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Last Night’s GOP Presidential Debate Cracked Me Up

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I didn’t watch the entire GOP presidential debate last night but the part I did watch really cracked me up. The candidates were criticizing the Democratic Party presidential candidates, especially Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, for being socialists. One Republican candidate even compared their Democratic Party counterparts to the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, referring to the two factions in the Russia Socialist party in the early part of the 20th century.

Why was that cracking me up?

Because immediately after that, the GOP presidential candidates were tripping over themselves in an attempt to show the American people how committed they are to preserving Social Security and Medicare.

Is that funny or what?

Just like a Republican. Just like a conservative. Criticizing socialism out of one side of his mouth and defending socialism out of the other side of his mouth.

I wonder if these guys even realize that Social Security and Medicare are socialist programs. I’ll bet that many of them, especially if they are products of America’s public schools and state universities, are honestly convinced that these two welfare-state programs are “free enterprise” and “capitalist.” After all, if they’re part of America’s economic system, they have to be “free enterprise” and “capitalist,” right? Well, except that those two government programs are also core programs in Cuba, North Korea, and China, all of which are socialist countries.

The idea of Social Security originated among 19th-century German socialists. Realizing the increasing popularity of socialists and socialism in Germany, Otto von Bismarck, the so-called Iron Chancellor of Germany, coopted the socialists by adopting Social Security in Germany in 1889.

In fact, check this out. It is a bust of Bismarck on the website of the U.S. Social Security Administration. Bismarck is their hero!

That socialist idea was imported into the United States in the late 1800s and became a central element in the Progressive movement. As most everyone knows, Social Security ultimately became a core feature of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program during the 1930s. Americans were told that it was one of the ways that FDR was saving America’s free enterprise system.

It was as big a lie as a politician could ever tell. In fact, Social Security was the crown jewel of what would become known as America’s welfare state, a political-economic system by which the federal government assumes a paternalistic role in taking care of people, in this case by taking money from one group of people, through taxation, and give it to another group of people—seniors.

Keep in mind that the American people had lived without socialism for more than a century. No income taxation or IRS. No Social Security or Medicare. No mandatory “charity” for seniors or anyone else. No welfare state. Americans were free to keep everything they earned and decide for themselves what to do with their own money — invest, save, donate, spend, or whatever.

That unusual way of life produced the most prosperous — and the most generous — society in history and it was supported by both Democrats and Republicans. That, along with no drug laws, immigration controls, big standing armies, CIA, NSA, public schools, and other aspects of the modern-day welfare-warfare state are what made America an “exceptional” nation.

All that changed in the 1930s, but conservatives have continued to live the life of the lie ever since. They condemn socialism and preach the virtues of America’s “free enterprise system.” They falsely teach their children that America has always had a “free enterprise system” and still does. And then they ardently support and defend Social Security and Medicare, as they did in last night’s debate, as well as farm subsidies, education grants, corporate bailouts, foreign aid, and the rest of the welfare (and warfare) state.

FDR’s protégé, Democrat Lyndon Johnson, carried the New Deal philosophy to a higher level with his embrace of Medicare, another governmental program by which the federal government is charged with the paternalistic task of taking care of seniors. With Medicare, the federal government taxes the young and productive in order to provide subsidized healthcare to the seniors. It’s another socialist program, one that incorporates the Marxian principle, “From each according to ability, to each according to need.”

But don’t tell Republicans that. It will burst their balloon of deception and denial of reality. During last night’s debate, the GOP candidates were, again, tripping over themselves to show Americans how committed they are to preserving Medicare even while condemning the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in the Democrat Party.

Never mind, of course, that Medicare (and Medicaid, regulation, and occupational licensure laws) have succeeded in destroying what once was the greatest and least expensive healthcare system in the world. All that matters to Republicans is that they continue reinforcing the lie that Medicare and other socialist programs are really part and parcel of a “free enterprise system.”

Enter us libertarians. Progressives dislike libertarians because we want to dismantle their socialist programs. Conservatives dislike us for the same reason but also because they know that we tell people the truth — that these are nothing more than socialist programs, which are taking our country down.

There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans. As we see in both the Democratic and Republic debates, they’re all committed to preserving the socialist programs that have become part and parcel of America’s welfare state, along with the out-of-control spending, borrowing, taxing, and inflating that have come with it (and with the warfare state).

It is only us libertarians who are committed to saving our nation by dismantling, not reforming, Social Security, Medicare, and the rest of the welfare-warfare state and restoring a genuinely free and prosperous society to our land.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.