I was having a conversation with someone last week when they recounted a conversation they had with someone else. “He doesn’t like libertarians because he says he wants to help kids on seniors,” she said. I was taken a little aback by that, because if that’s the image we libertarians have, it’s no wonder we have the reputation we have.
Luckily, I happen to have an opportunity to set the record straight about what many libertarians actually think. Let’s start off with kids.
Many people support welfare programs, despite their record of failure, because they just don’t want to punish kids for their parents’ failings. I can understand that completely. After all, I was just like those folks for years. Unfortunately, there’s a flaw in that logic.
You see, when parents don’t have to do anything to provide for their kids, many of them just won’t. They know that they have our tax dollars to spend on food and clothing for their children, so they opt to just kick back and do nothing.
I care about those kids. I want those kids to have more than the minimum. I envision a world where those parents have to get off their butts and make a living the same as the rest of us have to. Then, those kids can get more than just the basics. They would have an opportunity to have even more, as well as learn that if one wants to thrive in this world, one must work for it.
Now, there are always going to be kids that need help for whatever reason. I agree that it isn’t their fault that they’re in their current predicament. That’s where private charity kicks in, and yes I believe that we all need to up our contributions to private charities. Let the private sector take up the cause of helping out less fortunate kids, and quite requiring it through taxation and wealth redistribution schemes.
As for senior citizens, things are a bit trickier. You see, I know of no libertarian who is in favor of Social Security. However, many accept that it is here and that we can’t just cut it without destroying the lives of a lot of seniors. I’m one of them. I also recognize that Social Security is deeply flawed and that something must be done.
The reality is that Social Security is essentially a Ponzi scheme where my parents’ generation paid for their folks, and now they’re living off of my generation. That’s not how it was supposed to work, but that’s the reality of it. The first thing that needs to be done is to figure out a balance of what’s best for future generations and what’s best for current seniors.
I’m personally in favor of permitting those of us under 55 to take our Social Security withholdings into a private account if we so choose. Yes, there is risk involved. So what? My generation is the first to accept that we will probably not receive Social Security since the program first started.
So what would those under 55 being able to opt out do for current seniors? Not much. Remember that Social Security withholdings actually go into the general account for the United States government and therefore current benefits are coming out of there as well. We simply continue paying current benefits while permitting future generations of senior citizens to invest their withholdings (instead of them going to pay for what politicians want right now). The result is current seniors receive what they’ve been receiving with no interruption. In time, you will minimize those receiving social security as more and more realize that they will have a more comfortable retirement by investing.
Now, I’m not the spokesman for libertarianism as a whole. I recognize that my Utopia will never happen, and that’s fine with me. I’m willing to try and work with the world I have and accept less than ideal solutions, so long as they’re a move in the right direction. However, to claim that libertarians don’t care about kids or older folks is just plain wrong.