Writes Ronald Thomas, who is obviously a wee bit sensitive on this topic, in response to my comments about social security [my comments in brackets]:
Please don’t give us old people that holier-than-though attitude that so many libertarians have (Fortunately not all libertarians have this belief). [I’m not giving you any attitude. In fact, I adhere to the Walter Block Protocol (also here) on this, although you presumptuously assumed otherwise. Like Block, I don’t believe there’s anything inherently unlibertarian about accepting money that the state sends you. That’s no more unlibertarian than driving on a government road or going to a public college.] I am certainly not on welfare. [We’ll see.] For decades, as a dentist with two employees, I was forced to pay my own social security taxes and half of the social security taxes of my two employees. If I had invested that money privately, on my own, I would be receiving a far higher return than I am receiving on that money through social security now. [Very true.] In addition, after I die there would be a large sum of money remaining as the principle from decades of investing which I could leave (after taxes, unfortunately) to my heirs. [Yep.] Now, under social security, the investments I would have had spanning these decades will be lost. And with the government lying about the rate of inflation, my “inflation adjusted” income now is certainly not inflation adjusted and is far lower than it should be. [All true.]
How can you possibly call that welfare? [Paying taxes is not welfare, but I see where you’re heading with this.] It’s money squeezed from me under protest which will be lost. If anything, it’s welfare for the government, and therefore welfare for those citizens who are alive after I die because the government imposed debt (now 16 trillion dollars) will be smaller because of the money drained from me and confiscated by the government. [Wow, you certainly view yourself in heroic terms. We get your point however: All present and future generations owe you big time.]
If every dime I receive comes from someone who is working right now, that is because of mismanagement by the Federal Government, [No, every dime you receive right now comes from a working person because every dime you receive right now comes from a working person. That’s how wealth transfer works. And Social Security, is now, and always has been, a wealth-transfer scheme. It was never an “insurance program.” The courts resolved that issue back in the 40s.] its Ponzi scheme, not because I am a “welfare queen.” In effect, I agreed, unwillingly, in a coerced, under threat of imprisonment, oral contract with the government, to receive a certain, unspecified, amount of inflation adjusted income until I die if I relinquished, under coercion, an ever increasing percentage, and an unspecified amount, of my future income until I retired. [Everyone who chooses to be well-informed on this matter knows that soc. security is not an insurance program and that there is no implied agreement. Again, this has been legally clear for decades. You have chosen to remain ignorant about this and still wrongly think that you paid into some kind of insurance program or that there was some kind of agreement between you and the state. When you paid in, you were simply paying for the welfare and warfare programs of your day.]
I fulfilled the terms of my coerced contract [Again, there was no contract, as any well-informed person could have told you. See Flemming v. Nestor.] with the government and paid half of my employees’ social security taxes.
It’s not my fault that the government is stealing from others, and there’s nothing I can do about it. If you call that welfare, you are being delusional.[There are some things you could do about it. For one, you could stop perpetuating the myth that there is some kind of contract between workers who pay payroll taxes, and the government. You could also advocate for the abolition of social security.]
Get off your high horse!
I’m sorry that this person paid so much in taxes over the years. I agree that life would have been better for him, his employees, and his patients, had there been no such tax. But what Thomas now seems to believe is that he has a right to the money being paid in by current workers. Sorry, he doesn’t.
The money that government took from him for all those years is gone, and there’s no way to get it back. That fact does not give anyone who paid taxes in the past the right to demand that current taxpayers hand over their money to make good on some mythical “contract” that some people seem to believe exists.
If someone robs me, that doesn’t give me the right to look around for someone else to rob and then say I’m only making up for past injustices. That position, which is analogous to Ronald Thomas’s position, is ludicrous and criminal.
Is it unlibertarian to accept one’s social security checks? I would say no. Is it wrong to advocate for and to make excuses for the perpetuation of social security because you believe that current workers should toil to make up for your past toils? Yes. It is.
Tons of people are on the dole, myself included, and also including many great libertarians in history, such as Murray Rothbard who worked at a public university. The difference is that a libertarian wouldn’t claim that taxpayers should be forced to give him money to make up for past crimes of the state.
Update: Here’s a perfect example of how welfare programs cause division. You dare suggest that people don’t have a moral right to tax money and they immediately begin to make violent threats. Says John Buck of Phoenix:
I will gladly get off social security if the government gives me every nickel I paid into it for 50 years compounded at the going savings interest rate for those years. I will pay for my own health care if the government gives me all the money I paid into Medicare at the going rate for all those years. I will also go back to engineering and work 60 hours a week for a small salary if the corporations bring back the jobs they have given to China (I was making $80k a year in 2008 when my company sent my job and most of the rest of the jobs in the company to China. I would be willing to work for a fraction of that if I could find a job). I have a bookkeeping business (yes, I still am able and willing to work for a living) so I am still paying into the welfare system even though I am collecting. I have another idea. If I lose my social security benefits and have to live on the streets the first assholes I will rob for food will be every fucking libertarian I can find. I have another idea. How about ending all of the real welfare and leave the social security recipients who have paid into the system alone. Go after all the assholes that collect welfare in all forms, including white collar welfare, before you go after the people who paid into it for 50 years. Give me a list of all your friends who are collecting obscene salaries and benefits as college professors and I will stand by while you take away their white collar welfare and make them work for a real living. We’ll see how self-righteous you are after you run out of the people who idolized you.
Thank goodness my own grandfather Mac (1906–1993) was a truly good man who regarded social security as nonsense and would have never behaved like this. My 65-year old mother also regards SS as welfare. Only some self-righteous people feel compelled to maintain the fiction that their SS payments somehow aren’t wealth transfers from some other productive American.6:13 pm on September 21, 2012 Email Ryan McMaken