Sam Weaver
Social Security facts and myths: Part II
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By Sam Weaver
September 21, 2010

At the end of my last column, I asked two questions. I also promised a follow-up column in which I would attempt to answer those two questions.

Before I could even begin to think about outlining my next column, I began receiving responses to my last one. Since then, I have used virtually all of my "spare" time conversing with some of my beloved readers and very little time working on my next column.

As I sat down a couple of nights ago to begin work on "Part II," it occurred to me that a conversation with one particular correspondent went a long way toward establishing a foundation for answering the two questions that I asked in my last column. This (ongoing?) conversation appears below.

Part III of this series will be set upon this foundation as I attempt to build my answers to those two questions.

The "foundation"; my conversation with a dear reader:

From: "Xxxxxx, Xxxxxxx"
Sent: Aug 31, 2010 6:53 AM
To: "veriphile@ev1.net"
Subject: Social security

After reading your column on Social Security I couldn't help to come to a conclusion that you are a spoiled little young snot nosed brat. When you grow up you will realize that Social Security along with medicare are two of the most successful programs in our country's history. The elderly depend on it along and SS has enabled my parents and millions of others to live in dignity. Do you know what dignity is? As you mature and you get older and when your parents get older, the light bulb in your head might click on.

However I think I know where your coming from. You are from the " I got mine screw you " crowd. And your probably one of those selfish Christian types who go to Church every Sunday and pray for your portfolio to increase and don't give a damn about others. Ask the elderly what would become of them if SS didn't exist. Interview some of these folks before you shoot your mouth off about this subject. You might learn something.

From: Sam Weaver [mailto:veriphile@ev1.net]
Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 2010 10:44 PM
To: Xxxxxx, Xxxxxxx
Subject: Re: Social security

Dear Mr. Xxxxxx,

Wow, am I that transparent? You have me pegged exactly!

I've lived a pampered life. My parents always gave me not only everything I needed, but all that I ever wanted. Today, I want nothing more than to take Social Security away from your parents and the millions of others including my parents. Stop it "cold turkey"! I want everyone who is ill, poor and/or old not only to die, but to die quickly; just as Rep. Alan Grayson (D, FL) said on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. I have a growing portfolio that belongs to me and only me. No one else will ever see a penny of any of my portfolio.

That seems to sum up your conclusion(s) about me. Now, here is the truth:

I ran away from home on the day that I turned 17 and closed all ties for almost two years with my parents because I despised the very strict and very frugal Christian upbringing that I got from them in my youth. I was a brat back then for sure, but hardly a spoiled brat! I've since then found Christ and have reconciled with my parents; but everything I own, I have earned. It's not much. Even considering the 401K plan that I have through my employer, my net worth is less than $25,000. Still, I find a way to give a portion of my earnings to various charities, and a portion of my time to help anyone and everyone who needs my help.

I know of no conservative including myself who wants to end the Social Security program "cold turkey"! That would be not only unfair and unjust, but completely wrong for those millions of Americans who now depend upon it.

The key phrase here is "who now depend upon it." I don't know what your definition of "dignity" is (I hope you look it up in the dictionary); but I am convinced that the more a person is dependent upon others especially upon the government or any nameless, faceless group, the more dignity is diminished. My desire is for every American to be independent and free to the fullest possible extent.

There will be a time or times in almost every person's life when he/she will be poor, infirmed or elderly. It is the duty and the responsibility of you and me to help both on an individual basis, and in conjunction with others in our church, synagogue, temple, mosque and/or family/community those who we know that need our help. Those who need and receive our help will have a sense of dignity and self-worth because they will know that they are loved. They are helped by those who have their well-being at heart. No federal or even state government program can or will ever give them that sense of dignity and self-worth!

I thank you very much for reading my column. I greatly appreciate your response. I learn so much from the responses of beloved readers like you!

I would cherish even more an explanation of your statement, "When you grow up you will realize that Social Security along with medicare are two of the most successful programs in our country's history." Please support that statement with empirical evidence. Please prove to me that these programs will continue to be "successful" in the future before they bankrupt us unless drastic changes are made.

I am looking forward to your explanation, but I won't hold my breath.

With Profound Respect and Love (Despite the sarcasm of the opening remarks!!)

Sam Weaver

From: xxxxxxx@xxxxx.xx.com [mailto:xxxxxxx@xxxxx.xx.com]
Sent: Sunday, September 05, 2010 12:00 PM
To: Xxxxxx, Xxxxxxx
Subject: Re: FW: Social security

Your resonse is full of naive statements.

Somehow you seem to think if only we can wean ourselves off SS and medicare we will become more prosperous. Sort of like if we privatised it during Bush. Instead of people who lost 1/3 of their 401k , they would have also lost 1/3 of their SS also!Oh, buts thats ok the Church and other charitable originasations would pick up the slack. Are you for real?

Another weird thing about your respose is an attitude of linking SS to some kind of welfare program. Don't you understand that folks pay into this system? And for some who couldn't make it till retirement at least are able to survive because of this program. Sorry, i wouldn't wait for the next charitable handout from your church to survive. Yes you want to be independant.

Tough talk when your healthy and working and are not disabled or are not ready to retire.But its all bu****it and your opinions are just dogma from the right wing of this country. Since 1934 Americans who worked their whole life in jobs you wouldn't have lasted 10 minutes with have been able to live their final years in dignity instead waiting for your Church to throw them a few bucks.

Medicare? How in the hell do you expect people to retire without medical coverage? Is your Church going to kick in a few health insurance policies for the unfortunate? Yeah right.Healthcare reform? Now there you would think that the Christian community would side with this program that would benefit the working class. No, they were apparently siding witht the health insurance companies. Shameful as can be. We were the only industrialized country in the world without universal health care and the Christian community would not support it. And your having me believe Church and charitable groups will pick up the slack. Please don't piss down my back and telling me its raining out.

From: Sam Weaver
To: "Xxxxxx,Xxxxxxx" <NOSPAM>xxxxxxx.com>
Subject: Re: FW: FW: Social security
Date: Sep 11, 2010 2:22 AM

Who said anything about becoming more prosperous? I mentioned not a word in either my column or my reply to you about material prosperity. Yes, I did speak in my column of "wealth"; but wealth involves much more than material prosperity! I was talking about independence and Liberty. However, I do absolutely believe that the less dependent we are on the federal government, the more responsible we will be for ourselves, for those we love and for our communities. Perhaps I am just naive.

If you believe that the portion of your earnings (matched by your employer) that goes toward Social Security and Medicare is securely placed into an account that draws interest until the day that you retire or become disabled, then you are far more naive than I. As they exist today, both Social Security and Medicare are nothing more than government-sanctioned Ponzi schemes. They will each fall under their own top-heavy weight much sooner than later.

The fact is, Social Security has become a welfare program for many. Anyone who lives longer than somewhere between 7 to 10 years after receiving his/her first SS check begins taking more than he/she contributed to the system. The upper-middle class, the rich and the super-rich all tend to outlive most people in lower-income brackets. Yet, when they retire, they draw SS just like you and I do. Their checks are much bigger than yours and mine will ever be; and they draw them for a longer period of time on average than you and I will. Is this dignity? Is this fair?

Every plan to "privatize" Social Security that I know of including both the Bush plan of 2001-2003, and the plan that Sharron Angle currently endorses contains at least three of the four following elements:

1) No one over a certain age (between 45 and 55, depending on the plan) will see any change whatsoever in the status quo. They will receive or continue to receive all promised benefits with absolutely no cuts or surprises.

2) Everyone under a certain age will have a choice: Participate in the new plan, or stay in the current system with the following (one or two) caveats:

3) Means testing: If you are below a certain age, and you choose to stay in the current system, then you must accept the fact that when you reach "retirement age," your benefits will be based upon your wealth. [NOTE: These plans are not my plans. In this case, "wealth" does indeed refer to material prosperity; or "ability to pay."] In other words, 10 to 20 years after the implementation of a plan to "privatize" Social Security, the upper middle-class, the rich and the super-rich will no longer be able to take undue advantage of productive workers in the U.S.

4) Raising the retirement age: When SS was established in the 1930's, the life expectancy of the average American was around 67 years. Today, thanks largely to free-market advances in medicine and treatment technologies/procedures, average life expectancy in the United States of America is approaching 80. If you are below a certain age, and you choose to stay in the current system, then you must accept the fact that your retirement age must be raised.

There is no "right" to retire especially at an age determined by government fiat! Anyone who believes that such a right exists is fooling him/herself. You "retire" only when you have become totally unable to work or when you are sure that you have amassed enough security yes, wealth to provide for yourself and for your family until your death. An artificial "retirement age" set by the federal government cannot be good for the Liberty of the American citizen.

I fully realize, of course!, that many Americans will become disabled unable to work through no fault of their own before they even have the chance to accumulate the means to sustain themselves and their families until their death. Is a top-down, one-size-fits-all, nameless, faceless, compassionless bureaucratic federal program the best, or only, way to help these great Americans? You seem to think so. I disagree.

The American people are among the most loving and generous people on the face of the earth. If you need help, and ask for it, the American people will rush to your aid! This truth is validated every single night at 6:00 and 10:00 PM (7 & 11 Eastern Time) on local TV news broadcasts all across the nation. And it is not just local, or even national it's international! Think about the tsunami that hit Indonesia and other South Asian countries; the earthquakes and now the floods that have ravaged Pakistan; and the earthquakes that devastated Haiti and much of Argentina. American compassion, even during tough economic times in the form of not only U.S. dollars (largely private), but in the form of individual volunteerism and U.S. military assistance flowed freely and abundantly in every case. Do you think this compassion and love will be withheld from you if you are disabled through no fault of your own?

If you are in need, sir; if you are disabled and cannot provide for yourself and/or your family if you are totally dependent upon Social Security and/or Medicare/Medicaid then I want very much to help you in any and every way that I can. I can only gauge the popularity of my columns by the number of emails like yours that I receive. It is my desire to help you if you need help. It is my aim to prove to you that individuals working together can do for you or for anyone else much, much more than any federal government program or policy could ever begin to do!

If you are disabled, I want to invite the community of Renew America in every reasonable way to help you. I have no consent or permission from anyone at Renew America to back this wish. This is absolutely off the cuff and at the spur of the moment. I may be taking a huge risk. But I have faith in this community. I believe they all love you and want to help you at least as much as I do.

Please tell me what you need and allow me to show you that, within reason, my community is both willing and able to meet your needs.

Regards,

Sam

P.S. Are you British? "privatised"; "charitable 'originasations'"?

P.P.S. You should read some of my earlier columns re my take on "
right wing" and "dogma." There are probably better examples than those, you just have to find them as if you would want to find them; much less read them!

P.P.P.S. Have you replied to me before? The more I think about about it, the more I seem to recall the name "Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx." Are you, perhaps, the one who said, a few short years ago, that I and "my people" were the ones who called all black people the N-word and you spelled out the actual N-word?

P.P.P.P.S. True wealth is measured in large degree by the number of friends and family that you have who are willing to help you through tough times. It is determined by how closely you live according to the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God. But, it is evident in the degree to which you are dependent, in the long run, upon no one other than the Creator and the Author of Law! If you disagree, my friend, then sorry to say you do not understand economics or Liberty!! You cannot fathom either Liberty, or the Source of Liberty.

© Sam Weaver

 

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Sam Weaver

Sam Weaver is a native Texan. Lively discussions back in 1984--first with his very liberal girlfriend, and then with several college instructors--made him question his beliefs and his belief system... (more)

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