Hard-right conservatives are often quick to charge that when the public receives an equitable benefit, like Social Security or Medicare, that there is something dishonorable about accepting a benefit, that is, in their view obviously too generous.
This plays to a fundamental human frailty, in that, we are hardwired to be hypersensitive about the behavior of free-riders, and unfortunately this sentiment is often an impediment to recognizing a just and equitable economic arrangement, even when experiencing it.
Worrying about free-riders is a legitimate concern, but addressing the matter by making the cure worse than the disease is absurd.
The hard-right has been obsessed from the beginning about doing away with Social Security and Medicare, although we are moving exponentially toward a digital app economy with fewer jobs that pay a living wage. Worrying about free-riders is a legitimate concern, but addressing the matter by making the cure worse than the disease is absurd.
For good or ill, the state of our economy is indebted to the blood and sweat equity, and the ingenuity of millions of untold and unrecognized individuals, to every nationality, to every economic background, to thousands of citizens who have lost their lives on battlefields, and to thousands whose lives were lost because of unsafe working conditions, while building the hard and soft infrastructure that we take for granted.
The investments we have made in education have made possible the roads, bridges, cities, laws, utility grid, the court system, our military, and the government that makes our lives and commerce possible. Everyone is born into a society in debt in many ways to those who are about to die. The value of work is determined not by markets, but by political power, period.
It is patently absurd to assume that the value of human labor is equal to that which is said to be assigned by the “free” market. There is no free market and there never has been. We do not count, or in most cases, even acknowledge, the environmental costs of our actions, the social penalties, or the physical costs of our so-called market economy.
The products we produce and consume, are for all practical purposes, exempt from considerations of their ultimate environmental and social costs, and our attempts to assuage these expenses are feeble at best, which means we are now robbing future generations of a livable future.
That our public can be persuaded that that which has been secretly and subtly contrived, but remains apparently free of the fingerprints of the contrivers, is just the way things are, because they haven’t bothered to look into the matter, is an existential misfortune of epic proportion, leading to the incredulous belief that those who take advantage of the resources made possible by generations past, owe nothing to those whose extensive efforts made their success possible, not to mention future generations.
As Elizabeth Warren makes clear, “there is nobody in this country who got rich on their own—nobody.” Moreover, our most egregious free-riders are not at the bottom of our economy, but at the top, where our public corporations are openly looted by executives and their board of directors, under the phony guise of excellence.
That arguments appealing to our worst instincts can be used continuously to incite our citizens to act against their own best interests in a sinister effort to shower contempt on those said to be benefiting at their expense, is an anathema to civilization and a moral insult to past and future generations.
In a nutshell: we are a nation founded on ideals that have been made subordinate legislatively to greed, and we are thus, socially dysfunctional, by nature of purposely orchestrated spite.