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Save Me From Myself: Poor Little Yachtsman Edition

October 24th, 2006 · 1 Comment

After one too many mornings where I failed to get my ass up to turn off the alarm, Kerry finally just unplugged my clock radio, so I haven’t caught Maketplace Morning Report in a while. But Don Boudreaux was listening today and caught a doozy of an argument for higher Social Security taxes:

But my total social security tax for four decades was only $63,000. I didn’t even miss it. And in 16 of those years my income hit the government ceiling. I wish they’d taken more. But what if Social Security hadn’t existed? Would I have set aside hundreds of thousands to provide for myself?

Not likely. I proved that 10 years ago when I cashed an annuity and bought a sailboat. I sailed to Spain and had lots of fun. But as an investment it was worse than Enron.

So this idea of privatizing, of letting me own my retirement, would have been another Katrina.

Parentalism anyone? As Boudreaux points out, maybe buying a boat was the best use of this guy’s money at the time. But there’s probably a vicious feedback loop here, where if the government acts on the assumption that people aren’t competent to take responsibility for their own lives for long enough, you get citizens who really aren’t—because they don’t have to. I have plenty of sympathy for people who were dealt a bad hand in life and never earn enough to save up money for old age. I can’t seem to muster much for folk who just decided it would be more fun to buy a sailboat with the extra cash they had lying around.

I also note, by the by, that the commentator wants government to invest payroll tax revenue in order to “stop passing the buck to our kids.” But he also suggests that the money could be invested in T-Bills. Where does he think the money to pay off the interest on T-Bills comes from? The Treasury Fairy? [cross-posted @ NftL.]

Tags: Nannyism



1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Caliban // Oct 26, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    I also appreciate the “I am a stupid, wasteful spendaholic, ergo everyone else is and we should force them not to be” argument. I suppose he’s just applying the Golden Rule.