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Joined: Jan 2002
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Originally Posted by Dr John
"To work I am not able; to beg I am ashamed." And many Christians barely support our parishes, much less parishoners in need. So, it seems that government programs accomplish some good.


An excellent point. In olden days, the fraternal associations were organized to do much of this work. The locus of help moved from the local community to state and national departments. Modern ways of doing things seem to require forms, bureaucrats, insurances, lawyers, and background checks.

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To call it a "tax" is a misnomer. They are actually personal financial accounts, like IRAs and 401-Ks that are managed and guaranteed by our government so that unlike the stock market, they don't lose value.


Oh it is tax.
Try not paying it.
Try to choose your own investments.
Try to make a hardship withdrawal from "your" account.
Indeed, show me my monthly statement.



And it is quite regressive. The lowest paid janitor pays the same rate as a salaried manager. The executives and professionals pay on only the first $100K or so of salary, and nothing on stock options, capital gains, income from rents, stock dividends, etc.

Most working people pay more Social Security tax than they do Income Tax --- and I've never heard of a refund.

And the Congress has already pushed back the retirement age for some of us from 65 to 66, moving toward 70 years of age. A reliable guarantee, indeed? laugh

What makes it not a Ponzi scheme is that it wasn't intended to cheat people, but it sure puts the burden on wage earners and not on those who have "unearned" income.

Congress does a fine job helping bankers, wall streeters, and car manufacturers when those folks main trouble is they don't trust each other because they have looked in a mirror and realized that they are untrustworthy. So the gummint throws money at bankers without requirements for reform.

I could use a bailout myself. grin

Unfortunately, modern ways of doing things seem to require forms, bureaucrats, insurances, lawyers, and background checks.

And lobbyists. mad

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Two Lungs, you are so right about the fraternal organizations in the "old days". Of course, it was the 'ethnic time', when people realized that as new arrivals (minorities, if you will), this was going to be our only real source of help. It was embarassing to have to 'take charity', but if it meant a roof over one's head and food on the table, you did what you had to to survive. The organizations still exist today, but barely a shadow of what they once were.

As for janitors and bank execs participating in the Social Security and Medicare programs, it's truly the personal contributions and accounts. Some bank execs will probably not need to draw their Social Security funds, but they do. (Even Sen. McCain and Sen. Kennedy do so.) But the excess funds that they contributed will end up being in the 'kitty' to aid others.

I agree totally about our 'modern ways of doing things', and the forms, bureaucrats" and especially lawyers. But without the paperwork, people would try to milk the system.

Social Security is pretty much a pay-in and draw-out program - unless you are significantly disabled (SSDI). Your benefit is based on your income (and contributions). For Medicare, it's also pay-in and draw-out system (except for the accursed doughnut hole in the Part D prescription drug program). If you have unearned income, you don't pay on it - but you also don't get increased benefits.

Private insurers do the same eligibility/investigation thing. (I just got a form letter from Cigna telling me I'm denied because I'm overextend on benefits, but also because I'm not one of their subscribers. A hundred bucks to ANYONE who can explain that to me!! They hold the money until I force them to ante-up. A letter to the Attorney General's Consumer Affairs office in Richmond got a 48 hour response the last time they pulled this little stunt on me!!)

But the assessed Social Security and Medicare funds are still there for you when you need them - and perhaps even more than you contributed if you are in need. There is indeed no 'opt-out', but to be honest, if people opted out and then got sick, then either our country would have to just let them die, or bail them out through welfare. So, our people would end up having to pay for them without their having done their part through contributions and participation.

If folks don't want to pay, then let them become Mexican citizens, live here - if you have the guts, don't pay into the system - and get sick and die on your own.

Perhaps I'm crazy, but I see our American mindset about taking care of people as an unlabeled manifestation of the Gospel: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, etc. Just as our bishops have taught us to give preferential treatment to the poor. We might not label it "Catholic" or "Christian" or whatever, but it gets the Gospel's job done in our national name. And Our Lord never demanded a 'brand label' on our service. As Nike says: Just Do It. Monitor and root out abuses ( and have the miscreants killed... oops, sorry, unChristian thought rears its ugly head....) but ensure the needy are taken care of.

May the Lord bless us all in peace, health and happiness.

Dr John

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Originally Posted by Two Lungs


And it [Social Security] is quite regressive. The lowest paid janitor pays the same rate as a salaried manager.



err, no, as you continue,

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The executives and professionals pay on only the first $100K or so of salary, and nothing on stock options, capital gains, income from rents, stock dividends, etc.


For the first $100k of earned income, everyone pays exactly the same rate. If you compare "janitor" and "salaried manager", they pay the same rate; that's not regressive.

If you want to call it a tax and compare it to executive salaries, than yes, it is. But supposedly it's a pay-in/pay-out system; you pay in up to the covered levels (almost $100k/year), and get paid out accordingly.

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Most working people pay more Social Security tax than they do Income Tax

--- and I've never heard of a refund.
[/quote]

This has a lot to do with the so-called "tax cuts for the rich" under the Reagan and bush administrations, which removed most of the lower-middle and middle class from the tax rolls during child raising years. With two children, you need to make more than $33k to pay a dime in federal income taxes, while with four it's past $50k.

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--- and I've never heard of a refund.


Almost all of it can be refunded as the "Supplemental Child Tax Credit." If you appear eligible but don't claim it, the IRS even sends you a letter suggesting that you amend your returns to get it (I got the letter, and amended my returns).
You get full credit for your SS contribution, but get it back anyway.
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What makes it not a Ponzi scheme is that it wasn't intended to cheat people, but it sure puts the burden on wage earners and not on those who have "unearned" income.


That has nothing to do with whether it's a ponzi or not. A Ponzi scheme is one which relies on later contributions to pay what has been promised to earlier contributions. The system was sold to the public as repayment of your own contributions, but was a fraud from the start in that regard.

Personally, I'd scrap the entire system for new entrants and anyone under 30, offer optional buyouts to those over thirty, and institute a mandatory 401k-style system with a guaranteed minimum pension based o n amounts paid in--but that's for another day and time; it's off topic here.

My real points here are that
1) SS in the US *is* Ponzi, and
2) Ponzi isn't *necessarily* bad. In the SS context, it *can* actually be good--the payouts can be higher than the payins in the amount of productivity growth + population growth*retired/worker ration--but the latter is negative in the US!

hawk

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