by Albert Meyer, member CCLP
I frequently talk to young people about the Libertarian Party, with mixed success, except in recent times when I began focusing on Social Security. They don’t always understand what libertarianism entails, but they understand what it means to have 15% of their monthly wages confiscated and dumped into the Social Security System. Needless to say the whole idea generates a lot of anger, frustration and discontentment.
This got me thinking that the Libertarian Party should concentrate on this one issue for the time being. In the UK, a once unknown splinter party, UKIP (UK Independent Party), has gained a lot of traction by focusing on one issue: Get Britain out of the European Union. As soon as issues like abortion, gay marriage, guns, etc., become a major concern among voters, Washington starts taking note and politicians begin aligning themselves accordingly. Focusing and spending a lot of time to promote one single issue can be very productive.
I think it would greatly benefit the Libertarian Party, and the cause of liberty, if the party makes a promise to “young people,” everyone under the age of 40, a choice to opt out of Social Security, which could even include some kind of a refund of contributions made to date. (How do we pay for this? Cut the defense budget to 1.5% of GDP, which is more than adequate, seeing no country in the world would ever dream of invading us. There would be plenty of money available to fund current obligations, without having to run a quasi-Ponzi scheme.)
Here is the kind of argument that I use with young people: Most probably the government has already invested heavily in their education, whether they are graduates or not, but especially if they hold degrees, or even post-graduate degrees. What the government is effectively telling these highly educated young people is that despite their hard-earned and stellar educational credentials, they cannot be trusted to take care of their own retirement. This is ironic in the light of the fact that the tax code provides many incentives for people to start saving for their retirement. In addition, there are a multitude of fairly safe investments offered by the mutual fund industry that have proven track records that outperform the Social Security system by more than fifty fold.
There is no earthly reason why they should entrust 15% of their wages to a bankrupt system, a system that if operated by the private sector would be called a Ponzi scheme. It is even more galling when one considers that, by government-mandated standards, the least sophisticated and educated sector of our society, the Amish community, is exempt from participating in Social Security. They can be trusted to take care of themselves, but not us and especially those with some form of training, education or trade?
One way in which to launch this initiative would be to establish a website (Facebook perhaps) whereby individuals who want to opt out of Social Security can register their intention: “Get us out now!”
Once, say, a half a million registrants sign on, the media will take note. Pretty soon, the numbers will snowball to 5 million, even 10 million. At that stage, we declare victory. Every politician running for office would promise some sort of way in which to opt out of Social Security, but only the Libertarian candidates would have the true opt-out solution and, more importantly, the credibility.
I think this is an idea worth pursuing, because nothing grabs a young person’s attention more that his or her wallet/paycheck. Once they are shown that they will earn a meager return, if any, on the 15% (many don’t even know about the employer contribution, and if they do, they have never thought about it as something they might have a claim on) being contributed to the so called “trust” fund, they will be hooked.