Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Maybe I'm Not A Voluntaryist, Part 2
As I would have predicted, the responses I received on my last post varied on whether or not to take Social Security. Reviewing the feedback from a couple of people made me think more about how I was letting my decision revolve around how others might react.
I expressed that concern when I said this: “Carl says accepting such funds is not a step to a better you or a free society. I completely agree and yet I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t do it. It seems to punish others who may feel an obligation or desire to help me out if I suffer consequences by not accepting the money. Carl might say I would be teaching them the best lesson I could and maybe he’s right. But why doesn’t that feel right?”
I had been playing out various scenarios in my head when I wrote that. I already know I could change my current lifestyle to live on much less so I imagined myself doing what I need to do to not accept Social Security.
But even under that scenario of making it work, I still wondered how it would affect others, specifically my kids. Would it look like I was really “poor” or needed help? And if so, how would they feel about that? Would they feel responsible or obligated to help me out in some way?
If I did manage to actually live by my principles and refuse social security, how would my kids feel, knowing that I might live somewhat differently (i.e. “better”) if I took it? Would they want to just say, “Dammit Mom, just take the money.”
Not wanting to even put them in that position is what had me admitting I might take Social Security.
But after thinking about it more, I realized the scenario I played out in my head just wouldn’t happen within my family. They would clearly understand why I could not take it and they would know that I’d be at peace with myself in doing so. Therefore they would not feel any responsibility in regards to the consequences of my individual choices because they know I would understand and accept those consequences.
They already know that I would not expect anything from them. They know they owe me absolutely nothing. They know I am responsible for my decisions.
Duh. Of course they know all of this; it’s how we raised them. Why did I seem to forget that? They can make their own decisions and I will make mine and I know they would respect that and be comfortable in knowing that I would do it because I would need to live my principles. They know I would not feel right accepting it considering I now know the truth about Social Security and can’t go back and pretend I’m ignorant of it all.
There are also other possibilities I did not consider in regards to their reaction that makes me feel bad in a way. I never considered that they may voluntarily (not out of some irrational sense of obligation) take some action purely because they want to show support for my decision. I also didn’t consider that none of this precludes our entering into mutual voluntary trade agreements which would help me do what I needed to do to live by my principles if I did end up struggling in some way.
But regardless of all of that, no matter what I do, the manner in which it will affect them is purely up to them isn’t it? If I am free to make my own choices and accept the consequences of my actions in life then obviously so are they. I can’t control how they may feel or what choices they may make as a result. I can only make the choices that are right for me and explain to them why I make my decisions.
Maybe I’m starting to get this stuff. I don’t know.
One last point on this: it also hasn’t escaped me that I can do these blog posts until I die, telling myself that I am doing something positive to help educate myself and others on the ideas of freedom, but it would really not be nearly equal to just stopping right here, right now, vowing to never take Social Security and go out and do everything I possibly can so that I am not ever in a position where I’m even tempted to cash one of those checks.
So if I don’t come back here, I guess now you’ll know why. : )