Five years ago at the hospital, the joy of holding my newborn daughters in my arms was momentarily disrupted when I was asked to free up a hand to fill out the forms for their Social Security cards.
This memory came flooding back when I encountered a leftist social media meme picturing a Social Security card that reads “Do you have one of these? Congratulations! You’re a card-carrying socialist!” Another meme reads “If you don’t like socialism then take a stand. Reject your Social Security benefits. Reject your Medicaid and Medicare when you get sick.”
You might think these are propagated by trolls trying to make leftists look like real dimwits. But given that so many young people, most no doubt victims of government schooling, support Bernie Sanders, we know this scary-stupid is for real. So how to push back?
First, you don’t opt into Social Security or these other government “social insurance” programs. You’re literally born into them. To be employed legally and to do much else, you need this government ID number.
Second, the government takes money out of your paycheck against your will for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Unemployment Compensation. It’s coercive: you have no choice. If you don’t let the government take your money, it will come after you with guns to get it.
Third, if there were no social security, the vast majority of workers would see their pay rise around 15%, because the wage taxes employers pay to Social Security come off worker's pay in the end, too. If the worker took that money and invested it over a 40-year working lifetime, the market returns, if they followed historical patterns, would provide at least as good benefits as social security does, and in many if not most cases a lot better.
Fourth, there is no money in the Social Security trust fund. Zero, Zip. Nada. The leftists who spout that there’s a several trillion dollar surplus are wrong. Since the government runs huge deficits, every dollar that comes into federal coffers is spent. All that exists is billions of dollars in IOUs on a government accounting ledger. And the only way the government can pay back to you the money it took is to take even more. By contrast, money put into stocks goes for productive investments. New wealth is created rather than existing wealth being redistributed after being taken as taxes. A growing economy means more prosperity, more lucrative employment opportunities, and less reliance by individuals on government programs.
Fifth, and most important, the money for Social Security and similar programs that the government robs from us also robs us of personal autonomy and freedom to use of our own wealth. We’re forced to become beggars seeking crumbs from paternalist political masters. Over time individuals are morally ground down, becoming servile subjects rather than self-responsible citizens.
Yes, this is socialism all right! No wonder Bernie and his brood love it!
So here is suggestion: If you’re one of the victims of these government Ponzi schemes, copy and paste the above five points every time you see some Bern-brain Facebook friend defending statist policies they know nothing about. Let’s use these points and start our own meme! Social Security is socialist, and that’s what’s wrong with it.
Why Don't We End the Government-Run Ponzi Scheme?”
The History, Economics, and Philosophy of Social Security
The Inherent Individualism of Insurance
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.