Tuesday, April 26, 2005

P.J. O'Rourke on Social Security

Via Cato's Daily Dispatch (a daily e-mail newsletter), a reprint of P.J. O'Rourke's article "Freedom, Responsibility ... and What? Social Security Reform — An Explanation" (originally from the Atlantic, May 2005).

Anything that slams Paul Krugman is worth reading, but O'Rourke has a very sobering counter to the next person that brags about "full faith and credit," that the federal government has never failed to pay a Social Security benefit:
Consult American Indians for a further discussion of government promises.
I wonder how O'Rourke would have done in Michael Tanner's place at the Great Social Security debate. This would have been a real zinger to throw at Krugman (and the moderator, heaven knows she was practically Krugman's mouthpiece):
Is Social Security a pension scheme — a matter of freedom, responsibility, and property rights? Or is Social Security a charity — a matter of freedom, responsibility, and civic duties? Both sides want it both ways. Franklin Roosevelt, according to his grandson James, believed that Social Security should be "simple, guaranteed, fair, earned, and available to all Americans." But something that is earned cannot be simple or guaranteed or available to all, and its fairness will be disputable. Meanwhile, no conservative is talking about abandoning the injured, the orphaned, the abject, or the hopelessly goofy.
Exactly the point. Krugman & Co. act like we want to end government charity and replace it with nothing. That's the furthest thing from the truth. We conservatives (true conservatives who believe in limited government) and libertarians want to end government charity and replace it with something else: the personal freedom to help those you want, those you feel are deserving.


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