Whether or not Social Security is a Ponzi scheme was again a source of great discussion during Monday's Republican presidential debate, and it appears this is likely going to be a hot issue throughout this election cycle.
What should be interesting to participants and pundits alike is that during the last presidential campaign, on November 5, 2007, the late Tim Russert, and Chris Matthews, while talking about the Democrat candidates on an episode of MSNBC's "Hardball" broadcast exactly one year before America elected its first black president, agreed that Social Security was "a bad Ponzi scheme" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
In its obituary on the passing of Nobel economics laureate Paul Samuelson, who died on December 13, Michael Weinstein at the New York Times lavished well-deserved praise on the winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Economics for building "one of the world’s great centers of graduate education in economics" at MIT, but erred seriously in recounting his most visible public policy role.
Also worth noting is how the Times headline at Samuelson's obit compares to those the paper accorded Milton Friedman and John Kenneth Galbraith upon their deaths. Friedman and Galbraith were also pioneering economists in their own right who passed away after living into their 90s during the final half of this decade:
Friedman (November 16, 2006) -- "Milton Friedman, Free Markets Theorist, Dies at 94."
Galbraith (April 30, 2006) -- "John Kenneth Galbraith, 97, Dies; Economist Held a Mirror to Society."
Of the three, only the free market capitalism-championing Friedman, who like Samuelson but unlike Galbraith was a Nobel-winningeconomist, was deemed undeserving of being identified as a member of his chosen profession in his Times obit's headline.
More seriously, Weinstein rewrites history to give Samuelson significant credit for the prosperity of the 1960s where very little is due.