There seems to be no guaranteed safety in the great American so-called safety net of Social Security. Sorry to say it folks, but the vault they promised would be filled with gold and treasure, the measurable output of the time and labor working people put into their jobs to fill that state-protected space is essentially empty, with cobwebs in the corners and dust on the shelves.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the overall cost of Social Security will surpass its income next year. A recent report from CNN paints another dark layer onto this grave picture as well, warning taxpayers that Social Security won’t be able to pay full benefits by 2035:
If Congress doesn't act soon, tens of millions of Americans will only receive about three-quarters of their Social Security benefits when they retire. Social Security's trust funds will be tapped out by 2035, according to an annual report released Monday by trustees of the government's two largest entitlement programs, the other being Medicare. That's one year later than last year's report projected. The new projection doesn't mean retirees will no longer get checks in 16 years. But the program will at that point only have enough revenue coming in to pay three-quarters of promised benefits through the end of 2093.
Taxpayers now must trust their government to reform or reduce the role of one of its key socialist programs. So what does this mean? The jig is up, the robbers have escaped with the loot, and we’re on our own. For some, however, this is less of a shock and more of a fact of life.
Objectivists believe in individual responsibility and a natural right to support one’s own livelihood. “Need” is not a claim to another individual’s wealth or ability. Why should you be compelled by force to serve someone else? According to the altruist mentality, you must serve others -- not because you value them as friends, not because you have incurred obligations to them by your own choice.
Scratch beneath the social justice slogans and superficial support of democratic socialism, and you’ll find that most members of my generation don’t really aspire to being sacrificial animals, assuming inherited obligations to support entitlement programs that -- as has now become glaringly clear -- will inevitably become insolvent. But reforming -- much less abolishing -- such entrenched entitlements will first require that we challenge the philosophical premises upon which they rest.
That means questioning why individuals who have made the decision not to support themselves claim a right to the reward of another person’s work. David Kelley argued in A Life of One’s Own, if the strong should not prey on the weak, how is it that the weak have a right to reap the rewards of the strong and the willing?
Success and reward by their nature make people more willing to be charitable as an extension of their pride in themselves and benevolence towards their communities. Programs like Social Security, however, depend on force.
Let me just point out that Ayn Rand collected Social Security, under compulsion. There is no contradiction here. She would gladly have kept her own earnings in the first place, had she the choice. In her 1966 essay, “The Question of Scholarships,” Rand argued that everyone forced to contribute to Social Security has a moral right to get their money back:
The same moral principles and considerations apply to the issue of accepting social security, unemployment insurance or other payments of that kind. It is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifically, without his consent, against his own choice. Those who advocate such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the “right” to force employers and unwilling coworkers. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money–and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration.
Now, clearly, many people will never get their money back. In her 1962 essay “Let Us Alone,” Ayn Rand summarized it best, saying “the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.” Until this is understood by a majority of taxpayers, we will continue to have the weak loot the strong while the robbers loot us all.