“My father-in-law believes that somewhere in the huge ledger that hundreds of green-eyeshaded clerks in the Social Security System maintain is a page with his name at the top, and that the numbers on that page — credits for the years 1938 or so to 1983, debits since then — represent money in some deposit account that has been earning interest all these years and now pays him back his investment. He believes this because, Republican though he is, President Roosevelt told him so. Of course, he also believes it because it is important to him that he not be on any sort of welfare, for he does not like people on welfare.
“The deal was that he would work and have those deductions taken from his pay and then, when he retired, he would get monthly checks until death. The details — like the fact that, according to the actuaries who set up the system in 1935 he should have died long ago, and the consequent fact of how much he actually put in over the years versus how much he’s drawn out – such things are of no concern to him.”