October 23, 2012 by Anders Ingemarson
Romney’s “47 percent” comment certainly has had staying power this election season. On the one hand, he is correct that a growing number of Americans think their need is a claim check on their neighbors. But I think that number is lower than he thinks. On the other, he is wrong if he thinks only 47 percent are dependent on the government. The number is probably in the 90 percentile. Most of us will be dependent on government handouts over the course of our life although we may not be there yet. The most obvious example is Social Security. Whether you like the label or not, Social Security is a handout, a welfare check with a fancy name, because the payouts go straight from the taxman to the wallets of the recipients. Your parents collect their SS from your taxes, and your kids will be taxed to pay for yours. There is no trust fund; if you want one, start saving.
The vast majority of Americans still admires self-reliance and independence, and wants that for themselves and their family members. We don’t want to be dependent. It doesn’t feel good. It makes us feel out of control. The main problem is that most don’t see a way out of dependence. They have not been offered an alternative. They have not been offered a vision for independence, if you like.
We have to offer that vision along with a viable non-threatening path for how to get from here to there. Here are a couple of Social Security talking points to get your imagination going. I’m sure you’ll think of others.
“How would you feel if instead of getting an SS check deposited into your bank account, you had to walk across the street to your neighbor, hat in hand, to collect? Not a good feeling? Do you think it would be right? Would you consider it moral? Have you considered that that is actually what is happening every month, the only difference being that the government serves as the middle man?
“How would you feel if instead of getting an SS check deposited into your bank account, your bank account had enough money in the first place to pay for your expenses? Money that you had been able to save over the course of your life? Would you be supportive of a plan that moved us in a direction that made it possible? We may not get all the way in your lifetime, these things take a while, but your children and grandchildren would certainly be able to support themselves independently in old age.”
Proceed to outline a path.
What does this have to do with the separation of state and the economy? True independence requires that our individual rights are protected, which necessitates separation of state and the economy. Check out the basics for details.
Don’t give up on the “47 percent”. They are more like you than you think. They’re Americans, but Americans without a vision. Give them a vision and a path to independence, and they may become your strongest supporters.