My rant today on the Social Security "Entitlement"

There's a bit of glurge going about the e-mail circuit right now about the ponziness of Social Security and how people who are on it have "earned" it because they contributed to it and there's no way they'll ever get out what they've put in, etc. I'm generally tired of people trying to justify their pet government program, but I try to be respectful to my friends and all that drek that makes us social animals...allegedly.

The truth is that most people actually draw more out of the Social Security system than they ever contributed. So let's make a deal, if people will agree that they are only allowed to receive benefits equal to what was contributed in by them and their employers on their behalf (minus a percentage for administration), I'm all in favor. I'm guessing a lot of these folks would be very unhappy with this arrangement, but then again, it might shut them the hell up too.

But then, I think about my own family. I'll just use my Mom's side as an example. Both Grandpa & Grandma worked full time and paid into the system. My Grandpa died in his late 50s and never drew a penny. My Mother paid into the system her entire working life and died at 61, never drawing a penny.

My Grandmother retired for the final time in her mid 70s. So she was still paying into the system well beyond an average working life. She's in her late 80s. When she went on SS about 15 or so years ago (she worked and got SS for a while), she drew "Grandpa's" because it was more than what her "account" was eligible. After Mom passed away, I worked with SS to allow my Grandmother to draw the amount my Mom would've drawn at her age of retirement because it was a little more monthly than Grandma's current check.

The moral here is that in my family alone, there is 1 person who is receiving a SS check for the 3 (really 3.5) people in my family who paid in, although 2 never became eligible. If this had been a REAL (non-Ponzi) account where it was held for families as an asset and thus inheritable, my Grandmother would've had a nice little nest egg. Heck, I'd be doing fairly well myself.

But alas, it is a mess, it needs to be reformed and phased out, and we should start by allowing people to opt out of it. I would gladly opt out, let them keep what they've already stolen, and handle it all myself. The best solution would be a phase out, similar to the following:

Guarantee the folks over 60 we'll keep the promise as is. They've depended on it, and many haven't planned for themselves. I say they're already screwed enough. Keep the oldsters in "the scheme."

For everyone else under 55 or 60 or whatever who has worked and paid in, lump sum distribute the amount paid and 1/2 of the employer match. Roll it into private 401K type accounts and say, "OK boys and girls it's all you. We're out of the retirement business. Good luck." Poof! It's private.

The problem generally is that people have accepted the Government in this country as the safety net and insurer of last resort. I'll concede that there is a promise made to people that should be kept, but there are people who are in my age bracket who need to buck up and accept that we're going to have to take care of our own business.



You're Not That Smart

So, some lefty brought up the fact that libertarians are all victims of the Dunning-Kruger effect the other day on some website I shan't bother to name because I forgot which collection of deluded statists I was reading. This made me giggle.

A fundamental component of my distrust of the government and desire to limit the power of it comes from my intellectual arrogance. I have, according to J, a pretty severe case of smartest guy in the room syndrome. I'm fundamentally convinced, on an almost cellular level, that I am a lot brighter than most people.

Going along with my intelligence, I recognize the limits of my capabilities. I'm not smart enough nor do I know enough to make a global rule that should be universally applicable to everyone in this country about, say, what kind of health insurance they should buy. I also strongly believe the people doing their damndest to impose that rule on all of us aren't smart enough, either. Having met a wide selection of elected officials, bureaucrats, and government employees at all levels, I'm convinced the average person in government is about as qualified to tell me how to live my life as my dogs are.

So now you can understand why some asshat bringing up Dunning-Kruger makes me so amused. I may be intellectually arrogant, but I'm not so arrogant I think I, or anybody else, should be telling 307 million people how to manage their lives in exquisite, painful, and legally binding detail. Somehow, that makes me the one who can't recognize my own limitations. The irony is so thick you can melt it into ingots.

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The Magical Card

Let me begin this post with a simple fact: I have never, in my adult life, possessed a Social Security Card. This is distinct from the actual number, which I have had memorized since high school. In all previous interactions, knowledge of the number has been sufficient. A partial list of the transactions includes enlistment into the Army, enrollment in college, collecting VA benefits, a BATFE explosives license, a Concealed Handgun License, every job I've ever had, several mortgages, and all the other numerous impediments of modern life that require a SSN to navigate. I have managed to make it into my 4th decade of life in this country without ever having the card itself. I kind of figured I didn't really need one at this point.

I was wrong. So I spent my lunch hour a few weeks ago at the Social Security Administration waiting to spend 3 minutes talking to the guy at the SSA about a new card. Yay me! I now have a shiny new card in the mail to verify the number I've been using my entire life.

This came up because of some paperwork I have been filling out with the state of Texas. We all agree that the number I have provided matches the person I claim to be, and that I am, as thoroughly as any of us can tell, the person referenced in the system by that number. All the rest of the paperwork involved has demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt the linkage, in the mind of the government, of that number with my physical being. Trust me when I tell you: given the amount of paperwork I have done with the state recently, they'd have figured out if me and my SSN didn't match.

This doesn't really matter. I still have to produce a copy of the actual card, because somewhere it is so written. The card must be produced, and woe unto him with no card. So I now have something I've never before needed. Can't you smell my excitement?

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