Friday, August 20, 2010

Paul Krugman attacks Social Security?

Chicago AM Tuesday 17 August 2010

Editors, The New York Times


The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman opens his Monday 14 August column “Attacking Social Security” by referring to Social Security as “a program that has brought dignity and decency to the lives of older Americans.”

A reference to Krugman's I'm sure well worn copy of the 2010 Statistical Abstract of the United States would show the federal gonvernment annually distributes $900 billion to 50 million Social Security recipients. How much “dignity and decency” does $17,647/year buy a United States retiree in 2010?

Maybe Mr. Krugman could look at his apparently hardly used copy of the United States Constitution and point out where it says the Federal Government has any business being in the old age insurance business. If he thinks it comes under the general welfare clause, he should read James Madison's Federalist Paper number 41 where the father of the Consitiution patiently explains that "...a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms [general welfare] immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon.”

And that semicolon is immediately followed by the 17 clauses of Article 1 Section 8 specifically defining what Congress can do, from 'borrow money' to 'make all laws... necessary... for carrying into execution the foregoing powers,' but not a word about old age insurance.

If Mr. Krugman thinks the Supreme Court would make quick work with that, he can see they already have, with their 1961 Flemming vs Nestor decision:

"The noncontractual interest of an employee covered by the [Social Security] Act cannot be soundly analogized to that of the holder of an annuity, whose right to benefits are based on his contractual premium payments. To engraft upon the Social Security System a concept of 'accrued property rights' would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever-changing conditions which it demands and which Congress probably had in mind when it expressly reserved the right to alter, amend or repeal any provision of the Act.”

Arnold H Nelson

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