Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hands Off My Medicare - Are Tea Partiers "Closet" Socialists?

Hands Off My Medicare - Are Tea Partiers "Closet" Socialists?

Gregory Parkinson, a far-left gay guy who specializes in labelling opinions with which he disagrees as "lacking in reality" or "ignoring facts" claims on FaceBook that Tea Partiers are closet "socialists" because a sign was seen among the protesters against socializing the medical profession last summer with the message "Hand Off My Medicare."  He never offers extended analysis; indeed, he offers no analysis whatever, just his blunt assertions, on the premise that reasonable and rational people will, naturally, accept whatever he has to say for no better reason than his blunt assertion:

"I admire facts and reason", [he quotes from a prior post of mine] leaves out "from a far distance, and have yet to welcome any into my personal worldview."

I am totally loving the rest of this, about how only if you objected to a program do you have the "moral right" to take the money. That "reasoning" gives us the "hands off my medicare, you socialist!" teabaggers as well.

Let's take a look at Parkinson's slur to see if there is any substance to it.

The phrase "hands off my medicare" clearly implies "possession." 

One fact Parkinson conveniently ignores is the government's political promise, made by generations of Democrat politicians, that the Social Security Program (and Medicare has been represented by them as part of the Social Security Program) is *not* a form of wealth redistribution, is *not* a form of "welfare" or the "dole" but should be thought of as something like a government pension program, in which the worker and the employer each contribute to a "fund" from which retired workers can "withdraw" their "earned" benefits.

The Tea Partiers holding up the signs to which Parkinson refers may have been doing either one of two things.

Their signs could actually be referring to "Medicare" in the exact same sense in which Democrat politicians refer to "Medicare," that is, as a "fund" or "lock box" into which workers' and employers' social security tax dollars have been flowing for decades, and they do not now agree that Congress should summarily and arbitrarily use the funds in the "lock box" for programs not originally contemplated and already "earmarked" as a benefit, and to which they are making a moral claim. 

In all fairness to the Tea Partiers, and against Parkinson, it is difficult to see how anyone might make a superior moral claim to the funds "locked" away in the safe and secure "lockbox" the Democrats have been saying for years actually exists and exists for the benefit of retiring senior workers who have worked hard all their lives, have paid in all those years, and have "undisputed" claim on those tax dollars extracted from them and their employers.

Of course, as politicians of both parties have known for decades, Social Security and its Medicare add-on is nothing but a "Ponzi" scheme to buy the votes of seniors.  It has been well-described as the "third-rail" of American politics--an electrified rail that will execute any politician who dares to touch it.  Bush 43 made a valiant effort to begin the process of transforming the program into a legitimate pension program, but Republicans are not very courageous and ultimately Democrats prevailed in preventing true reform even though Republicans had a majority.

The Democrats knew the program was far too useful to them politically in frightening senior citizens.  For example, liberal Democrat Laughton Chiles, when he ran against conservative Republican Jeb Bush in the 1994 race for Florida governor, ran a telephone campaign where Chiles' supporters made calls to seniors claiming that Jeb Bush was going to take away their social security benefits.  Chiles simply took a page out of LBJ's playbook in that politician's campaign against Barry Goldwater in 1964.

The fact is, the Tea Partiers, as do all Americans, have a moral claim to the taxes that were extracted from them under the threat of physical force and fraud.  They have precisely the same moral claim as do the victims of the Enron scandals, only in the case of Enron, fraud, and not physical force, was used to extract the booty.

What is wrong with holding Congress to the same standards that Congress wants to hold the perpetrators of fraud at Enron, or Wall Street, for that matter?

The argument regarding the right to a benefit only if you opposed the legislation that granted the benefit makes an underlying assumption that Parkinson has conveniently ignored.  The difference can be illustrated as follows. 

If you say that government has the right to steal people's property, which is what the advocates of social security and other forms of wealth re-distribution are claiming, then what we call "rights" do not exist legally in such a society. 

Rights still exist as moral claims, since rights exist wherever people exist, and people's rights are, by the terms of our own Declaration of Independence, "unalienable."  Indeed, the purpose of rights is to subordinate society to moral law, to say there are things which society cannot do to individuals.

In short, if you advocate theft as a social policy, you forfeit your "rights" since you cannot claim for yourself what you would deny others.

On the other hand, if you oppose theft as a social policy based on the moral claim of individual rights, then you can seek to protect your rights without self-contradiction.

In the rare possibility that the Tea Partiers Parkinson has brought in for review were petitioning Congress to increase their benefits or to enable the government to steal more property from Americans in the form of re-distributional tax increases, then certainly such Tea Partiers are guilty, at the very least, of the same crime of hypocrisy that Democrats have been guilty of for decades.

So Parkinson might be right, in which case the Tea Partiers are as morally clueless as he is; on the other hand, they could have simply been protesting government theft.

I'll leave it to the reader to decide which is more probably true.

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