Brian’s Columns: Social Security ‘r’ Us

And Who Am I to Fight the Odds
Of man’s entitlements and gods…
by Brian Wright

Social Security Card IconPlease forgive the extraction from the oft-cited verse of the English classicist scholar Alfred E. Housman (1859-1936):

And how am I to face the odds
of man’s bedevilment and God’s?
I, a stranger and afraid
in a world I never made.[1]

Why I came to recall this little snippet of poetry is described partly in the footnote, but how it bears connection to the topic of my column today—a personal yielding to receipt of Social Security payments (and even liking it) —is, well, a stretch. All I can tell you is I truly never thought I’d reach the age where Social Security would either be a) a substantial contribution to keeping me in material existence or b) even keep itself in material existence.

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I remember my haughty observations in my 30s and 40s primetime:

  1. “No way the system is going to be solvent when I retire.”
  2. “I’m never going to see a dime of these FICA withholdings.”
  3. “Why not just give me the money; I’ll save it on my own.”

And so on. Of the three statements, 1) is untrue—but the system only survives by virtue of depleting the value of the currency in which benefits are paid; 2) is untrue, too, but again the value of “the dime” has declined precipitously; and 3) I believe would make sense in a general way. The argument against number 3 is that people would not save for their old age if someone did not force them to do so—with the implicit premise being a) we are our brothers’ keepers at the point of a gun if necessary (a very nasty altruism) and b) most people, when they are young, don’t think about taking care of themselves in their declining years.

Well, I don’t want to get in a long argument about either a) or b), but let me simply state that an individual X tends to make better decisions for individual X than individual(s) Y… and even in the exceptional case, Y has no moral authority to coerce X for any reason. And for b), even if you’re a redneck hillbilly from way back when, you’re a lot more likely to save for the future if you know you’ll be dependent on private charity otherwise. What so many people advocating the government role/dole fail to realize is our Old Paradigm economy is based on debt generation by the money power, which stiffs the average family on a daily basis. If you’re a working stiff, you can’t get ahead, all your money is needed for current expenses… and your debt. The Plundering Class effectively turns most of us into debt serfs.

So if you obey the rules in the Old Paradigm (OP) economy, your likely result is, indeed, you would never put away any money for your old age… because the system is designed to keep you from having anything extra. Thus you can make the case that without Social Security, a large number of victims of the OP economy would die penniless sooner. [Sure, a few people manage money better than others, and are more prudent; but inflation also works to discourage savings: smart, prudent money doesn’t like to sit in a bank losing value.]

Anyway, I suppose I’m in the first group—who without Social Security would die penniless sooner—and it’s a sobering thought. At 62 I’ve been fortunate not to have any major health problems so far, and I’ve managed to work odd jobs in the writing, editing, and publishing business. [The conventional technical writing business simply died for me in the year 2004, for a number of reasons, I’m convinced the main one political.][2] And I remain highly enthusiastic about my prospects for earning substantial money from New Paradigm (NP) writing, editing, and publishing… and an exciting startup network marketing firm I’m a part of. Longer term, I’m developing the so-called FLOW Fellowship and will start writing novels.

Note that I can’t see any scenario in which OP money or government ‘money’ forms a substantial portion of my earnings. Going along with that, I’m boycotting the OP health care system to the best of my ability, seeking instead alternative health providers. The government is desperately trying to prevent us all from surviving outside the OP structure: e.g. increased federal ‘income’ reporting requirements, Federal Reserve Note monopoly money, nationalized health care, nationalized retirement funds, banning nutritional supplements, forcing vaccines, yada yada yada. The government will fail in these aggressions, and our economy will be free a lot sooner than many of us realize. Ref. Liberation Technology: Productive Action.

In the interim we need to lunch the best we can off the carcass of the OP. And that’s how I justify taking my Social Security payments. I really don’t feel too bad about it. As Rand was wont to say, “Morality ends where a gun begins.” So when you’re dealing with a system into which you were coerced, it’s completely acceptable to get what you can out of it. [Ideally, I would ask the government to return to me in one lump sum the value that was taken from my paychecks over the years—both from the ‘income’ tax extractions for which I’m not liable and from the FICA and Medicare/Medicaid withholding pool. I don’t know how much that FICA would be, but converting it to precious commodities and/or investment in alternative production enterprises, I’d be a lot better off.]

As it is I’m going to take the money and run… rather use it to transition to the NP world that’s coming. It couldn’t have come at a better time, and I feel fortunate that some value yet exists for me to count on a while. [I feel so sorry for so many of my friends who are out of work or struggling, their 401Ks depleted, no marketable skills in such an expropriated economy, and still 5-10 years from receiving their Social Security stipend.] The fact is, however, we are in the end game of destroying the Borg[3] and restoring the Republic; winning that end game is crucial for humankind. Realistically, a civil outcome requires a restructuring of programs like Social Security until they can be fully humanized.

My parents are the last generation to believe that the money extracted from you into the Social Security system is deposited into a government account with your name on it… and is never diverted by the government to other expenditures. If you really look at the system objectively, you find out quickly it is indeed a Ponzi scheme in which payouts to early subscribers are funded by payins from later subscribers. There is no ‘fund’ that sits and gains value from being tied to productive enterprise. That being said, it does appear that among government programs, the Social Security system is fairly well run—certainly a lot better than the war machinery. Heck, they even reminded me to check on 401K programs I had once funded in case they were still up. (They weren’t.) The first check arrived in direct deposit to my bank on the day given. Dealing with the agency is easy; I’ve done so on my mother’s behalf mainly. The employees I’ve found for the most part civil, helpful, and competent.

As conventional as it sounds, “I sure put a lot in, nice to get some out.”

[1] Interestingly, that little piece of poetry has lodged in my memory from early days as a Randian idealist: I recall the satisfaction of reading an article in one of the Objectivist newsletters in the 1960s, probably by Nathaniel Branden, certainly by a highly favored poobah in the Randian hierarchy. The article is about the youth of America, mainly the antiwar leftists, many of whom were into so-called negative philosophy. The writer notes Housman’s poem as expressing this Hippie Angst, then writes “… and why didn’t you.” Harsh.

[2] My political issues in the realm of Old Paradigm conventional job market stem from growing marijuana in a Phototron, which resulted in a lot of nasty police and judicial activity directed against me. It stays on your record; I’m convinced the OP human resources systems today interlock in an effective centralized (and secret) blacklisting process effectively preventing political ‘criminals’ from being employed. Ref. There Must Be Some Mistake.

[3] A lot of my OP-acquiescent friends don’t like the term ‘Borg.’ But it is the perfect term for the concept of the <central controlling entity>, essentially the financial and corporate megacartel that others refer to as the Power, or the Money Power, or the Power Elite, Plutocracy, Cartelocracy, etc. In order for decent humanity to survive and flourish, the Borg must be unplugged.

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