Are you counting on Social Security to be there when you need it?

Social Security is a hot topic in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. One candidate has called the program a “monstrous lie” and a “Ponzi scheme.” Today’s Question: Are you counting on Social Security to be there when you need it?

  • Hiram

    Social Security will be there unless the Republicans take it away.

  • Heather J

    As a young worker I don’t expect social security to be there when I need it. In fact I heard the Social Security Administration be bankrupt in 2037, which at that point I’d still have at least 15 years left of working before I could retire.

    So while I don’t mind to a degree helping out those before us I want to know why I’m paying for a benefit I’ll never see or be able to use…It’s all scam to me. Great on paper, horrible in practice.

  • Wade

    No no, like everyone else in my family. I’ve planned ahead and intend on retiring when I’m 55. Obviously SS won’t kick in until I’m 70 or older.

    It’s shameful that people expect SS to carry them through retirement years. Just another example of bad planning and laziness, expecting the gov’t to hold their hand.

    I will gladly accept the SS when they send it to me however. Especially considering I can’t opt out now.

  • Kurt

    No. It may be there, but I am taking responsibility for my own retirement and my planning does not take Social Security into account.

  • sal e

    I just celebrated my 65th birthday and, yes, I will count on social security for a portion of my income when I decide to retire a few years from now. I will also count on savings and other investments — but those are considerably smaller than a few years ago.

    Social Security could certainly be viable for years in the future with a few changes. The most obvious would be to discontinue, or even raise, the upper cap on deductions from salaries. Highly paid CEOs pay only slightly more into social security than I pay. We could also adjust the monthly benefit amounts to narrow the range of benefits. The retirees who have worked for low wages all their lives currently get a small monthly benefit but highly paid workers who have had the most opportunities to save for their retirements get a large monthly social security payment.

    Those politicians who use social security issues to frighten the voters should be ashamed of themselves.

  • I’m not counting on it. I’ve got a long time to go before I’m eligible, and with so many politicians talking about such drastic changes to the system, I can’t count on it being available to me as-is. Also, I don’t believe the existing social security stipend amount would be sufficient for me to live on, given how the cost of living has gone up. But, as I said, it’s too early to tell what that situation will be. That’s why I’m contributing to a 401k, and likely will make long-term investments as part of a diversified retirement savings strategy: I don’t know if I can count on any one source of money to sustain me through retirement.

  • Emery

    If you don’t want to call it a Ponzi scheme, fine. I rather agree — even Ponzi schemes typically have some cash or investments! But then you should at least call it a completely unfunded pension that would not make ERISA standards.

    “Social Security will be there unless the Republicans take it away.” No, it will be because MY generation will vote you out of them (or smother you in your nursing home beds) after you spent decades running up an enormous deficit to prop up GDP ON TOP of your social security. Enough is enough.

  • Rich

    If Social Security is a “monstrous lie”, I wonder what the idea that you can balance the budget solely through cutting non-defense discretionary spending is?

  • Hiram

    “As a young worker I don’t expect social security to be there when I need it.”

    You should. Bear in mind that SS is paid out of current money received, so if people are working you will get money. But there are politicians who want to dishonor the promises America has made to all of us. It’s up to the voters whether those politicians get elected and are in a position to do the damage they want to do.

  • Hiram

    “But then you should at least call it a completely unfunded pension that would not make ERISA standards. ”

    If Social Security is unfunded, why don’t the checks bounce. Social Security is funded by current workers. It’s a one in a kind system, other pension systems don’t work that way, but Social Security does work.

  • GregX

    Being there? Yes. Counting on it? Not deeply. Needing it ? Hoping not. …….. I think the bigger question for many is … given the stresses we’ll be going through for loss jobs, loss of wealth, national debt and climate change (natural or human) … will there be a “here” here, and will the “I” be here too. I envision lots of our former up and comers moving to other parts of the world for work and.. the ends of their lives.

  • Walter

    Social Security has been a huge success. It has provided a base to keep elderly Americans fed and housed. There are a lot of people who cannot, for one reason or another, put away money for retirement. Many of the people who do the jobs we don’t want to do are so poorly paid they cannot save. Only a few years ago republicans wanted to privatize Social Security and invest that money in the market. If that had happened a few people would have had more billions and I’d be living in a tent. The idea that those who are adept at making money should be exempt from social reality is un-christian and wrong. We should return to Eisenhower era tax rates.

  • Sieglinde Gassman

    I am already a Social Security recipient as well as a part-time worker who is contributing. With the current and projected economy I think there will be many like me who contribute and receive at the same time. I want and expect Social Security to be there for my children and grandchildren. The assurances of some of our elected officials and candidates that “those already on Social Security won’t lose their benefits” depict us recipients as caring only about what goes into our own pockets and not about the welfare of future generations.

  • Steve the Cynic

    No, I’m not counting on social security, but I’m glad it’s there in case I need it. If Social Security goes away because Congress fails to fix it, and if the time comes that I’m no longer able to support myself with my own labor and resources, I plan to get a tin cup and go begging outside the Capitol. As I learned in Sunday School (“Honor your father and your mother.”) we have a moral obligation to care for our elders. Social Security is one of the ways we do that. Shame on us if we don’t elect representatives with the moral courage to do what’s right! Shame on us if we keep voting for politicians who pander to the rich and able-bodied, while portraying societal support for the poor and disabled as an unaffordable luxury!

  • Emery

    //”But then you should at least call it a completely unfunded pension that would not make ERISA standards.”//

    Or below-market cost annuities at the expense of future generations. Social Security does not “invest” in anything; the surplus proceeds are used for the general federal budget, and I doubt many people would think those are mostly NPV positive projects, or even projects that could possibly be.

    I don’t see what the hostile attitude is about defined contribution plans. What is wrong with just taking 12.5% of everyone’s income (including the employer-funded portion) and investing it by default in Treasuy bonds but then giving people the option of changing it? Most people would have actual marketable bonds which are similar to the current system but have the advantage of being fungible. They could also pass it on if they die. Or perhaps take some out for their children’s education or a primary home mortgage (e.g. Singapore).

    I really fail to see how it is to anyone’s benefit to have the government take your money, not let you invest it, not (generally) let you pass it on if you die, and promise to give some back if you live long enough.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “…(or smother you in your nursing home beds)…”

    Emery, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume you were in the process of deleting that part when you accidentally hit the “Post” button, and that you are duly embarrassed that it actually showed up on the live site. Otherwise, if that’s the level our political discourse has sunk to, America is in big trouble, and deserves to be.

  • John

    No, and I’m 56 years.

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

    1.) That participation in the Program would be completely voluntary,

    2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the Program,

    3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year,

    4.) That the money the participants put into the independent “Trust Fund” rather than into the General operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program, and,

    5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income.

    Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now receiving a Social Security check every month — and then finding that we are getting taxed on 85% of the money we paid to the Federal government to “put away,” you may be interested in the following:

    Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the independent “Trust” fund and put it into the General fund so that Congress could spend it?

    A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the Democratically-controlled House and Senate.

    Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?

    A: The Democratic Party.

    Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social Security annuities?

    A: The Democratic Party, with Al Gore casting the “tie-breaking” deciding vote as President of the Senate, while he was Vice President of the U.S.

    Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?


    A: That’s right! Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party. Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive SSI Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it!

    Then, after doing all this lying and thieving and violation of the original contract (FICA), the Democrats turn around and tell you that the Republicans want to take your Social Security away!

    And the worst part about it is, uninformed citizens believe it!

  • Hiram

    ” Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive SSI Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it!”

    I should note that this statement is not true in any general sense. Immigrants do pay into Social Security, and they do, of course, receive benefits. As they should. Immigrants are pretty much like everyone else. They get jobs, they pay taxes, they serve in our military. Male immigrants get draft cards and if we had one, would get drafted. Their kids, just like our kids, are American citizens. Our president is the son of an immigrant, a truly remarkable thing indeed. Except for those specifically related to citizenship, immigrants have the same obligations, and the same rights, as the rest of us.

  • Chris

    Per John’s lengthy cut-and-paste comment at 8:06 am 9/13/11:

    Snopes collected this list in 2005 and has laid out what parts are true-ish and what parts are false-ish. As Hiram just stated, some are completely false.


  • Albatross

    With 25 years of full payments in front of it even if no changes are made in its funding Social Security will be around when most of us need it. It’s probably more fiscally solvent than most of the people posting here. And were we to close the donut hole in contributions – or even raise it with inflation – Social Security would be solvent indefinitely.

    The REAL issue is this – the radical right-wingers who call themselves “conservatives” are actually mesmerized by the amount of cash in the Social Security reserves. The super-wealthy WANT that cash, they’re like vampires looking in the bedroom window at their latest juicy victim.

    Whenever you hear “privatize” or “allow investment,” what that really means is, “Take all that luscious cash put it into my corporation so I can take it out as a ‘bonus’ and put it in my Swiss bank account.”

    And by turning we regular joes against each other with their ridiculous propaganda about “socialism” and “illegal aliens” they distract us while they bribe Congress to make the theft of social security funds legal.

  • Clark

    I would say yes, since it take cash from current workers and distributes to current beneficiaries. It is my understanding, there are a series of government IOU’s in the form of government bonds that are payable to the social security trust fund but the value of these bonds is contingent on the future credit worthiness of the U.S. government. If we don’t get the spending under control and U.S. government bonds are downgraded in the future then the whole system comes crashing down.

    I support social security but do believe reduction in benefits for high income earners as well as changes in payouts tied to CPI will be necessary.

    I don’t support raising the $106,800 cap since once you seperate the contributuion vs benefit aspects of the system it will become nothing more than a welfare system for freeloaders.

  • Josh

    In short, no. As a 30 year-old any time I’ve thought about Social Security has been spent thinking: “How do I save/invest now so that I’ll be alright in retirement since Social Security won’t be there for me.”

    I’m not counting on it, and I think it will likely be phased out long before I get to the age where I would be receiving it.

  • Sue de Nim

    A quarter century ago when I entered the work force, I was told, “You’d better make sure you save plenty for retirement, because Social Security won’t be there for you.” Well, it doesn’t seem to be any closer to going away now than it was then. And as I think about it, I’m realizing that the people who gave me that advice were trying to sell me mutual funds. I expect, sooner or later, Congress members will realize that killing Social Security would be more disastrous for their political careers than compromising to fix it. Not counting on it, but I’m glad it’s there, and glad to do my part to make sure the elderly among us mostly don’t live in squalor, like they too often did before SS.

  • P. Nielsen

    I’m counting on it because I am receiving it, after paying into the fund all the years I worked (40+). For that matter, all working people should be counting on it. It is the safety net all Americans should expect. With all the naysayers and talk over the past 30 or so years, it’s no wonder younger workers think it will not be there. That program will be just fine if our idiot elected people will wake up and do some very simple things to this program. One simple one would be to remove the cap on earnings subject to Social Security deductions. How ridiculous to cap this at $106,000+…..there are people who earn that very quickly each year. Time to slap these naysayers up one side and down the other it appears.

  • Larry M.

    I may have no choice. While I am working and trying to save for my retirement via a Roth right now, my current employer does not have a 401k. While I am thankful that I have a job, the pay isn’t enough to do much saving. I was also born at the end of the baby boom, and went to college later in life, I have seen how the boomers after taking everything that was given to them by the “Greatest Generation”, a robust infrastructure, cheap education, retirement benefits, etc. that the boomers will once again pull up the ladder behind them and likely leave me and future generations with less.

  • Jessica E

    Sometimes when we have these discussions about SS, I wonder if people fully realize the scope of the program. Can those who spew rhetoric appreciate what we will lose? SS is not just a retirement program. When my step-father’s hard working father, a veteran of the Korean war, died from heart attack, SS saved his family. His mother had to find a way to support 4 kids. My step-dad was a senior in high school and worked. His mom started cleaning houses and they barely eeked by. None of the kids went to college, but they survived because of SS.

    My biological father fought in Viet Nam. He is 100% disabled, lived on a boat and worked odd jobs for many years. Thank God for SS. I don’t know how my dad could survive without SS and VA benefits, and there is no one else who could support him.

    While there are plenty who eek by in poverty, unable to save there are those who make more than $100,000 who only pay SS on the first $100,000. Why should these people get a break??? Why should those earning $100,000 and less (the middle class) bear more of the burden? This is the question of the decade, in my opininon. When are more people going to start asking it? When SS, healthcare, food stamps, and Welfare to Work are completely gone during 9% unemployment? I wish more of the “job creators” would be forced to MAN UP!

  • Kyle

    I think that Social Security will be there for me when I retire (some 40 years away). But I’m won’t count on it, just because I think it’s good financial planning to prepare as though I won’t have it.

    Aside from the fact that the program isn’t designed in way that would really allow it, I think it’s interesting how many people are so gung-ho about private alternatives given how many people’s retirement accounts were (and continue to be) devastated in 2008. The current system, while it does have its flaws, produces stable and reliable income for people who cannot work regardless of what factors beyond their control might do to ravage their retirement accounts.

    Social Security has been an incredibly effective program for keeping the elderly and disabled out of poverty. Its current problems are both decades off and eminently predictable; there’s no reason that they need to come to a head now just because politicians didn’t feel like addressing them in the past.

    And while I don’t like it that I will have to support more people with my Social Security contributions than any generation before me, while also facing depressed wages, reduced economic mobility, skyrocketing income inequality, and the fallout of decades of irresponsibility and graft, my generation is going to have to bear a massive burden handed down by those that came before us anyhow. Of all those, the Social Security component is really the least concerning for me, and I would much rather see political will exerted to deal with some of out larger and more immediate challenges.

  • Bill Gerrells

    I save for retirement thinking I could live on the earnings from those savings but now I find myself competing with the low rates offerred banks. Sure glad I have SS.

    When I entered the work force 50 years ago we were having this same discussion. I never dreamed SS would survive to my retirement but we fixed it then and we can fix it again. I agree we can fix it by removing the cap on FICA witholding.

  • James

    Nope, politicians will have it insolvent by the time I need it.

    Thanks for squandering my money.


  • Jessica E

    According to MPR today, “The number of Americans in poverty rose 5%… that’s 1 in 6 Americans.” How are those earning a wage below the ability to provide basic necessities – housing, food, transportation – supposed to save for retirement??? Show me the math, Wade. Welfare to Work reform ensures that we ARE ALL working! How dare anyone presume we are lazy? No, we are disadvantaged, hard workers suffering from massive exploitation.

    So, with corporations earning record profits and sitting on record amounts of cash, while failing to create gainful employment on US soil, please tell me why “we the people,” in the recognition of a historical record of corruption, should NOT set up safety nets? Safety nets, BTW, that only ensure abject poverty in old age and disability.

    The real question is not if SS will be here. The real question is when will we honestly confront existing corruption that seeks to usurp or dismantle the few things that ensure social justice for the disabled and purposely disadvantaged workers and veterans of this country? Those who can only see things from their very privileged perches bring shame on themselves.

  • GaryF

    I’m age 47.


    I feel really sorry for my son and people his age.

    If I’m going to get screwed, they are going to get double screwed.

  • Rich in Duluth

    I hope so and it would be shameful if the people of this country let it go away. If Social Security fails, it won’t be the politicians who let the program fail, it will be those of us who vote or don’t vote who let it go.

    I think it’s extremely irresponsible for a public official to characterize Social Security as a “Ponzi” scheme or “monstrous lie”. These statements only contribute to the continued cynicism about government and devalue the program. Social Security is not intended to be a profit making business; it’s simply a pool of money that we all pay into and, guaranteed by law, we all then draw from in retirement. The stock or bond market can’t make that guarantee, as recent events should certainly show.

    A current article in AARP magazine said that removing the income cap would be all that’s required to fund S.S. at 99%. I think that’s the responsible thing to do. It’s an essential program that needs to continue to be funded.

  • Alison

    No, though I heard yesterday that there should be some of what I am promised there when I retire. I hope to not need it. I’m not concerned for my future, but for those who aren’t educated professionals. They will be the ones to suffer if social security begins to falter.

    I am hopeful that one day pride in our country and community will once again take hold in the hearts of Americans. I hope civic pride replaces this mistaken Tea Party notion that any American is solely responsible for their own success. This misguided thinking breeds personal greed and prohibits us from making any real progress as a nation and society.

  • David

    I’m 55 and am confident Social Security will be there when I retire. More confident than I am in the equity I still have in my home.

  • david

    I think it’s time to let the republicans take Texas and secede from the United States to start their own Utopian society. But with two main rules. All registered republicans must be let in, and they must build a fence designed to keep everyone in there permanently with no possibility of escape. That way when their infrastructure is crumbling, there’s a huge division between the poor and the rich and crime is rampant, people are living and starving in the streets, and we now have two Mexicos on our southern border they can’t come crawling back.

  • Steven

    No. As an working individual in my mid-20’s I do not anticipate Social Security being there for me when/if I am able to retire. I however have never had that expectation so I’m not disappointed by the prospect. Despite this, I think that it is an important program and am willing to do my part to support it, even though it won’t benefit me personally. I have seen the direct benefits that it gives to those who are no longer able to work due to age or disability and I feel that it is a moral obligation for us to care for these individuals.

  • Seamus

    Of course I’m counting on Social Security for part of my retirement. Everyone should, and everyone should fight to defend the system from people like the entire slate of Republican Presidential Candidates.

    It’s a fairly solvent system now and needs minor tweaks for it to regain solvency. We should work hard to enact those tweaks as soon as possible.

  • John

    Yes. Republicans are using the debt crisis to attack any social safety net program. People will realize as the debate goes on that:

    1. Social Security is simple to fix:

    A. raise payroll taxes modestly

    B. increase slightly the retirement

    2. Social Security is the least expensive; most efficient and cost effective insurance plan-it cost 3% to administer while insurance companies charge 15% to 30%. for insurance plans.

    3. The retirement age people, their children, and those interested in the common good will vote against anyone opposing it

    4. The Social Security Trust Fund is and will be always more secure than private plans. Aren’t we glad President Bush couldn’t put the money in the

    stock which crashed. Nobody gambles with the social security trust funds as they do in the stock market.

    The real problem is Greed. Wealthy Republicans do not want to have a progressive tax system. They attack any and everything of government hoping to get a anti government person or idea accepted so that tax reduction for wealthy Republican can be had

  • Shane

    My dad always told me you make your own security. So no, I’m not planning on it. I will take care of myself and my family, which would be much easier to do if the government let me keep more of my own money.

  • Mark

    Yes, I’m 50 years old and I have paid into SS for my entire working life and I expect the benefit of SS when I retire having contributed my fair share to it.

  • Anna123

    I’m 50 years old and for a long time I have thought social security wouldn’t be there for me, at least not at the level it is for current retirees. I have a relatively good-paying job and am a very good saver. I live very modestly. Until the last couple of years I thought this behavior would be enough to get me thru old age even if the SS I’ve been paying into for 30 years now gave nothing back to me.

    Anymore, with the rising cost of health care, I have realized it will just take a few years of paying for medical insurance and a few bad medical experiences and all the money I have spent my entire life saving will be wiped out.

    If I am lucky and avoid one or more costly illnesses or accidents. long term care will quickly wipe out what I have saved.

    I honestly don’t understand how anybody except people who are very very rich can think that any amount they save will be enough to get by without government help for SS and medical costs that keeps up with health care inflation.

  • DNA

    Not in the form currently thought of as Social Security.

    I just turned 44.

  • JR Donald

    Social security decided back in the late 1980’s that it was cheaper for them to grant SS disability to any child with any_ diagnosis of ADHD vs. deal with law suits over denial of claims. The result was the news spread fast and thousands of MN mothers with kids on Ritalin applied and received their $600 some dollars each month.. THAT is how SS is poorly managed , not to mention the government “borrowed ( raided)” funds from Social security over the past 30 years.

    I was there. I saw first hand how the system was manipulated.

    It needs to be reformed before the funds are not sufficient to keep it in place for the young and older disabled when they have no other long term disability insurance…but if our President lies about keeping the Unemployment rate below 8% if he spends 870 billion, can we really believe that anything he does now is valid? His last speech was all political campaigning and a joke saying it has to be passed now…so urgent that he took three years to get his advisers to write a ” common sense plan? If his new Jobs plan is “common sense” then where was it three years a go? The DFL needs a new candidate for 2012.

    A repeat failure is not an option for America..

  • Roul

    I doubt it will be there unless Obama is out in 2012.

    I am 59.

    But in fairness, lets be more gentle on Obama, He does the best he can with his ” diminish America” ideology so that we are all one big OPEN SOCIETY, a European socialist state…How do we know that? George Soros’ created his plan for the Open Society and his 30 some groups like Media Matters and the infamous Tides foundation, that_ is who propped up Obama to get him else could ACORN go out and register fraudulent voters without being caught right away?

    The DFL set up the free SS payments to part time immigrants. I know families that have their parents visit here in America once a year for 4-5 months. many worked less than a full year’s time here yet, having worked less than a year here now they come to get the free SS payments!

    I think the DFL’ers who want the pay your fair share crap, can make donations from their millions. Check out how much former Speaker of the House D. Nancy Pelosi made in the last two years and since she came to office!!! Millions! Yet she talks as if she is one of working middle class. Biden is another multi-millionair.

  • Edgolb

    Yes, although it could be less than what has been promised. That’s the plain truth.

    That being said, look how many no’s there are. That’s because being anti-government has been such a big seller, so it would only follow that SSI is unreliable: BUT, simply not true.

    Many are unhappy with SSI because they have confused it with a retirement investment plan. It’s not, it’s a social insurance plan.

    SSI will need tweaking if it’s to pay out promised amounts, but even if we don’t fix it it will pay out a percentage a promised benefits.

  • jack goldman

    Social security is welfare plain and simple. I am hoping I won’t need welfare but welfare will be available. Social security should be based on need. If teachers, police, soldiers, fireman, get a pension for retirement they should not get social security too. Those who need it should get it based on need, not entitlement. Same goes for medicare and medicaid. Cap all cash pensions at $3,000 per month per person. That’s enough to live on. If you want more spend your own money or get a job.

  • Jack Goldman

    Debasement effects social security. In 1963 people paid in 1% of $1.40 per hour, $2,912 per year. Today people pay in 7% of $50,000 per year.

    In real silver money from 1963 $50,000 today is $1,724 per year or eighty two cents an hour today in real 1963 silver coins. Get it?

    Debasement skews and distorts the whole social security mess with fake pretend money benefiting bankers, owners, and government.

    Yes, it will be there, but what will it buy?

  • Douglas R. Whitney

    I am 60. I’ve been paying into SS since I was employed at age 16. I am fortunate beyond belief and will never need it. I would gladly sacrifice my SS if it would assure that someone my age, older or younger, who will need it to live with dignity will have it. I believe everyone in my situation should do the same…but only if a political solution can be achieved that will guarantee that it will be there for those who are entering the work force now or have done so recently. The only way such a solution can be reached is if we throw out every single elected official after two terms, max, and take away all the financial perks of having been elected, including paying them greater than the average household income, taking into account other sources to that household.

    Let’s get some average Americans running the country stead of these robber barons.

  • Tom

    My ‘social security’ would be there for me,… if I lived in Chile. To all my liberal friends – do some research beyond MSNBC and public radio.

  • Brian D

    I am already collecting social security. I have two teenage boys, and both of them have heard people say, Social Security won’t exist by the time you retire. I tell my boys, if people DON’T vote Republicans into power, Social Security will be there. The only threat to Social Security is the Republican Party and its propaganda.

  • Jean

    Trust in God he owns all silver and gold he will always make a way and provide for his people, no matter circumstances we all need to trust in God and not the goverment so much. they got even military personal getting foodstamps this is how this country was founded on, we need to get back to basics and go from their and stop spending money on things we dont need or use.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Nice thoughts, Jean. It would be great if more self-identified Christians had such an attitude! I suspect most would give lip service to those ideas, but then lots of them rally to support polititicans who urge them to rely on themselves rather than on God, foment resentment toward those who can’t, and then talk about the Invisible Hand of the free market as if it were God.