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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Why Americans Choose Socialism


There is no question but that the 20th and, so far, the 21st centuries have been the centuries of socialism for the American people. Yes, I know, many Americans don’t like to consider themselves socialists and prefer to think of the United States as “free enterprise.” But the fact is that Americans have chosen to live under the variation of socialism called a “welfare state.”

The best manifestation of this phenomenon is Social Security and Medicare, the two crown jewels of the welfare state. They involve using the force of the state to take money from one group of people and giving it to another group of people. Contrary to popular opinion, especially among seniors, there is no “fund” into which people have placed their retirement funds of healthcare funds. From the very beginning, Social Security and Medicare have been straight-out welfare programs, no different from food stamps, farm subsidies, foreign aid, and aid to the arts.

Immigration controls are another example of American socialism. They involve the socialist variation called “central planning.” Under a system of immigration controls, the government centrally plans the complex movements of millions of people, assigning arbitrary immigration quotas to foreign countries and deciding on the qualifications and credentials needed for entry.

Another example is drug laws, whereby the government takes care of the citizenry by punishing them for ingesting what the government considers are harmful and destructive substances.

All of these programs and many more have produced what socialism always produces: ongoing chaos, crisis, death, destruction, impoverishment, and ruination.

Nonetheless, virtually all Americans leftists (i.e., progressives) and conservatives and, alas, even a substantial number of libertarians, are wedded to Social Security and Medicare, immigration controls, the drug war, or the welfare-state way of life in general. At best they want the programs reformed but not abolished. Leftists even want them expanded.


The answer lies in age-old choice between liberty and governmental security.

There is no doubt that liberty is a high-risk, dangerous endeavor. That’s  because it is impossible to be certain what the results of freedom will be. If Social Security and Medicare were abolished today, how can we be certain that millions of seniors wouldn’t be starving to the death or dying of illness in the streets tomorrow? If open borders were to be instituted today, how could we be certain that every Mexican citizen wouldn’t suddenly decide to move to New York City tomorrow? If drug laws were abolished today, how could we be certain that everyone, including surgeons and pilots, wouldn’t be on heroin and cocaine tomorrow?

Americans don’t want to take those risks. They prefer the “security” that socialism brings them. Social Security and Medicare bring seniors the security of having an income in their later years. Immigration controls bring the security that the United States won’t suddenly be inundated by billions of people from around the world. Drug laws bring the security that everyone isn’t going to be a drug addict tomorrow.

One of the big problems in choosing security over liberty, however, is the police state that security brings into existence.

Taxes have to be collected from working people to give Social Security and Medicare money to seniors. That’s where the IRS comes into play, one of the most tyrannical and terrifying governmental agencies in history. If you don’t pay your taxes, they will come after you, harass you, seize your money and other property, and incarcerate and fine you.

Immigration controls have brought a police state to the American Southwest. Highway checkpoints, where federal agents demand to see your papers and subject you and your vehicle to an intrusive search. If you decline to answer their questions, they bust your window, drag you out of your car, and beat you up. Roving Border Patrol searches, whereby people are arbitrarily stopped and searched. Forced separation of children from their parents. Warrantless trespasses onto ranches and farms. Eminent domain to steal property from people whose property is situated on the border. Berlin fences and walls. Raids on private businesses that are employing illegal immigrants.

The drug war is no different. Asset-forfeiture laws that enable law-enforcement personnel to steal money from people who are traveling on the highway. Mass incarceration.  Mandatory minimum sentences. Planted drugs. Bigoted harassment and abuse of African Americans. No knock raids. Arbitrary searches. Endless record drug busts. Official corruption. Massive death and ruination of lives.

That’s the price of choosing security over liberty — life under a police state.

Is it worth it? Not for me. I’ll take my chances with liberty, no matter how risky and dangerous it might be. That’s why I, as a libertarian, favor the repeal, not the reform, of Social Security, Medicare, immigration controls, drug laws, and every other welfare-state infringement on my freedom.

I want liberty, not “security.”

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.