Monday, March 22, 2004

The United Socialist States of America

Forbes on Fox had an insightful topic on 3/20/04. Socialism is creeping into the U.S government and the economy and could threaten the stock market! BLOW ME DOWN! GET OUTTA HERE! YOU”VE GOT TO BE KIDDING! SAY IT AIN”T SO! In his lead in to the program, David Asman announced that they would be exploring the radical notion that Socialism is perhaps as big a threat to our country as terrorism.

Welcome to the party Fox News and Forbes – better than 70 years too late.

Socialism HAS been a bigger threat to this country than terrorism ever since the Democrats hero Franklin Delano Roosevelt introduced it in the 30’s. It’s more insidious than terrorism because it’s been allowed to creep up on an American public that been asleep at the wheel. They used deception to sell it to us all those many years ago and by now, most ordinary citizens have gotten used to Socialism in our representative republic – it’s become a part of the political landscape. In fact, hardly anyone is alive these days who can remember when there weren’t some vestiges of Socialism in place in this country. It’s been creeping into our society, unnoticed by most, for the last 70 years. What am I talking about? Well, there’s no better example of this creeping Socialism than the granddaddy of all social programs conceived by the administration of the granddaddy of 20th Century liberalism – FDR. Yes, I’m talking about Social Security – the social program that started it all, where the deception begins with the name and gets worse from there. What we have now is a program that robs people of the ability to use their money to provide for themselves and save for retirement, leaving them virtually penniless in their old age and living in abject poverty on a subsistence check provided by the government that has robbed them of their ability to provide for themselves in old age. Social Insecurity is the hardly original but apt moniker for this largest of government Ponzi schemes.

As with all supposedly well intentioned liberal programs, it started with a wild overstating of the problem to get people to buy into the big-government solution for it that will solve everything. Back in 1935, at the height of the dustbowl and the Great Depression, the idea that big government would rush in to save you wasn’t a tough sell. Couple this with a breathtaking underestimation of the actual costs, and you have the boondoggle we’re stuck with today.

I’ve never been very good at math, a fact that figured very heavily into my decision to switch my major from Hotel and Restaurant Management in college, which required math, to journalism, which required something I could actually do – write. But it doesn’t take a trigonometry major to figure out that when Ida May Fuller – the first recipient of monthly Social Security check -- paid pennies per month in for a couple years and ended up taking $22,000 out in benefits, the math just don’t work. This should have raised a red flag, but apparently no one was paying attention.

Now days, what we pay into Social Security is hardly pennies. – Let’s take the case of Joe Worker Bee as an example. Joe pays $137 a paycheck into Social Security. Although Joe would probably love to get a return upon retirement that’s proportional to what ole’ Ida May got, the truth is that Social Security is projected to go bankrupt about the same time Joe is slated to retire – somewhere in the 2027-2030 range. But the Social Security Administration is making absurd claims to Joe about money they aren’t even sure will be there when he retires. He’s paying $137 a paycheck – and don’t forget his employer is getting dinged for another 7.5%, or an equal amount to Joe that could be going into his check were they not forced to pay it to the government in Joe’s name. So this is about $550 a month. It’s not invested – God forbid that we would allow peasants like Joe to invest even 2% of their Social Security fund as President Bush once proposed – it’s just sitting there. Yet on Joe’s last Social Security statement, it said that, at Joe’s normal retirement age (which keeps getting older and, in Joe’s case is now 68. Pity those of you in your 20’s. At this rate your “retirement” age will be in your late eighties) Joe’s benefit will be $1600 a month. Aside from the fact that $1600 a month might buy Joe a nice cardboard box and a prime spot under the local freeway overpass in 2030 if he’s lucky, it’s better than twice as much as he’s paying in. Considering this money is not being invested, how does that work? Short answer: it doesn’t.

Earlier, I said that the money isn’t invested, it just sits there. That’s not even correct. What actually happens is all the Social Security money goes into the general fund and is used for ongoing expenses. What goes in the Social Security Trust Fund you might ask? An IOU. So everyone who is currently paying into the fund, is paying for the benefits of current recipients. So not only isn’t the $550 a month Joe and his employer are paying into Social Security being invested, the principal isn’t even being saved – it’s wealth that’s being transferred to a whole bunch of other Ida Mays out there. What’s left to pay Joe’s benefits in retirement? That’s right: NOTHING, ZERO, ZIP, NADA. The government is relying on a whole bunch of other busy workers bees to work so their wealth can be transferred from them to Joe. (Which brings to mind the famous socialist phrase “from each according to his ability to each according to his need.”) You see how this doesn’t work?

Now consider this. Joe’s a baby boomer – in on the tail end of those born from 1947-1964. The older of these “boomers” are now reaching retirement age. They born in an era where it was not uncommon for people to have 4,6,8, even in some cases 10, kids – a lot of worker bees to pay into the pot for Ida May and her fellow retirees. Back when Ida May retired, there were something like 39-40 workers paying for the benefits of one retiree. Now it’s down to three workers for every one retiree and will soon be less than that. With the all the people born in the most baby-happy period in our history set to retire over the next 20 years, how is this ratio going to work. Answer: it isn’t. The boomers aren’t being replaced by an equal number of happy worker bees to pay their Social “Security” benefits. The tens of thousands of dollars Joe paid into Social “Security” will be gone, gobbled up by that big socialist machine, the Federal government and Joe will be left with nothing. Joe’s just SOL, broke and living on title 19 (another socialist boondoggle) under a bridge somewhere.

This intricate dissection of the Social “Security” system – the largest and most prolific social Ponzi scheme ever invented by government is only the most egregious example of Socialism in our government. It illustrates perfectly why Socialism – in full or part—never works and always collapses under the weight or it’s own bureaucracy. We have met the socialists and they are us. And, as I said, it ain’t just Social Security. The productivity in real dollars of labor and costs of goods and service drained from our economy due to the socialist programs that have been implemented in this country over the past 70 years far exceeds any economic damage wrought by terrorism. In fact having the government pay people not to produce drains precious government resources that could be used to fight the fight for our lives and freedom – the War on Terror. In addition, it drains the precious resources produced by millions of citizens that would be otherwise poured into the economy to make this country a greater economic power than it already is. Is Socialism a worse threat to this country than terrorism? Hell yes it is to answer the question quite bluntly. It’s a vile, creeping rot that’s been terrorizing our economy for decades and it’s about time we woke up and revolted against it.

Say tuned for the next installment of Socialism in the USA where will run down the whole list of social programs and detail exactly how they rob all of us of our security and prosperity.

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