Taking Government Money
Austrian influenced economist Mark Skousen recently turned 65 and faced a dilemma many us have or will soon take – should we take social security ‘benefits’?
The issue is part of a broader issue for libertarians, can use of government services, including money payments be morally justified? Walter Block, not only a top Austrian economist, but a leading figure in expanding and developing the ethics of liberty, provides strong argument in the affirmative.
This is because the state as thief simply has no right to this booty. Better that any non statist posses this wealth than the thieving state. Yes, of course, there will arise the question of whether and to whom and how these monies are to be returned to their rightful owners (for my analysis of these questions see here, and here; for my views on reparations see here, and here), but this complication cannot be allowed to get in the way of appreciating the primordial moral fact that the state has no legitimate claim to this wealth.
And thus for non-statists and non-members of the ruling class:
Indeed, it is a positive mitzvah for people of this sort to relieve the government of its stolen property.
Skousen, on his 65th birthday wrote:
I’ve thought long and hard about what to do on this day.
As an ardent supporter of self reliance and limited government, I also feel a little reluctant to accept Social Security payments when our government is so deeply in debt. While everyone can use a little extra cash, I don’t really need Social Security. I’ve worked hard, saved, and invested to build up my net worth. I’ve paid off my home mortgage, and I have both a company pension program and an individual retirement account. Like many wise Americans, I’ve followed the golden principles of “industry, thrift and prudence” advocated by Benjamin Franklin in “The Way of Wealth.”
Over the past year I’ve pondered two questions:
1. Should I sign up for Social Security?
2. What should I do with my monthly Social Security check?
He then asks, “Can Social Security payments be used for a good cause?”
His answer is based on what his uncle did, sign up for Social Security and invest the monthly government check into a good cause or a variety of good causes.
His recommendation, “I invite you to join me in this cause. Take the Social Security Pledge. If you are wealthy enough, use part or all of your Social Security proceeds to invest in your favorite causes.”
Following Walter Block, none should leave any funds for which we are eligible on the table for use by state; everyone eligible should free the funds from an entity with “no legitimate claim to this wealth.”
Given the importance and success of the Ludwig von Mises Institute over the last 30 years, I recommend that, if you can afford it, do as I did, and take Professor Skousen’s pledge and name the Institute as your number one beneficiary.