Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

LttE - Two views of Social Security

Submitted to the OC Register on 2/22/2005 in response to "I'm entitled to my Social Security benefits, which reads:
Last year I paid $4,000 into Social Security, in addition to more than $11,000 in federal and state taxes ['It's time to 'means test' Social Security benefits,' Letters, Feb. 17]. I can't begin to calculate how much sales taxes I paid. As a result, I could only afford to put $3,000 in my 401(k). My wife works full time as a teacher and I didn't include her tax bill in the above equation.

We do not qualify for government assistance. While students at my wife's school are served free breakfast and lunch, we pay for our daughter's lunch. When my daughters are ready for college, financial aid will not be available to them.

I am 38 and have a lot more years of paying into Social Security ahead of me. If it is still solvent when I get to that age, I am taking that entitlement. If we are only going to give Social Security payments to people who qualify for them, it should be renamed welfare because that is what it would be.
Text of my letter:
John Craine’s Monday letter was meant as a defense against means testing, which he rightfully derides as bald-faced welfare. The stance he takes, though, makes a much bigger point regarding the value of personal choice – between paying and collecting or opting out completely.

Mr. Craine insists that since he has paid all that money into the system, he will surely demand the payments to which he is entitled. Holding that view is perfectly fine, and I’m certain he shares it with a great many people.

However, another significant portion of the population would gladly and anxiously remove their claim on benefits from the future liabilities column of the Social Security balance sheet. We don’t even care about the vast sums we’ve already paid into the system – we’re willing to give all that up as a sunk cost if we’re allowed to practice a little personal responsibility and opt out from both the paying and the collecting.


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