Social Security & Withholding, a Generational Transfer Scheme

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 Social Security & Withholding

It isn’t just the under-30s who are fed up with social security. Many of those of us under 40 feel the same way. Right now, I would be happy to just write-off all my previous social security “contributions” (wait, “contributions” are supposed to be voluntary, aren’t they?) if I could have the opportunity to opt out, even partially, with a private account in the future. President Bush ran on reform, yet already Republicans in Congress are blinking when faced with minor opposition. The Republican party is, in theory, the party of smaller government and more freedom, yet too easily caves on that principle.

If a party is truly one of limited government, there is an easy way to test its mettle; a way that does not change tax rates or revenues one iota: eliminate withholding. This is a simple idea, one that would expose the true motives of the opposition. Any party that wants a smaller, less intrusive government in order to increase individual liberty should want to expose the pain and scope of the government.

Withholding is the enabler of big government. The sincerity of those who claim to oppose big government may be judged by their willingness to remove the enabler. Eliminating withholding is like truth in advertising: people will then really know what they are paying for is what they are getting.

Out of every Federal program, withholding does the most to mask the size of the government. Those who favor big, controlling government will favor a ‘painless’ tax system. Those who wish to be free to live their lives will wish to expose the government for what it is: a huge entity controlled by a power-hungry minority willing to pit group against group in order to maintain power.

In 1964 President Reagan said “Today in our country the tax collector’s share is 37 cents of every dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp.” Forty-one years later, the share is much higher because it is semi-painless – it is more difficult to miss what you don’t see. If the Republican Party really wants an ownership society, a society of opportunity and freedom for all, along with the mandate to make those changes, it must expose the size and scope of government. Otherwise the debates will continue to devolve into one of fear mongering and nothing will be accomplished but polarization, serving only those who want power over you, me, and everyone else.

However, the odds of this are slim though because few politicians believe in the wisdom of the Founders as embodied in the Constitution, and even fewer wish to relinquish their power over the rest of us.

Christian H.F. Riley, Esq.