Wednesday, February 21, 2007

End Social Security

Below is a link to an excellent piece by Alex Epstein on the irrationality and injustice of the Social Security system. The economic irrationality and destructiveness of Social Security can be demonstrated logically in less than five minutes (as anyone who has robbed Peter to pay Paul can probably attest). The reason it goes on is that it is perceived as moral and this is the premise that must be challenged and destroyed.

How much, when, and in what form one should provide for retirement is highly individual--and is properly left to the individual's free judgment and action. Social Security deprives the young of this freedom, and thus makes them less able to plan for the future, less able to provide for their retirements, less able to buy homes, less able to enjoy their most vital years, less able to invest in themselves.

And yet Social Security's advocates continue to push it as moral. Why?

The answer lies in the program's ideal of "universal coverage"--the idea that, as a recent New York Times editorial preached, "all old people must have the dignity of financial security"--regardless of how irresponsibly they have acted. On this premise, since some would not save adequately on their own, everyone must be forced into some sort of "guaranteed" collective plan--no matter how irrational. Observe that Social Security's wholesale harm to those who would use their income responsibly is justified in the name of those who would not. The rational and responsible are shackled and throttled for the sake of the irrational and irresponsible.

Those who wish to devote their wealth to saving the irresponsible from the consequences of their own actions should be free to do so through private charity, but to loot the savings of untold millions of innocent, responsible, hard-working young people in the name of such a goal is a monstrous injustice.


brian said...

I'm sorry, I can't take this any more. Could Alex be any further from reality? Alex is one case of melanoma from being pro-national health care. Social Security was created to cure a critical flaw in our society that was created by the collapse of the free market. It has become the most successful of all government programs by giving the elderly, abused, be widowed, parent-less children, mentally retarded, physically disabled etc.... a humane and reasonable (as opposed to reasoned) existence.
Apparently, objectivists are one section of our society that would have no problem with an elderly person starving or a mentally retarded homeless person dying homeless. "due to his free judgement and action".
My guess is that Alex, a Duke graduate, has never been hungry or has a mountain of debt, due to the fact that that type of education has become out of reach for many free thinking individuals.

Doug Reich said...


If you want to volunteer your money to help "the elderly, abused, be widowed, parent-less children, mentally retarded, physically disabled etc.." that is your choice.

How do you justify taking my money against my will if I choose otherwise?

brian said...


Our modern society is full of social contracts. Many, I believe you would probably agree to. For instance, the local fire department, everyone pays but only a few people use it, it's basically insurance. It's a service to you. The city of St. Paul decided that it was worth the money to have a paramedic response time of 10 minutes, this costs a lot of money but it has saved numerous lives. If you or your family lived in St. Paul wouldn't you take comfort in this service? Social Security is a social contract. Believe it or not, you may someday, after illness or market collapse or other unforeseen circumstances, have SS as your only income. It's insurance and you and I are paying for it.

Americans, and most of civilization, are not ready to leave sick people on the street in front of hospitals or tolerate an elderly poverty rate like it was before SS. Our society is better as a whole. And as an elective republic, people who make these decisions have decided that that is so.

I enjoy your blog and am reading it daily, even if I don't agree with (dare I say?) most of it.

Doug Reich said...

A contract requires two willing parties. If one is not willing to pay and others want the money and take it by force it is called robbery.

It is a fact that there is forced taxation and the government in some cases allegedly performs a service as you point out but it does not have to be that way nor is that a justification.

How I plan for my future or possible disability is my business and I can choose to buy insurance or save money. However, if I do not, it is not your responsibility to pay for me nor is it my responsibility to pay for you.

Anyone can certainly ask for private charity and individuals are welcome to provide it voluntarily.

But, you still have not answered the question that I posed which is how do you justify taking my money against my will if I choose not to enter into such a contract?

Furthermore, it is not a fact that people were left in front of hospitals nor is it a fact that the eldery "poverty rate" was higher before SS. SS is a ponzi scheme where one group is robbed to pay another group although it is made to seem like "insurance" or an "investment."

Logically, if one group is robbed and the money is given to another group there is no extra wealth created by the transfer. To the extent that the eldery get the money and their "poverty" is made less than everybody else's "poverty" is made worse. In fact, it destroys wealth economically since the money is consumed rather than invested in capital or other productive ventures but that is a whole chapter.

I enjoy your posts and its good to have healthy disagreements so thanks for taking time and keep writing in.

brian said...

The justification is your citizenship. You are a citizen of the United states of America. You were born here and had no choice when you were young, but now you have a choice, and many people make the choice to become citizens. You are a member of this society, this democracy, by definition, you have agreed to abide by laws that sometimes you do not agree with.
You have, of your own free will, consented to pay taxes and enjoy the benefits thereof. You have entered into this contract and are a willing party. No one is taking your money by force and no one is robbing you.

Doug Reich said...

Wow, under your theory there should never have been an American Revolution!

If a majority of your neighbors voted to burn your house down, rape your wife, and kill your dog, would you accept it since you had a vote?

I have NOT consented to taxation. If a robber holds a gun to your head and says give me your money or I will kill you, if you then give him the money, is that "free will" since you had a choice to die?

Let's say that the world were such that every country kept its people in concentrations camps but the one in city A has voted to torture and kill 75% of its people and the one in city B voted to only torture and kill 50% of its people. So, I choose city B. Would you argue that it is free will that I chose city B and therefore I'm only getting what I deserve? Afterall, I had a right to vote in the "democracy".

The point is that I do not believe in unlimited majority rule and I hold that government power should be severely limited by law in the same way the government is limited from abridging free speech no matter how many people vote for it.

The government should be limited from initiating force against its citizens and its job should be to protect individual rights. The government should be prohibited from using force except in so far as it needs to prevent a criminal from violating someone elses' rights.