Why anti-government tea partiers still love government entitlements

The answer is yes, mostly. But a simple yes misses one of the central facts of the American political economy, one that exposes progressive, and not conservative, hypocrisy: Middle-class entitlements are not individual savings schemes, even though they are often portrayed that way. This leads to some key confusion about these programs. This confusion is by design. From the New Deal to the Great Society era, the progressive architects of the American welfare state knew that the best way to ensure the political viability of these programs was to portray them as savings schemes.

The most common piece of rhetoric used to defend these programs is that once you had “paid into” them throughout your working life, you are entitled to the benefits you paid for. You are entitled to reap what you have sown.

But this is not how Social Security actually works. What you sow goes into a giant black hole. What you reap comes out of that same black hole, but it doesn’t have all that much to do with what goes in, at least not directly. Instead of reaping your own crops, you reap your children’s crops, but that is artfully concealed.

If the true nature of these programs was widely understood, I really believe that conservatives would rebel against them en masse, as would a sizeable number of the rest of the American public. Fortunately for the progressive project, the deception still holds.