IT MUST BE TRUE; I SAW IT ON THE INTERNET

dont-believe-everything-you-see-on-the-internetOr in this case, I spotted it on a forwarded email, another of those smug,  political,  “Let’s set the record straight” messages that clutter our inboxes.

A few years ago, I got so annoyed at those things that I started responding to the people who sent them.  This provoked a whole new level of hate and paranoia.   My favorite was the Floridian who closed with, “You may be right about this, but I still haven’t changed my mind.”

Eventually, most of those people took me off their forwarding lists, and that worked out pretty well.  But,  the other day, another “Tell a lie loud enough and lots of people will believe it” email popped up . This one opened with some nonsense about how plotters are tampering with our Social Security cards.  The bold print is the writer’s, not mine.

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Just in case some of you young whippersnappers (and some older ones) didn’t know this.  It’s easy to check out, if you don’t believe it. Be sure and show it to your family and friends. They need a little history lesson on what’s what and it doesn’t matter whether you are Democrat or Republican. Facts are Facts.
Social Security Cards up until the 1980s expressly stated the number and Card were not to be used for identification purposes. Since nearly everyone in the United States now has a number, it became convenient to use it anyway and the message NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION was removed.
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SSCardEarlySeemed like a petty complaint, but the author said, “It’s easy to check out if you don’t believe it,” so I did, and the claim  is wrong on all counts.  The first social security cards came out in 1936 and looked like the one on the left.  Notice, it doesn’t say anything, one way or the other, about using it for identification.  Over the next few years, there were several slight revisionsSSCard made, and by the sixth revision, made in 1946 during the Truman administration, the legend “For Social Security Purposes, Not For Identification” was added. They looked like the one on the right.

The cards stayed that way from 1946-1972, when the 18th version of the card came out  during the Nixon administration.  At that time, the “Not For Identification” came off, and it has remained off ever since.  Check your own card.  The misinformation seems unimportant, but it does tell us something about the writer’s respect for truth.

The letter then goes into a string of five supposedly damning statements about horrible ways the American public has been defrauded.  But on examination, every single one is a lie. Again,  the bold print is the writer’s, not mine.

“Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program. He promised:

1) That participation in the Program would be completely voluntary, It is no longer Voluntary “

The Truth?  Nobody ever said that Social Security would be voluntary. It has always been supported by taxes, and people working at jobs covered by social security have always had to pay those taxes.

 “2) He promised that the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the program.   Now 7.65% On the first $90,000.”

The Truth? I don’t know where that $1,400.00 figure came from, but the original law taxed incomes up to $3,000, which was a lot of money in 1936.  While it’s true that the rate was only one percent to begin, the original law spelled out increases in 1940, 1943, 1946, and 1949. The final rate, in an age when people didn’t normally live to 65, was three percent.  As of this writing in 2014, the Social Security deduction is actually 6.2%, not 7.65%, of the first $90,000 income.

 “3) He promised that the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year.  No longer tax deductible”

The Truth?   The money paid into Social Security has never been deductible, in fact the original law stated that Social Security payroll taxes “shall not be allowed as a deduction to the taxpayer.”   You can find a copy of the original law at http://www.ssa.gov/history/35acviii.html.

 “4) He promised that the money the participants put in went to the independent “Trust Fund” rather than into the General Operating Fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program.  Under Johnson the money was moved to the General Fund and spent.”

The Truth?  This one has been repeated so often that we almost accept it as common knowledge.  But the truth is that the government has always been able to use Social Security funds for other purposes when they are not needed to finance benefits. It would be foolish to feel that we have to lock those funds up in a vault somewhere and never be able to touch them… almost like the person who insists on keeping his life savings in a non-interest earning checking account… just in case he might need it to buy a car next month.  Money can be moved from one account to another, and it’s just a matter of accounting.  While it’s true that the money could conceivably be used for inappropriate projects, I feel confident that the people who make up these lies feel strongly enough to protect us from nonimaginary outrages.

 “5) He promised that the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income. Under Clinton & Gore up to 85% of your Social Security can be taxed.”

The Truth? The original Social Security law said nothing one way of the other about benefits being taxed. The Treasury Department elected not to count social security income. Then, In 1983, a bipartisan compromise to strengthen the system was passed by a Republican senate and a Democratic congress during the administration of Republican Icon Ronald Reagan, hardly a Clinton/Gore plot.

The writer then closes with a string of rhetorical questions, all claiming that Democrats are responsible for the supposed broken promises in the first five accusations. The only one that hasn’t already been covered and proven false is:

“Question: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?”  A: That’s right! The Democrats!  Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party.
Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them,  even though they never paid a dime into it! 

The Truth?  This one is not even in question. It’s just a lie.    By now it should be obvious to the most intractable bigot that nobody collects Social Security income unless he or she has paid into it.  Full fledged citizen, legal immigrant, or illegal alien, doesn’t matter.   If you haven’t paid in, you don’t collect.

In an effort to be 100% fair, I thought maybe the author might be thinking of another program entirely, Supplemental Security Income.   That’s not Social Security.   It’s a welfare program for old or disabled people, and legal immigrants could conceivable qualify.  It’s not likely, but it could happen.  If you think that’s wrong, work to change it.  But don’t blame it on Social Security or Jimmy Carter.  It was started in 1972 during the Nixon administration.  Most of us had never heard of Georgia governor Jimmy Carter at that time.

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Note: After writing this, I googled the name Dick Kantenberger, the alleged author of the original article.  Seems he is a “gifted education writer” and is not happy about his name being attached to this nonsense.   In an article called, “History of Social Security; I didn’t Write It,”  He says, “I have tried to refute the writing of the piece on the internet, but it seems to have taken on a life of its own.”  His comments included a list of refutations, most of which he credits to a tax attorney.

What crowd writes something, and then is so ashamed of it that they have to steal a respected author’s name?

Bill Morgan

Sources: FactCheck.org;  snopes.com;  Social Security Administration website:  http://www.ssa.gov, and Resisting The New World Order website:  http://12160.info/forum/topics/history-lesson-on-your-social-security-card.

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