The Immorality of Social Security
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Social Security is based on the same principle that all other welfare-state programs are based on: the forcible taking of money from people to whom it rightly belongs and giving it to people to whom it does not belong.
As I have explained this week in my two previous articles on Social Security (here and here), during their work lives people do not deposit their monies into a Social Security fund from which they can later withdraw their monies during retirement. They also don’t pay “insurance premiums” that will guarantee them a payout during their retirement years.
Instead, throughout their work lives they simply pay taxes — all sorts of taxes — income taxes, sales taxes, FICA taxes, property taxes, and more. When people pay taxes, they are not depositing their money into special accounts. They are not paying premiums. They are simply handing over their money to government — money that they know is now owned by the government and that the government is going to spend immediately.
By the end of each calendar year, the federal government has spent all the money that it has collected in taxes. It’s gone. That includes income taxes, FICA taxes, excise taxes, and all other taxes that the federal government collects. Gone — as in spent. Nobody’s money has been socked away in a special designated account, a lockbox, or a trust fund.
Notwithstanding this basic fact of life, many Americans continue to have a mindset on Social Security that holds, “I put it in and therefore I have a right to get it back” or “That’s my money that I’m just getting back” or “We antie in our money and we’re just getting it back.”
That is, they continue to think in terms of “putting their money in” some sort of an account for later use rather than the reality that they’re simply paying taxes — taxes that are spent immediately upon receipt by the government.
Here’s the right way to think about Social Security. Think of it as part of all the programs, both welfare and warfare, that the federal government spends its money on. Total federal spending amounts to $3.8 trillion. That total spending includes the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, foreign aid to dictators, regime-change operations, the U.S. death machine in the Middle East, “defense” contractors, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, HUD, HHS, DEA, food stamps, and all the other programs that come with a welfare-warfare state. Social Security is just one of those many programs.
How does the federal government pay for all those programs? It does not have its own fountain of wealth. So, to get that $3.8 trillion, it forcibly collects taxes from people. If a person refuses to pay his taxes, they put him in jail.
Where some of the deception comes into play is that federal officials compare FICA tax revenues to Social Security expenditures and point out that the difference is still on the plus side. But that’s really quite irrelevant and also quite misleading because, again, Social Security is simply one part of overall federal expenditures. The fact that one particular tax is bringing in a certain amount of money, compared to other taxes, makes no difference. What ultimately matters is total tax revenues versus total federal expenditures.
Total tax revenues amount to about $3.3 trillion, leaving a $500 billion deficit. That amount is borrowed, which adds another half-a-trillion dollars to the $18 trillion in debt that the government already owes. That debt is threatening to send the government and the nation into a grave economic and monetary crisis.
All the money that Social Security recipients are receiving today is coming from young people — that is, people who are still working. That’s just a fact of life. That’s reality. Young people who are the ones producing the wealth because they are the ones who are working. It’s their money. Under Social Security, seniors are using the government to forcibly take money from their children’s and grandchildren’s generations in order to fund their retirement. And given that it’s based on taxation, it’s all based on force and coercion.
Maybe, just maybe, the fact that many seniors engage in self-deception on this program — convincing themselves that they’re just “getting their money back” — is a good sign. It might reflect that deep down they know that it’s morally wrong to be taking money from people to whom it rightly belongs to fund their retirement.
After all, since our earliest years as children, we are all taught that it’s wrong to take what doesn’t belong to you. It’s called stealing. Every kid knows that. That moral principle remains with most people.
Suppose I were to accost a 25-year-old person on some dark street and, at gunpoint, force him to go to his ATM and withdraw $10,000 and give it to me. I use half the money to fund my retirement and the other half to fund a poor person’s medical bills.
Most everyone would immediately say, “Jacob, you’re just a thief. You can’t do that, either morally or legally. Fund your own retirement. Help out others with your own money.”
But as soon as I do the same thing through government — through Social Security and Medicare — suddenly I have been converted into a responsible, compassionate, and caring person. When people use the federal government to accomplish the same thing as a private thief, suddenly the thievery is converted into something good, moral, and beneficial.
But the fact is that the process of taking money from people to whom it rightly belongs and giving it to others to whom it does not belong remains immoral (and sinful) regardless of whether it’s being done privately or by government. Government cannot repeal the laws of nature law or the laws of God. Immorality is immorality and wrongdoing is wrongdoing, even when the government is engaging in them.
Some seniors do finally achieve a reality breakthrough on the real nature of this socialist program and come to the realization that they are not really getting their own money back but instead that it’s coming from exorbitant taxes that are being collected from their children’s and grandchildren’s generation.
What I find fascinating is that many of them don’t care. They don’t care that they’re taking money that doesn’t belong to them. They don’t care about how much suffering the tax burden is causing young people. They don’t care that many young people are having a difficult time starting out in life and starting a family, owing in large part to the enormous amount of taxes that are taken out of their paycheck. All that matters is the continuation of the Social Security checks regardless of the wrongdoing and damage involved. Their attitude is: “Our parents’ and grandparents’ generation did it to us and, therefore, we have a right to do it to our children’s and grandchildren’s generations.” It’s a sad and tragic sign of what this socialist program has done to people’s consciences, their sense of right and wrong, and a concern for the well-being of others.
When it comes to moral wrongdoing or sinful conduct, there is only one rightful solution: End it immediately. Repeal it immediately. Abolish it immediately. That’s precisely what should be done with Social Security (and all other welfare-warfare state programs). Seniors should lead the way. It would be the best thing that they could ever do for young people, for America, and for themselves before they pass from this life.