I’ve been watching the debate over privatizing some parts of Social Security and have been amazed at the reaction of liberals. The head of NOW does not support any type of privatization. When she was asked to explain her position in light of her pro-abortion stance of “choice,” she offered a smile and said the government is needed to protect citizens in their retirement years. But what of “choice”? Why not give people a choice to do what they want with their own money? It’s OK for a woman in her child-bearing years to exercise unfettered choice in the killing of her preborn child, but when it comes to real choice about a person’s own money, the government should play a significant role. While government should stay out of our bedroom, it has a vested interest in our wallets.

A certain segment of the population is afraid of freedom. The side you take in the present Social Security debate says a lot about your view of economic and political freedom. While tyrrany is often forced upon a population from the muzzle of a gun, it can also be imposed gradually on a savior-starved people. The history of socialism and communism is the history of how people prefer slavery—in the name of security—over freedom.

Adolf Hilter certainly understood this. His predecessor, Otto von Bismarck got the slavery ball rolling with the creation of a series of social reforms that had a profound influence on the German working class. William L. Shirer, in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, writes “that it gradually made them value security over political freedom and caused them to see in the State, however conservative, a benefactor and a protector.”[1] Between 1883 and 1889 Bismarck put through a program for social security far beyond anything known in other countries at the time. It included compulsory insurance for workers against old age, sickness, accident and incapacity, and though it was organized by the State it was financed by employers and employees. Sound familiar?

Hitler took full advantage of the German state of mind and Bismarck’s early progress in turning the nation into a model of socialist reform. Hitler remarks in Mein Kampf, “I studied Bismarck’s socialist legislation in its intention, struggle and success.”[2] It was Hitler’s social security policies and promises that got him elected to office.

Hitler was not alone in his admiration of Bismarck’s social policies. Franklin Delano Roosevelt borrowed Bismarck’s socialist agenda and created what is now known as the Social Security System. Bismarck said that “the State must take the matter in hand, since the State can most easily supply the requisite funds. It must provide them not as alms but in fulfilment of the workers’ right to look to the State where their own good will can achieve nothing more.”[3] Roosevelt and his admirers agreed. P. J. O’Brien, writing in Forward with Roosevelt, links Bismarck’s social policies with those of Roosevelt: “[The quotation by Bismarck] might have been lifted out of a speech by President Roosevelt in 1936, but the Iron Chancellor uttered it in 1871.”[4]

Some people understood the implications of what Roosevelt was attempting to do. “Roosevelt was branded as an agent of the Reds [Communists] for voicing similar opinions.”[5] The program was closer to Socialism than Communism, as Hitler went on to prove. The State became the savior of the people, and the social policies of the New Deal became holy writ:

There’s a massive confusion at the core of our politics. Against all evidence, everyone expects government to guarantee economic growth and higher living standards. It can’t. Even the New Deal failed to pull the nation out of the Depression. World War II did that by boosting factory production. But the expectation of government as economic miracle worker is deeply entrenched, and politicians pander to it. For the past three decades, presidents have used the language of economics to rationalize deficits and, in the process, reward their supporters.[6]

Wars, of course, are anomalies and should not be used as standards for economic policy. World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam did much to hide the negative effects of government spending on the overall economy. The Cold War era kept the monetary engines roaring. Coupled with military spending, government social programs expanded beyond anything FDR could have imagined. Our nation, contrary to liberal social spenders, is not reaping the excesses of the Reagan-Bush years. We are reaping the whirlwind of the massive interventionism of New Deal liberalism that even Conservatives are afraid to criticize for fear of being thrown out of office.

One of the most famous utopian novels is Edward Bellamy’s widely read Looking Backward, 2000-1887, published in 1887. In this utopian fantasy a Rip Van Winkle character goes to sleep in the year 1887 and awakens in the year 2000 to discover a changed world. His twenty-first century companions explain to him how the utopia that astonishes him emerged in the 1930s from the hell of the 1880s. “That utopia involved the promise of security `from cradle to grave’—the first use of the that phrase we have come across—as well as detailed government planning, including compulsory national service by all persons over an extended period.”[7] Bellamy’s fiction became much of the world’s reality in twentieth-century socialism. Bellamy believed that “human nature is naturally good and people are ‘god-like in aspirations . . . with divinest impulses of tenderness and self-sacrifice.’ Therefore, once external conditions are made acceptable, the Ten Commandments become ‘well-nigh obsolete,’ bringing us a ‘second birth of the human race.’”[8] Bellamy managed to mix the perversions of socialism, secularism, and New Age philosophy into one impossible world. With Social Security now on the table, this is the perfect time to roll back the Socialist policies of Bismarck, Hitler, and FDR.


[1] William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), 96, note.
[2] Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, 96, note.
[3] Quoted in P. J. O’Brien, Forward with Roosevelt (Chicago: John C. Winston Co., 1936), 84. [4] O’Brien, Forward with Roosevelt, 85. [5] O’Brien, Forward with Roosevelt, 85. [6] Robert J. Samuelson, “Rhetoric Over Reality,” Newsweek (March 1, 1993), 31. [7] Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), 93. [8] Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction: Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society (Washington, DC: Regnery/Gateway, [1983] 1989), 190.