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. Where in the private sector can a company collect premiums for 40 years and then refuse to pay out to you or your heirs? >>

It is called a simple life annuity. Any insurance company will be glad to sell you one. Whole life policies always converted to these. You were more or less forced into buying it because you needed the tontine like effect in order to guard against the probabability of living a very long time, ie out-living your income. I believe it is more common though to choose one with some residual value in case you die fairly soon after buying it.

Interestingly enough, the problem facing Social Security should also face the stock market. In order to live off of stocks, you need to call your broker for a check. In order for the check not to bounce, deposits into the checking account have to equal the check amounts. I went onto the Cato Institute site ( and viewed their retirement calculator. Their applet giving the amount I would get if my social security payments had been invested in the stock market literally gave me a result that would mean that people probably would be investing over 100% of their income in the stock market when I retire. I had a feeling my check would bounce under those circumstances.
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