Talkin Social Security

Paul Henry Rosenberg rad at
Tue Oct 20 18:51:52 PDT 1998

John K. Taber wrote:

> Paul Henry Rosenberg wrote:
> >
> > ...<SNIP>...
> >
> I'm squirreling your explanation away. I've found auto insurance to
> be a good riposte to the rightwing pitch that social security provides
> too low a return. And, auto insurance is compulsory. So far, it seems
> to shut em up. In office arguments I have suggested years ago that auto
> insurance be voluntary. The rightwingers look at me aghast. These
> are the same ones who whine that social security is compulsory. So this
> analogy works good.

A bit off the topic, but this reminds me of something Elaine Bernard said in talk David Barsamian distributes, about how fire protection in America became socialist around the turn of the Century. Previously ot only protected those who paid for it. But people opting out endangered everyone else. So good old American capitalists insisted on socialism!

> The SSA Myth had a diagram which shows pay-as-you-go as an inline
> string of connected boxes, generation g, g+1, g+2, ....,g+n. A box
> might be smaller or larger presenting a smaller or larger burden on
> its successor generation.
> In contrast, the diagram of a Ponzi scheme showed a tree arrangement
> of boxes. In short, a geometric progression instead of a linear
> progression.
> I found it effective for my audience because they could not argue
> with the implied math, even though I guess it was simplified math.

Gosh, you must be arguing with Neanderthals! I've been slugging it out with rhesus monkeys. Never had the need to talk about geometric progressions, as you can see!

(Hyperbolic prose, now, that's a 'nother matter entirely! Circular reasoning? By the ton! Eliptical arguments? All the time!)

> But what really helped was the authority. If I say a Ponzi scheme
> depends on a geometric progression, somebody is going to say "no it
> doesn't." They simply deny what they don't like, unless it comes from
> an authority that is difficult for them to deal with. I don't know
> how to get out of the no it doesn't/yes it does impasse.

Well, you can't really win against those who absolutely refuse to reason, but they can be extremely helpful in bringing observers around to your side.

And, in another post:

> Max Sawicky wrote:
> >

> > The best web site on Social Security is
> > The Century Fund (formerly Twentieth
> > Century Fund, and unaccountably designated
> > 'American Century Fund' by greg nowell).
> > Go to and branch out to
> > TCF. Also try the Preamble Center...
> > ...
> > The Urban Institute and Brookings
> > have worthwhile stuff...
> Max, I scrounge thru those sites all the time on the q v for material
> to use. Sometimes they are very useful. But at the level I'm arguing,
> they are too respectably academic. Nobody in academia seriously
> maintains that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme at least not that I
> have read. So, none of them addresses that particular disinformation
> head on. It simply is not an issue for an academic audience.
> But Ponzi scheme is one of the BIG issues at the level I contend with.
> All the arguments against social security absolutely depend upon the
> ignorance of the public.

John REALLY hits the nose on the head here.

Let me say that again.

John REALLY hits the nose on the head here!

There's a DESPERATE need for information on the web that's organized to be user-friendly and is addressed to the propaganda environment created by rightwing media.

I've put together some fragmentary information on a few topics, but the need is so great that it far eclipses what one person can do, especially if they actually have other responsibilities, such as earning a living, or even just walking a dog.

I, too, have garnered information from those cites, but all too often find a very poor fit between what they've got and where the arguments I encounter lie. Plus, they are laid out to provide access to papers, or summaries, which is really a pain if you're trying to find something quickly to respond to some outrageous claim or another.

A good example of what's needed can be found in the Talk Origins archives. Anytime I encounter a Creationist, it's like wiping bugs off my windshield thanks to that site. I don't have to remember all the various obscure idiocies they come up with, Talk Origins has it covered six ways from Sunday.

We need the same thing for Left economics.


-- Paul Rosenberg Reason and Democracy rad at

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

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