show hosts would have lucrative careers? I’m guessing not very many, and those that did would work for the robber barons owning the country. If he demonstrated sufficient fealty to our Galtian overlords, I suppose Carr could have one of the lucky ones, maybe.

    So, you know, we could let him opt out of our society, I guess, but the glibertarian wet dream of eliminating all social safety nets would, in reality, be a lot harsher on the Carrs of the world than they like to imagine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: Apparently I’m not making it clear. And that’s probably because I’m repeating someone else’s arguments, not my own. But I really think he has a point.

    Carr has no problem, financially, paying the tax. His problem is philosophical. He simply doesn’t believe he’ll ever recoup even a fraction of what he’s paid in — which means he doesn’t believe the basic premise of the Social Security system, that it’s a retirement system. That you contribute during your working years, and collect when you retire from working.

    He believes that he will get screwed out of his 40-odd years of “contributions” by the system either implementing means-testing, or insolvency. And his offer is a matter of putting his money where his mouth is.

    You wanna say that it isn’t a sweet offer for the government? They get to keep every single penny he’s paid in, without ever having to pay him back a single penny. And he’s in his 50’s, and threatening to retire as soon as his current contract is up — he HATES his current employer, and with very good reason. He also HATES paying Massachusetts taxes, and has a home in Flordia. (Sound familiar?)

    Finally, he’s not calling for the dissolution of the Social Security system — he just wants to buy his way out of it, with what the government insists on calling “his money.” The precedent he’d set isn’t that dangerous — “after you pay a certain amount in, you can opt out — as long as you forfeit all you’ve paid in to this point.” Set it ridiculously high, if you like — say, whatever Carr has paid in for 40-odd years, at least the last ten or so at the max. Just give people the choice to take responsibilty for themselves. Hell, if you want, even “means test” it by verifying they have a healthy retirement plan of their own already established, if you really, really, really need to indulge your domineering paternalism. “You must also have at least 250K in a Roth IRA, 401K, or other similar plan.”

    The left is all about “choice” in matters related to sex. Why can’t they have the same freedom in other areas, such as here? Such as in schools? Such as in owning and carrying firearms?

    I trust my fellow citizens, by and large. I trust them to make their own choices. Pity you can’t.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: Gosh, a rich man offers to forego his SS benefits if he doesn’t have to pay any more. What a shockeroo — he’s willing to give up benefits that are designed to provide the minimum required to live out one’s old age with dignity and security, which he clearly doesn’t need, if he’s granted the freedom from paying taxes to support the program.

    And you think this is some kind of great proof of something.

    Here’s a fact: A lot of rich Republicans loathe the idea of their tax money going to help other people. This creep is one of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. Moosebreath says:

    Jay Tea,

    “He simply doesn’t believe he’ll ever recoup even a fraction of what he’s paid in — which means he doesn’t believe the basic premise of the Social Security system, that it’s a retirement system.”

    And therein lies the problem — Social Security is a form of insurance. It makes sure that we don’t have elderly people dying in the streets because they outlived their savings and cannot buy food or shelter and cannot work any more.

    Does he want that deal from his auto insurer? If he hasn’t had an accident, he has paid in far more in premiums than he will ever receive. What about his homeowner’s insurance?

    ““You must also have at least 250K in a Roth IRA, 401K, or other similar plan.””

    Clearly, you’ve never done retirement planning. After a few years, a person with 250K will be indigent. And since we as a society have made a decision not to let such people die in the streets, we will be picking up his costs again, but minus his contributions.

    If the Republicans are willing for people who outlive their savings to starve to death so the rich can pay a few pennies less in taxes, they should advocate it honestly. And be prepared to be laughed off the stage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  35. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: News flash, WR: you just said that Social Security should be means-tested. Since he doesn’t “need” it, he doesn’t get it? Thanks for proving the whole “insurance” lie is a lie.

    Now back to your kennel, lickspittle. Unless you want to elaborate on your “Rick Perry murdered people while governor of Texas,” of course.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Jay Tea says:

    @Moosebreath: I’m just pulling numbers out of my ass. Plug in your own numbers, if you like. Besides, I’m sure Carr has plenty of money in other resources — he occasionally talks about his municipal bonds and investment properties.

    It’s the principle of the thing. WHY can’t he buy his way out of it? He’s willing to make it a net gain for Social Security, by a comfortable margin. He just doesn’t want to pretend that he’s paying into an honest system.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Moosebreath says:

    “It’s the principle of the thing. WHY can’t he buy his way out of it?”

    Because people are frequently very wrong about their investments. I know a couple (firends of my in-laws) who had saved over $8 million for their retirement. Unfortunately, their investments were put into the hands of Bernie Madoff. They have had to sell their $1 million+ home under a short sale and move to a small rental condo with less than $10,000 in savings. The only reason they are not out on the street is their Social Security benefits. It seems likely they are going to get some fraction of their money back in the future, but if they did not have Social Security, they would have starved already.

    As I noted before, unless and until we as a society decide that we are willing to let people who outlive their savings (or lose it due to bad investments) die in the street, we are going to need to make Social Security a universal benefit. And that means we need a universal contribution as well. And it would help if the people shrieking about how taxes undermine their freedom were honest about the costs of that freedom.

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  38. mantis says:

    Finally, he’s not calling for the dissolution of the Social Security system — he just wants to buy his way out of it, with what the government insists on calling “his money.”

    He may propose to “buy his way out of it,” but it’s quite clear he thinks the system is a scam that shouldn’t exist.

    Just give people the choice to take responsibilty for themselves.

    What happens when they don’t, or can’t, because of bad luck, disease, etc.? Yeah, we pick up the bill.

    The left is all about “choice” in matters related to sex. Why can’t they have the same freedom in other areas, such as here?

    A system such as Social Security doesn’t work unless everyone is in it. If everyone can just opt out and then get bailed out when they don’t succeed at securing their retirement, we end up paying even more, as a nation, to not let them die in the streets.

    Such as in schools?

    There are lots of school choices among people with means, and some choices for people without. If we let everyone choose their schools, all children will enroll in the best schools, and no one will enroll in struggling schools. Do you not see how that is not a workable system? Do you need it spelled out for you? The answer, of course, is not to break the system, as you would propose, but to improve the struggling public schools. I know, madness!

    Such as in owning and carrying firearms?

    Are you having trouble owning or carrying firearms? What’s your problem? That we don’t give carry permits to convicted felons?

    I trust my fellow citizens, by and large. I trust them to make their own choices. Pity you can’t.

    I understand that anarchy may seem attractive to someone as brainwashed as you, but the fact is our laws have contributed to making the US the successful, globally dominant power it is today. The fact that you think it’s actually an oppressive, tyrannical, socialist nightmare only reveals how out of touch with reality you are.

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  39. Nick says:

    @Rick Almeida: I’m 41, fully expect ss to be there and fully funded, and am also saving for my retirement, as did my mother, my father, and my grandparents. You seem to be making the assumption that people that have heard the “ss is dead” talking point over and over will somehow be convinced of it. I guess you believe in the power of propaganda.

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  40. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: I don’t think I could write a more biting indictment of collectivism than you just did, mantis. “It doesn’t work unless everyone is coerced, under penalty of law, to ‘participate’ and ‘contribute.”

    Individual rights to choose? Nah. Because a few might make wrong choices, nobody gets to choose. You probably remember that lesson from kindergarten — one person screws up, everybody gets punished. Because we have to assume that everyone is as stupid/incompetent/irresponsible as the least among us.

    Carr’s deal — and I’m talking about his actual proposal, not your fantasy version of it — is very simple, and a great deal for the government — as long as they’re right and he’s wrong. If, indeed, Carr is right and Social Security is a Ponzi scheme that will fall apart sooner or later, though, it’s absolutely imperative that everyone — especially those like Carr, who make enough each year to max out their “contributions” — pay in as much as possible, as long as you can make them.

    Which is pretty much what you’re saying. Which makes me think that you know it’s a colossal scam, but you can’t bring yourself to admit it publicly.

    Toss in that Howie’s a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. You say that he’ll ultimately be screwed if he’s allowed to get out of Social Security. Wouldn’t that make it even more tempting to let him have what he wants, and screw himself out of his benefits?

    On guns — again, not my personal issue, just a matter of principle. If there are no problems, why did the Supreme Court have to intervene on behalf of would-be gun owners in DC and Chicago recently?

    Tell you what, mantis — you have a nice, long list of things where you don’t think Americans can be allowed to exercise choice. Why don’t you tell us what we can choose about? And where do you — acting through the government — choose to exercise your obviously superior judgment and overrule that of American citizens?

    Or should we scrap the term and revert to “subjects?”

    J.

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  41. Jay Tea says:

    @Nick: Good for you, Nick. God knows I hope you’re right — I’m only a little older than you. But are you so confident in your beliefs that you’re willing to make your opinions legally binding on everyone, and not allow those who disagree to act on their beliefs?

    It’s a very, very strong faith indeed that wants to make it illegal for others to act upon their disagreements with you.

    J.

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  42. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: See Spot. See Spot run. Run Spot Run.

    Were you able to follow that? Because I fear that’s the level at which we’ll all have to write to match your level of reading comprehension.

    Suggesting that a millionaire won’t need the monthly SS stipend at retirement has nothing to do with “means testing”. It means that if he has millions in the bank, the extra cash is not going to make a great deal of difference to him.

    Sorry if those last two sentences were too hard for you.

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  43. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: And while you’re at it, how dare the fascist thugs in government pass laws that apply to every citizen? Some people may need to rob or kill. How dare those tryants take that choice away from them? What if I decide it’s best for me that I dump toxic waste wherever I want? It’s my choice, isn’t it? How dare anyone interefere with my freedom!

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  44. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: So… I guess you’re giving up on the “Rick Perry murdered people” BS?

    And I note that you, once again, are constitutionally incapable of defending your positions, but just lash out like a temperamental child. Which seems so very appropriate. You make a very compelling argument that the government can’t make laws that exclude people, but has to treat everyone equally — which is utterly irrelevant to any point anyone made.

    Back to your kennel, lickspittle.

    J.

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  45. mantis says:

    I don’t think I could write a more biting indictment of collectivism than you just did, mantis. “It doesn’t work unless everyone is coerced, under penalty of law, to ‘participate’ and ‘contribute.”

    I know you think society is a real tough place for you to live, and it would be much better if there were no laws, no social contract, no regulations, and we all lived in anarchy and chaos. But some of us are sane, and we know you’re not. Sorry.

    Individual rights to choose? Nah. Because a few might make wrong choices, nobody gets to choose.

    No, Social Security exists because those “few” who made the “wrong” choices were actually the ones who owned everything, and their choices put the whole goddamned country into the poorhouse for more than a decade. It’s not about the individual choice, because if the people who own everything decide to blow up the system (as they did again recently), the choices of the rest of us individuals are nonexistent. Well, there might be a choice between a swan dive off a bridge and starvation, but that’s not much of a choice at all, is it? That’s what dipshits like you who want to eliminate Social Security are really proposing.

    If, indeed, Carr is right and Social Security is a Ponzi scheme

    Only idiots believe that. He’s not right.

    Which is pretty much what you’re saying. Which makes me think that you know it’s a colossal scam, but you can’t bring yourself to admit it publicly.

    No, I just happen to understand Social Security, and don’t make my money by trafficking in bullshit the way Carr does. He knows his audience: rubes like you, and he caters to you. Fine by me, but that doesn’t make his bullshit any less so.

    You say that he’ll ultimately be screwed if he’s allowed to get out of Social Security.

    No I don’t. More straw from Jay. You really have an unlimited supply of the stuff, don’t you?

    If there are no problems, why did the Supreme Court have to intervene on behalf of would-be gun owners in DC and Chicago recently?

    The SCOTUS didn’t “have” to “intervene.” They ruled on the constitutionality of some gun laws and found them unconstitutional. Have you heard liberals clamoring for new gun laws? Is Obama taking away your guns, as many of your brethren contend, shortly before they try to murder some cops? No, they are not. You should have no problem buying a gun if you are not a convicted felon. I guess those liberals are just being really sneaky in the way they’re taking your gun rights away! So sneaky you don’t even notice!

    Tell you what, mantis — you have a nice, long list of things where you don’t think Americans can be allowed to exercise choice.

    I have no such list, but I can give you one. It’s pretty short.
    Where Americans have choice: Elections.
    Where they don’t: What laws the representatives who win those elections pass.

    This is what we call “representation.” You may have heard of it before. It’s how things work in this country. Go find yourself a place where all these pesky “laws” don’t exist, and see how you like it.

    And where do you — acting through the government — choose to exercise your obviously superior judgment and overrule that of American citizens?

    Getting a bit paranoid, Jay? I’m not the man behind the curtain. I’m a citizen, and I get one vote per election, same as you. That’s how I exercise my judgement. I vote for people who see the social safety net for what it is: a big part of the reason our country has been as successful, post-WWII, as it has. You obviously wish we were less successful. Why you hate America and wish to see more Americans suffer, I’m not sure. My guess is you are a sadist, or just superbly naive.

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  46. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: Nope. Rich Perry used the power of his office to murder at least one innocent man. But that’s not what this thread is about, and I don’t feel compelled to change the subject everytime I feel I’m losing an argument. But I guess if I lost as many arguments as you, I might change my mind on that.

    Nice attempt to change the subject from your complete lack of reading comprehension, by the way…

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  47. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: Got it. Because YOU think it’s too risky to buy one’s way out of Social Security, no one is allowed to do so. I’ll be polite and won’t even ask you why your judgment is superior to the guy making the offer — and who pulls down in the neighborhood of 800 large a year. All in the private sector.

    J.

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  48. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: I know you’ve been told that the “murdered” is a complete lie, because I’ve told you myself. But let me reiterate:

    “Murdered innocent people” means that Perry deliberately killed or had killed more than one person who was not deserving of death. All three are provably wrong.

    1) In the case you seem to be referring to (you won’t actually name names), the guy in question had been convicted and sentenced to death. Under Texas’ Constitution, the governor’s power to intervene in such cases is extremely limited: he can grant a single 30-day stay of execution. One only, and no pardons or commutations.

    2) Fun fact: that provision came about after a Texas governor was caught selling pardons. A Democrat governor, by the way.

    3) “People” means more than one. You won’t even name the one case that even comes close to your charge.

    You can’t even lie competently. Now back to your kennel, lickspittle.

    J.

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  49. Rob in CT says:

    @Jay Tea:

    To the question of SS in general: I suggest you have a good long look at how things were before SS existed.

    As to this particular talk-radio blowhard: if it were just about him, sure, the government should take the deal. But if they did, all it would do is provide fodder for those who want to opt out from day 1, thus defunding the system. Starve that beast, Grover, right?

    In a perfect world, there would be no need for SS. People would save responsibly, there would be no fraud, there would be no unfortunate long-term illnesses that destroy responsible people’s savings (or we could have a single-payer socialized healthcare system), etc.

    SS is coerced (as anything funded by taxation is), yes. I don’t like that about it. I like the alternative – which we’ve already tried – less. And I say that as someone who is 34 yrs old and expects SS to only be a fairly modest supplement to my own savings & investment.

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  50. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea:

    Because YOU think it’s too risky to buy one’s way out of Social Security, no one is allowed to do so. I’ll be polite and won’t even ask you why your judgment is superior to the guy making the offer — and who pulls down in the neighborhood of 800 large a year. All in the private sector.

    Wow. You know you’re in trouble when you resort to “Yeah, well that’s just like, your opinion man,” as your argument. Weak sauce, Dude.

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  51. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: It’s your opinion that you argue ought to apply to everyone, under penalty of law. I’m not saying abolish anything, and neither is Carr. He just wants out, and is willing to pay heavily for that privilege.

    Go ahead, if you’re so worried about the financial security on the system. Set a dollar value. One million dollars? If someone pays into Social Security one million dollars, through taxes and a check, can they opt out? Just fork over a cool seven figures, sign away your right to ever collect (either personally or through survivor benefits), and you get to not pay any more?

    Don’t like a million? Set your own number. Make it whatever you like, to make sure the system stays solvent in your little world.

    J.

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  52. mantis says:

    I’m not saying abolish anything, and neither is Carr.

    No, you’re saying that the system is an unconstitutional scam, a Ponzi scheme, but you don’t want to get rid of it! Heavens no! Try selling that bullshit to someone as dumb as you. I ain’t buying.

    He just wants out, and is willing to pay heavily for that privilege.

    No, he’s making a ridiculous, unserious proposal in order to push his argument that Social Security should not exist.

    Hey, how about this? I’ll pay in $5 million dollars today, and then I don’t have to pay income tax for the rest of my life. How about it, federal government?

    What, you think that’s not a real argument, but just a silly, unrealistic scenario I laid out? Yeah, me too, because it is. The difference is I won’t pretend it’s a real proposal.

    If you find yourself with any arguments based in reality, let me know.

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  53. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: @Jay Tea: So it’s okay with you if he’s only used the power of his office to murder one innocent man and cover it up? Would two still be okay, or is that crossing the line for you? Just trying to get a feel for how many innocent men a Republican politician can put to death before they lose your support.

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  54. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: By the way, you probably shouldn’t call anyone a lickspittle in a thread where you’re sticking you head all the way up some radio loser’s ass and licking with all your might…

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  55. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: I see you’re walking back from “murdered innocent people” to “person.” Now, for the bonus round, explain exactly what Perry did, and what he should have done. Here’s a helpful resource:

    http://www.ccadp.org/TX-clemency.htm

    As noted, under Texas’ Constitution, all he was empowered to do was grant a single 30-day stay, thanks to the selling of pardons by a former Democratic governor (Miriam “Ma” Ferguson) back in the 1920’s.

    Here’s another useful resource:

    http://iflizwerequeen.com/tag/ma-and-pa-ferguson

    I’m fairly confident you can’t answer that, so I’ll just say the standard, as you scurry off and hide:

    Back to your kennel, lickspittle.

    J.

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  56. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: So, the danger in Carr’s proposal is that it might make people think that Social Security is unsound? That a program that, in 1941, had 6.1 workers per beneficiary. Today, it’s 3.4. By the time I reach 65 (a dubious proposition, given my health), it’s be down to around 2.1.

    Carr’s offer is very simple: “I want out. How much money do you want to let me out?”

    Your refusal to even set an absurdly high amount shows that you don’t just want his money. No, you want his money and his acquiescence. You want him to shut up and stop talking about his crazy theories and beliefs. You NEED him to carry on the fantasy that it isn’t a Ponzi scheme. And you absolutely need him to stop talking about taking responsibility for himself and rejecting the idea that Big Government knows better and will take care of everything and make everything all right.

    Personally, I wouldn’t opt out of Social Security. I know my own limitations. Much like the 2nd Amendment — I am a militant on the right to keep and bear arms, but don’t own any. Never have, never will. No interest what soever.

    But I don’t have this overwhelming need to project my limits on others. I’m willing to let them make their own choices — even bad ones. Guess that’s why I’m not a liberal/progressive/leftist.

    J.

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  57. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: Among other things he could have done, he could have not fired the commission investigating the murder of this innocent man and replaced the members with toadies who would cover up his crime.

    Why you continue to defend this is beyond my comprehension. Sure, I know that Perry is one of the leaders of your team, so maybe that’s enough for you.

    Now tell us some more about what your wonderful radio chat show host said today. It’s cute how flushed and excited you get when you’re talking about one of your crushes.

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  58. mantis says:

    So, the danger in Carr’s proposal is that it might make people think that Social Security is unsound?

    No, I never said there is danger in Carr’s proposal. There isn’t. It’s just stupid.

    Your refusal to even set an absurdly high amount shows that you don’t just want his money. No, you want his money and his acquiescence. You want him to shut up and stop talking about his crazy theories and beliefs. You NEED him to carry on the fantasy that it isn’t a Ponzi scheme. And you absolutely need him to stop talking about taking responsibility for himself and rejecting the idea that Big Government knows better and will take care of everything and make everything all right.

    So much straw. I feel no need to respond to your ridiculous demands that I offer you dollar amounts for ridiculous proposals not based in reality. I don’t want Carr to shut up, and I’ve never suggested otherwise.

    You constantly conflate arguments against something as an attempt to silence. Often I disagree with you and you frame it as me “not allowing” you to have a certain opinion or speak your mind. In this case, I disagree with Carr, and point out how his argument is so much bullshit, and you frame it as me trying to silence him. Here’s a clue for you, eternal wingnut victim, my comments on a blog have no power over anyone. I cannot, and am not attempting to, silence anyone, or disallow anyone their rightful opinions. Even if I could, I wouldn’t. Get over yourself and the idea that other people having opinions somehow stops you from having yours.

    Anyway, I’m tired of your strawmen. Go find someone they work on, like your dipshit readers.

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