What Is Social Insurance?
baselinescenario.com — Unsurprisingly, most Americans are split between various misconceptions of what Social Security and Medicare are. Many, particularly right-wing politicians and their media mouthpieces, see them as pure tax-and-transfer programs: they gather money from one set of people and give it to another set of people. From this point of view, they are bad bad bad bad bad and should be cut. Many others, particularly beneficiaries and people who hope to see beneficiaries, see them as earned benefits. The common conception is that you pay in while you’re working, so you earned the benefits you get in retirement. You didn’t “earn” them in the moral sense that people who work hard should get benefits; you “earned” them in the accounting sense that you’re just getting back “your” money that you set aside during your career. Both of these perspectives are wrong, the latter more obviously so.