Saturday, October 1, 2011

Parasites On The System

This is from a letter written in 1973 by one famous socialist to another (now deceased). In it, an American is trying to induce his European pal to come over for an extended stay in the US, but the latter is reluctant to do so. He just had surgery and didn’t want to leave the excellent health insurance he enjoyed in Europe. He’d previously lived in the United States for a full ten years, and seemed keenly aware of the risks of “falling ill away from home.”

Not to worry, says the American …

“You may be interested in the information that we uncovered on the insurance and other benefits that would be available to you in this country. Since you have paid into the United States Social Security Program for a full forty quarters, you are entitled to Social Security payments while living anywhere in the Free World. Also, at any time you are in the United States, you are automatically entitled to hospital coverage.”

… “In order to be eligible for medical coverage you must apply during the registration period which is anytime from January 1 to March 31. For your further information, I am enclosing a pamphlet on Social Security.”

So just who were these two, anyway? The answer might make George Will a bit clammy, but that’s Charles Koch writing to F.A. Hayek. He wanted Hayek to come serve as distinguished senior scholar at his eerily named Institute for Humane Studies, a libertarian think tank dedicated to dismantling the welfare state.

You have to invent a brand new vocabulary, a whole array of new concepts, to capture the full dimensions of their hypocrisy. The tools we’re currently working with are insufficient.

So I guess there’s a new lesson in right-wing doublethink for us all to learn. If libertarians pay into Social Security, it’s right and proper, moral even, for them to collect when they are eligible. For the rest of us it’s not. Check.

Thank you, sir, may we have another?

Read the whole article at The Nation.

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