Talkin Social Security

Paul Henry Rosenberg rad at
Tue Oct 20 08:38:22 PDT 1998

John K. Taber wrote:

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

Heck, in bare-bones I can put it into a single short paragraph:

A Ponzi scheme is (a) a fradulent "investment" scheme which (b) takes people's money under the pretence of investing it and (c) uses other people's "investment" money to pay "interest" (d) that keeps people hooked and encourages them to "invest" more (e) and never delivers what it promises. NONE of this is true of Social Security.

You can then go into as much detail as needed to flesh things out. At bottom, the "ponzi scheme" argument is treating SS as a fraudulent investment scheme -- which it NEVER claims to be, rather than the insurance system it is. Thus, it's an informal example of a straw man argument, arguing against SS as something it doesn't claim to be.

Which leads into

> By the way, Louis, your pointer to the logical fallacies at nizkor
> is a big help.

I use and refer folks to the Nizkor Fallacies pages all the time. There are a few other sites around that cover a few fallacies that Nizkor missess, but there's hardly ever a need to refer to them. The real problems come from rightwingers' tendencies to use multiple fallacies simultaneously -- it's a real mess trying to untangle them all.

> 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.

Perhaps Max or someone else can point us to some similar online resource? I've found bits and pieces of such info here & there, but would love to know about a concise central document.

p.s. The "ponzi scheme" argument is often accompanied by the rightwing crie de couer, "It would be illegal if anyone except the government did it!" To which I respond, "So is printing money."

-- Paul Rosenberg Reason and Democracy rad at

"Let's put the information BACK into the information age!"

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