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The government says it controls a future it says we control

May 17, 2017

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has developed a new website for citizens to view their Social Security “accounts.” The website includes new security features, which may promote some peace of mind.  But the main message on the front page poses some very disturbing implications.

With the backdrop of a cool dude wearing sunglasses hiking with a backpack on a rock overlooking a sea, the two sentences introducing the website are:

“Set yourself free.  Open a my Social Security account today and rest easy knowing that you’re in control of your future.”

Sounds pretty good.  It’s “my” Social Security account! I should rest easy, knowing that I am in control of my future.

Trouble is, that isn’t what the government says when questioned why unfunded Social Security benefits are not included as liabilities (debts) on the federal government’s balance sheet.

In a public hearing in 2007, SSA chief actuary Stephen Goss explained that:

“An overriding uncertainty exists under the Social Security (and all Federal Social Insurance) programs. This is the Government’s right and ability to alter potential future benefits. Until benefits become due and payable, there is no binding commitment over which a worker has control and so no liability can be recognized.”

So, our government tells us we don’t control the things our government tells us that we control.  Our government tells us that it controls “my Social Security account,” that’s why unfunded future Social Security benefits – which run in the tens of trillions of dollars -- aren’t debts that have to be included on the government’s balance sheet.  This is money our government owes us, and tells us that we control.

Our government is talking out of both sides of its mouth.  

One thing is true – it is our government, and We the People control it – not the other way around.



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