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LIBERAL VERBAL TRICKERY

In a mildly interesting exchange in The New Republic, between one of the magazine's senior editors, Jonathan Chait and Cato Institute scholar Brink Lindsay, the idea of a possible alliance between liberals (like Chait) and libertarians (like Lindsay) was recently debated. 

No one, I think, really believed in a serious prospect for this alliance but my own attention was piqued when Chait responded to Lindsay's suggestion that Social Security ought to be (somewhat) privatized as this could appeal to "younger liberals."

(I must admit it always irritates me to call these folks "liberals" when they have no interest in human liberty whatsoever any longer!)

Chait asks, "And why would we force retirees into the individual medical insurance market?"

Focus on his use of the word "force."

The Social Security system has been notorious for perpetrating the extortion of millions and millions for decades: "You are only going to work lawfully if you pay the government what it has decided you must pay it.  When you retire, the government will decide how much of it you will get back." Talking about doing some forcing!

So-called liberals have for ages gotten away with this, claiming that if you do not submit to being coerced into providing the funds they want, you are forcing others to do something. So if I don't want to be taxed – to help the war on drugs or the Social Security system or whatever else government decides the funds extorted via taxation should go to –  then I am "forcing" someone to do things like supporting drug abuse or going without insurance.

Notice immediately how insane this idea is:  If I didn't exist at all, and the funds I might have produced but didn't are not there for these various programs, somehow some nonexistent I would have forced the recipients to go without.

Now, of course, if I do exist and have the legal right to keep my very own resources, I would not be forcing anyone to do or be anything at all. I certainly wouldn't be forcing retirees to go without insurance since I would not have stolen a thing from them, only refused to allow government to steal money from me.

For centuries enemies of human liberty have played this nasty game, stealing concepts that support freedom and putting them to use opposing it.

Like the concept of individual rights, which used to concern securing our liberties but now, after years of sophistic conceptual gerrymandering, is used to refer to alleged entitlements.

When people are "entitled" by the government to get things they haven't paid for, it means others' lives and works must pay for them.  Thus the modern liberal achieves the exact reversal of the idea of individual rights as John Locke and the American founders understood them.

Liberals like Chait are adept at rolling out this kind of sophistry. Instead of admitting, plainly and honestly, that what he wants is to steal from those who work and take care of their own retirement and hand over this loot to those who haven't (or haven't enough), he pretends that not stealing for this purpose amounts to forcing people into doing without old age insurance.

Friends of freedom should never accept this kind of verbal trickery. See it for what it is, trying to win political arguments by subterfuge.

Tibor Machan holds the R.C. Hoiles Professorship in business ethics and free enterprise at Chapman University in Orange, California.