Although Heck later clarified his statement – after all, a pyramid scheme is designed to defraud participants by tricking them into believing they’re earning high interest on their investments – the Republican from Southern Nevada’s CD3 found many conservatives in complete agreement with him.
It’s a reminder that a sizable percentage of the public has come to believe that Social Security insurance benefits are tottering on the verge of collapse. (They’re not.) But even Heck later admitted that even if no one in Congress lifts a finger to change the funding formula, the Social Security Administration will still be spitting out monthly checks to millions of Americans until 2037.
Here are some responses to my recent column on the fallout from Heck’s misstatement. As you’ll see, Social Security has no shortage of vitriolic critics.
Writes Karl Munninger, “Social Security was and is a conspiracy to take money from workers to buy the votes of retirees under the guise of investing the workers’ money on the workers’ behalf for the workers’ retirement. The first SS recipients paid in next to nothing and received tens of thousands of dollars in benefits.
“The only real difference between SS and the Madoff scheme is that Madoff is in jail and Congress isn’t. If SS is relied upon for soup-can survival, it simply proves the fraud. If these seniors had bought gold with their 6.2 percent + 6.2 percent FICA every paycheck, they’d be “surviving” on caviar and champagne.
“The reality of it is that SS is bankrupt right now. SS went under water about a year ago, as benefits paid out exceeded payroll taxes. SS will only go even deeper under water as the large Boomer generation retires only to be followed by smaller generations and also due to the reductions in payroll taxes paid (2 percent now, more under discussion by administration officials) and also due to continuing huge long-term unemployment. The so called “Trust Fund” is a total fiction — it is nothing more than a pile of worthless IOUs (the U.S. itself is essentially bankrupt) as Congress spent all the money a long time a ago. The 2037 date in reality already occurred in 2010. Denial of reality will never result in a solution to the problem. Nor will pandering to seniors.
“… If Heck made any mistake at all, it was in not standing his ground and in proceeding to apologize.”
Marshall Lasky says, “Of course it’s not a pyramid or Ponzi scheme. Social Security started during the Great Depression at a maximum of $2 a week and the maximum of $200 a year. Even during the height of the Depression, there were about 4 to 6 workers paying into the program for everyone that was collecting from about $40 or $50 a month — big money then. Of course most people didn’t live long enough to get much back.”
John Stewart warns, “Social Security is a Ponzi scheme! This is a fact. There’s no objective person that would say otherwise. I’m a registered independent, and dislike both major parties, love our country, but hate our government. Don’t kill the messenger just because you don’t like the message.”
Then there’s Ed Mullaney.
“I am disappointed that you would devote an entire story criticizing Joe Heck’s choice of words while describing our Social Security program,” he said. “Pyramid scheme may not be appropriate but what would you call a program that is not funded well enough to meet its
I’d call it government, but that’s just me.
From veterans benefits and unemployment insurance to the cost of maintaining the National Park system, it all costs plenty and doesn’t turn a profit. And the costs have continued to rise.
Social Security has plenty of challenges, but I believe they can be met – as they have in the past — by the better minds of Congress.
John L. Smith writes a weekly column on rural Nevada. He also writes a daily column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Contact him at 702 383-0295 or a firstname.lastname@example.org.