Talkin Social Security

John K. Taber jktaber at
Mon Oct 19 19:44:16 PDT 1998

Paul Henry Rosenberg wrote:
> Max Sawicky wrote:
> > In general my news is not good. Social
> > Security privatization has a very strong
> > hold on the students. They feel they will
> > do better with their own little accounts
> > than the "Ponzi game" program.
> A few notes from my own online experience debating the rabid
> representatives who spread this ideology, particularly among the young:
> This is one of the most important myths to hit head on. Whenever I've
> encountered the "Ponzi Scheme" argument and I've laid out what
> consitutes a Ponzi Scheme vs. what SS is, the response has been
> defeaning silence.

Paul, I need your Ponzi explanation. Please zip it to me at jktaber at

I used to use the SSA's explanation in their Myths section, but the SSA has removed it, and have told me they have no firm plans to restore it. They covered a bunch of anti-SS myths.

Naturally, my paranoia starts up, and I suspect that somehow the SSA was ordered to remove them.

So, I need yours. I wasn't smart enough to squirrel the SSA's away.

> I also mention that it was CONSERVATIVES who opposed letting the
> government invest the SS trust fund in the market, which is the subtext
> of the "Ponzi Scheme" complaint. The result of this is often a
> fall-back to naked hatred of government. I then go on the offensive and
> ask why they use the internet, fruit of so much government subsidy, if
> they hate everything the goverment does so much. If I'm feeling really
> feisty, I might even mention the Lousiana Purchase (particularly if they
> try invoking their libertarian simulacrum of Thomas Jeffersons). In
> short -- the best defense is a good offense. Knock down the "Ponzi
> Scheme" complaint, and then just floor it.

You're doing good work, keep banging away. By persistence and the help of several others (one a life-long Republican!) we now have a majority in my newsgroup. In fact, it looks like the anti-SS crowd avoids us with just an occasional True Believer showing up by accident.

> Cyberspace is a VERY good place to do this.

Amen. It's unpleasant work, and I haven't quite steeled myself to branch out to the talk.politics.* hierarchy, but I will soon.

By the way, Louis, your pointer to the logical fallacies at nizkor is a big help. I've been testing it out on the right wingers in my newsgroup. It takes care to identify the right fallacy, (boy, can you blow an argument using the wrong one) but it sure shuts silliness up in a hurry.

Max, welcome to the real world. I believe that the "utes" (????) beliefs are shallow. The media is not on our side, and all their misinformation comes from the media. IMO, they have been frightened that they won't get social security, and are supporting what they have been misled into believing will preserve as much as possible of social security for them. In addition, there is a natural tendency of younger people to disbelieve they will get social security simply because the rewards are too far in the future for them to imagine. IMO, the basis of their belief is fear, successfully manipulated by the anti-SS forces.

All I can do is encourage you to go out more into the real world. It's gonna take a lot of knockdown dragout arguing.

The danger, it seems to me, is that while I think we will win this time, the damage to public faith is so great that the next crisis in Social Security, real or contrived, will do it in.

-- I've been able to string more words into fewer ideas than anybody I know, and I'm continuing to do that.

- Alan Greenspan to the Senate Budget Committee, Sept 23, 1998

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