Café Hayek (an economist blog) has an interesting post and discussion regarding Social Security. The original post and the following commentary are worth reading.
The post centers around the assertion by a retired journalist that the government should increase Social Security taxes to improve payouts from the system. His main reasoning behind this is that he was too irresponsible to save for retirement on his own, and that most Americans must be as irresponsible as he is. To him the obvious answer is that the government should have more, not less control of our retirement savings and options.
This journalist is quite free with the property of others; property that must be confiscated to cover his retirement. John Adams said (here), “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”
“Oh, come on,” friends have said to me, “Social Security is completely ingrained in our society. It addresses serious social problems. It’s not perfect, but our society needs it. We couldn’t live without it.” William Pitt answered similar arguments by saying (here), “Necessity is the excuse for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of the tyrant and the creed of the slave.”
Speaking of slavery, did you know that this is where the term pork barrel arose? Slaveholders in the South used to occasionally take a barrel of pork out to the fields or shanties of their slaves as a gift from the master. The idea was to placate the slaves into thinking that, although they were in slavery, it really wasn’t so bad because the master was taking care of them. Most slaves never ran away. Most did not rebel. Most accepted their fate, having been robbed of the flame of liberty that should burn in the breast of every human.
Do we realize what we give up for our socialized society where we have made government the main responsible party for the needs of the aged? We pay a cost for this. Do we ever stop to think about what we are paying?
When President Bush promoted Social Security reforms that would have transferred a minute amount of responsibility for management of retirement savings back to the individuals, politicians went absolutely nuts. The plan was demagogued into a bizarre caricature of the actual proposal. ‘Liberty-loving’ Democrats stonewalled it, and ‘freedom-loving’ Republicans were unable to muster sufficient political will to stand behind it.
Both parties opted to keep the slaves on the plantation. Neither was able to stand the thought that they might allow just a tiny amount of the sunlight of freedom to flow into the dank, sealed box that is Social Security. I wish I could say that we have the chance to change this on November 7, but we don’t. Regardless of which party controls the chambers of Congress, there will be little sentiment toward increasing personal liberty, even in a minor way. (Unless you’re a terrorist, that is. Then you’ve got all kinds of civil libertarians ready to increase your freedom.)
This could all change if enough of us slaves revolted, but apparently most of us are willing to sit back and accept our fate, eagerly feeding from the pork barrel whenever the master drops it off in our vicinity. We are seemingly oblivious to what we are giving up in exchange for our acquiescence.