As you would imagine, the Tea Party movement would love to get The Free Agent’s endorsement, what with her unblemished reputation and mastery of English diction. But she requires a little more information.
The Tea Party Patriots’ mission statement comprises three points: fiscal responsibility, respect for limited government as defined by the Constitution, and free markets. The Free Agent applauds this tightly defined agenda, especially because the Tea Party grounds all three in the individual rights Libertarians cherish. Government debt and give-aways violate our rights to our own earnings, and all power not granted to the federal government or the states is reserved to the people.
But many people who would agree with those ideals in principal would not pass The FA’s withering “everyone’s a libertarian when it comes to their own stuff” test. (Haven’t we all gone to protests where a bewildering number of placards, while superficially agreeing that the wars, bailouts, Fed, e. g., should end, go on to recommend expanding some other massive government boondoggle?) It costs nothing to demand that someone else’s access to the public trough be blocked. What The Free Agent would respect is a polite “no, thank you ever so” to one’s own entitlement.
Therefore, to curry her favor, The Free Agent challenges Tea Partiers to put their funny money where their mouths are and refuse Social Security. Not everyone will be able to do it, of course, and the FA makes no judgment against those who cash their checks. We’ve been sold a bill of goods and generations have counted on stewardship of their taxes that turned out to be non-existent. (For an overview of the Social Security Administration’s business plan, see Bernie Madoff’s indictment.) But having been a victim of fraud does not give us the right to commit it against the next generation.
Social Security checks can be endorsed to Bureau of the Public Debt and mailed to P.O. Box 2188, Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188. This is where tax refunds people donate to pay down the debt go to. (In 2005, 48 tax returns had public debt payments totaling $21,179, compared with 12.8 million that had designations to the presidential election campaign fund.) Why pay the debt? Because like it or not, it was incurred in our name by our elected representatives, and paying debts or declaring bankruptcy are the only honorable alternatives for disposing of them.
There it is, Tea Party. The Free Agent’s kid leather opera-length gauntlet has been thrown down.