Guest Post: If You Hate Government Enough…

The first guest post comes from commentator here (and elsewhere) Greg G.  Greg and I first crossed paths over at Mark Perry’s blog Carpe Diem.  Greg struck me right away with his unwavering politeness, even in the face of harsh opposition.  He’s long been one of the most fair people I’ve ever had the pleasure to interact with.  Even when we disagree, he gives everyone the benefit of the doubt.  He holds his ground, to be sure, but he doesn’t discount anything.  Without further ado, here is Greg:

If You Hate Government Enough…
If you hate government enough, its successes just might bother you more than its failures.  Social Security is one of the most successful and popular programs in the history of government.  And yet, a lot of self-described libertarians object to it for a lot of different reasons.
Some object to it on the grounds that all mandatory redistribution of income backed up by government force is unethical on its face.  The first thing to note about this argument is that you don’t get to make it unless you are an anarcho-capitalist.  Having even a minarchist government that only taxes citizens to provide a military defense, enforce contracts, and offer a few amenities like trial by jury, violates this principle.  If you justify those on the grounds that everyone benefits, whether they realize it or not, then you are making the same basic argument I would to defend Social Security.  We are both just using personal judgment to draw the line in a different place when arguing about consequences.  In fact, Social Security is relatively far less redistributionist than most other government functions.  It is mostly funded by a dedicated tax that requires the recipients themselves to usually pay the biggest part of what they eventually receive.
Some object that it is a Ponzi Scheme.  This criticism relies entirely on radically redefining the meaning of “Ponzi Scheme.”  Social Security is funded in a way that is transparent and public.  Yes, it relies on future income to work but so does paying off your 30 year mortgage.  There is every reason to believe this future income will be there.  This will likely involve a little tinkering with the retirement age, the inflation adjustment or some other components.  This has done before, could easily be done again, and is public knowledge.
Some object that the Social Security Trust Fund buys government Treasury Bonds.  If I save a percentage of my income in a private retirement account and invest it in Treasury Bonds, I will universally be seen as having made one of the safest and most cautious investments possible.  If I save exactly the same amount through Social Security and they also  invest it in Treasury bonds, some of the same people will freak out about it.
Some object that they could do better investing the money themselves.  Some smaller number are even right about that.  This misses the point.  The purpose of Social Security is not to make our most skilled investors richer.  It is to make sure the majority of citizens (who are not good at saving and investing) don’t become a problem for themselves and others in their old age.  The private investment markets are, and should be, giant machines where money is transferred from those who are bad at investing to those who are good at investing.  That makes them a great way to decide which economic ventures get funded.  It makes them a terrible way for people who are bad at investing to provide for their own retirements.
The Social Security System has been a huge success at reducing poverty among the elderly while requiring most people to pay for most of their own retirement expenses.  Having more of the elderly self-sufficient consumers rather than helpless dependents is good for everybody.  Libertarians should realize that the objections they have to government in general are relatively LESS applicable to Social Security than almost any other government program.  And they usually eventually do.  But often not before they get to retirement age.

101 thoughts on “Guest Post: If You Hate Government Enough…

  1. This criticism relies entirely on radically redefining the meaning of “Ponzi Scheme.”
    It is ironic that your guest, after having said that, failed to define Ponzi scheme. Here is my definition: A fraudulent investment in which old (or the early) “investors” get paid directly from money collected from new “investors”, rather than from any actual capital return, because there is NO investment!

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      • Bill,

        You forgot to say why it fails. I did not say (or mean) that the two were alike in every way. I said they were alike in that they both rely on future income that is likely to be there.

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        • Focus on the source of future income in the 2 cases. Unlike SS, the mortgage has no features of a Ponzi Scheme. Funds to service the debt are earnings of the borrower, not funds supplied by others.

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          • Bill,

            The interest on a Treasury Bond owned by the Social Security Trust Fund is just as much “the earnings of the borrower” as the interest on a private Treasury Bond. As with any bond, the bondholder needs to take an interest in whether the borrower is a good credit risk. Unlike most of the rest of the Federal Budget, the Social Security System is funded by a dedicated tax. If you object to the accounting involved, it is the funding of the non-Social Security parts of the Federal budget that should worry you.

            Regardless of your concerns, their are plenty of buyers for Treasury Bonds. In fact, the markets (I assume you think markets have something relevant to tell us on such things) are saying that Treasuries are the safest investment in the world right now. As always, markets could be wrong about such things but are far more reliable than any other measure over the long term.

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              • Bill,

                It is far safer to loan money to the Federal government than the Conerly family since the government can resort to taxation and /or printing money to repay the loan. The Conerly family can resort to neither. I’m surprised I have to explain this on an economics blog. Jon has a lot of work to do here.

                Are you equalled worried about Treasuries not held by the Social Security Trust fund? If not, why not? Why do you think the markets seem to think they are so safe?

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        • Greg

          First of all, nice post.

          Paying off a 30 yr mortgage relies on future income AND the value of your collateral, one or both of which are likely to be there in the future.

          As I’m sure you’re aware, the “special” treasury bonds in the SS trust funds are not the same ones that can be bought and sold on the market – the ones you might hold as part of your personal retirement account – so you can’t claim that equivalence.

          They are basically IOUs, representing surplus SS contributions which have previously been spent by Congress from the general slush fund.. As such they are only redeemable at the Treasury (General Fund), which means that when that money is needed to pay ongoing SS liabilities – which is right now – the money will come from taxpayer or deficit spending. That $2.4 trillion or whatever the amount is, doesn’t actually exist. It is literally a filing cabinet full of IOUs.

          But that’s merely a detail, and a minor reason to object to Social security. The first objection you mentioned is more than enough:

          ” …all mandatory redistribution of income backed up by government force is unethical on its face.”

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          • Hi Ron,

            Yeah, I though you would appreciate the part where I called out the minarchists for wanting to have it both ways on the NAP. I’ll address your other points below.

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    • Couts,

      I was referring to the type of scheme named after Charles Ponzi and later made famous by Bernie Madoff. In both of those cases, it was absolutely crucial to the scheme working that investors were lied to about where the money was going no matter how diligently they researched the matter. There would have been no scheme later called a Ponzi Scheme if Ponzi had told the truth about where the money was going. I plead guilty to assuming too much background knowledge on the part of some commenters. I should have included those parts of that definition and history that I assumed were common knowledge to the readers of an economics blog.

      The Social Security Trust Fund does invest in government bonds in an entirely transparent way. The fact that you don’t approve of this investment does not mean it isn’t an investment. The fact that people are told the truth about where the money goes means it is not a fraud even if you think it is a bad idea.

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  2. Anarcho-capitalist labels aside, it’s refreshing to see some “libertarians” openly discuss their opposition to the non-aggression principle and property rights as long as violations of these principles produce results they happen like. In this case, the author believes that the so-called benefits of social security outweigh the outright violation of basic property rights. This, the author says, “works.” To paraphrase Bastiat, just because we (and by “we” I mean real libertarians) oppose government doing something does not mean we are opposed to it being done at all. If I oppose a government funded statue of George W. Bush, this does not mean I am opposed to art, nor does the statue’s existence become proof that “government funding of the arts ‘works’.” Here’s a thought: Charity works. Saving money works. Helping your friends and family works. Friendly societies worked (note the past tense). And not just “works” but “works better.” And who knows how much better they would work if they were allowed to truly flourish? Social security is a scandal and a ponzi scheme by its most basic definition, as the previous commenter noted. You can argue for all the various policy benefits of these forced redistribution schemes, as any progressive would, but you are certainly no libertarian.

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    • Peter,

      I do not claim to be a libertarian. This is not because I value liberty less than you do. It is simply because the label comes with a lot of baggage. It means a lot of different things to different people. There are anarchists, minarchist, anarcho-capitalists, left libertarians, right libertarians, bleeding heart libertarians and even people who claim they are libertarians who voted for George W. Bush twice. Each thinks they are the “real libertarians.” The one thing they all have in common is a great fear of government. Sadly, I can only muster an ordinary fear of government.

      You may have missed the part where Jon introduced this column as a new feature called “Opposing Views”

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      • Hi Greg: I understood the column was about opposing views, but I didn’t realize it was coming from a non-libertarian perspective, or, more precisely, a perspective that is not based on the principled, consistent respect for property rights and non-aggression. I agree that labels come with a lot of baggage, which is why I usually don’t care much for them myself. But again, as the basis of libertarianism is property rights, you aren’t going to convince many readers that violations of property rights are fine and dandy because some of those violations sometimes benefit some people (in the case of social security, certainly not African Americans: see here: http://www.cato.org/publications/briefing-paper/disparate-impact-social-security-african-americans). Such arguments can be made about almost anything. I’m no fan of slippery slope arguments, but really — if the ends justify the means, what limits are there on the leviathan?

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        • Peter,

          I am surprised you didn’t recognize immediately that I wasn’t someone you would consider a libertarian. What was it that allowed me to perpetrate this confusion for so long? Was it that I showed an understanding of your arguments you did not expect? In any event, I am also surprised that you don’t seem to think that someone could be principled and consistent, care about property rights, and still disagree with you. Well, strap in and get a helmet because that is possible.

          The first people to call themselves libertarians were left libertarians. That intellectual tradition is older than yours (but far less prevalent today for good reasons). They had different ideas about property rights than you or I. One of the things I was trying to show in my original post is that anarcho-capitalists and minarchists also have incompatible views about property rights.

          So you are assuming way too much when you simply assume your understanding of property rights is the correct one. I am an enthusiastic capitalist who owned his own business for 33 years. I am not an anarcho-capitalist. Are you? If not, why not? You may not want the label but you are making their arguments. Would it be wrong to apply the label?

          And by the way, even though I am a consequentialist, I do not accept that slogan that consequentialism means the ends justifies the means. It only means that if you think means don’t themselves have consequences. I think means do have consequences. Don’t you?

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  3. I applaud Jon for soliciting and publishing alternate views, though this one may not be the best example to open the door, as it were.

    Disclosure: Greg G. and I have never seen and will never see eye-to-eye, and this issue is no different. The reason is his view is based on ignorance, though some of that can be forgiven.

    This post is fraught with financial disinformation and errors. I will deal exclusively with the Ponzi scheme aspect in this response, and address other items later, if time allows.

    Greg writes,

    This criticism relies entirely on radically redefining the meaning of “Ponzi Scheme.”

    Wrong. A distinction without a difference. The SEC describes a Ponzi scheme as

    …an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk. In many Ponzi schemes, the fraudsters focus on attracting new money to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors to create the false appearance that investors are profiting from a legitimate business.

    Socialist Insecurity certainly fits this description, as returns are generated entirely by “new investors” though those returns are not necessarily “high” relative to returns on other investment vehicles. Unlike those other investment vehicles, Socialist Insecurity is “guaranteed,” and backed by the full faith and (deteriorating) credit of the US Government, which is itself valuable.

    Bernie Madoff ran a well-known Ponzi using standard investment vehicles, and slightly above-market returns. Allan Stanford ran another Ponzi using offshore CDs, again promising above-market returns. Both were convicted and remain in jail.

    Socialist Insecurity, despite its relatively low returns, most definitely qualifies as a Ponzi under the common professional connotation.

    He then writes,

    Social Security is funded in a way that is transparent and public.

    This is nearly entirely irrelevant; at some point, demographics will force failure of the funding system, which is detrimentally relied upon by millions of retirees in their retirement planning, or lack thereof. Because we now have the fewest number of workers paying into the system and an enormous retiring cohort, Socialist Insecurity is insolvent. It cannot meet its future obligations.

    Were I to set up a similar system as an RIA in the private sector, fully transparent and documented, I would be immediately sanctioned, and likely imprisoned for doing so.

    And because millions have relied upon Socialist Insecurity, the political will for changes will not occur, due to electoral demographics. The massive Boomer vote forcefully outweighs any opposition to changes (see below).

    Greg continues,

    Yes, it relies on future income to work but so does paying off your 30 year mortgage.

    Not in the way Socialist Insecurity does: my neighbor does not fund my mortgage, yet I am funding his retirement. Greg’s funding mechanism comparison is incorrect.

    There is every reason to believe this future income will be there. This will likely involve a little tinkering with the retirement age, the inflation adjustment or some other components. This has done before, could easily be done again, and is public knowledge.

    No, there is not, Greg.

    As it stands, Socialist Insecurity’s financial position is insolvent, and getting worse by the hour.

    The time for political changes has passed (approx. 2005, prior to the Great Recession), and we are now staring at a massive funding problem. No retiring Boomer will vote for reductions to their benefits, particularly as healthcare and old age costs continue to skyrocket, and their votes will not be counterbalanced by clueless Millenials, who are as likely or more likely to vote for expansion of Socialist Insecurity than reform.

    When we hit the wall, if nothing is done, estimates range anywhere from .5% – 1.5% of GDP will evaporate, causing further massive economic damage and placing further strain on the system.

    Structurally, functionally, and in all other aspects, Socialist Insecurity is most definitely a Ponzi scheme, and should be eliminated immediately.

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    • mesa,

      Well, the “Disclosure” you offered there fell a bit short of full disclosure. Our debating history includes an offer by you on Carpe Diem to beat me up at gunpoint. That was an odd thing to read on a libertarian blog in between other commenter’s lectures on non-aggression.

      So don’t be surprised if I limit my future replies to other commenters, all of whom appear more stable than you, and many of whom have stated their objections in a more lucid way.

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  4. Socialist Insecurity investment returns:

    Greg writes,

    Some object that the Social Security Trust Fund buys government Treasury Bonds. If I save a percentage of my income in a private retirement account and invest it in Treasury Bonds, I will universally be seen as having made one of the safest and most cautious investments possible.

    Poor argument.

    Asset management dictates that the younger you are, the more risk you are able to absorb, and consequently the higher your returns over time. By automatically limiting the choices and available funds for their retirement, you diminish returns immediately, increasing the retirement problem.

    Additionally, in the current interest rate and sovereign markets, we are now seeing negative returns. That is incredibly problematic for retirement “savers.”

    If I save exactly the same amount through Social Security and they also invest it in Treasury bonds, some of the same people will freak out about it.

    No, we will tell you that you fell short.

    The problem with nationalized retirement systems is they don’t work.

    Plus – and here’s the elephant in the leftist/consequentialist room – you have chosen the least efficient economic actor to “manage” this money: government.

    Really, catastrophically stupid.

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  5. Greg G,

    Dude, you’re retired. How have you not spent at least a portion of your time learning some facts about Social Security?

    “In fact, Social Security is relatively far less redistributionist than most other government functions. It is mostly funded by a dedicated tax that requires the recipients themselves to usually pay the biggest part of what they eventually receive.”

    That’s just factually incorrect. The first recipients never paid into it. The government doesn’t have a SS fund where it lovingly stores what you pay into it in order to fund your retirement. The government taxes your children and uses some of those funds to cut you a check. If any money is left over the government immediately uses it for other purposes. SS is an intergenerational wealth transfer. Same as Medicare. How do you not know this by now?

    “Some object that it is a Ponzi Scheme.”

    That’s because some of us know what a Ponzi scheme is and some of us don’t (I’m looking at you, Greg G).

    “This criticism relies entirely on radically redefining the meaning of “Ponzi Scheme.” Social Security is funded in a way that is transparent and public. Yes, it relies on future income to work but so does paying off your 30 year mortgage.”

    If funding social security is so transparent and public, how come you don’t understand how it’s funded?

    This is the definition of “Ponzi Scheme”:

    A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation where the operator, an individual or organization, pays returns to its investors from new capital paid to the operators by new investors, rather than from profit earned by the operator

    Do yo see anything in there about non-public, non-transparent funding? No.
    Do you see anything about income? No.

    You understand neither Social Security nor Ponzi schemes and that is perhaps why you don’t understand that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.

    A Ponzi scheme, like Social Security produces no income – which is the whole problem. It takes in capital from new “investors” and pays that same capital to older “investors”. Social Security takes money from younger working people and pays it out to old people. To work, a Ponzi scheme must continue to take enough from new investors to transfer to old investors. Social Security must take enough from young taxpayers to transfer the promised amount to old, usually former taxpayers. This isn’t rocket science.

    A mortgage, by contrast, bears no relationship to a Ponzi. A mortgage is debt which you use to move forward the timing of your home purchase. You pay it out of your personal income which, unlike a Ponzi scheme, is generated by doing something productive. It is a return on your human capital.

    You are way too old to still not understand this. I remember explaining this stuff to you years ago at Cafe Hayek.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Transparency:

    I want to call this out, because Socialist Insecurity is not transparent.

    The Socialist Insecurity Trust Fund currently holds nothing but special issue securities – i.e. intragovernmental debt, unfloated publicly.

    The reason for this is because Congress, over many administrations of both parties, authorized themselves (shocker!) to spend the reserve funds in the Trust Fund.

    While the Trust Fund exists, the securities held therein are non-fungible; that is, they cannot be sold publicly. Therefore, any Socialist Insecurity shortfall must be funded by Treasury, and if Treasury is short funds, they must float public debt, bills, notes, and bonds, depending on the obligation.

    Socialist Insecurity cannot, by law, directly issue debt to the public. This will change. The only viable solution to our current obligations is to eliminate direct debt issuance prohibitions and direct debt float, further deteriorating US fiscal position and ratings.

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  7. Attention campers,

    I just had an e-mail from Jon saying that the blog had its highest hit count ever today. He seems happy about that and has invited me back to commit future provocations.

    I want to address, in this comment, a few of the points that a number of commenters have made. It is true that when the Social Security Trust Fund buys a Treasury Bond the government goes out and spends the money now and offers to repay from future income. When a corporation offers a bond for sale they also intend to spend the money now and repay from future income. No one issues bonds just because they like to pay interest. The government’s future income comes from future taxes. Corporation’s future income comes from future profits. If the Treasury didn’t borrow from the Social Security Trust fund it would borrow from somewhere else and pay the interest to that lender.

    You can call these, or any other bonds, IOU’s if you like. Either way, the bond issuer owes the bond owner. One party owes the other. This is not a special feature of one particular type of bond.

    When the legislation establishing Social Security was passed, part of that legislation established the tax that paid the benefits. The Social Security Trust Fund is the accounting mechanism that keeps track of whether or not that tax, and the interest that can be earned from the bonds bought with it, can pay the benefits promised. In the past, when it became apparent there would be a shortfall, adjustments were made. The retirement age was raised. Similar adjustments could easily be made again. I predict they will be. Libertarians predict doom…as they always have.

    No one has yet addressed my main point. Social Security is the least redistributive part of the Federal government. Yes there is some redistribution but most recipients pay most of what they collect. You can’t say that about other Federal programs. Why not object more to the way the defense department is funded? Or the Federal courts? Can anyone explain that to me?

    If all you free market enthusiasts think the government’s finances are doomed then why do you think free market participants treat U.S. Treasuries like the safest investment in the world? Can anyone explain that to me?

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    • Ah, here we have the problem:

      No one issues bonds just because they like to pay interest. The government’s future income comes from future taxes. Corporation’s future income comes from future profits. If the Treasury didn’t borrow from the Social Security Trust fund it would borrow from somewhere else and pay the interest to that lender.

      Let’s address each fallacy.

      1. No one issues bonds just because they like to pay interest. Correct. Government is forced to borrow at interest, because of budgetary shortfalls. Government as consumer and vendor of those rates via direct debt monetization is not only manipulated market, it is financially incredibly dangerous.
      2. The government’s future income comes from future taxes. Correct, and when the net present value of Socialist Insecurity obligations exceeds any reasonable future value of taxation returns, as it does now, you have an enormous problem.
      3. Yes.
      4. From which government entity (at an apparently higher rate) would we borrow, precisely?

      4) International rate markets. Guess what inflated rate we will be subject to, there, Greg G?

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    • “You can call these, or any other bonds, IOU’s if you like. Either way, the bond issuer owes the bond owner. One party owes the other. This is not a special feature of one particular type of bond.”

      You seem confused. In the SS case, one part of an organization (the federal government) loans to another part of the same organization. The transaction appears as an asset to the lender in one government account (SS) and a liability to the borrower in another government account (Treasury.) This is quite different from other types of government bonds where government borrows from the public or cases where a corporation borrows by issuing bonds. The Conerly family “college fund ” reference I posted earlier should have made this point very clear.

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    • If all you free market enthusiasts think the government’s finances are doomed then why do you think free market participants treat U.S. Treasuries like the safest investment in the world? Can anyone explain that to me?

      Yes. Yes I can.

      Because we are still the cleanest dirty shirt in the fucking putrid Keynesian closet.

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    • Greg

      No one has yet addressed my main point. Social Security is the least redistributive part of the Federal government.

      Not sure how you can say that with a straight face, and I assume you are.. SS is 100% redistribution. It is a pay as you go system that takes from workers to give to retired workers – from young poor people to rich old people. There is no direct connection between “contributions” and benefits, Not even a promise,- only a suggestion- that someone contributing now will receive a benefit in the future. There are no actual assets involved.

      You have failed to address the fact that the treasuries held in the SS Trust Fund have no market value, unlike other treasuries, because they cannot be bought or sold on any market.

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      • Ron,

        There IS a connection between Social Security tax paid and benefits. The recipients who had the highest incomes and paid the most Social Security tax will collect considerably more than those who made significantly less and paid significantly less Social Security tax. The amount of income you pay Social Security tax on is capped precisely because benefits are also capped. I’m surprised you didn’t know all this. Did you really think that everyone received the same amount or that the amounts were unrelated to the tax paid? It is true that there is some redistributive effect to boost incomes on the low end.

        How many other government programs make ANY effort to tie benefits to tax paid? The Social Security Trust fund is the accounting device that tracks whether the system can pay for itself or not. In 1983 it became clear (as a result of the existence of that accounting device) that changes needed to be made. Taxes were raised and the retirement age was raised and many more years of solvency were added. This is all public knowledge. Something similar could and should be done again most likely by raising the retirement age again and slowing cost of living raises.

        It is the non-Social Security part of the Federal budget whose funding you should be worried about. The funding of Social Security is a model of prudence compared to that. ALL government spending is funded by different people paying different amounts at different times to pay current year expenses. Only Social Security makes a real effort to pay its own way. If you are unhappy with it then you should be much more unhappy with all other government programs.

        I haven’t addressed the fact that the bonds in the trust fund can’t be traded because I don’t think it matters. Buy and hold is as valid a strategy as trying to profit from trading.

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        • Greg

          There IS a connection between Social Security tax paid and benefits.

          Maybe it’s semantics. There is a correlation between the amount of SS contributions a worker pays and the amount benefits they *may* receive in retirement, but there is no ‘connection’ as we would use the term for an actual investment or insurance plan. There is a payroll tax and there is a retirement welfare benefit. No one is contractually entitled to a benefit just because they have made “contributions” their entire working life. See Fleming vs Nestor 1960 .

          You must be unaware that the Social Security Act was written to avoid Constitutional challenges by legislating the payroll tax and the welfare benefit in separate titles. (Title II and Title VIII).

          I haven’t addressed the fact that the bonds in the trust fund can’t be traded because I don’t think it matters. Buy and hold is as valid a strategy as trying to profit from trading.

          You are evading the issue. A financial instrument that promises a deferred payment and which can’t be bought or sold is known as an IOU. It isn’t an asset as we use the term in business and finance, In this case it is a promise to collect money from taxpayers to cover shortfalls in SS receipts.

          You are correct that the Trust Fund is an accounting device gimmick. The government left pocket owes money to the government right pocket.

          You may have missed an enormous amount of previous discussion of this subject at CD and Cafe Hayek..

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          • Ron,

            Oh, did I miss the part where all these issues were settled when the official dogma came down at CD and Cafe Hayek? Sorry I’ve created so much work for you by overlooking that.

            We agree on a few things. Social Security was not ever designed to work the same way a private pension plan does. It is best understood as a mandatory (yes, I know you object to that part) annuity purchase where the operator of the annuity (the government) invests exclusively in Special Issue Treasuries. It does have some redistributive effects but these are far milder than those found in almost all other government programs.

            The ability of the government to meet its future obligations under this program (or any other) depends entirely on its ability to tax and/or borrow in the future and whether or not the political will to do so is there. That is true of ALL government programs. It is also true of garden variety publicly tradable Treasury Bonds. What is most different about Social Security (compared to other government programs) is that it is funded in a way that requires recipients to actually pay MORE of their own benefits than any other government program.

            The Social Security Trust Fund is not (and never was) some kind of physical, or even metaphorical, “lockbox” where tangible assets are stored for future use. It is (and always was) an accounting device used to alert the government and the voters when the system will need to be tinkered with to make sure it keeps paying its own way. This has been done before and could and should be done again.

            Like everything else in life, your exact projected Social Security benefits are not a 100% sure thing. Private pension plans certainly aren’t that either. Many of them get into trouble. The U.S. government is merely the best credit risk in the world by a wide margin. That’s not just my opinion. That’s the opinion of the private markets whose judgments you guys ordinarily revere so much. The political will to continue it represents more of a consensus than you will see on any other issue in American politics. As I said at the start, you guys hate it for its successes. The doom you guys predict is always just around the corner.

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            • Greg

              Oh, did I miss the part where all these issues were settled when the official dogma came down at CD and Cafe Hayek? Sorry I’ve created so much work for you by overlooking that.

              Had you been familiar with those discussions, you might have wasted less time making faulty arguments that have been so thoroughly refuted previously. You don’t seem very familiar with actual details of the Social Security program.

              You have claimed that some “tinkering” will put the SS program back on track. Perhaps you could look at the actual data for the unfunded liabilities for SS and prescribe some “tinkering” that would ensure its continued solvency. Any combination of higher payroll taxes, higher eligibility age for benefits, and lower amount of benefits would be OK. Let’s see your plan. I suspect you haven’t given it much thought.

              We agree on a few things. Social Security was not ever designed to work the same way a private pension plan does.

              That’s correct. It is a a pay-as-you-go cash system that takes money from current workers to pay benefits to retired workers. There are no tangible assets involved. It is 100% redistribution.

              It is best understood as a mandatory (yes, I know you object to that part) annuity purchase where the operator of the annuity (the government) invests exclusively in Special Issue Treasuries.

              Yes. I have an annuity that consists entirely of promises by the operator that my neighbors and their children will be forced under threat of violence to pay my benefits. LOL

              SS is nothing like an annuity, which at all times contains financial assets that are marketable. The purchaser of an annuity has a vest interest at all times, and the assets owned are inheritable. SS is not an investment, it is a promise to pay future benefits from other tax receipts as needed. In its current form it can’t continue for very long.

              It does have some redistributive effects but these are far milder than those found in almost all other government programs.

              You keep using that word, but I do not think it means what you think it means. Every dollar collected in payroll taxes is spent immediately on current benefits or spent by Congress from the general fund. It is 100% redistribution. I hope I don’t have to say that again. It is a tax on one end and a welfare benefit on the other. It was designed from the beginning to look like an insurance or retirement plan to make it palatable to people who don’t look at it too closely. You appear to be a member of that group.

              The U.S. government is merely the best credit risk in the world by a wide margin. That’s not just my opinion. That’s the opinion of the private markets whose judgments you guys ordinarily revere so much.

              That’s correct. The US government is the best credit risk in the world (the cleanest dirty shirt). No one has challenged that claim, so you don’t need to keep making it. No one but you is questioning credit ratings.

              The political will to continue it represents more of a consensus than you will see on any other issue in American politics.

              That consensus consists of well organized retirees who feel entitled to benefits they believe they have been promised. They don’t always question the source of those funds, which of course is the pockets of current workers. Retirees have earned nothing, and are now eligible for a welfare benefit paid for by others.

              As I said at the start, you guys hate it for its successes.

              Heh! Is that anything like saying bloodthirsty jihadists hate us for our freedom and our prosperity? Or do you mean SS has been successful at fooling millions of workers for several generations?

              The doom you guys predict is always just around the corner.

              I’m looking forward to your analysis of SS unfunded liabilities.

              Like

        • The Conerly family “college fund bonds” also are not traded. Is this a “valid strategy” for the Conerlys – how has it worked out for them? What role do these bonds play in the Conerlys financial capacity to pay for their kids’ college educations? Analogously, what role do the special government bonds/IOUs recorded in the SS “Trust Fund” play in the government’s financial capacity to pay SS retirement benefits? If these bonds did not exist – if the “Trust Fund” did not exist – would the government’s financial capacity to make SS benefit payments be diminished?

          Like

          • Bill,

            I have answered those questions already. I don’t expect other commenters to necessarily agree with me but I do expect them to ask questions that reflect the fact that they have read my replies rather than simply robotically repeating the same questions. I will make one more try.

            The Conerly plan will fail because they do not have anything like the government’s ability to tax and borrow. Private lenders are eager to fund the U.S. government (which can also print money). Private lenders will not fund the Conerty plan. Are you with me so far?

            The Social Security Trust Fund is simply an accounting device that tracks the extent to which Social Security taxes collected can pay for benefits paid. It is used to alert people when taxes need to be raised or benefits cut in the event that voters care about those inflows matching those outflows. So far they have cared about that and Social Security trust fund bonds have been used to fund many other government programs that don’t pay for themselves. Social Security taxes collected have also paid the costs of Social Security itself. It is those programs borrowing from the Social Security system that you ought to be complaining about. Why are you complaining about the part of government that is most diligent about matching inflows to outflows?

            If the Social Security Trust Fund did not exist, the government would not have less resources. It would have less of an ability to continue to make sure that the Social Security benefits paid out were matched by Social Security taxes paid in by recipients of benefits. It might affect the political will to pay those benefits.

            Both Social Security and ALL OTHER GOVERNMENT SPENDING rely on future taxing or borrowing by the government and the voters willingness to support that. In terms of the voters willingness to support, no government program is more popular. In terms of who the private markets think is a good credit risk, the U.S. government is viewed as safer than any private corporation or pension plan.

            Like

            • The principle difference between the Conerly plan and the SS “Trust Fund” is one cannot use coercion to redeem the bonds, while the other can.

              It is NOT the case that “Social Security trust fund bonds have been used to fund many other government programs.” Excess payroll taxes have been used to fund these programs; the bonds are book-entry IOUs that record the diversion of these taxes to non-SS programs, nothing more.

              Finally you get around to acknowledging the financial irrelevance of the bonds and the “Trust Fund,” and suggest instead that their existence may make it easier POLITICALLY to pay SS benefits when revenue from payroll taxes are insufficient to make these payments. Thus, all your previous references to these bonds being like other government bonds, these bonds being a good “credit risk,” your drawing a parallel between these bonds and mortgages, the bonds not being marketable is irrelevant because “buy and hold” is a valid investment strategy, etc., etc., are red herrings. Your support for SS has NOTHING to do with the bonds, financially.

              Like

              • Bill,

                It is true that the government has a near monopoly on the legitimate use of force in a constitutional democracy. I think that is a feature, not a bug, because I believe it reduces the overall level of violence and coercion.

                You might disagree. If so, you are either an anarcho-capitalist or someone who believes government coercion is OK but only for the purposes they like.

                Which is it?

                Like

                • I’m not an A-C — I believe there are legitimate roles for government such as protecting individual property rights, enforcing contracts voluntarily entered into by consenting parties, and providing public goods that can pass a benefit-cost test.

                  Like

                  • Bill,

                    I also believe there are legitimate roles for government that should pass a benefit -cost test.

                    What should that test be?

                    Who should get to decide what passes the cost benefit test? How do you justify taxing an an-cap to protect his property rights when he wants to do it himself rather than pay taxes for someone else to do it?

                    Like

                    • Are you asking what a benefit-cost test consists of? It involves a comparison of benefits to costs.

                      I would have no problem if an individual wants to provide his own security, at his own expense, and providing him a credit against his taxes for any taxpayer savings this produces. But if there were a legal argument over the nature of a property right, I’m not sure how an individual would adjudicate this on his own.

                      Like

                    • Bill,

                      I was NOT asking whether or not a cost benefit test involved comparing costs to benefits. I actually knew that it did and I think you knew that.

                      I WAS asking whose opinion should be decisive when opinions conflict on the results of that test? What should happen when people disagree? That is what I meant by asking “Who should get to decide what passes the cost benefit test?”

                      So then, should a guy who says he doesn’t want the government to provide a defense department with a nuclear deterrent have to pay taxes for that. Or should we fund the military entirely through voluntary contributions?

                      What about a guy who wants to use his own judgment and take vigilante action rather than paying taxes for the luxury of trials by jury and jails? Should he be coerced to pay taxes for those things? If so, why? Because you say so?

                      You see, what I’m getting at is that I think constitutional democracy is the best (or if you like, the least bad) way to decide such things. It is not at all clear to me what you are proposing as an alternative. I’m not even sure that is at all clear to you. Is it?

                      Like

                    • There are standard procedures for conducting B/C tests, with accompanying sensitivity analyses. Such studies are subject to review, so it’s not just a matter of someone’s opinion.

                      The reason I put forth public goods as an area where government might be involved is because of the free rider issue involved in private, voluntary funding (your national defense example.) But I wouldn’t argue that passing a B/C test (where everyone agrees the test is passed) is a sufficient condition for government involvement in a particular program, project, or policy that meets the nonrivalry in use and nonexclusion characteristics of public goods. Resources are scarce, priorities must be established which explicitly account for opportunity costs / tradeoffs.

                      Like

                    • Bill

                      Resources are scarce, priorities must be established which explicitly account for opportunity costs / tradeoffs.

                      In a market system the *price* does that.

                      Like

                    • Bill,

                      What “standard procedures”? What “review”? What “sensitivity analyses”? I have no idea what you meant by any of that and I doubt you do either. Whose judgment should decide these matters in your world?

                      Like

                    • If you are unfamiliar with basic B/C procedures (as you seem to admit), including sensitivity analysis, government requirements regarding use of project/program evaluations, etc., perhaps you should pick up an introductory reference on the topic and spend some time educating yourself.

                      Like

                    • Bill,

                      So I ask you whether and how you would justify taxing someone for military defense who didn’t want to be coerced into paying taxes…and you respond with this bureaucratic boilerplate?

                      I can’t even tell if you are joking. This is Poe’s Law stuff at this point.

                      Like

                    • What “bureaucratic boilerplate” ? Has your contribution to this exchange reached the point of “We mock what we don’t understand”?

                      BTW, you earlier wrote that you favored the use of B/C analysis — “I also believe there are legitimate roles for government that should pass a benefit -cost test. ” More recently, you seem to be suggesting that the use of B/C analysis is arbitrary, reflecting the biases of the person employing that tool. So, tell us why you came out in favor of using B/C analysis.

                      Like

                    • Bill,

                      So then, when you apply this 16 page analysis, do you really think it will spit out an objectively correct decision about which things people should be coerced into paying taxes for?

                      That will always remain a judgment call no matter how many pages of bureaucratic analysis you apply. Yes, we all do form, and should form, our own individual analyses of that. That is the civic responsibility of a citizen. The relevant question is, how should we decide the issue as a nation when individuals are sure to disagree? There is no bureaucratic form that will cause everyone to agree. The results of the cost benefit analyses will always remain controversial. Ironically, like it or not (not, I know) Social Security is actually one of the LEAST controversial issues once you get off libertarian blogs.

                      Like

                    • Recall how B/C analysis was introduced in this discussion. You asked if I was an a-c, and I responded that, no, I saw a role for government, one of which was providing (some) public goods that passed a benefit-cost test. That is MY preference. I did not claim or mean to suggest that my preference was widely shared or that it would manifest itself in government actions. In fact economic efficiency has a very limited constituency, primarily professional economists. So, I’m not so naive to believe that economic efficiency considerations are important political considerations in determining government policy.

                      I provided the link to the OMB document because I got the sense you were unfamiliar with B/C analysis concepts. My impression was based on the questions you raised, e.g., “What “standard procedures”? What “review”? What “sensitivity analyses”? I have no idea what you meant by any of that …”

                      Thanks for the exchange.

                      Like

                    • Bill,

                      OK. Fair enough. I think we were talking past each other. I may not have been clear enough. You understood me to be asking for more of an explanation of your personal preferences. I was really more interested in how you thought differences should be resolved when different people had different preferences. I wasn’t so much interested in what process should be used to form preferences as what process should be used to resolve political disputes. Sorry if I fell a bit short in this exchange of the politeness that Jon said you could expect from me.

                      Like

  8. “The private investment markets are, and should be, giant machines where money is transferred from those who are bad at investing to those who are good at investing. That makes them a great way to decide which economic ventures get funded. It makes them a terrible way for people who are bad at investing to provide for their own retirements.”

    Here are some actual facts:

    Markets go up and down, but the general drift is up.

    For the past 100+ years (a period that includes the great depression, two world wars, stagflation and the 2008 housing crisis), the stock market return has averaged 10% per year.

    For the same period Treasuries have averaged around 6%

    How the hell does that make financial markets a terrible investment for retirement?

    You don’t need to be a great investor. Just buy a vanguard S&P 500 fund or the SPY (an S&P 500 ETF) and leave it alone and it will grow in the decades until your retirement.

    If you invest $1,000 in an S&P 500 fund at the age of 25 and you don’t touch it again until you are 65 years old, at a 10% expected annual of return that investment will be worth $45,259. Imagine the vast sums you would have at the end of a 40 year period where you invested $1,000 every year.

    Explain to me exactly how this is a bad way to save for retirement.

    On the other hand, if you pay $1,000 into social security every single year of your working life, at 65 years of age you will have a promise from the government that it will continue to be able to hose the younger generation to pay out some meager amount to you as long as the ability to collect continues.

    So, explain to me exactly HOW the a tenuous government promise of future SS payments is better than actual money.

    Like

    • Methinks,

      First of all, I agree with your excellent advise for private investors. I have followed that advise myself and am enjoying a comfortable retirement as a result. There are a few things we agree on at least.

      I am surprised that you seem unaware that the average person is not good at saving enough or following the advise that you and I agree on. The average stock market return over the last 100 years does not help the majority of investors who fall far below those averages. A smaller number of investors with various combinations of talent, luck, and inside information capture the biggest part of stock market returns. I am not complaining about that. It is to be expected in a free market. I am just pointing out that the average is not the median. The majority of small investors are well below average.

      It’s true that you don’t have to be a great investor to do well in the long term. The problem is that most small investors are terrible investors who didn’t save enough in the first place and paid far more than they needed to in fees while investing in mutual funds that trailed the indexes.

      I certainly am willing to agree that if most people behaved in a different way than they do behave they would get a different result than they do get.

      Like

      • I am appalled that you think I know how much I should save, Greghole.

        How much should I save, Greg, given that government takes about 1/3d of my current income?

        How much more, Greg? 40%? Maybe 70%?

        I should save more, by your own admission, so here is my plan:

        Tax Greg’s Socialist Insecurity wages (tax 1), redistribute them to low income (tax 2), redistribute them to the elderly (tax 3), tax their income (tax 4).

        Nice quadruple taxation, Greg.

        Explanation?

        Like

      • Every time I get disappointed when I run an analysis of how little SS we will get back from what we paid in, I remember that SS is why I did not have my mother and mother-in-law live with us the last 20 years or so of their lives.

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        • Awesome for you Walt, and Greg!

          Every time I run the analysis of why we should have kept my grandmother artificially alive for another 3 weeks to pay for my childrens education I think of you assholes!

          Fuck you very much, shitheads!

          Like

        • Yeah, Walt, God forbid that you should assume any responsibility for your elderly relatives when complete strangers can be forced to care for them.

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            • Quite right Walt. The only thing that upsets them even more than the fact that it’s working the way it was designed to is the fact that it’s so popular.

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              • So you admit that Socialist Insecurity was designed to fail, and with that failure, it will take down a sizable portion of the economy?

                Thanks for finally admitting leftist stupidity, Greg.

                Oh, and since this is now a popularity contest, how about you give me all your money? That’s extremely popular to me.

                Like

            • Yes. SS was designed to increase tax revenue in a novel way so as not to appear to be a tax increase. Over the years it has allowed $2.4 trillion in tax revenue to be raised and spent with few objections from the victims, because they were offered a reward in the future.

              Unfortunately, as the clever authors well knew, there might come a day when the ponzi scheme could no longer be supported, but they are long gone, of course.

              Now the current victims will be asked to fund the shortfalls in “contributions” to keep the ever increasing number of current retirees happy and voting the right way.

              Since you’re such a numbers person, I invite you, as I did Greg, to estimate an amount of “tinkering” necessary to eliminate the huge unfunded liabilities in the SS system.

              Like

              • Ron, I don’t have to make a personal estimate because the experts have already done so (and I will go with them until proven otherwise). Their estimate is that current benefits can be maintained at current levels for the next 20 years or so at which time benefits will be reduced to 75% – 77% of the current level for the next 50 years or so without increases in funding or deductions in benefits. I think Medicare and Disability Insurance are the more urgent liability concerns.

                Personally, I never thought I would see SS or my GM pension, so I planned accordingly. My wife and I do plan to file for SS one of these days. but we’ve not figured out exactly when yet.

                SS has many flaws as you and others are vocally and astutely aware, but many people’s lives were tremendously improved because they had it. You can’t just look at one part of the big picture.

                Like

      • Greg

        I am surprised that you seem unaware that the average person is not good at saving enough or following the advise that you and I agree on.

        I doubt that Methinks is unaware of much of anything, but I am quite sure she objects to your assertion that you should forcibly take money from her pocket to give to hypothetical people who haven’t prepared for their elder years.

        Like

        • Ron,

          Last I checked Methinks wasn’t an anarcho-capitalist. If that has changed I would very much enjoy an update on the conversion.

          No doubt she does object to the government taxing her for things she doesn’t approve of. Maybe she would like to tell us how she justifies the government taxing people for purposes she does approve of. Just kidding. She doesn’t like answering tough questions nearly as much as you do. She wouldn’t even answer my questions about why all the other government programs that are even more redistributive than Social Security shouldn’t be viewed as more objectionable than Social Security. Or why the private investment markets view U.S. Government debt as safer than the debt of any multi-national corporation.

          Like

          • Well there are pension systems that are better than SS. Doesn’t Chile require workers to pay into their own pension funds which they own entirely, which are invested in markets and which are not accessible by. politicians?

            Like

            • Sam,

              I am not familiar with the Chilean system but if they did “require” people to do something other than what they wanted to do with their money wouldn’t that be impermissible coercion to a libertarian?

              Like

      • Oh, I see Greg. You are the only one of your fellow twits who read and understood Fama’s “Random Walk Down Wall Street” and thus did exactly what I said. I guess all those billions of dollars in S&P 500 funds must be yours.

        You accuse your fellow twits of being too stupid to care for their own funds and so those funds should be confiscated by the government to spend as it wants. You dumb peasants aren’t to be trusted with important things like money.

        To make this claim you are undoubtedly relying on Dalbar’s research (whether you know it or not), which “investment advisors”, fresh from completing their six weeks crash course in finance to supplement their French Lit degree, have been shoving under the noses of confused investors for over two decades. I have to warn you that Dalbar’s methodology has come under question and it just might be that Dalbar has data-mined their way to an advertisement for their clients – investment advisors.

        Never mind. Let’s just assume Dalbar is right. You dumb monkeys only squeezed out a 3.7% annual return during a period when the S&P was returning 11.1% annually. Let’s plug that huge underperformance into our little example, shall we?

        $1,000 invested for 40 years at 3.7% interest yields $4,277

        $1,000 taxed away for Social Security yields…an IOU from Uncle Sam, which he is under no obligation to pay on.

        Huh. Looks like the dumb, underperforming, untrustworthy peasants are STILL better off investing their pennies in the market than handing them over to government.

        And let me just cut your next complaint off at the pass: Dalbar accounted for people periodically not having money to invest, taking money out and all that fear and greed we humans (but not government humans, according to you) are infected with. Also, if you’re going to start whining about lack of any saving, I’m going to point to the fact that people foolishly rely on the that SS IOU issued to them by the con artists in government and they are further influenced by the “safety net” promises and that very much negatively influences both people’s willingness and ability to save.

        There’s just no case for not privatizing Social Security. The assholes in the Potomac Swamp don’t want it because it denies them a flow of revenue they can use to lavish on their cronies. I’m sure they appreciate your useful idiocy.

        Like

        • Methinks,

          Why answer tough questions when you can demolish straw men in such a devastating way?

          You really understood me to be saying that “all those billions of dollars in S&P funds must be (mine)”?

          And you conveniently ducked the fact that most people don’t save enough for retirement . For them, the rate of earnings they didn’t get on the money they didn’t save and didn’t invest really isn’t relevant. But, I guess if you just name check some guy who you don’t even trust and claim that he “accounted for” that then we don’t need to worry about it any more. You can make the numbers come out however you want when you get to make stuff up.

          Like

          • Greg,

            If your reading comprehension only rose to the level of your uninformed whining, you would understand the implication of your saying that while you, of course, saved in exactly the manner I prescribed, everyone else was just too stupid to do that. By implication, the billions are yours. My pointing that out isn’t a straw man, it is to inform you of just how untrue and arrogant your claim is.

            Furthermore, you would have noticed that I totally, completely, and very clearly addressed the non-saving issue in my final salvo.

            Dalbar is not a “guy”. Dalbar is a financial market services research firm. I know what Dalbar’s research accounts for and what it doesn’t and how it cut the data because researchers must provide their methodology.

            Obviously, proven wrong about the benefits of private investment over SS, your facade stripped, you devolve into complaining that people just aren’t saving and so must have money confiscated from the to….ALSO not save as the government uses the confiscated funds for general revenue, leaving people a worthless IOU. So, putting people at the mercy of government is preferable to leaving them at the mercy of themselves. Only degenerates like you would accept that.

            How does someone like you, who doesn’t know how research works, can’t understand plain English, can’t understand the implications of what he’s saying, that a number larger than zero (even if smaller than optimal) is “more”claim that he knows what the public markets are for, how participants operate in them, what is necessary to “win” in them, and what is preferable for 330 million people’s retirement?

            Only idiots like you make this claim because the rest of us are smart enough to understand that we have no idea what is best for complete strangers. We’re just not that omniscient. And, yes, you fool, that is exactly what you are saying when you say that you know what’s best for hundreds of millions of complete strangers and then on the strength of that you support the government robbing them of their options.

            Jon likes that you’re polite. But I don’t give a shit about your flowery crap, gramps. A polite thug is still a thug and just because you get your muscle-bound politicians to do the actual physical violating doesn’t mean that you’re not responsible.

            This idiocy of yours is why I stopped responding to you years ago. Now I remember. Your sole skill is vomiting up the same illogical, thuggish nonsense masquerading as deep thinking.

            Like

            • Methinks,

              I didn’t say or mean that “everyone else” failed to save enough. I said that “the average person” was not good at saving enough. Do these mean the same thing to you?

              I love it that the fact that you feel that you “addressed” the issue means you think it should be settled. Of all your charming idiosyncrasies, my favorite is the way you appear to muster genuine surprise every time you knock down some straw man and it fails to convince everyone. Oh well. Maybe that will work next time.

              Imagine my disappointment at the possibility that you might stop responding to me. I’ll try to cope with that even in the unlikely event it actually happens. I remember any number of previous times where your responses continued far beyond the point where I was warned they might stop. Good luck with your tireless efforts to inform others how “arrogant” they are.

              Like

              • Idiot,

                I have never warned you I might stop responding to you because I don’t do stupid shit like that. I don’t just give up my options, that’s more like something you’d do because you don’t understand what an option is or how to value it (cue you yammering about financial options, thereby missing the entire point).

                You are a moron who is unable to understand a single response to you, unable to understand the definition of a “straw man” and unable to provide any answer beyond whining about whether or not I’m ever going to speak to you again. And just to give you yet another concept you won’t understand: I will, until the day you die, come lay you out for spewing total bullshit when the spirit moves me.

                For example, let’s look at this whiney shit: “I love it that the fact that you feel that you “addressed” the issue means you think it should be settled.”

                I addressed it, you have no answer. Seems settled to me. WTF are you whinging about, fool?

                Not a single one of your responses contains a shred of substance. You are completely unable to refute any (not one) of my points. You have been shot down and all you can do is lay in the grass and whine “that bitch be so mean to me! Waaaaah!”. The thug life is hard, gramps. But that’s what you chose.

                Like

                • Methinks,

                  Easy there or you might bust a vessel. You really can work up an impressive amount of outrage when everyone doesn’t agree with you on everything.

                  There is something so thoroughly Soviet about your belief that there is one correct view on every controversial issue and everything else is an outrage.

                  Like

                  • Methinks,

                    Oh, and by the way, you really do need to brush up on your insults. Calling me “gramps” doesn’t work at all. I am not the least bit embarrassed about my age. And my role as a parent and grandparent is the thing I am most proud of.

                    But then libertarians always did have trouble understanding the rights of children and the obligations of parents.

                    —-Gramps

                    Like

  9. messedupeconoguy,

    As I expected, you are becoming increasingly unhinged. And things started so promisingly with you offering me partial forgiveness. I suppose this means I am in for another of your imaginary cyber beatings at gunpoint. Libertarianism means so many different things to so many different people.

    Like

          • I did not impersonate anyone. I believe that Jon can verify that because he can see the e-mail addresses of the commenters. Add paranoia to your growing list of mental illnesses.

            Like

            • Then you should check your eyesight, courtesy of my Medicaid funding of your malodorous maladies: the above comment was not posted by me, as evidenced by the accompanying design.

              That design is what we call “different.”

              Please do not attempt to impersonate me further.

              Like

                  • mesa,

                    OK. I’m starting to believe you really were impersonated by someone there because the comment in question identified you as a libertarian. I have always seen you as a rather authoritarian conservative as evidenced by the “culling from the gene pool” comment below.

                    Do you identify as a libertarian or a conservative?

                    Like

                  • I am an economic classical liberal.

                    Your stupidity would, in normal economic circumstances, have deadly consequences. Don’t blame me; I just live here.

                    Do you identify as a leftist thug?

                    You should, because you most definitely are, given your arrogant and incorrect presumptions about other peoples money.

                    Like

  10. Greg, your argument has been reduced to:

    1. Socialist Insecurity is extremely popular (true, and irrelevant),
    2. Something else.

    If this is the extent of your intellectual foundation for the largest theft of wealth in human history, I would suggest that you find alternate work.

    Socialist Insecurity is insolvent. When the trust fund runs out, it will cause 1.5% of annual GDP to evaporate instantly.

    If this is your idea of success, then you are in serious need of culling from the gene pool.

    Like

    • mesa,

      OK then. Tell me more about how a “classical liberal” justifies the concept of “culling from the gene pool.” That seems like more of a Nazi idea to me.

      Like

      • As you leftists are so fond of accusing others, I refer to the natural selection process, which would have eliminated you long, long ago, by natural means, naturally.

        Like

      • So Greg, what is your justification for the largest theft of wealth in human history, beyond “it’s wildly popular, I tells ya!”?

        Do you have any?

        I do not think you do, but I am willing to entertain other ideas.

        Like

  11. OK. I never expected to agree with the original mesa about anything but I think he his right that this mesa with the blue symbol is a trolling imposter. The writing style is different. Both deranged, to be sure, but in different ways.

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Comments are closed.