You have lost your job and your house, your down to your last $1,000. How will you make out at the end of the month?

by purplesofa 130 Replies latest jw friends

  • JeffT

    Did it in real life, I don't need to play a game. Lost our house, had no savings. We managed to paint our way into a falling down rental that kept a roof over our heads until we could work some things out. We did what we did because we had to. Didn't qualify for government support. Ten years later I went into rehab and actually fixed what was wrong.

    Not saying all poor people are alcoholics/addicts, just saying that was my experience.

  • purplesofa

    Thanks for all your responses, We are fortunate to hear the success stories of coming out of hard times. I doubt we will get a response from a homeless person. Which I am glad no one here is homeless, that we know of, but it's very easy to see how it happens. This was a good PSA, and again thanks for your input.

    Be kind to those in need and displaced, it's difficult.


  • NewChapter

    The only thing between my relative and homelessness is my house. He could never make it out there right now. It's devastating.


  • TheClarinetist

    EDIT: Had something to say, but had misread the OP.

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    @purplesofa My point is that it's illegal to raise the rent above a certain percentage per year. If you don't have the money, you don't pay the landlord and the landlord can't take the money out of your account nor can he kick you out from one day to the other. Also, a street kid breaking the window (as the game said) is on the landlord, not the renter and your renters insurance will say that as well. Same goes for the bank, why would you pick a bank that charges you if you go under $50 balance if you're poor? You don't, you do that only for savings accounts with interest and then if you empty your savings, you close the account.

    He has to go to the police to kick you out but then he has to prove that he provided notice. They will most likely try to get him to go to court and there his claim will be struck down and the contract may actually become void depending on your jurisdiction. Small claims court has those type of a-holes all day and the judges are not nice to those people.

    People that are poor think they have no way out but I've been in those situations. I've had to live with 2 people off $1200/month, $800 rent and and my landlord wanted my money early and came to my door every month for it. I said tough sh*t, I don't have it and he claimed a lot of things including kicking me out, I lived there for another year and a half. You have to fight to survive but it's in no way impossible and the game just tries to force you in situations that are unrealistic or at least situations that some basic knowledge won't fix to make you feel bad and donate to the cause. No different than JW's trying to make you feel bad about the situations in this world in order for you to donate even though the situations overall are improving.

    I'm not saying those situations don't exist but I've seen also that there are reasons people are in those situations going from lack of intelligence to lack of control. I know a JW couple that never has any money. You could say it stems from involvement with crime (he used to be a drug runner) but not even the money give their kids good clothes or basic food supplies - me and my wife have given and bought more clothing for their kids than the parents. However they continue living in an expensive part of town even though their jobs are further away and last year they bought 4 32" TV's on Black Friday, I also found out they continue paying on timeshares they never could afford to visit. After that I gave up as it was clear it's not because they don't have money, it's because they have a lack of intelligence AND a lack of control.

    Another family member is also "poor" (also a JW). He has been dodging taxes for years, he has bought 5 cars off the lot in 7 years each time the loan of the previous one adding on to the new loan. When we bought a house, he became jealous and bought a small town house for about the same price but he also quit his well-paying job (and he did so many times before with the same large local employer that he is now on the blacklist) because his boss told him that his performance was lacking and he needed to pick it up (he wasn't getting fired though). He started working minimum wage with a $800 mortgage, $500 car payment, utilities, townhouse community fee, $15,000 due in taxes. Yes, those type of people don't have a bank account and cash their checks where it cost $5-10 because he would never have anything (even though they cannot garner wages beyond minimum wage)

  • Robdar

    The fact that we're forced by the federal government to pay into it is a crime on their part, but more so a culpability on ours for allowing it to continue.

    We all pay taxes and some of the monies go to things we would rather not pay for. I don't like supporting the war but that is where most of my tax money goes. You don't like paying ss? Here's a hanky--go blow your nose.

  • NewChapter

    Yes, I would rather my money not go to subsidize oil companies. May I have a hanky too Robdar?

  • sammielee24

    poor people are poor because they make stupid decisions. Not only in how they manage their money, but in how they manage their lives - education, family planning, investments, behavior, it all goes into the quality of their lives and whether they are or are not successful financially.


    and THIS is exactly why so many people GIVE UP on humanity....sammies

  • Robdar

    The formatting may suck but the article is still good.

    Poverty & Public Policy

    Vol. 2: Iss. 4 Article 8 (2010)

    The U. S. System of Social Security:

    Emphatically Not a Ponzi Scheme

    Max J. Skidmore,

    University of Missouri-Kansas City


    This article, written by


    Editor-In-Chief Max J. Skidmore, references

    information from his and others' research, including quoted information taken from

    the Security and Exchange Commission’s own website to disassociate the U.S.

    Social Security System from recent allegations that it is a kind of Ponzi or

    "Pyramid" scheme. It is pointed out that social insurance, unlike Ponzi programs,

    offers sustainable revenues for contributing patrons and not get-rich-quick scenarios.


    Social Security, Ponzi scheme, pyramid scheme, social insurance

    Recommended Citation:

    Skidmore, Max J. (2010) “The U. S. System of Social Security: Emphatically Not a

    Ponzi Scheme,”

    Vol. 2: Iss. 4, Article 8.



    Available at:

    - 161 -

    © 2010 Policy Studies Organization

    Published by Berkeley Electronic Press

    A “Ponzi scheme” takes its name from a pyramid plan in 1920 that

    its originator, an Italian immigrant to the United States, Carlo (or “Charles”)

    Ponzi, promised would pay huge returns to investors. They could double

    their money, he told them, in 90 days. Profits to the early investors came

    from amounts paid in by subsequent investors, but the promised returns were

    so great that paying each wave of investors required a geometric increase in

    the number of investors in the next wave. If every investor remained in the

    scheme, the successive requirements for new investors to keep the system

    going would fairly quickly exceed the population of the earth. Obviously,

    this is unsustainable. Ponzi schemes inevitably collapse. As the Securities

    and Exchange Commission of the United States explains on its website:

    In the classic “pyramid” scheme, participants attempt to make

    money solely by recruiting new participants into the program. The hallmark

    of these schemes is the promise of sky-high returns in a short period of time

    for doing nothing other than handing over your money and getting others to

    do the same.


    When the promoter of the scheme can no longer find the enormous

    number of new investors required to keep it going, the scheme collapses.

    The collapse is not only inevitable, but comes rapidly. Social insurance bears

    no relation to pyramid, or Ponzi, schemes. “The first modern social

    insurance program began in Germany in 1889 and has been in continuous

    operation for more than 100 years. The American Social Security system has

    been in continuous successful operation since 1935. Charles Ponzi’s scheme

    lasted barely 200 days.”

    As I make clear in

    not a Ponzi, or pyramid, scheme; it bears no resemblance to one.”

    Social Security does not promise great riches, and in fact is not an investment

    scheme at all. All participants benefit. Even the unusual person with no

    dependents who dies before retirement without ever having become disabled

    has received a measure of protection from disability insurance. This person

    may also have benefited indirectly by not having to support elderly relatives

    who are independent because of Social Security. The situation of such a

    person is similar to that of the homeowner who has fire insurance but never


    Securities and Exchange Commission, “Pyramid Schemes,” (accessed October 12, 2010).


    Larry DeWitt, “Ponzi Schemes vs. Social Security,” Research Notes and Special

    Studies by the Historian’s Office, Social Security Administration, Research Note #25, (accessed October 12, 2010).


    Max J. Skidmore, Securing America

    s Future: A Bold Plan to Preserve and Expand

    Social Security

    (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008), Appendix C: “Social

    Security and Ponzi Schemes.”

    - 162 -

    Poverty & Public Policy, Vol. 2 [2010], Iss. 4, Art. 8

    DOI: 10.2202/1944-2858.1138

    has a house fire; that homeowner has benefited from the insurance coverage,

    and is hardly likely to consider it unfortunate that his house didn’t burn.

    Social Security does not encourage risk, and certainly does not benefit a

    manipulator. In fact, it “turns the notion of a Ponzi scheme upside down;

    instead of impoverishing all but a few, for nearly three-quarters of a century

    it has provided extensive benefits to virtually the entire population.”

    No Ponzi scheme can survive for an extended period, and none can pay benefits

    to all who participate—or even to more than a very few of them. All

    participants in a Ponzi scheme lose their investments, except for the initial

    handful of investors (and, of course, the promoter).

    Why, then, have there been so many allegations in recent years to

    the contrary? People may be misled by failure to understand pyramid

    schemes. It is true that they promise to pay returns to early investors from

    the amounts paid in by other investors, and Social Security also pays

    benefits from amounts paid in by other contributors. Ponzi schemes, though,

    promise huge returns on investments and thus require a geometric increase

    of new investors, which is impossible. Social Security, in contrast, is

    essentially a transfer program from one group to another, and requires no

    increases in the number of new participants, let alone an unsustainable

    geometric increase. In fact, every society throughout humanity’s existence

    has had some arrangement for supporting those who are too young or too old

    to work, and that support has come from workers. Modern societies have

    arranged to do it with great efficiency through the social insurance


    There is more involved here, however, than simple

    misunderstanding, or ignorance. There have been deliberate attempts to

    mislead the public, in order to undermine confidence in Social Security.

    Take comments by the late economist, Milton Friedman, for example. He

    frequently hinted, and sometimes actually said, that Social Security is a

    Ponzi scheme.


    One can be reasonably certain that he knew better, since he

    was a Nobel laureate in economics and undoubtedly understood what a

    Ponzi scheme actually is. Similarly, Social Security’s opponents have

    pointed to comments by another Nobel laureate in economics, Paul

    Samuelson, who remarked in 1967 that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme,

    but one that worked. What the critics miss is that Samuelson, who was

    known for witty remarks, and who knew full well that Ponzi schemes cannot



    January 11,

    1999, op. ed.

    - 163 -

    Skidmore: The U. S. System of Social Security: Emphatically Not a Ponzi Scheme

    © 2010 Policy Studies Organization

    Published by Berkeley Electronic Press

    work, was joking. He also once quipped that economists had predicted nine

    of the past five recessions.

    But this does not explain why there is opposition to social insurance.

    To begin to understand, we must look at what Social Security is and does,

    and at the political ideologies that it reflects—and offends.

    The American Social Security program, based on legislation enacted

    in 1935 as part of the “New Deal” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, has

    operated efficiently and economically since its first regular benefits were

    issued in 1940. During these 70 years Social Security has become an integral

    part of the fabric of American life, and is probably the most popular

    government program in the country’s history. Without fail, the system

    provides retirement benefits to workers who have worked within the system,

    with additional benefits for their spouses and minor dependents. Benefits

    also include payments to surviving dependents of deceased wage earners and

    beneficiaries. Moreover, for more than half a century the system has

    provided disability benefits as well.

    Another fact that is too easy to overlook is that Social Security not

    only enables enormous numbers of retirees and others to live independently,

    but as it does so it ensures that inflation will not erode its benefits, as is

    likely to happen with income from private investments. In other words,

    benefits from Social Security retain their purchasing power, regardless of

    what happens in the economy. Another source of security from the program

    is that one cannot outlive Social Security’s retirement benefits. They can

    never be exhausted regardless of how long a retiree lives.

    Those who are not actually receiving checks from Social Security

    may yet benefit indirectly from the system. The independence that Social

    Security confers upon its beneficiaries also frees most of the population who

    are still working from having to provide direct support to their elderly or

    disabled parents or grandparents.

    Despite all this, there has always been a small group of opponents.

    Most of these, such as quasi anarchists from the libertarian Cato Institute, are

    motivated by ideology. Their opposition reflects philosophical objection to

    government programs, and they form the intellectual core of the opposition.

    The force behind the opposition, though, comes from economic interests—

    multi-billionaires such as the (also ideologically libertarian) Koch brothers,

    Charles and David of Koch Industries in Wichita, Kansas, and from

    investment banker Peter G. Peterson, who held the position of secretary of

    commerce under President Richard Nixon. Charles Koch was a founder of

    Cato, and he and David continue to fund the Institute and other related


    See Skidmore, Securing Americas Future

    , 186-187.

    - 164 -

    Poverty & Public Policy, Vol. 2 [2010], Iss. 4, Art. 8

    DOI: 10.2202/1944-2858.1138

    efforts. For example, they provided funds to begin the anti-government “teaparty”

    movement in the United States.


    Peterson for years wrote diatribes

    against “entitlements,” including Social Security, and then became more

    sophisticated in his attacks. He was instrumental in forming the Concord

    Coalition, and subsequently created the

    Fiscal Times

    and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation; he endowed the latter with one billion dollars to work

    against Social Security, and was a major instigator of the recent “town hall”

    meetings across the country that attempted to create fears that the deficit, not

    unemployment, is America’s greatest current economic danger.


    Peterson has been especially skillful in working with mainstream

    groups to obscure any perception of extremism. The Concord Coalition has

    been notably successful in this regard. The intellectual foundation of the

    effort to undermine Social Security, however, dates to an article by Stuart

    Butler and Peter Germanis that Cato published in 1983, “Achieving a

    ‘Leninist’ Strategy.”


    Butler and Germanis openly set forth plans for a longterm

    project to destroy public confidence in the system, reassure the elderly

    that their interests would be protected in order to dispel their opposition to

    “reform,” and establish a coalition with those “who will reap benefits” from

    a private system, including “the banks, insurance companies, and other

    institutions that will gain from providing such plans to the public.”



    “reassuring” the elderly, Butler and Germanis propose to buy their support,

    or at least to ensure that they do not protest when the security of their

    children and grandchildren is put at risk. Their strategy of incremental

    attacks has been effective, but they were proven too cynical in their hope

    that the elderly—who continue fiercely to protect Social Security—would

    react with complete selfishness.

    The overall result has been decades of well-funded propaganda

    suggesting that Social Security is unsustainable. That view came to have

    tacit support from official quarters when Ronald Reagan became president.

    Reagan had campaigned against Social Security for years prior to entering

    politics officially, and then attempted to cut the program severely when he

    took office. His efforts brought such political backlash that he promised in


    For an excellent analysis of the actions of the Koch brothers, see Jane Mayer, “Covert

    Operators: The Billionaire Brothers Who are Waging War Against Obama,”

    The New Yorker,

    October 13, 2010.


    See Max J. Skidmore, “The People, the Economy, and the Issues: A Participant Reports

    on National ‘Town Hall’ Meetings on the Deficit,”

    Poverty & Public Policy

    2 (3) (2010),

    Article 2,


    Stuart Butler and Peter Germanis, “Achieving a ‘Leninist’ Strategy,” Cato Journal


    (Fall) (1983): 2.



    - 165 -

    Skidmore: The U. S. System of Social Security: Emphatically Not a Ponzi Scheme

    © 2010 Policy Studies Organization

    Published by Berkeley Electronic Press

    so many words that under his administration there would be no more assaults

    on America’s cherished program. He remained true to his word, and even

    appointed a commission of Republicans and Democrats to deal with the

    system’s cash-flow troubles in 1982. That commission’s recommendations

    led to the 1983 revisions to the Social Security Act that were designed to

    secure the program’s financing.

    Official opposition became overt during the administration of

    George W. Bush, especially in his second term. By the time of Bush’s

    presidency, his Republican Party had become far more ideological than has

    been the norm for American political parties, and had come to devote itself

    to privatization and de-regulation whenever possible. Its foremost answer to

    all economic questions came to be lowering taxes. Even going to war

    brought no tax increases. Astonishingly, as it took the country to war, the

    Bush administration actually

    taxes—a circumstance that probably

    was unique in the history not only of the United States but also of the world.

    Thus, it could hardly be surprising that hostility to Social Security had

    become imbedded in the official positions of Bush and his party.

    For example, the Bush administration not only attempted to divert

    Social Security funds into private accounts, but also promulgated a “tactical

    plan” to portray the program as unsound. The administration’s actions at the

    time led some Social Security employees to complain that the Bush officials

    were advancing their political agenda by using money from the trust funds.


    Part of this effort involved “cleansing” the website of the Social Security

    Administration (SSA). The SSA website had always been a model of

    objective public information, but Bush’s appointees filled it with

    propagandistic warnings that the system was unsustainable unless

    considerably revised. The website until Bush’s second term had included an

    excellent discussion of the Ponzi scheme allegation. That discussion had

    been available as late as December 3, 2005, barely more than a month before

    his second term was about to begin. After that, however, it seemed to have


    Happily, Ponzi information now has returned to SSA’s website.

    Immediately upon Bush’s departure, the site began again to deal expertly

    with the question.

    This time it took the form of an excellent essay by the official

    historian of the Social Security Administration, Larry DeWitt. Significantly,

    DeWitt’s essay, “Ponzi Schemes vs. Social Security,” which is highly


    New York Times,

    January 16, 2005; see also Skidmore,



    , 186.

    - 166 -

    Poverty & Public Policy, Vol. 2 [2010], Iss. 4, Art. 8

    DOI: 10.2202/1944-2858.1138

    detailed both in its description of the nature of pyramid schemes (complete

    with graphs) and in its explanation of Social Security, is dated January

    2009—the month that Barack Obama took office as President of the United


    There now should be no more confusion, no allegation that Social

    Security is a Ponzi scheme. Undoubtedly, though, considering the huge

    economic force backing the attacks against the system, and considering the

    compliant role of the media, the attempts to confuse and mislead the public

    will continue.

    Under the circumstances, only one possible way exists for the public

    ever to have even a chance at being well informed. That way will be if those

    who recognize that the stakes are high, who understand the situation, and

    who are concerned for the future of Social Security work at every

    opportunity to counter the propaganda with accurate information.


    Butler, Stuart, and Peter Germanis. 1983. “Achieving a ‘Leninist’ Strategy.”

    Cato Journal

    DeWitt, Larry. 2010. “Ponzi Schemes vs. Social Security.” Research Notes

    and Special Studies by the Historian’s Office, Social Security

    Administration, Research Note #25. (accessed October

    12, 2010).

    Friedman, Milton. 1999. “Social Security Chimeras.”

    New York Times , January, op. ed.

    Mayer, Jane. 2010. “Covert Operators: The Billionaire Brothers Who are

    Waging War Against Obama.”

    The New Yorker , October 13, 2010.

    Pear, Robert. 2005. “Social Security Enlisted to Push its Own Revision.”

    New York Times

    Securities and Exchange Commission. 2010. “Pyramid Schemes.” (accessed October 12, 2010).

    Skidmore, Max J. 2008.

    Securing America’s Future: A Bold Plan to

    Preserve and Expand Social Security

    . Lanham, MD: Rowman and

    Littlefield (Appendix C: “Social Security and Ponzi Schemes”).


    Dewitt, “Ponzi Schemes vs. Social Security.”

    - 167 -

    Skidmore: The U. S. System of Social Security: Emphatically Not a Ponzi Scheme

    © 2010 Policy Studies Organization

    Published by Berkeley Electronic Press

    Skidmore, Max J. 2010. “The People, the Economy, and the Issues: A

    Participant Reports on National ‘Town Hall’ Meetings on the


    Poverty and Public Policy

    2 (3), Article 2.

    , January 16, 2005. 3 (Fall): 2.

    13 See Skidmore, Securing America’s Future Securing America’s Future, Robert Pear, “Social Security Enlisted to Push its Own Revision,” 12 lowered Ibid. , 6 See, e.g., Milton Friedman, “Social Security Chimeras,” New York Times, Ibid., 186. 4 Securing America’s Future , “Social Security is

    3 2 Poverty & Public Policy:

  • sammielee24

    But that test was indeed rigged.


    It is rigged. Typing and input is my expertise and I failed - I think it was designed to fail for a number of reasons and one of those is to show how often and easy it is to deny you that job regardless of how highly skilled you are. You walk away with a sense of failure, believing something is wrong with your skills - which were exactly what they advertised for - but in reality, with 10,000 applicants for that one job, you may not have gotten it simply because you were too old, out of the work force too long, the wrong gender, the wrong color, too experienced, too seasoned or just because you don't have contacts inside.

    It's a fact that a lot of people that apply for a job in which they have good references and skills will get turned away for any number of reasons. The person applying for the job often sees it as a failure on their part and internalizes that feeling and it becomes a vicious circle that starts to feed on hoplessness, inadequacy and despair. I think that was one reason the test was rigged - to reflect the humiliation and unsurety one goes through in trying to land a job they know they can do.

    But......hey, (sarcasm) it's all your own fault you lazy sob...sloth...idiot...moron...jerk...low life..........and who says there isn't a war going on???? sammies

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