Thursday, June 21, 2012
The Quote of the Day is actually an entire conversation. Behold, just a small part of a larger exchange between the Huffington Post's Sam Stein and anti-federalism, anti-entitlement, Godfather of modern hardcore libertarian purity Ron Paul.
"STEIN: A bit of a personal question then, are you on Social Security? Do you get Social Security checks?
PAUL: I do.
STEIN: Well, I mean, is there -- you just told younger generations that they should ween themselves off this social contract.
PAUL: That is true.
STEIN: But you haven’t done it yourself... Don’t you think you chould have set a good example for the future generations. You’re not the wealthiest man in congress, I know that, but you have enough means to take care of yourself in retirement... Couldn’t you have set an example?
PAUL: No. I think the programs are so designed, just as I use the post office too, I use government highways, I do that too, I use the banks, the federal reserve system, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t work to remove this in the same way on Social Security."
It would be easy to just write this off as a case of "Do as I Say, Not as I Do" hypocrisy, but really there's something much deeper at work here. The fact is that libertarian ideaologues like Paul -- as with objectivist clowns like Ayn Rand before them -- secretly realize that their belief system is impossible to put into practice. It all looks great on paper, but it's unfeasible to run a unified country or a moral society without realizing that everyone within it will have to at least partially accept responsibility for his or her fellow man. What's more, Paul's cop out that the system is in place so therefore he falls back on it -- that the temptation is just too much to take and apparently robs him of his burning desire to live truly independently -- is almost impossible to listen to without laughing out loud. For the record, Rand herself, talented grifter that she was, did the same thing, only she tried to hide it; unlike Paul, who comes right out and admits he's full of shit, Rand received both Social Security and Medicare as she became old and infirm, only she collected it under her husband's last name.
This is why the modern right, bolstered by a neo-Randian philosophy of which most conservatives understand pretty much nothing other than a few bumper sticker slogans, hates the notion of, say, single-payer healthcare: they're afraid of it; afraid that the temptation will be too much and that people will want to use it; even people who normally breathe fire at the mere mention of government assistance. The difference, of course, is that some of those people -- people like Ron Paul -- can afford to not be a "parasitic burden" on the system while others actually need the help just to eke out an existence.
But I guess when you get old you earn the luxury of being able to issue loud, ex cathedra rulings declaring that no one else is entitled to federal assistance -- while sucking as much as you can get from the government teat.