Social Security and Morality by Proxy

Will Wilkinson of The Fly Bottle takes on the moral aspect of Social Security reform, contrasting it with the Hillary Clinton healthcare ‘reform’ that swept the Republicans into power in Congress in ’94.

The case depends implicitly on the rather bizarre and unmotivated notion that taking care of each other means offloading responsibility onto the political class…

On the other hand, the reformers have a moral message about ownership, independence, choice, and equality that I think may prove popular.

I was especially struck by the first statement. It sweeps much broader than Social Security to include the whole ‘safety net’ and the current Democratic talking point that liberal social programs are somehow about ‘moral values’, specifically Christian moral values. Ultimately, moral values are personal choices and this morality by proxy that liberals espouse is really an abdication of that personal responsibility.

To the extent that values were a concern in the last election, I think those polled were referring to the personal integrity and leadership by example of the candidates, a man of great integrity on one hand and an untrustworthy gigolo on the other. The election was not in any sense a referendum on creating a theocratic state that would return us all to right living at the point of a gun. Democrats do their cause no good lecturing conservatives on caring for the poor as a moral value – conservatives regularly help the poor personally while liberals spend their energy advocating passing the burden to government. Morality by proxy is a bad idea and the liberals snide tone in pushing it is unlikely to win any converts to the Democratic Party.

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