Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Benificent Left and Social Security

The people who are so worried about not making anyone feel bad (unless the people who feel bad are white, old or male) have lately taken to talking about Social Security recipients as if they were welfare recipients.  They also talk about all federal spending as "handouts".  "Handout" is, of course a demeaning term that implies that the recipient of said handout is getting something for nothing, is a social parasite.

Strangely, people who are conservative, and opposed to excessive government spending, hardly ever talk about social security recipients that way.  Some people might argue that the reason conservatives don't talk about social security recipients with such mean contempt is that conservatives get more of their votes.  But that is not always the case.

I think the reason is that people who are conservative, like me, respect work.  People who are receiving social security, by definition worked.  Certainly you can argue that many will receive far more than they would have received from a private investment program.  But the truth is that most of those people are the people who have been collecting social security for a while.  Those of us who just started receiving social security, particularly formerly high income earners, can expect to receive less in benefits than we would have received from a private annuity for the same expenditure.  For those who don't remember the history of Social Security, the cause of this change is that Social Security tax rates were dramatically increased by that conservative warrior, Ronald Reagan, in order to keep the system solvent.  So those of us who are the Younger Oldsters, paid a lot more in Social Security and Medicare taxes than older Oldsters.

The derisive sneers coming from the left in my direction because I rail against big government while receiving Medicare benefits and Social Security are, to me, just further proof that the left really cares nothing about people and everything about power.  If they can be so derisive and contemptuous of people who were forced to participate in a government retirement and medical insurance program (that would be all of us)  then, they really care nothing about people.

By talking about us as if we were welfare recipients the left proves how little good faith there is in any supposedly charitable programs they sponsor.  I, after all, worked and paid FICA taxes and Medicare taxes for  about 50 years and about 45 years respectively.  I wasn't given the option of a private retirement program instead.  I was allowed to have a private retirement program in addition, and I do have it. Yet to the left, we are just like all of the other recipients of federal charity. There is no difference between us and a person who receives welfare benefits.  All of us should shut up and be grateful for what we are given by the benificent government.

 Strangely, I don't hear about my private pension being, somehow, a handout from the insurance company that pays it to me.  That money, I am assured is my right and my entitlement.

  It's true the money I paid in taxes was used to pay for benefits for my parents and grandparents.  In a private annuity, companies invest the money they receive in companies and real estate and government bonds.  They pay the annuities from the money they receive from investments.  Not so from Social Security.  Social Security pays current benefits from current revenues and invests the rest in loans to the federal government, which government uses said funds for current expenditures.

The difference in attitude between government funded retirement benefits and privately funded benefits tells me everything about the left and the big government group.  They expect and require that private companies keep the promises they make.  It's the law.  We have a law called ERISA that imposes standards on private companies requiring that they not reduce benefits already worked for and promised.

Not so for government.  I am assured by those on the left that the promises made by politicians in the 60's, the 70's, the 80's (when Social Security tax rates were doubled) and the 90's are neither morally nor legally binding on the people who run the government today.  I should be grateful to big government that it has kept its promise to me by paying the Social Security I was promised.  It is, the implication is clear, more than I deserve because I have the effrontery to call it a Ponzi scheme.

You might think that the people who are the late entrants to the scheme (meaning the young people of today) would be greatly concerned about it.  It is the late entrants who don't get paid.  Yet they all voted for big government.

Be that as it may, the reality of why so many seniors voted for Republicans is not that we are all crotchety racists who don't want a black man for president.  We understand that if the government  continues  to borrow so much money from foreign sources and treasury bond investors that the interest payments alone will exceed the money available to repay the loans, there won't be any money to pay the money we were promised.  Many of us hope to live for a decade or more  into the future.  Obamacare transfers money from Medicare to Medicaid, meaning when we need medical care we will get a phony sympathetic hand holding and death counseling while someone young will get actual medical care.  That's what we are afraid of.  We are afraid that the money is going to run out before we die.  It's pretty simple.  And we are afraid for our grandchildren.  That would be young people.  We may not care about anyone else's grandchildren, but we want ours to have a good life.  Many of us try to be a little bit thrifty so we can leave them money when we die.  But it looks like all the money is being spent on crazy investments in companies that pretend to be devoted to new sources of energy but appear, in practice, to be merely shells used as conduits for large amounts of government money to go into the pockets of rich friends of whoever is in power.

I am not going to make a plea for kinder rhetoric.  That would be a waste of electrons.  Increasingly, people on the left look like people whose ability to feel good about themselves is dependent on looking down with contempt on others. This week it is old people.  Next week, it will be the military.   It is a poisonous attitude that can never lead to real harmony because it always needs a scapegoat.  It is a deliberately divisive attitude that separates the smart, with it in crowd from the stupid, dependent others.

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