Uncommon Sense

November 5, 2011

Why Do Conservatives Hate Social Security So Much?

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 9:13 am
Tags: , , , ,

At the end of my last post I asked the question: “Why do conservatives hate Social Security so much that they are willing to incur the wrath of the electorate to kill it?” Social Security has been described as being the “third rail” of politics: touch it and your political career dies. I also indicated I would answer the question. Here it is, the reason conservatives hate Social Security: memes.

Huh? Memes? What’s a meme? A meme is the mental equivalent of a gene in a Darwinian clash of ideas. Social Darwinists like to argue that ideas compete with one another and the better ones “win” by surviving. So, the idea that the earth was flat was a meme that failed to survive (but which hasn’t been entirely obliterated).

Let me give you an idea of how conservative memes propagate. I have a very good friend who was a very good salesman and his income grew to be 4-5 times what I made. He isn’t rich but a lowish six-figure annual salary put him well ahead of ordinary folks economically. Just how does one “fit in” with the wealthy and near wealthy? Well, talking the talk is part of it. So, my friend, even though he has never held a union job or had to work with union leadership has quite anti-union attitudes (or espouses them, at least). His opinion got created without any direct experience but by rubbing elbows with people who had that “meme.”

On to why conservatives hate Social Security. By and large it involves a distant relative of mine, Huey Long of Louisiana (my mother’s maiden name was Long). Huey was a demagogue with a populous rant. Poor people still speak highly of him in Louisiana (only the old remember). Huey was so successful that he was Governor of the state while also being one of its U.S. Senators, a neat trick. Governor-Senator Long helped Franklin Roosevelt get elected President and then became a thorn in his side. Huey’s position, realize this was in the early 1930’s in the midst of the Great Depression, was “Share the Wealth.” That’s right, Huey Long a flat out proponent of class warfare! He railed against the rich and their indulgences when ordinary people were suffering so.

Long’s demagoguery pushed Democrats to the left during the New Deal, which gave us government support for stronger unions, bigger government, deficit spending, and . . . Social Security, among other things. “Sharing the wealth” is the biggest nightmare of rich people. Having the little people rise up and confiscate their hard earned money (or inherited money, or whatever) is just unthinkable in monied circles. So, at the time, rich people, having been vilified enough, developed a visceral hatred of and for the New Deal and all of it’s aspects. (Note that modern conservatives are anti-union, anti-deficit spending (at least when the spending is upon the little people), anti-Social Security, etc. all of which we inherited from the New Deal.)

I doubt there is any rich person still alive from the early 1930’s to be leading the charge, but generation after generation of rich folks have passed the “Anti-New Deal Memes” on to the next. Consequently, we have a cadre of currently rich people who hate Social Security and the sad thing is: they don’t know why. As I mentioned in my last post, conservatives should love Social Security as it is doing their dirty work (of diminishing the Federal Government) for them. But they can’t help themselves. Since they only know Social Security is “bad,” they oppose it even though it may lead to the end of many of their political careers.

Pity the fools.

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