I’d like to discuss Social Security in a roundabout way. I do a lot of work that deals with web hosting companies. Most of them offer some kind of money-back guarantee. And the better ones will add something like, “No questions asked!” It got me thinking of a small minded business owner who offers a money-back guarantee and then grouses every time someone takes them up on it. What’s with that?
You have to think about why a company offers a money-back guarantee. It’s done to signal trust to the customer. It’s a form of marketing. The company doesn’t offer it just because it is nice; it offers it because it believes that it will only get some of the more marginal customers by offering it. And the truth is, people rarely do take advantage of money-back guarantees. Much more common is someone who buys hosting and then never uses it — effectively giving the hosting company money for nothing at all.
Our small minded business owner is not looking at the situation logically. They are seeing just what they lose and nothing of what they gain. It is like advertising in the newspaper and then complaining that it is costing you money. Right! Because you are getting something for the money. You have to look at both sides of the ledger. And it is the same thing in politics.
I constantly hear conservatives talking about phasing out Social Security. Their favorite trick is to say that it won’t affect anyone 55 and older (which just happens to be the core of their political support). But the way that Social Security operates is that people working now pay for the people retired now. That was the only way the program could work, given that it had to start at some point.
So let’s suppose we tell 25 year olds that they will not get Social Security when they retire. Well, the older people still need their benefits, which means that we will still have to be collecting payroll taxes. But by the thinking of conservatives who have wanted to destroy the program from its very first day, this poses no problem: it depends upon young people being fine with 15% of their income taken that will never — and could never — benefit them. Is that a reasonable assumption? Of course not!
The truth is that conservatives know this. They might make up pretty stories for people close to retirement, but they know that younger people would never agree to pay the same highly regressive tax if their benefits were reduced — for the youngest, to zero. But despite what they say, the idea is not that Social Security is going bankrupt (because it isn’t). And it isn’t about reforming the program going forward. It is about killing the program — as quickly as possible for everyone.
It’s not that they just hate people. It’s that conservatives are the most ideological people in the nation. They care more about that ideology than they do people, because in their minds, if only their ideology were followed, all the problems would disappear. So I’m not saying they are psychopaths. But I am saying that they want to destroy Social Security (and a whole lot more). You should never believe them when they talk about “reform.” When conservatives talk about “reform” they are really trying to pick your pocket.