Though neither occupied by foreign armies, nor starved by famine, nor struck with plague, America lies in peril. Not a single man of any character, patriotism, or intelligence denies the fact; the entire free world watches with bitten nails as Americans march ahead, without any sign of stopping or slowing, toward a demise entirely unnecessary, and yet seemingly predetermined by destiny.
But though left and right propose solutions, the former to forego military supremacy, the latter the lesser entitlements, only few dare seriously address the issue of social security. The program has been a lie from the beginning. Unsustainable and without any sort of fiscal balance, a ponzi scheme promised to the gullible and imprudent and built on the backs of future generations, it remains fiercely guarded by men who, being dissatisfied with simple robbery, were content to place the unborn in unprecedented levels of debt to nations hostile and encroaching. The question of whether our elderly deserve social security yields a simple answer: no. Who other than the ignoble could believe it a matter of obligation, to pay a man wages long after he’s bankrupted a company? But the question of whether Americans can end such a program and retain humanity, is entirely another.
Habit, of course, is a difficult mistress to quit. Not years, but generations bind us to our present circumstances, and a blindness of familiarity leads many to believe that no other path lies open, that if we’re to remain safe, to remain moral and even functional, that we must continue on the present course. But history beckons with visions of safer days, and Solon himself, lawgiver to Athens, calls from the dust, begging us in the name of liberty to regain our senses and learn from men of wiser times.
Plutarch records that in Solon’s age, Athens possessed a social security system of its own, from which only certain people were exempt from duty. He mentions in passing that Solon established a law, releasing illegitimate children from any obligation of care to their parents, writing that men who avoided the respectable state of marriage sought nothing but their own pleasure, disregarding the honor and duty of family, and thus deserved no future security from their children. Though certain Americans may at first find this law displeasing, as it suggests aged parents are the responsibility of their children, what does it suggest, but what nature herself already declares? What does it suggest, but that the aged require assistance, loving parents should raise their children in infancy, and then children shelter their parents in death?
The present American social security abomination should never have existed; it is not only dysfunctional, but misused; and our debt is not only unsustainable, but threatens the existence of every free American institution. Yet Americans have lived and died without this security system before — if indeed it really does even promote security — and yet we pretend that if the present system falters, our elderly will die on our sidewalks. Let Americans quit the intoxicating wines of credit and give every man his own parents and children; let a law be passed, perhaps state by state, exempting citizens from social security taxation, and requiring the care of the elderly not at the hands of a bungled and misrepresented government, but according to the capabilities of their own children. And let those to whom no children have been granted be secured by public funding (as with orphans), and let us exempt the absent parent from social security both familial and state related.
It is justice, then, and not government programs, which will solve the social security dilemma. And if the above program still remains uncomfortable because the financial capabilities of families vary, perhaps another law of Solon’s should be tied to it: we should also consider whether children should be exempt, who aren’t educated in a particular trade. Supposing such a law is passed, parents will immediately tie their future to their children: no longer will procreation be a matter of accident and abandonment, but of prudence and investment. A man will see in his son a future for both, their destinies will become intertwined, and each generation will find itself looking backward in respect, and looking forward in honor.
I’ve already heard heated objections to such a proposal, that it’s too fanciful, too idealistic, that Americans would require a profound but necessary cultural shift before something so reasonable could become acceptable. If this is the case, then let a simple question guide our policy henceforth, and shame the adversary. To such a measure, disagreeable at first to the credit-pampered and family-averse, Americans must ask what family exactly is, and reconsider something acknowledged by every generation more noble than ours. Is family something of little, moderate, or great importance? Does it concern issues central to humanity and existence, or peripheral? Does it saddle with duties irrevocable, or those easily discharged? We may of course pretend that each man chooses his own existence, that we live in such a liberated society, that each may heed or disregard his own conscience and plan his own destiny without serious responsibilities. But what kind of a people would we then be, who consider our own families to be a matter of liberty, and not of unalienable patriotism? Could we consider ourselves civilized, having rejected a mother’s nurture as cheap, and considered a father’s shelter to be common; to spurn our wives, disown our brethren without cause, and leave our grandparents to rot?
To these questions, a simple answer suffices. The duties of civilization require fortitude and heroism in the face of discomfort and danger, even of the smallest kinds; but the civilized will embrace virtue with a warmness reserved only for the good, and unknown to the wicked. Family has never been an option to the noble; we’ve grown in the wombs of others and been caressed by loving arms, been born in helplessness and raised until strength, and justice calls us to defend in reciprocity. Certain men may say that our own parents are the obligations of our neighbors, and to a degree, they’re correct: only the heartless could allow their neighbors to starve to death in cold and lonely alleys. But when a faceless society assumes duties reserved for parents and children, or men allow their parents, crippled with age, to be reduced to abject poverty, to be abandoned in helplessness, the crime is only society’s insofar as society responds without an appropriate disgust to the children, and refuses justice to the abandoned. The time to defend the aged parent has come: let it be not only a social obligation, but in absence of character, a legal one.
The objections will be strong, the passions of our opposition will be still more fierce; men are less inclined to forego the present luxuries — unsustainable as they may be — than to tread an ancient path, beset with the discomforts of death itself. But a voice cries from ages past: “Honor thy mother and thy father.” How can they be honored, without familial patriotism? How can we love our parents, and leave them to the state in their most vulnerable hour? The dream of irresponsible social security, a program which rejects both the laws of nature and of nature’s God, and the wisdom of Solon, must give way to the consciousness of morning. We are Americans; we have a Christian heritage and it is time we started acting like it, protecting our own families as our Creator intended.