login about faq

Social Security was intended to be a backup or supplement for retirement savings. For many poor Americans who worked minimum wage jobs throughout most of their lives, without it, they would be in crisis. I'm not assuming it will be there for me, but I'm glad it's there for those who are less fortunate financially.

So why are Objectivists against Social Security?

asked Nov 08 '10 at 05:50

Michael's gravatar image


edited Nov 09 '10 at 03:04

jasoncrawford's gravatar image

jasoncrawford ♦

But if someone has paid into the system for several years doesn't it make sense for him or her to eventually receive benefits under the system?

(Nov 20 '12 at 08:12) Louise Louise's gravatar image

Yes, but only because that person is being returned the money that was wrongfully taken from them, by force, in the first place. Social Security remains an act of force, undertaken by the government, to take hard-earned money away from some citizens and give it to others. It's a morally reprehensible use of government force.

(Nov 20 '12 at 09:20) JK Gregg ♦ JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

To understand why Objectivism opposes Social Security, it is first necessary to understand the Objectivist view of physical force, rights, and the proper purpose of government. I recommend Rand's essays "Man's Rights" and "The Nature of Government" to start.

Briefly, government is an institution with a legal monopoly on the use of physical force. In a rational society, its sole function is to act as the citizens' agent of self-defense against criminals and foreign aggressors; that is, to protect the individual rights of the people. If the government takes money from Citizen A to give to Citizen B (or even for some purpose allegedly for the benefit of Citizen A), then the government has become a legalized looter, a violator rather than a protector of rights.

Also, as a technical matter, it is important to realize that Social Security is not a retirement savings program; rather, it is a cash transfer scheme that funds today's retirees with Social Security taxes taken from today's workers and employers. The amount of money that one will "get back" upon retirement is nothing more than the federal government's promise to extract that amount from future taxpayers.

answered Nov 08 '10 at 10:28

Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

Andrew Dalton ♦

edited Nov 10 '10 at 14:58

I'm against Social Security because the government has no right to take my earnings and tell me how I should be planning/saving/investing for my retirement. It's my life and my responsibility. That's the principle.

Practically speaking, it's such a large portion of my earnings (remember there's a similar percentage paid by employers that doesn't even appear in your paycheck) and I know I could do such a better job with that money, it makes me furious. Think about all the wealth and opportunity that money would create if it were kept in the market rather than directed into government.

(Nov 09 '10 at 05:54) QEDbyBrett ♦ QEDbyBrett's gravatar image

Objectivists are against Social Security for the same reason they are against any entitlement program. At it's core, an entitlement program takes money (through force) from one group of people and gives the money to another group of people.

Ayn Rand identified force as the ultimate threat to a man's life. If a man lives under the threat of force, he cannot act on his own judgment. He is not the owner of his own property or his own life. If a man cannot act on his own judgment, if the product of his labor is taken from him, he is not a free man.

It is for this reason that objectivists reject social security. Now there are many additional economic/political/social reasons for why social security is fundamentally flawed. It's a ponzi scheme, it's not a savings account, the return on funds forcibly taken from individuals is abysmal (any private company that returned an investment at that low a rate would go out of business), it assumes people are stupid and can't manage their own money, it was started at an age when the average life expectancy was 65 now it's almost 80, it's been abused as a slush fund by congress for 30+ years, and the piper is coming due now, etc. etc.

But while those are all good arguments against, the fundamental reason objectivists are against social security is because it robs from the working, to give to the old.

answered Nov 09 '10 at 08:09

John%20Hoffman's gravatar image

John Hoffman ♦

wouldn't the proper term be duties as opposed to entitlements ?

(Nov 09 '10 at 23:16) Michael Michael's gravatar image

no. Here's a definition of entitlement program if the concept is new to you. http://www.lectlaw.com/def/e081.htm

(Nov 10 '10 at 07:14) John Hoffman ♦ John%20Hoffman's gravatar image

This may be off topic but from what I've personally observed a lot of people do appear to be woefully ignorant about long-term investing and money management.

(Nov 21 '12 at 01:37) Louise Louise's gravatar image

Louise I don't think it's too far off topic. Just because some people are ignorant, doesn't mean everyone should be punished for their ignorance.

(Nov 21 '12 at 23:13) John Hoffman ♦ John%20Hoffman's gravatar image

Actually from what I have observed is that a lot of people, rather than some people, are ignorant of money management principles.

And I don't feel "punished" for paying social security taxes.

Just the way I personally feel, of course; I am not making a statement of the morality of social security.

(Nov 22 '12 at 21:51) Louise Louise's gravatar image

A lot of people are ignorant of proper health care principles too, but we don't see the government...oh, wait a second, nevermind.

(Nov 26 '12 at 14:50) anthony anthony's gravatar image
showing 2 of 6 show all

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Share This Page:



Asked: Nov 08 '10 at 05:50

Seen: 2,182 times

Last updated: Nov 26 '12 at 14:50