(Adapted from my April 2, 2011 Blog post)
I’ve heard Ron Paul state a few times in interviews that, while the U.S. government needs to end the welfare/warfare state (and “welfare” implies the inclusion of Social Security, that Dr. Paul explains is merely another entitlement program and not an “account” or “insurance“), it should end the welfare state gradually so as to reduce any pain and suffering that might be experienced by those who are currently dependent on the government. Well, I disagree with that.
First, Murray Rothbard addressed whether to phase out such entitlement programs or “phase in” freedom and more free market alternatives, in his critique of the Soviet Union’s process of gradual decentralization following the Cold War and the gladly-anticipated end of the Soviet Union. Rothbard suggested, “Do not phase in” the freed markets, and I believe this wise advice can apply to the ending of all welfare state programs including the Social Security and Medicare programs. And immediately end the forcible confiscation of private earnings and wealth from the citizenry to fund those schemes. Restore freedom of private entrepreneurial and charitable retirement fund organizations to operate. Because of how extremely painful it is for bureaucrats to let go of their power bases and fiefdoms, it is just not a good idea, morally and economically, to phase in the freed markets. As Rothbard wrote:
It is, again, generally accepted that free markets must be arrived at quickly, and that phasing them in slowly and gradually will only delay the goal indefinitely. It is well known that the giant socialist bureaucracy will only seize upon such delay to obstruct the goal altogether…
Holding back, freeing only a few areas at a time, will only impose continuous distortions that will cripple the workings of the market and discredit it in the eyes of an already fearful and suspicious public. But there is also another vital point: the fact that you cannot plan markets applies also to planning for phasing them in. Much as they might delude themselves otherwise, governments and their economic advisers are not in a position of wise Olympians above the economic arena, carefully planning to install the market step by measured step, deciding what to do first, what second, etc. Economists and bureaucrats are no better at planning phase-ins than they are at dictating any other aspect of the market.
To achieve genuine freedom, the role of government and its advisers must be confined to setting their subjects free, as fast and as completely as it takes to unlock their shackles. After that, the proper role of government and its advisers is to get and keep out of the subjects’ way…
There is another reason to quickly return to freedom, besides the impracticality of gradual desocialization, and that is because of the inherent immorality involved in such schemes including Social Security, that involves not only the forcible taking of private earnings but the government’s forcing all Americans to participate in such a scheme.
Even more immoral than forcing everyone to participate is that the scheme itself is a fraud, promising or at least implying that workers will “get back what they payed into the system.” As we can see now, the young workers now whose paychecks are being siphoned will not get a dime back when they retire. (That is why it is up to them to begin their own retirement savings and investment accounts now, to prepare themselves for their future!)
When people recognize that a scheme is immoral, involving theft, fraud and coercion, it is morally necessary to end that scheme forthwith. To knowingly continue such criminal schemes (and theft, fraud and coercion are crimes — in this case, crimes of the State) would be to continue immoral behavior. The fact that something is institutionalized throughout the entire society via its central government makes it no less immoral.
But if Social Security ended, those who currently are dependent on it should not worry, as Jacob Hornberger explained, as the Social Security taxes would also end (and we would need to end the income tax, which is also not only theft but the very definition of “involuntary servitude,” as well as the capital gains taxes and other forms of collectivized theft of individuals’ property and their businesses), and that would free up Americans’ ability to care for their elderly family members. That is the more honest and aboveboard way of a society’s going about everyday life.
The politicians in Washington who constantly say they “won’t touch Social Security” do so not because they are genuinely concerned for their constituents’ lives and welfare –believers of that fantasy might be interested in buying the Brooklyn Bridge — no, these pols and hacks care about one thing and one thing only: their life-long parasitic careers feeding at the public trough and their next elections. They are spineless, gutless wonders who are afraid to lose votes.
I know, I tend to generalize when I talk about politicians. Sorry about that, but you know deep down that I’m right. For example, Laurence Vance discusses in this well-written essay how the Republicans now say they are opposed to raising the debt ceiling because the president is a Democrat, while, when the president was a Republican just as recently as three years ago, the Republicans enthusiastically voted to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans who are saying they will vote against raising the debt ceiling are doing so for purely political reasons, certainly not moral, and certainly not fiscal! Why, during the Bush Administration, Bush and his Republican cohorts spent the public’s money, yes, “like drunken sailors.”
These Republicans and Democrats in Washington are literally drawn to the socialism pathology in Washington like magnets. Friedrich Hayek wrote about how the “worst get on top:”
Just as the democratic statesman who sets out to plan economic life will soon be confronted with the alternative of either assuming dictatorial powers or abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian leader would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary morals and failure. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous are likely to be more successful in a society tending toward totalitarianism….
He must gain the support of the docile and gullible, who have no strong convictions of their own but are ready to accept a ready-made system of values if it is only drummed into their ears sufficiently loudly and frequently. It will be those whose vague and imperfectly formed ideas are easily swayed and whose passions and emotions are readily aroused who will thus swell the ranks…
And Hans-Hermann Hoppe wrote about “Why Bad Men Rule“:
Since man is as man is, in every society people who covet others’ property exist. Some people are more afflicted by this sentiment than others, but individuals usually learn not to act on such feelings or even feel ashamed for entertaining them. Generally only a few individuals are unable to successfully suppress their desire for others’ property, and they are treated as criminals by their fellow men and repressed by the threat of physical punishment….
(However)…by opening entry into government, anyone is permitted to freely express his desire for others’ property. What formerly was regarded as immoral and accordingly was suppressed is now considered a legitimate sentiment. Everyone may openly covet everyone else’s property in the name of democracy; and everyone may act on this desire for another’s property, provided that he finds entrance into government. Hence, under democracy everyone becomes a threat.
Consequently, under democratic conditions the popular though immoral and anti-social desire for another man’s property is systematically strengthened.
And this scheme we have here in America has caused so many millions and millions of people so much misery, and it will never ever end, except in total collapse and huge suffering, by many more millions and millions of people. That is because, contrary to the daydreaming of the Ruling Class, the elitists and their followers, this centralized bureaucracy scheme in Washington can never be “reformed.”
The whole scheme is inherently flawed, corrupt and criminal. Central planning just doesn’t work. People are going to have to wake up and realize that. It is time to consider returning full independence and sovereignty to the states. It is time to return to the freedom that most of the Founders envisioned, and decentralize, allowing for as much local control of territories as possible, end central banking and its thieving cartels and allow for competing currencies and free everyone to use actual money with actual value. And free the people of the states to exercise their inherent right of self-defense, and the right to not be compelled by a centralized bureaucracy to be dependent on it for protection. This decentralization is the only way to restore our freedom and our prosperity.
The U.S. federal government is the one single institution most responsible for the downfall and impoverishment of the United States of America. America needs to remove this entire parasite and its shackles — or we’re all literally finished as a society.