Monday, November 9, 2009

Social Security

As you may recall, I asked Mike Capuano at an Open Mike event his view of the constitutionality of the federal government passing some form of universal health care in a previous post.  During the first few seconds after he was getting over his apparent shock, he told me that health care is absolutely constitutional because if it wasn't, then Social Security wouldn't be constitutional either.  My response was quite simply, "Well - yeah."  Enter: US Supreme Court case Helvering vs Davis (May 1937).  The Supreme Court upheld the Social Security Act as constitutional.

I was planing on going in to how this ruling was incredibly controversial and came shortly after President Roosevelt stacked the Supreme Court with the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937.  I was also prepared to dive deeper still into the meaning behind the phrase "general welfare" in both the US Constitution's Preamble and in Article 1 Section 8 from different view points (including direct opposition to James Madison's opinion from Joseph Story's Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States) that reinforce the theory that general welfare relates to the United States as a whole and not helping individuals off the streets.  Instead, after a brief conversation with a friend, I decided to look at the belief that it is the federal government's job to help individuals through personal hardships.

Clinging to the phrase "general welfare" in the constitution as meaning "helping poor people" is a week argument.  There are numerous texts that indicate "general welfare" applies to things like interstate roads so that the post office can efficiently deliver your mail without having to take into account different state's traffic laws, navigation standards and the placement of light houses and buoys for ships, and regulating trade between the United States and other countries.  These examples hold true even between differing opinions on how restrictive "general welfare" is on the laws Congress can pass.

So what leads people to believe that the government is required to look out for its citizen's well-being?  Where is it stated that anything the government does is always in the best interest of its people?  What proof is there that government programs are more effective at helping people than private charities?  Who decided that the government knows what is best better than me, my family, my friends, or my community?

The loudest voice in Massachusetts right now for the universal health care plan is arguably Mike Capuano who during his Open Mike event proclaimed that we the people should do our due-diligence when selecting a US Senator because he is the government, and the government can not be trusted.  If I can't trust the government, by admission of representatives of that same government, then why am I to assume that what they are doing is in my best interest?  Shouldn't I be able to trust them if that was the case?

My point boils down to this: the government (by its own admission) can not be trusted blindly.  We the people do not have the capability to live out our lives with all of our daily responsibilities and at the same time watch everything the government tries to do - anyone would go mad trying to.  The only way to ensure that your best interest is met is to have direct control over every aspect of your life that is important to you (retirement, health care, personal savings, charity, etc).  For those less fortunate, the immediate community (family, religion, work groups, neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, states, ect) should feel a responsibility towards those people and help out.  It is a statistical impossibility that the government could ever come up with a program that is capable of helping everyone without hurting anyone.  It is also abundantly clear that even when government programs begin with the best moral intentions, they quickly degrade into slowly-moving, out-dated, bloated bureaucracies whose effectiveness degrades until they ultimately burden the nation more than the initial problem they were created to solve.  The second the government makes a decision for you, your freedom to make the choice for yourself is abolished.  Case in point: I can no longer choose where 6% of my salary goes to because the federal government decided I don't know how to save for my retirement (thanks, Social Security).  What a wonderful burden to have lifted from my back... I should consider myself lucky if I get back exactly what I put back in... wonderful investment strategy - THANKS, government!

So why then is the government left on this high moral pedestal?  Why is it treated with any less skepticism than the "evil corporations" or greedy old "elitists"?   I'm leaving this post with more questions than answers, but this is where I am at this point.  I am absolutely dumbfounded that people will argue for a plan like government health care on the basis that the government's only intention is to help its citizens only to freely admit that the government is full of corruption and self interest on any number of other programs.  If you can definitively identify for me why the government deserves our unyielding trust or what compels the government to act only in the best interest of the people... you get a prize.  Drop me a line in the comments.

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