Is it right and good to steal from people for any reason? If not, the morality of social security is as bankrupt as the system itself. In other words, there is nothing inherently good about state theft on behalf of X. But even if you find that position too extreme — i.e. that “theft” is a loaded term and taking for the sake of good intentions somehow mitigates the theft part — there is nothing particularly “progressive” about the simple fact that social security is a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.
Suppose that Marc Lamont Hill agrees. Suppose what he really means is that the poor should be protected by a ‘social safety net,’ not the old per se. In the interests of some grand compromise, one might agree with that and move on. But that could still mean abolishing social security in favor of means tested welfare or mininum income reserved for the most destitute. Why would you want to preserve a system that still subsidizes the rich by degrees — even if you taxed it? It makes no sense to pay for the perpetual pensions (much less the healthcare) of people living in million dollar houses in Boca Raton. And yet that’s the system we have and reform of that system only makes it more solvent. The question of justice would still linger, if but by degree.
Professor Hill says we should take care of the old. And in the timeless locked-in linear thinking of the progressive, we are supposed to think the only way to help people is through the coercive apparatus of the state. It’s the kind of moral laziness that lead people to vote away their responsibilities for their fellow man to Washington. It’s why Leviathan sits atop the charity sector in so many areas. And it’s why most people leave their compassion at the voting booth, puffed up on rectitude, while the state maintains legions of dependents with reduced incentives to save and invest.