Monday, October 26, 2015

Social Security vs. Robin Hood

Robin Hood is often invoked by statists to defend forced income redistribution. For example, in a New Jersey Star-Ledger letter titled  Christie's reverse-Robin Hood act continues on Social Security, the correspondent wrote, in part,

Gov. Chris Christie's so-called reform of Social Security and Medicare is less a rescue of the systems than a strong message to his well-heeled supporters that he will sacrifice the health of retired people and senior citizens throughout the country before he asks any of his supporters to open their own wallets. His grand plan is to destroy the benefits of the people who need it the most - elderly people of retirement age. His attempt at "balancing" the pain by denying Social Security benefits to people earning over $200,000 per year is laughable – of course they don't need it. And that's exactly why a more rational – and fair – way to eliminate the Social Security and Medicare crises once and for all is to simply eliminate the income cap on Social Security and Medicare payroll deductions.

But he will never do the right thing. . . . Christie continues his reverse-Robin Hood act: take from the poor and give it to the rich.

But that is an injustice to the real Robin Hood. “Take from the rich to give to the poor” is certainly altruistic. But Robin Hood was not an altruist, sacrificing some for the unearned benefit of others. Robin Hood was about property rights and justice, not simply robbing someone with more simply because he has more, and giving it to someone who needs it, simply because he needs it.

I left this comment:

Social Security benefits are already skewed toward the lower end of the income scale. That’s immoral enough, as it is coercively redistributionist. But at least under current law, benefits are somewhat linked to “contributions” (taxes paid in). Eliminating the income cap on payroll taxes without a corresponding increase in benefits for those saddled with higher taxes would completely sever that link. Since Social Security was designed for the sake of the irresponsible, eliminating the income cap would further punish people responsible enough to prepare for their own retirement, for the sake of people who were not responsible enough to properly supplement their Social Security retirement income. This is not “fair.” It’s a complete perversion of the concept of fairness.

The nobility of Robin Hood has been hijacked and inverted by the redistributionist gangsters. According to legend, Robin Hood did not simplistically "rob the rich to give to the poor." He took back from thieves and returned the stolen property to its rightful owners. Eliminating the cap would do the opposite: It would rob money from its rightful owners—those who earned it—and hand the loot to those who didn’t earn it, based only on their “need.” This is morally inverted, and Linda Jadach and her ilk are the real reverse-Robin Hoods.


For the record, I don’t like Christie’s plan for cutting off people with $200,000 in income from their promised benefits, also known as means testing. Short of phasing out Social Security altogether, I prefer a “Personal Account” Path to Ending Social Security.

Notice also the false choice embodied in the correspondent’s letter; taking from the rich to give to the poor, rather than the other way around. But it’s not either-or. The only just solution is to end the practice of government taking from anyone to give to someone else. Government’s only proper function is to protect equally everyone’s right to their own property, not to satisfy some people’s needs at the expense of others.

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