Andy and Nicole: Good points on both sides, though I’m with my fellow Irishman on this one. Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, and the fact that we can’t get the money back from Ida Mae Fuller and the other early entrants into the racket doesn’t change that a bit.
Nicole writes, “In a Ponzi scheme, the only goal is to perpetuate the fraud to enrich its designers.” That’s precisely what Social Security’s been doing for decades: enriching the bipartisan political class, which has successfully blocked rational discussion of the FDR program and pretended to believe in such unicorns as the “trust fund” and the “lock box” in order to keep itself in office. Further, Nicole notes that “each victim of [a Ponzi] scheme believes that his principal is held in a segregated, individual account, earning a return.” Isn’t that exactly what most people still believe about Social Security? Sure, they shouldn’t, but they do — the legacy of treating Social Security as the “third rail” of American politics.
We can’t take back the money from the “net winners,” nor prosecute the designers for fraud (since they’re all dead), but by having this discussion we can force current officeholders to come clean about the true nature of this glorified welfare program and ”prosecute” them by throwing them out of office.
Can Social Security be saved? Maybe.
Should it be saved? Much better question.