There is currently a debate going on within my social circle on Facebook about young (as in, early 20’s) self-described liberty activists collecting food stamps or Social Security. I haven’t read most of it, but I had a serious and sincere question that I put to my friends on my own wall: Has anyone who *has* read all of the debate had his mind changed one way or the other, or at least gained more respect for the opposing viewpoint? I have a tendency to avoid online debates (in person debates too, for that matter), because I think they’re a waste of time and people are usually talking *at* each other rather than *with* each other. But I really did want to know if this one had changed anyone’s mind. I like to think I am open to being persuaded and to admit when I’m wrong. Maybe I was just looking for an excuse to read the debate. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) everyone who responded said their mind was not changed.
I probably will go ahead and read it, mostly because I would like to know where my friends stand on this issue. And maybe I’ll be the exception and have my mind changed. For the record (and here I go talking at you instead of with you, but that’s kind of the nature of a blog, isn’t it?), here are my thoughts on the subject prior to reading arguments one way or the other:
- Getting your own money back from a thief, or the government (but I repeat myself) is neither stealing nor morally wrong. So collecting SSI that you have already paid in is perfectly OK. Personally, I’ve paid over $43,000 into Social Security just over the past ten years (and yes, *just* into Social Security; don’t get me started on income and sales tax or I might put my fist through my laptop screen), and I’ve been working a lot longer than that, and I don’t believe for a second that any of that will come back to me unless I happen to become physically disabled in the near future. So if I had a way to start drawing on that money the government is “holding” for me, darned tootin’ I would do it and sleep with a clear conscience.
- Stealing from a thief is still stealing. The money or goods that a thief collects don’t suddenly become free stuff available for the taking by anyone; the rightful owner remains the rightful owner! Collecting government benefits you didn’t pay in yourself is simply taking advantage of the fact that someone else was robbed, and that seems pretty unsavory to me. Also, claiming you are insane and “unable” to work, while simultaneously being quite sane enough to attend parties, engage in political activism, care for pets, maintain an apartment, write blogs, drive cars, and numerous other activities demonstrating that you have marketable skills, is disingenuous.
- Considering collecting any sort of government money “political activism” is ludicrous. It’s not “fighting the system”; it’s exactly what the powers that be want! They want you weak and dependent and helpless. It also does nothing to accelerate the “collapse” of the system. The U.S. government is ALREADY bankrupt; the only things keeping it going are the Feds’ non-stop money-printing and the fact that the rest of the world hasn’t quite got around to kicking the U.S. dollar’s reserve currency status to the curb. To quote Doug Casey:
“It’s as with Wile E. Coyote. He runs off a cliff, and you logically think he’s going to fall right away. But he doesn’t – his feet keep windmilling in the air, and the law of gravity doesn’t kick in until long after he should have dropped. The US now resembles nothing more than a hapless cartoon character.”
To be clear, I am not suggesting that either food stamp or SS programs be immediately stopped and all recipients cut off. There are people who truly need financial help to survive. Elderly and disabled and sick people. Little kids who haven’t even had a chance to make any choices yet. Some of those people have paid into the system, and others haven’t. Some of them are blameless victims of chance, while others are victims of their own poor planning, risky behavior, and/or stubborn refusal to face facts. I wish I lived in a world where voluntary charities, churches and insurance policies could quickly and cleanly start covering this group of people, but at the moment I don’t. I live in a world where the incentives are all fucked up and people are educated to believe they are entitled to, and can count on, all sorts of things from the government that it has no place even attempting (and, inevitably, failing miserably) to provide. It’s a big hairy mess.
Ignorance and abuse abounds, and I barely know where to begin to combat it. Well, yes I do. I started a blog, and I’m putting some ideas out there, and maybe there will be a tiny bit less ignorance in the world because of it. Maybe not.
P.S. Just glancing at the debate, I noticed that some people threw “feeding the system” (by paying taxes) back in the face of people arguing that it’s wrong to collect government benefits. For example, saying something along the lines of “you are doing more harm by paying taxes than this guy is by collecting Social Security, and therefore you’re a hypocrite for even commenting on this subject”. I disagree with that, and may expand on it in a separate post; I’ve blathered on quite enough for one day.