The Spectacle Blog

Counterproductive Conservative Arguments, Cont’d

By on 6.20.08 | 5:44PM

Lawrence Lindsey is right that Obama's plan to apply payroll taxes to incomes above $250,000 is economically boneheaded and contrary to Social Security's status as an earned entitlement. "There is," as Lindsey writes in the Wall Street Journal, "a very good and principled reason why Social Security taxes are paid on just $102,000 of income: Benefits are calculated based on that same $102,000 of income."

But it is taking the polemical point too far to endorse FDR's characterization of the current Social Security program as "a base upon which each one of our citizens may build his individual security through his own individual efforts." It is really a welfare program merged with a Ponzi scheme to mask its redistributive effects. Defending this system rather than pointing to the lousy rate of return today's workers can expect on their compulsory "investment" is counterproductive.

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