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Judge Andrew P. Napolitano
4 Feb 2016
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Rick Perry Was Correct


When Texas Gov. Rick Perry, then in the early stages of his short-lived quest for the Republican presidential nomination, referred to Social Security as "a Ponzi scheme," he was excoriated by the press, left and right, and by his fellow Republicans, as well. Earlier this week, government actuaries revealed that Perry was correct.

That revelation, which was greeted with a ho-hum by the media, basically announced that by 2033, 21 years from now, the so-called Social Security trust fund will be empty. The only reason this was even announced is because we are approaching a presidential election campaign, and in response to Perry's much-derided claim, the government's actuaries, who originally told the Obama administration and the public that the fund would be solvent until 2036, re-examined their numbers and concluded that it will be in the red three years earlier than they thought.

This revelation should come as no surprise to those who monitor the government and its deceptive ways. When he first introduced Social Security, President Franklin D. Roosevelt argued that under Social Security the federal government would be holding your money for you. He deceptively fostered the idea that Social Security would be a savings account, into which employees and employers would make contributions and out of which guaranteed monies would be paid to those who reached the age of 65. Essentially, he claimed that you'd get your money back.

The politicians believed him, but the actuaries and the judiciary understood that the government would never hold anyone's money for him — as if it were the custodian of a bank account. In the first of several challenges to the constitutionality of Social Security, the Supreme Court found that the Social Security fund did not consist of your money. It was merely tax revenue.

Did you know that?

It also held that since Congress' law-making authority is limited to the 16 discrete delegated powers granted to it in the Constitution (a truism few in Congress accept as binding) but its spending authority is open-ended (a conclusion that must torment James Madison's ghost), Congress could collect funds, claim it was holding the funds in a savings account and then spend those funds as it saw fit — for those in need after age 65 or for any other purpose.

Did you know that?

And, in a curious yet revealing one-liner in the Supreme Court opinion upholding the constitutionality of Social Security, even the court recognized that there would be no trust fund in the traditional sense when it found that the tax dollars collected and supposedly designated for Social Security were "not earmarked in any way."

Did you know that?

Eventually, the government would acknowledge that what it first called a savings account and then called old-age insurance and then said would be fortified by a trust fund did not even establish a contractual obligation to those who have paid the Social Security tax — which would be all of us. Thus, the feds have conceded and the courts have agreed that the money you have involuntarily contributed to the so-called trust fund is not yours and can be spent by the government as it pleases, just like any other revenue that the feds collect.

Did you know that?

The trust fund is not money that the government "holds" for you, as FDR promised. It is not money to which you have a lawful claim, as he claimed. It is not a guarantee for you, as he led the public to believe. The so-called trust fund is merely the difference between what is collected and what is paid out. And the feds just acknowledged that in 21 years, they are likely to pay out more than they will collect.

Perry did not succeed this time in his quest for the Republican nomination. But he did succeed in articulating a hard truth: The same federal government that prosecutes people like Bernie Madoff for paying out more than they collect does the very same thing under the color of law.

Is a Ponzi scheme — which is basically theft by deception — lawful just because the government runs it? The Supreme Court has said yes. Perry has said no.

Governor Perry is correct.

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written six books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is "It Is Dangerous To Be Right When the Government Is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom." To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit




5 Comments | Post Comment
Yes. I did know all that. Many seniors do. It's the ultimate cradle to grave screwing of the people by their government. No different than any other government treats their citizens. Except Socialist countries, where their taxes are high but the money is actually spent to help, support, and take care of the people from cradle to grave.
But we get it, the propaganda against socialism has convinced everyone getting screwed out of social security, and healthcare, and being made dependent on the largesse of Wall Street bankers and pension planners is so much better than a secure old age and good healthcare from a socialized form of government.
Save your retirement money in a privatized IRA with us, the no regulation wall street bankers and financiers. We manipulate everything to the degree you'll never have any real money when you need it. Trust us. We're not the government.
We collapsed the world economy, your government spent your social security. But you can trust us.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Steve
Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:42 PM
Which socialist country that is going broke are you referring to Steve? Yeah that is the answer, let's cultivate a culture of uninspired, lazy, entitled, selfish, uncharitable, people so that when the country goes broke they can go riot in the streets! Europe is such a paradise! Especially that elitist class of politicians living high off of the high taxes while making rules for others to live by that they themselves are unwilling to follow.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Thetruth
Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:49 PM
One of the comments above was paid for by the Koch brothers. Can you guess which one it was>
Comment: #3
Posted by: datsneefa
Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:20 AM
Ohhhhhh real intelligent cooment datsneefa. Show us how smart you are by telling everyone on this board any country where socialism is working.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Thetruth
Tue May 1, 2012 7:11 PM
The Socialist 'Dream' sounds wonderful, and if it worked...anywhere...I would be happy to sign on. But it doesn't - not today, not yesterday, not tomorrow.
The problem is that a Socialist system draws all of the funds to support a society from those who exert the most personal effort (the 'Workers') and gives these funds to too many who have no incentive to work to insure their own financial security ('the 'Slackers'). Those who DO deserve the help of any decent society such as impoverished elderly citizens, minors who are in precarious living situations, and those who have disabilities or health issues and no ability to access private insurance should be the only beneficiaries of 'community funds' provided through taxation. Unfortunately, because Socialism always generates a society filled with 'Slackers' who feel entitled to what the 'Workers' produce, the deserving individuals never get enough of the help and empathy they need, and the greedy, selfish, and lazy profit....that is until the society runs out of other peoples money and 'The Dream' is over.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Mary
Thu May 3, 2012 2:38 PM
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