John Stossel

Ten years after Social Security passed in 1935, there were almost 42 workers for each retiree. Five years later, the ratio slipped to about 17 to 1. Now it's about 3.4 to 1. Thirty years from now, the ratio is projected to be 2 to 1.

Think of the burden on those two to three workers who'll have to support one retiree for 15 to 20 years.

The money just won't be there. In the next 75 years Social Security and Medicare have a combined unfunded liability of $40.3 trillion. Social Security's problems get most of the attention, but Medicare will be the killer. At present it accounts for all but $4.3 trillion of the unfunded liability, and as we aging boomers keep demanding new, improved and more expensive medical care, the deficit will only get worse

Soon government will have to say what Madoff said: Sorry! The money's gone.

The government has no legal obligation to make good on its promises. Twice the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Americans have no contractual rights regarding Social Security benefits. In 1960 (Flemming v. Nestor), the court said, "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."

Get that? You have no "accrued property rights" under Social Security. It's a welfare program that exists at the politicians' pleasure.

The government will either stiff us outright or, more likely, cowardly politicians will pretend to honor their promises by printing so much extra money to write the checks that the dollar will be worth pennies.

If Bernie Madoff tried to foist Social Security and Medicare on us, he'd be arrested, prosecuted and thrown in the hoosegow.

There's one thing I can say on behalf of Madoff: He never forced anyone to participate in his scheme. That's more than I can say for the government. Through taxation and inflation, it forces us to pay for all its schemes.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate