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Not trying to be an annoying nitpicker here, but we should really be thanking the people who work to make the real stuff and provide the services that retirees purchase with their Social Security dollars.
The payroll tax mechanism is a policy choice and not necessary for operations. But you absolutely have to have workers producing 'stuff.'
The more stuff that can be produced, the more generous Social Security benefits could be.
That's why the best defense of Social Security is a booming economy with full employment.