Friday, August 12, 2005

Social Security "benefits"

I was hanging out at a friend's house the other night, and we got onto the discussion of how much we each made at our summer jobs. We ended up looking at her paycheck stub, because I wanted to see if she was having income tax and other state and federal taxes deducted when she shouldn't; most teenagers don't make enough to pay income tax or any other sort of tax other than Social Security and Medicare, so if you have income tax taken out you are forced to fill out a tax return in order to get your money back. Asinine. Anyway, she was having the money taken out, but that's not what I want to talk about. On the check stub, I noticed that SS and Medicare were conspicuously missing from the listing of taxes that were deducted from the paycheck. I looked around the paystub, and lo and behold, those two taxes are listed under "benefits." Yes, that's right, money that the government has taken from you to give to someone else is listed as a "benefit" for you. This is the statist world we live in, my friends. It is now considered a benefit for the government to take money from you and give it to someone else, with the promise that you will get the same handout when you reach a certain age and/or condition (in the case of Medicare), baby boomers and basic economics notwithstanding.

It is truly sad that we have reached this state of affairs. What is even sadder is that I would be willing to bet that the majority of Americans would see absolutely nothing wrong with this. "Of course Social Security is a benefit; I'm planning on using that for retirement." People who, thanks in part to FDR and the generations of statists that have followed him, have been conditioned to trust the government above all, even ahead of ourselves. It really should come as no surprise that our liberties have been steadily curtailed just as government assistance programs have risen. As Eric points out, you can only be given adult freedoms when you are willing to make adult choices, and more importantly, accept all consequences for those choices, both good and bad. Until we are ready as a society to accept this simple truth, we will continue to be treated as children of the state, in both freedom and responsibility.

Moving on, it is even more reflective of our society that those among us who make little are still required to pay taxes for the primary purpose of supporting others, but not required to pay taxes that have at least some perceived benefit to us. As I pointed out above, I do not, as do most teenagers, make enough to pay any sort of tax on my income other than SS and Medicare. So, according to our government, I make enough to pay for those who were too stupid to plan for their retirement and those who want others to pay for their healthcare, yet I do not make enough to pay taxes that I will see a concrete benefit from. It is nice to know we have our priorities straight in this country.

So, to recap, the government taking money from you to give to others with a promise that you will get the same treatment is now a benefit, and while the government might not make you pay for the drain you put on their resources, you will ALWAYS make enough to pay for the stupid among us.

Why, oh WHY can't these at least be opt-in programs? I will always maintain my own health insurance, and I could have invested an extra $150 in my IRA with the money I would've gotten from SS. With a little help from the investment calculator at and my dad, I calculated that the extra $150 invested above would be worth $2,764 in 43 years, assuming I invest them now, tax-free in a Roth IRA that has a 10% rate of return.

So, thanks to mandatory government "retirement planning", the government has stolen $2,764 worth of my money in exchange for a nebulous promise that I will receive some sort of recompensation when I become old and decrepit and too stupid to save for my own retirement.

Thanks, government! It's nice to know that some faceless bureaucrat cares enough about me to steal that much of my money!