Walter E. Williams

As an example, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Flemming vs. Nestor (1960) there are no "accrued property rights" to a Social Security check. That means Congress can do anything it wishes with Social Security and that includes means-testing payments, raising eligibility age, reducing payments, increasing "contributions" or eliminate the program altogether. The same applies to any of the other so-called non-discretionary spending programs.

By the way, thinking about the looming Social Security disaster, I believe that a person who's 65 years old and has been forced into Social Security is owed something. But who owes it to him? Congress has spent every penny of what he put into Social Security. Any check he receives comes out of the hide of young workers in the labor force. I think that's unfair. The young worker has no obligation to that senior citizen, but Congress has.

I have a one-time fix to give us some breathing room to make reforms. The federal government has huge quantities of wasting assets -- assets that are not producing anything, 650 million acres of land -- almost 30 percent of the land area of the United States. It owns 80 percent of the land in Nevada, 70 percent in Alaska, 60 percent in Idaho and 50 percent in California and Oregon. I would be willing, and I suspect many others, to make a deal with Congress whereby I forsake all Social Security and Medicare benefits for, say, 50 acres of land in Alaska.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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