Although Social Security is considered a universal entitlement, there is a fair amount of progressivity built into the system. As the CBO reports, Americans in the bottom fifth of the earning distribution will receive benefits in ratio to taxes paid three times higher than the top fifth.
So now we have this. CBS News: "As the poor die earlier, Social Security isn't paying off." Yes, because richer recipients live longer and collect benefits for a longer period of time, that's "unfair." Sure.
If the problem is that Americans are not living long enough to collect their Social Security benefits, isn't this exactly the argument made by certain libertarian types for personal accounts? I think it is! Let Americans take control of their own finances, earn better returns, and maintain a balance that can be passed on to family after death.
But no: the government hates giving any kind of control to the masses. We'll hold on to your money and maybe - maybe - we'll give it back. Or not.