01/04/2024 lewrockwell.com  5 min 🇬🇧 #245928

Does Social Security Demonstrate « Compassion »?

By  Jacob G. Hornberger

 The Future of Freedom Foundation

April 1, 2024

I'm always fascinated by people, including libertarians, who convince themselves that they are being good, caring, and compassionate by advocating the continuation of Social Security. Claiming that it would be heartless to suddenly terminate this program, they say that the moral thing to do is continue the program for at least one generation. Of course, we all know what would happen at the end of that period - people would clamor for another 25-year extension by saying that to suddenly end the program would be heartless.

Why do I find this to be fascinating? Several reasons.

One, these paragons of virtue are being good, caring, and compassionate with money that is being stolen from people by the IRS. It's always easy to be good, caring, and compassionate with other people's money. It's not so easy to be good, caring, and compassionate with one's own money.

Two, these paragons of virtue are relying on the initiation of force to demonstrate their sense of goodness, care, and compassion. The money that funds Social Security comes from taxation. Taxation is the initiation of force. Refuse to pay your taxes and they will jail you. Just Google Irwin Schiff. He refused to pay his taxes and the consequence of his refusal was that officials forced him to die in prison. If he had refused to surrender and had used deadly force to resist being incarcerated, they would have killed him. There is nothing voluntary about the taxes that fund Social Security. Thus, these paragons of virtue rely on the initiation of force when they advocate the continuation of this socialist program.

Third, Social Security is a socialist program. The concept of a government-provided retirement dole for seniors originated among German socialists and was later imported into the United States, where it became an established federal program under the regime of President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the 1930s. The program uses the coercive taxing apparatus of the IRS to take money from one group of people to give it to another group of people. That's classic socialism - from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Thus, these paragons of virtue are demonstrating their goodness, care, and compassion through their advocacy of socialism, one of the most evil and destructive economic philosophies in history.

Fourth, these paragons of virtue have also convinced themselves that throughout their work lives, people have put their money into a Social Security retirement program. Thus, they have convinced themselves that when people receive Social Security checks, they are simply getting their retirement money back. Nothing could be further from the truth. People pay taxes. The government spends those tax revenues in the year it receives them. No tax money goes into a Social Security retirement fund. Social Security is a plain welfare-state program, no different in principle from food stamps and public housing. The best evidence of this is that when a person dies, his heirs are not entitled to unpaid Social Security benefits (or, for that matter, unpaid food stamps and public-housing benefits.) Moreover, ignorance of the law is no excuse. At any time in, say, their 20s, 30s, or 40s, people could have hired a lawyer and gotten a legal opinion stating that Social Security, under the law, is nothing more than a welfare-state program, not a retirement program into which they were "putting" their money.

Let's assume that I accost you when you are withdrawing money from an ATM. I hold a gun to your head and force you to withdraw $1,000 and give it to me. I take the money to a very poor neighborhood and give it all to an elderly woman who is deeply in debt and needing an operation.

Have I been good, caring, and compassionate? Of course not. No one is going to exclaim, "Jacob, you are such a good, caring, compassionate person for helping out that elderly woman." That's because my goodness, care, and compassion comes from the initiation of force - i.e., with money that comes from the armed robbery of another person.

But suppose instead of robbing you, I convince Congress to impose a $1,000 tax on you and everyone else. Congress then uses that money to help out that elderly woman plus lots of other elderly people (including rich ones who don't need the money). Now, suddenly, in the minds of many, including some libertarians, I've been converted into a good, caring, compassionate person, simply because I've induced Congress to do my dirty deed rather than doing it myself.

Finally, suppose the owner of a business discovers that a 75-year-old employee has been embezzling $5,000 a month for 25 years. Her friends exclaim to the business owner, "She has become dependent on the money. You would be heartless to suddenly terminate her embezzlement." The businessman might respond, "I'm willing to forgive what she has embezzled from me. If you wish to be good, caring, and compassionate with her from here on out, do so with your own money."

Socialism has proven to be the bane of mankind. The greatest gift that Americans, including seniors, could do for our nation is to immediately rid ourselves of Social Security, Medicare, and the scourge of all other socialist programs.

Reprinted with permission from  The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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