Samuelson on the 'Origins of Entitlements'

A really good article from Robert Samuelson in RealClearPolitics traces the history of Social Security and shows why even FDR wouldn't recognize the program today. Roosevelt originally saw a "contributory" pension system where workers would pay into the fund and their contributions would grow over time, acting as a government run pension system. That's changed, of course, as Samuelson points out: Millions of Americans believe (falsely) that their payroll taxes have been segregated to pay for their benefits and that, therefore, they "earned" these benefits. To reduce them would be to take something that is rightfully theirs. Indeed, Roosevelt -- believing he had created a contributory program -- said exactly that: "We put those payroll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral and political right to collect their pensions. ... No damn politician can ever scrap my Social Security program." What we have is a vast welfare program grafted onto the rhetoric...(Read Full Post)