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. : )


Anonymous said...

Thanks for soliciting feedback to your first post and for actually chewing on it and following-up.

Non-dogmatism for the win.

MamaLiberty said...

Indeed... but I really do hope you will come back. :)

JaimeKid said...

You are not acting irrationally or against voluntaryist principles by accepting social security.

There are many different flavors of how voluntaryism is accomplished just like anarchy.

Some believe that, by not participating, it is the way to "shut it down."

But that is not the only way.

Lysander Spooner aptly noted that a voluntaryist may even vote for the sake of avoiding a worse outcome as outlined in his work, "The Constitution of No Authority."

Likewise, you may get social security because, your whole life, you have been stolen from through the threat of force in taxation.

The country is literally bankrupt and the currency is worthless.

It is not wrong to get back what you can now because, soon enough, there will be nothing.

Some complain saying you may get back more than what was put in.

I think that is the problem - if every person exploited the system, it would have collapsed long ago and the folly of it would have been shown immediately.

It is because the abuse has taken so long that regulatory procedures have had time to make up for bad policy.

You are not undoing your Voluntaryist beliefs.

You are just acting in one "flavor" of the movement.

Jim Wetzel said...

Debbie, first of all, an appreciation. The clarity, coherence, and humaneness of your thought, along with the technical excellence and stylishness with which you express it in writing, make you prominent among those whom I seek -- so inadequately! -- to imitate. If you need a break from telling yourself that you're doing something very positive with your online writings, why, sit back and relax and allow me to tell you that instead. That's an easy thing for me to tell you, because it's the simple truth.

Secondly, an apology ... my comment on your previous post was intended to be brief, as befits a blog comment, but now reads to me as rather glib, facile, and dismissive of the conflicts of thought that you were describing. Such was not my intention (and, obviously, I'm also surrendering brevity!). Some years ago, when confronted with Mr. Neff's Spartacus essay, as well as the accompanying reader comments, which were substantially echoed in the comments thread on your post, I thought long and hard over those same things, as well as others less worthy, such as my animal fear of starving in the cold. And, of course, I can certainly claim no moral credit, so far, for not having accepted a check from SS; after all, I'm only 57! :-) It's a commonplace among people of my age and a little younger that there'll be no SS for us anyway, when we get there; I'm hoping this is the case, not least because I'm as susceptible to temptation as anyone, and my virtue will be much safer if it's never put to the test.

Finally, you mentioned that you might not be a voluntaryist after all. Again, we have something in common; in fact, I know I'm not a voluntaryist, because an anything-ist is pretty much asserting that his or her anythingism, if only properly applied, is the cure for all of mankind's social ills ... and I'm pretty sure that nothing (no political philosophy or system) will, in fact, "work" in that sense. What I am is a Christian, which in my case means that I assume that all political arrangements made by fallen and sinful people will fail. What I crave from my politics is more modest: tolerability. The America of my youth was wrong, and certanly displayed the portents of its steepening descent into Amerika 2012; but it was, in many ways, pretty tolerable. In a number of areas, it let you go on about your affairs. If I had the power to overthrow what we have now, and replace it with something else that was flawed, and would eventually degenerate, I would do so, in order to secure another interval of tolerability. In any case, if I had anything to do with picking the next "system," I would certainly turn to Debbie Harbeson to oversee the implementation of some kind of voluntaryist non-system ... not a permanent solution, but one that would, I'm sure, be very tolerable for multiple generations. For myself, I'd go into business as a private coiner of gold; my version of the basic gold coin would have the Debbie Harbeson profile on the front. Any ideas for the slogan?

Debbie H. said...

Gee Jim, I hardly know what to say to your kind comments. I think I shall print them out and hang them up on my wall. :)

Thanks for linking to the comments from the "Spartacus" article. Those were interesting and enlightening as well. I hate that the government has created programs like SS which have enough details within them to make us all endlessly debate how to handle it as people who wish to live free.

Oh and the gold coin slogan? I wouldn't want one at all. Because that would mean my profile would have to be smaller. ;P

Lloyd Licher said...

The thought occurred to me today that you might want to consider the threat aspect of taking something from the political government. I am no threat to you because I refuse to vote in the political place and refuse to take anything from the political government that was taken from others under the threat of force. Those who do those things are a threat to me because of the force involved that affects me and my property. We get to choose whether or not we will be a threat to others.
From Lloyd Licher