“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!”
In the battle over government spending, we hear a lot about the need to cut “entitlement spending,” which generally means Social Security (SS) and Medicare. What qualifies these as “entitlements,” I assume, is the obligation that’s incurred when we pass a law (unconstitutional as it may be) that requires people to pay into these programs in exchange for some promise of payment or service in the future. Thus you are “entitled” to your promised benefit.
The fact that both democrats and republicans are talking about “means testing” as a way to reduce entitlement payouts should scare all conservatives down to their core. Paul Ryan’s infamous budget plan has given the idea legitimacy among republicans and perhaps even to some who believe themselves to be conservatives, but his plan is driven by the goal of making the math work. It is not driven by conservative principles.
“Means testing,” where people pay into these programs their entire working lives but are then denied the promised benefit if they’ve been financially successful or fortunate, is nothing more than a euphemism for wealth transfer. The money that’s been taken from you goes into a fund where it gets distributed to someone else, according to decisions made by people in government.
“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
It’s funny how we easily recognize the ideas that form the basis of communism when they come in the form of the well-known quote from Karl Marx (although it seems he was not the original author of the quote, but I digress); yet, when we call it something else, such as “means testing,” many of us will say, “Oh sure, that sounds good!”
Paul Ryan may mean well by trying to solve our budget woes, but he is leading us into a trap and conservatives should not go along with it. Who gets to decide how much money or assets are sufficient to deny someone the promise of Social Security? What arbitrary figure puts someone above the line, where all of their money is confiscated and becomes an entitlement of the government, while someone with just one dollar less receives the entire benefit he was promised? Even in today’s crazy world most Americans still understand, somewhere down deep, what’s wrong communism’s founding principle – “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” How they cannot see that this is no different escapes me.
This is not about me trying to make sure I get my promised benefit. I have long believed that Social Security will be defunct by the time I get there and have been planning for retirement on that basis. Although I believe people who’ve had their money confiscated over the years are entitled to the benefits promised to them, I don’t believe the promises ever should have been made, and the money should never have been confiscated to begin with. Like a poorly built dam, the program was doomed to fail eventually. But instead of building a proper dam (i.e. scrapping Social Security) we spend all of our energy and resources planning for the inevitable flood, which is precisely what the Left wants us to do.
As they say here in Texas – that ain’t smart.