Blogs > Liberty and Power > The Shady Origins of Social Security

Jan 6, 2005 2:27 pm

The Shady Origins of Social Security

This brings me to the final defense of privatization [of Social Security]: the payroll taxes you pay are your money, and you ought to be able to do what you like with your money. This, I suspect, is the real justification behind the move to privatize, and it is the worst reason of all. The payroll tax is not"your" money; it's our money. Social Security was created as an insurance scheme, not a pension scheme. It was meant to provide a safety net, to protect the unlucky from immiseration in old age. The benefits we get are not payouts from accounts in which we have accumulated our own private stash. What we get is largely determined by what we earned, but we keep getting it even after we've taken out every penny we put in. And if we happen to die early, someone else reaps the benefits of our contributions.

That was in an op-ed by Barry Schwartz in yesterday's New York Times. Can you think of another paragraph with so many fallacies?

I've deconstructed Schwartz in "The Shady Origins of Social Security." My earlier tangle with Schwartz is here. (It may take two to tango, but only one to tangle.)

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