IPFS Vin Suprynowicz

The Libertarian

Vin Suprynowicz

More About: Vin Suprynowicz's Columns Archive


Concerned about illegal aliens coming here and getting just as good a deal from our government “entitlement” programs as U.S. citizens? Have your friends and acquaintances, perhaps, gone so far as to suggest you may be a little “paranoid” on this score?

Well, they’re right, and it turns out you were wrong all along. Foreign nationals are not going to be able to come here illegally and get just as good a deal from our Social Security system as legal immigrants and American-born workers.

They’re going to get a much better deal.

On June 29, 2004, the U.S. Commissioner of Social Security and the director general of the Mexican Social Security Institute reached an agreement. And if you haven’t heard about it, you’re not the only one. It took three years of wrangling and a Freedom of Information Act request by the TREA Senior Citizens League (tscl.org), representing more than a million senior citizens, to get hold of this thing. What the document reveals, according to Investor’s Business Daily, is that the United States will allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits if they have as little as 18 months of (illegal, by definition) U.S. employment history. In contrast, U.S. citizens must show 10 years -- 40 quarters -- of perfectly legal job history to collect benefits.

In a Jan. 4 editorial headlined “Hasta La Vista, Social Security,” the daily reported the agreement will “further burden a system on the brink of collapse.

Despite the fact that it’s illegal for employers to knowingly hire individuals who are in this country illegally, “The agreement, which awaits President Bush’s signature, can take effect without Congress’ approval,” the Business Daily reports. “All the Democratic Congress has to do is nothing. It doesn’t have to vote to approve it -- it has only 60 days to disapprove it, which isn’t likely because they likely support allowing it to become law.”

The agreement would drain more billions from a system that already lists a $14 trillion liability and assets of only $3.5 trillion, according to a 2003 report by the Center for Immigration Studies. And it’s worth noting that virtually none of those $3.5 billion in “assets” consist of gold bars, or even bundled greenbacks sitting in some vault. Rather, $1.4 trillion exist in the form of IOUs from congressmen who have spent the money as it came in but promise to replace it in the “trust fund” when needed, while the remaining $2.1 trillion in “assets,” the TRE League points out, are merely a bookkeeping entry representing “the present value of the taxes that current workers will pay for the rest of their working lives.”

Yes, it helps to have a steady job if you want a mortgage. But try listing your next 20 or 30 years of anticipated earnings as an “asset” on your mortgage application.

These so-called “totalization” agreements are common -- the U.S. has them with 20 countries. Their goal is to avoid double taxation when employers assign employees to work temporarily in another country. But “Totalization was not designed or intended to cover millions of illegals sneaking past the U.S. Border Patrol from what is a borderline Third World country,” whose own pension plan comes nowhere near matching the value of America’s, the Business Daily points out.

Asked by Congress to assess the fiscal impact of the Mexican deal, the Government Accounting Office warns the agreement involves “highly uncertain” costs and would affect the long-term solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund if the SSA has underestimated the number of beneficiaries by more than 25 percent.

The review also notes that the SSA “assumes that the behavior of Mexican citizens would not change and does not recognize that an agreement would create an additional incentive for unauthorized workers to enter the United States.”

This is like handing out free sandwiches to the bums down in the park every day at noon, and failing to budget for the fact that the number of bums who show up for the free ham and cheese is likely grow over time.

Someone could develop a good conspiracy theory in which shadowy libertarian masterminds are working behind the scenes to speed up the schedule on which the huge government Ponzi schemes of Medicare and Social Security will collapse, thus vindicating them in their long-standing predictions.

The alternative theories, of course, are that the people running things in Washington are just insufferably arrogant and uncaring about what happens to us after they’ve retired, and/or really, really dumb.

It’s hard to say which is less reassuring.