Social Security remains the most popular, and therefore politically untouchable, program ever instituted by the United States government. Just last year, 79 percent of respondents to a CNN/ORC poll rated Social Security “good for the country.” In the same survey, an astonishing 73 percent agreed that “Social Security is something that the U.S. Constitution allows the federal government to do.”
Clearly, support for the program cuts across the political spectrum. Even many of the Tea Partiers who have marched with fervor against Obamacare are doubtless collecting Social Security, and would doubtless be loath to give it up.
This is sad, because as I have been arguing ad nauseum for several years now, Social Security is every bit as offensive to liberty and fiscal sanity as Obamacare: In fact, you could not have had the latter without the former. Social Security has been conditioning Americans since F.D.R that it is the proper role for government to 1) extract resources from some citizens, and to 2) provide income subsidy for others. To care for some at the expense of many.
Once our body politic accepted this fundamental role of government, Medicare, food stamps, welfare, Obamacare (or something very like it), and all the rest of the entitlement state were all but inevitable. Obamacare will put us over the edge, to be sure, but make no mistake: It was Social Security that first put us on the road to fiscal disaster and moral lethargy.
Think about it: Social Security, via its requirement that every citizen have a government-issued identification number, opened the door to a mind-boggling amount of federal control over our lives. In a very interesting piece at The American Spectator, Eric Peters puts it in stark terms, calling a Social Security number, “….the government-issued ear tag every calf (oops,citizen) is issued at birth.” Peters continues:
The SS number… is the number the government uses to make sure you pay your taxes, to keep track of where you work (and how much you earn), where you bank (and how much you have in the bank), where you live, whom you marry, whether you have children (each of them to be issued their own ear tag in turn) and so on…
F.D.R. and his New Deal coalition were smart fellows; they knew exactly what they were doing. Taking advantage of the country’s terrible, Depression-induced economic insecurity, the federal government began drugging the nation with a little tyranny in exchange for the illusion of security. Americans happily made the trade in the 20th century, and now wail and cry when this corrupt bargain extinguishes liberty in the 21st.
If we were a serious people, we would not be wondering if the Supreme Court will save us from Obamacare. We would be pulling out the entitlement state by its pernicious roots, starting with Social Security, in order to save our nation from insolvency and decay.
But seniors can rest easy — we are not a serious people, and getting less serious by the hour.