In 1971, two short, balding, middle-aged Americans (one the son of a dry-goods merchant, the other a son of a grocer) met in a hotel to discuss Social Security. But because this was Washington, D.C., and the two men were Milton Friedman and Wilbur Cohen, the ballroom was packed with men and women eager to hear them speak.
Friedman, who would receive the Nobel Prize a few years later, observed that "social security combines a highly regressive tax with largely indiscriminate benefits and, in overall effect, probably redistributes income from lower to higher income persons." "[A]s a way to distribute government assistance to the needy," he added, "the structure of benefits is not defensible and is not defended even by the proponents of social security."
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