ISSUES IN FOCUS
Week of February 1, 1999
If you want an indication of the grave threat Social Security poses to the future of freedom, consider a grim fact. Support for this form of parasitism is so strong, so overwhelming, that there is not (to my knowledge) a single, elected official in this country who could remain in office if he announced his opposition to Social Security. Such a politician would be booted from office by his constituency.
A little more than a hundred years ago, America was a country in which the philosophy and practice of individualism was alive and well. Each individual, if he was to survive, took responsibility for providing for his own needs and financial security, including his retirement. In the intervening years, America has undergone a radical transformation. It is increasingly a nation populated by individuals who look to others, via government programs, to take care of their needs.
Social Securitys widespread, unquestioning support is a monument to the success of statism, of its triumph over self-reliance and the creation of a society of dependent, not independent, individuals. If Social Security is not dismantled, it will eventually be the tombstone of Americas freedom.
Contrary to popular belief, Social Security is not funded by money paid in taxes by retirees during the course of their working lives. Social Security benefits are paid out of current tax receipts. All the money paid in Social Security taxes by retirees has long since been spent.
Social Security is a claim on your life and your earnings, present and future. You are not to be free to live your life as you see fit nor keep the money you earn. You are obligated to support the lives of everyone and anyone who is eligible to draw Social Security benefits. A system in which the state forces everyone into a common herd, making everyone responsible for the needs of everyone else is socialism, a very ugly form of statism. It is a declaration that the individual is not responsible for himself, but must be taken care of by others who are forced, by the state, to provide for that individuals care. It is a plan which forces some into a form of involuntary servitude to provide for the needs of others who wish to avoid the necessity of being productive, of standing on ones own two feet, of fending for himself.
Social Security is, among other things, a clever scheme to buy votes, to gain the support of seniors who are on the receiving end of this forcible transfer of wealth. This is not unique to Social Security. It is true of all statist programs that yank money from your pocket and gives it to someone else. This is the real campaign finance scandal and it is done openly, in broad daylight, with virtually everyone knowing that this is nothing more than a process of politicians handing out goodies in exchange for votes.
If a politician went around buying votes with his own money, handing out $100 bills for an individuals promise to vote for him, most would condemn this as corrupt. But let that same politician promise voters money taken by government force in an effort to gain their votes and few seem to mind. Most apparently sanction this form of bribery and theft since they figure they will be one of the beneficiaries of this evil process.
With seniors soon to be (if they are not already) the largest group of voters, it is vital to statist plans to continue to coddle this group with ever-increasing handouts. As millions of baby boomers join the bloated ranks of seniors who are participating in the systematic looting of others, Social Securityand all other statist programswill collapse. This is a gigantic pyramid scheme that will eventually implode simply because there will not be enough who are able to produce enough to pay for the benefits. And if we reach the end of this road, it will produce a political crisis that will play into the hands of statists who yearn for total power.
There are many ways one could describe the general mood of this country, but there is one word few, if any, would use in such a description: gay. The last decade of the 1800s was known as the Gay Nineties. There are many similarities, economically, between the 1890s and the 1990s. Both enjoyed an explosion of technological innovation and development that vastly improved productivity and brought great prosperity. Yet the 1990s has not brought a mood of gaiety. The mood has been, and continues to be, one of apprehension about the future, as if most sense that statisms Ponzi scheme is going to disintegrate. And when it does, the generation coming out of the Gray Nineties will inherit the black wind of despotism.
February 1, 1999
© Copyright 1999 Fulton Huxtable