Because We Have Monetary Policy, We Have Social Security

As presidential candidates debate whether Social Security is a "Ponzi scheme," it is worth noting what a deal Social Security purports to be. Whatever you put in, you get back plus inflation and a little interest. That’s the government’s guarantee.

And yet what if money never lost its value, if there were no such thing as inflation? If you saved money, on retirement, you’d get your savings back plus inflation  (in this case zero) and interest – the same deal as Social Security.

And yet because inflation is such a certainty in real life, because we have a Federal Reserve pursuing monetary policy in lieu of a gold standard, we cannot trust our own selves to be savvy enough to know how to save. How do you beat inflation? Certainly not by salting money away in the bank; stocks can win, but they can lose too; same with bonds…drat to all of it, have the government guarantee my savings!

We should recognize that Social Security – including its prospective insolvency – is yet another cost of not being on gold. For with stable prices, saving for retirement is so simple that everyone can do it without the help of the big hand of government.