Yes, Social Security is Like Slavery

La Shawn Barber asks:

Where the state’s power is most effective for itself but least effective for us is in exerting control over our ownership rights in the form of excessive regulation (land use, for example), burdensome taxes and gun control. An argument can be made that the social security system is burdensome and broken and infringes on our freedom and ownership rights. Slavery was burdensome (to the slave) and broken and infringed on people’s freedom and “self-owernship” rights. Just as slavery was abolished, we need to abolish social security. Is that line of reasoning a stretch?

I think that the comparison is particularly apt. First off, let me make this clear — I do not think that the burden placed on Negro slaves and the burden placed on people by Social Security are equivalent. I do think that they are parts of the same thing, the same way that slapping someone in the face is part of the same thing as smashing someone’s head in with a steel pipe.

There is an old story that goes like this (I want to say it is attributable to Churchill, but I can’t verify that):

A man is talking with a woman. He asks her, “would you sleep with me for a million dollars?”

She thinks about it a bit and says, “well, that is so much money… I suppose I would.”

He then asks, “Well, will you sleep with me for five dollars?”

She gets angry and exclaims, “What kind of woman do you think I am?!?”

He replies, “I think we’ve established what kind of woman you are; now we are just haggling over the price.”

That is the way I feel about Social Security (and all taxes on labor.) This is the deal. If you work, you have to pay a fee. That means that to get the economic use of yourself, you have to buy a license from the state (with the purchase price being the Social Security tax.) Later on, when you are no longer productive, the state picks up the expense of maintaining you. That means that you are property of the state.

As it stands now, as long as you have to pay Social Security tax on your labor, the state is telling you that you don’t own yourself. All you can do is rent yourself from the state.


  1. bryan says:

    Well, I suppose you could *not* work, which would make you free?

  2. Phelps says:

    No, because you are still owned by the state. You are just choosing not to rent yourself from the state.

  3. Alex D. says:

    Hmmm…perhaps it’s just me looking at this from a different angle, but I’d rather have the state picking up the cost of maintaining me than nobody at all if I couldn’t work.

  4. Phelps says:

    That’s a false dilemma. The fallacy is in the assumption that if the government didn’t “maintain” you, that nobody would. History doesn’t support that assumption.

  5. That was O’Henry. Churchill was the one who told Lady Astor that she looked ugly. She responded that Churchill was drunk. Churchill said that he would not be drunk anymore in the morning.

    It is a good analogy no matter who said it.

  6. Accidental Verbosity says:

    Slaves to the taxman

    Phelps has an interesting answer to La Shawn Barber's question. By the way, I tend to be a fan of abolishing Social Security, myself. Not right this minute (breathe, folks, breathe), but people my age certainly have time to plan sufficiently fo…