Friday, August 24, 2012

"Entitlement" Is Not A Dirty Word

Social SecurityLiberals (or “progressives”) have espoused a variation of this image, one which goes on to talk about privatization, which is a different subject altogether. At any rate, they are vigorously denying that the Social Security program is an “entitlement.”

One definition of “entitlement” is “a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group,” but there is nothing inherently “dirty” about that, really. In any case, that is a secondary definition, established by common usage fairly recently in historical context and the primary definition is “a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract.” Which is why Social Security absolutely is an entitlement.

Beneficiaries of the Social Security entered into a contract that for all of their working lives they would pay money into a trust fund and that once they were no longer working they would receive that money back in the form of a retirement stipend. Having upheld their end of the contract, workers are entitled by contract to receive those benefits, and the government is bound by contract to honor their side of the deal and pay the stipend to which the contractees are entitled.

The second statement on that image, about the “problem” of government borrowing from the fund, is a canard. In fact, the trust fund has invested its surplus in the safest place possible anywhere in the world; in US Treasuries. That is not a problem by anyone’s definition of problem, since the investment with the absolute lowest risk of loss world wide is US government debt. No one has ever lost one cent by investing in US Treasuries, so how is that a “problem,” pray tell?

I never can understand why liberals allow the other side not only to define the argument for them, but even to distort the meanings of individual words, and not push back.

Liberals should be standing up and asserting that “entitlement” is not a dirty word; that an entitlement represents an obligation on the part of the US government no less binding than monetary debt. We should be shouting that in making the claims that they do about entitlements, conservatives are demanding the this nation default on its debt as surely as if it were to refuse to pay on bonds due for redemption; that they are demanding that the government refuse to honor contracts made in good faith.

Instead, we accept the premise of the big lie made by conservatives and hunker down in a defensive crouch, whimpering that “Social Security is not an entitlement.”

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