The Folly of Social Security

I don’t like higher taxes. I don’t like higher debt. But my main concern is not that rich people get taxed when the poor don’t get taxed as much. I don’t like it, but I realize that the rich can afford it, and the super-rich will evade it. What bothers me most is the dependence effect. It’s an addiction. It is spreading. People who trust the government will be betrayed. They are not prepared for this.[1]

Today, the West believes in such things as Social Security for people in need. One hundred years ago, there was no such thing. People were compelled to be much more hard-working, self-sufficient and prudent with their resources. Furthermore, there was a lot more responsibility on individuals, families and churches to help needy people.

But the West’s belief in Social Security (and other things) is one of a number of factors driving us towards recession, and probably Depression. Why? We just can’t afford it. Every year or so, the US government has to get Congressional approval to lift its debt ceiling, which it’s been doing consistently for about 70 years. Today, half of the citizens in the US pay no taxes. The demographic implications of this long-term, are going to be catastrophic:

When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.[2]

 Today, the costs of government (in the US, but also in Australia for the last 5 years, and many other parts of the west) are always more than the taxes taken by government, because the community (and government) have this ideological belief structure:

                          The government has to care for needy people.

When governments do provide for “needy” people, it indirectly teaches them some very bad habits. “The government’s money will always be there,” and “you don’t have to work.” They lose frugality, the willingness to work hard, to save and to maintain an independent, self-reliant lifestyle. Girls and women are encouraged to be sexually promiscuous when they get paid thousands in Australia to produce babies, so we are now busily giving birth to a generation of bastards. 40% of US babies are now born to unmarried parents. These women often become dependent on government welfare, which to them seems to be fine-for the moment.

But what if the cheques stop? The Bible warns us: “‘A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,’ then your poverty will come as a robber and your want as an armed man” (Prov.24:33-34).

There is an alternative to Social Security which has been with us for over 3,500 years: Biblical welfare. Biblical welfare stressed the importance of care for widows, orphans, fatherless and poor, along with aliens (immigrants). This care was to be voluntary, and was to be carried out by individuals, families and churches. It was not to be based on enforced taxation, though a portion of the church’s tithe could be used for welfare work.

An example of this in the Bible was the treatment given to the widow Ruth. She was a believer in the Lord, who returned to the land of Israel essentially impoverished (Ruth 1:22). A local wealthy landowner named Boaz followed Biblical law by giving her the opportunity to glean in his fields (Ruth 2) which was no easy work, and later when he had confirmed her godliness, integrity and her faithfulness to her widowed mother-in-law Naomi (Ruth 3:10-12), he married her (Ruth 4:13).

Problem solved; she gets a husband, he gains a wife, and they have a child. Did Ruth get a dollar from the taxpayer? No. There were probably no taxes.

When Paul gave instructions to Timothy about the church’s care for widows (I Tim.5:3-16), he simply acted upon Biblical law, following on from Boaz. The church does have an obligation towards widows, but obligations firstly are upon family members, with the church as a last resort.

There is not a word in the Bible to suggest that God’s requirements are any different today, from the pattern of God’s law which Boaz followed in 1,100 BC.

It is true that Jesus did not teach a comprehensive social theory. He did not have to. He taught from the Old Testament. He said that He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament (Luke 4:16-21). In His divine nature as the second person of the Trinity, He co-authored the Old Testament. Why would any Christian believe that Jesus annulled this judicial heritage? Why would He have done this? He did not say that He did this. Where is the evidence that Jesus annulled the social theory that had been taught from Moses to Malachi?[3]

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb.13:8). The requirements of God’s gracious law mean that widows, the fatherless, orphans, the poor and aliens are cared for in the community, not by compulsory taxation with an inflexible, impersonal, distant bureaucracy, but through the personal care of loving, responsible people.

And isn’t that the very thing that truly needy people cry out for?

[1] Gary North, “When the Bough Breaks: Rising Dependence on Government,” 23/11/2012

[2] ‘Godfather Politics,’ “How to Keep Young People from Becoming Socialists,” 14/1/2012

[3] Gary North, “Treasure and Dominion,” 2012, p.xv.