Quote of the Day: ". . . entitlement to Social Security benefits is not a contractual right" -- The U.S. Supreme Court, ruling in Flemming v. Nestor (1960).
The feedback we received about our Social Security campaign makes it obvious that many people have been seriously misled by political saviors. What follows is for those who prefer fact to fantasy . . .
Ida Fuller, a law secretary from Vermont, was the first person to receive monthly Social Security checks.
* Her first check came on February 1, 1940.
* By the time she received this check she had paid a total of $24.75 into the Social Security System.
* Her first check was for $22.54.
* By the time Fuller received her second check she had already received more than she had contributed to Social Security.
* She lived to be 100 and collected a total of $22,888.92.
It should be perfectly clear to anyone who can handle basic math, that Ms. Fuller's benefits did NOT come from amounts she had contributed into a trust fund. Instead . . .
Ms. Fuller's benefits came from the Social Security taxes paid by her children and grand-children over the remaining 35 years of her life. In other words, the taxes WE pay go to fund the benefits of previous generations, NOT our own benefits.
The way Social Security functioned for Ida Fuller is how it still operates today.
* Social Security benefits do NOT come out of a trust fund
* They do NOT come from payments beneficiaries have made to the system
* There was NEVER any trust fund
* Payments into the system have always been LESS than the size of future obligations
* Current taxpayers have always paid for the benefits of previous generations, NOT their own benefits
So why do politicians talk about a trust fund? There are two reasons . . .
First, politicians are con artists. They lie. Just because they use the words "trust fund," and even include those words in legislation, does NOT mean that such a fund actually exists. The Social Security Trust Fund is a legal fiction. There are NO actual funds being held in trust. Instead . . .
All Social Security taxes are spent as soon as they're received.
Second, in 1983 the Social Security tax was raised a little higher than was needed to keep paying current benefits. This surplus was then spent by the politicians on other things. Treasury Bonds equal to the surplus income from Social Security taxes were then credited to the so-called Social Security Trust Fund, but . . .
These bonds are essentially worthless, because . . .
The real source of the money to pay future benefits will be future taxes, NOT bond redemptions.
* Money to pay off these bonds will come from taxes that will then be paid to Social Security recipients, so . . .
* If you ignored the bonds entirely and just took the taxes and gave them directly to Social Security recipients, you could bypass the ceremonial, bond-redemption process
Let's bring the Trust Fund lie down to a very personal level . . .
You can't create an asset by writing yourself an IOU. If you take $10 out of your right pocket, spend the $10, and then write yourself an IOU for $10, the IOU is worthless, EVEN if you place it in your Left-pocket Trust Fund.
The Social Security Trust Fund is really the Left-pocket Trust Fund.
And these so-called bonds are just another political con-job designed to dupe the American people.
But what if you took these bonds seriously?
Well, they still wouldn't amount to much. As Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post has observed: "The trust fund's $2.6 trillion would provide only 3.5 years of benefits."
Meanwhile, the unfunded future liabilities for Social Security amount to many tens of trillions of dollars. This huge burden will crush the life out of future taxpayers, or result in huge benefit cuts, unless action is taken soon to lower costs in ways that won't hurt those who are dependent on Social Security.
It is to achieve these goals that we have made our proposals about Social Security. We hope you will be moved to support our effort. You can send a letter to Congress using DownsizeDC.org's Educate the Powerful System.
Here's what I wrote in my personal comments, which you can borrow from or copy . . .
The old and the young must protect each other. Otherwise, America will go bankrupt, like Greece. And when that happens real, deep, painful cuts will be FORCED on America's seniors in the most inconvenient way at the most inconvenient time. Therefore . . .
* Slowly raise the retirement age. I'm asking you to do this even though it will impact me, directly. I'll pay this price.
* Means-test benefits so that we don't cripple young people for the benefit of those who have independent means of support.
* Reduce Social Security's future unfunded liabilities by allowing young people to forgo future benefits for the sake of lower taxes now.
* Cut other spending so as to enhance the Social Security opt-out for young people. Make real cuts, not the puny cuts Congress has debated so far. Include sacred cows, like so-called national defense and the Department of Education.
Please educate and recruit people to help by sharing this Dispatch with others.