Greedy seniors need to take less Social Security |

Greedy seniors need to take less Social Security

Marc Carlisle

When you think of government rip-offs, you probably don’t think of Social Security.Most people, like the 35 million of the American Association of Retired Persons, believe that Social Security is the “most successful program in our nation’s history.”And it’s no surprise that seniors would be so excited about Social Security. You pay in a dollar, and get back three dollars in benefits, whether you need the benefits or not. Such a deal!Everyone’s agreed that Social Security will run out of money sometime between 2035 and 2040, but at that point, agreement ends. Fixing the program is the responsibility of the politicians, who are terrified that the only options available to them are either raising taxes or reducing benefits. The president believes he has found a third option, letting individuals invest their Social Security monies to earn a higher return than the government could.

Politicians appreciate the irony of trying to fix Social Security, created in 1935 to ensure retirement benefits to millions who’d had their life savings wiped out in the stock market crash of 1929, by letting people again invest in the stock market.Politicians also understand that privatizing Social Security would only help financial services firms and brokerage houses earn more money, because there’s no reason to think that the same greedheads who lost billions upon billions in the stock market over the past six years with their individual retirement accounts will somehow now make money investing their Social Security monies. Finally, politicians realize that they’re gutless by nature. They know that if they bailed out the greedheads who put money in savings and loans in the 1980s, and are now bailing out investors in companies like United Airlines by paying off their pension commitments, they’ll never be able to let Social Security greedheads who lose their benefits gambling on the stock market retire poor.So, while privatizing Social Security makes for an interesting discussion, it’s a dead end, which leaves the politicians with the same options that they had in 2001, when the president promised to reform Social Security: raise taxes or reduce benefits.Raising taxes makes no economic sense – the largest single cost imposed on small business by the government is the Social Security match. One of the reasons that seniors get back $3 for every $1 they paid in is that one of those dollars comes from the employer.

The other reason that seniors receive a three-for-one return is that they’re robbing the baby boom generation, born between 1946 and 1961, and generation X, born between 1961 and 1976, to pay themselves. That third dollar comes from them; it’s a wealth transfer, ironically, from the young to the old. Raising taxes on those born after 1976 offers no economic justice at all.If there’s to be any economic justice, greedhead seniors need to give up the so-called benefits, gross overpayments, really, and satisfy themselves with only getting out of the program a level of benefits which more closely matches what they paid in.The growth of Social Security benefits to their current level is really a government error: benefits are too high and are paid to people who don’t need them. In a discussion so full of ironies, while there’s a means test for food stamps and Medicaid and welfare, there’s no means test for Social Security.

An additional irony is that Social Security has been kept afloat in part by those darn illegals who, along with their employers, pay into Social Security but will never see dollar one because they won’t work long enough in this country to receive any benefits.So rich seniors, who got the most benefit out of the tax cuts, should be the first to stand up for economic justice and doing what’s right, and put aside their selfishness and greed and ask only out of Social Security what’s theirs. With age comes wisdom, and seniors should lead by example by recognizing that greed and selfishness are unbecoming in this age of family values.If not, then the politicians should be made to do the right thing, and force the family values of justice and fair play upon those of America’s overpaid and undeserving seniors.Marc Carlisle writes a Thursday column. He can be reached at

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