The Globe today published a mercifully brief letter to the editor comparing Social Security to a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme. Since no one at the Globe seems to spend anytime using the internet as a resource, they could not have known that dozens-no hundreds-of comments exactly like this have already been posted. Not surprisingly, these seem to have peaked around 2005, the time the Bushies were declaring war on Social Security and, in the wake of the market collapse of recent weeks, have pretty much petered out. But as this letter shows, some stupid ideas never die.
As Paul Krugman wrote last year
“…doomsaying about Social Security – declaring that the program as we know it can’t survive the onslaught of retiring baby boomers – is regarded as a sort of badge of seriousness, a way of showing how statesmanlike and tough-minded you are.” In evidence he cites two gasbag goofs, Chris Matthews and Tim Russert: “Russert: : “Everyone knows Social Security, as it’s constructed, is not going to be in the same place it’s going to be for the next generation, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives.” Matthews: “It’s a bad Ponzi scheme, at this point.” Russert: “Yes.”
Contrary to the persistent right-wing meme, Social Security, whatever it faults, is not a Ponzi scheme. Measured by its long history of payouts, its low administrative costs, and its projected future (and here), it is one of the most successful federal programs in our history. But the persistent attacks by the Right have even some people who identify themselves as progressives aping this poisonous falsehood. Time to fight back.