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URL:  https://boards.fool.com/perhaps-a-bit-less-spittle-and-a-tad-more-reason-32158644.aspx

Subject:  Re: Attitude Question - SS Date:  3/14/2016  10:19 PM
Author:  ptheland Number:  79321 of 97373

Perhaps a bit less spittle and a tad more reason would be in order?

I'm just calling a spade a spade. And I thought I was using a fair amount of reason. The usual attitudes I hear (and apparently the thread initiator hears) are that "my payments into social security are (or should be) mine. I should be able to get them back and invest them as I choose because I could do a whole lot better than the government does."

The only logical response to that is that attitude comes from a complete misunderstanding of the social security system. It is not insurance. There is no binding contract between you and the government promising benefits in the future. The only guarantee is that earnings from your labors are generally subject to the tax currently. There is a handshake promise (which has been generally met, I would add) that you will qualify for benefits down the road based on your payments into the system. But those benefits are not binding and are subject to the whim of Congress. (And again I admit freely that Congress has generally taken that handshake promise seriously and is not using their power to adjust at will lightly.)

Granted, Social Security functions much like insurance - or more correctly an annuity. And it can be analyzed like such an annuity. But when you get down to the brass tacks, it is not insurance and the government is not an insurer. It's a [mostly] self funded welfare system for the elderly and disabled. Giving people an actual account and allowing them to direct its investment to any extent would be a significant change to the system and will almost certainly have multiple unintended (although likely foreseeable but ignored) consequences.

That last part is what gets me into spittle territory. Which, I suspect, is fairly close to your own opinions.

--Peter
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