This Wednesday at 9 PM ET (6 PM PT), Yaron and I are going to discuss President Obama’s State of the Union address on a special webinar, filmed live at the Ayn Rand Institute. It will be broadcast on the Ayn Rand Center Facebook page.
You do not need a Facebook account to watch the video. However, to submit questions via Facebook during the broadcast, you will need a Facebook account. If you do not have a Facebook account, please submit questions during the broadcast to email@example.com.
The commitments we make to each other—through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security—these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.
This is wrong from start to finish: I’m certainly not strengthened by having thousands of dollars taken out of my pay each year. But it’s the first part that made me feel like Wile E. Coyote taking an anvil to the head. Entitlements are a “commitment we make to each other”? Really? I didn’t make such a commitment, except in the sense that John Dillinger’s victims “made a commitment” to give him their money.
But Obama’s euphemism isn’t accidental. It’s part and parcel of how the left talks about democracy—as if it were some social club where “we all get together” and hash out decisions. Can’t you just see the smiles and back-patting?
You could say it’s just a metaphor, but it’s an intellectually unjustifiable metaphor, because the salient fact about a social club is that, if you don’t like what the majority decides, you can go your own way: it can’t force its will on you. In the sort of unlimited democracy the left savors, the majority (or a politically influential minority) can vote to violate your rights.
The left regularly denounces as “coercion” many actions that leave others perfectly free to make their own decisions—as when a corporation doesn’t offer employees health insurance, or uses corporate funds to engage in political speech. Meanwhile, the left treats actual coercion like entitlement schemes as voluntary. If it was honest and clear about what it stood for, it would have a much harder time selling its agenda.