Procreate Or Die!

One of the more lurid aspects of the American conservative lurch-to-the-right in recent years has been the quashing of the inhibitions of the Self-Righteous Rich. Like characters in the Ayn Rand novels many of them avidly consume, these folk are furious at those of us who have not made our own selves wealthy and enraged at the idea that they might owe something to the society that has blessed them so richly.

Now I know nothing about the personal life and circumstances of Bill Frezza, who has penned a tirade published at RCP aimed not only at people who haven’t adequately provided for their own support in retirement, but doubly at those who failed to reproduce themselves with children to support themselves, while disproportionately burdening Frezza’s progeny with the cost of supporting future parasites. He’s described as a “venture capitalist” and writes regularly for Forbes, and wants us to know he’s no looter. So I’m guessing he’s not worried about how to pay his bills.

But this hasn’t given him peace of mind, oh no. Check out this litany of hate:

The burdens of providing for the aged used to begin when people could no longer care for themselves. The liabilities were dispersed, unenumerated, and owned by small groups of closely related individuals. These individuals owed their very existence to the elderly dependents who brought them into the world and nurtured them through childhood. The glue of duty, love, and reverence bound families together. Yes, families occasionally broke down, which threw unfortunates onto the mercy of charity. But isolated family failures never threatened to destabilize global economies.

Democracy changed all that. The burdens of providing for the aged are larger than ever thanks to the greater longevity that modernity accords. But the necessity and personal pride that drove the elderly to provide for themselves for as long as they could has been replaced by the invention of a universal “right of retirement” irrespective of an individual’s means.

This “right” to stop working for the last 10, 20, or even 30 years of our lives is secured and supported through an electoral system under which politicians promise old-age entitlements in return for votes. The system subsists on coercive taxation, money printing, and borrowing from the future. Ballooning centrally owned liabilities are perched atop a demographic pyramid with a base that must continue growing to avoid Ponzian collapse.

But it gets worse, believe it or not:

Now consider the fate of modern democracies as birth rates plummet. Educated, liberated 20- and 30-somethings are increasingly dodging the rigors of marriage and parenthood as they search for self-actualization, zipless hook ups, and ecological consciousness. Growing ranks of childless, single citizens are dealing themselves out of the cycle of life. This has never happened in all of human history. These people have no particular stake in the world they will one day leave behind. And yet they vote, in increasing numbers as they age.

How’s that for a powerful case for “entitlement reform?” People ought to take care of themselves, and if they can’t, ought to keep working until they drop (as many of us, myself including, undoubtedly will now than the idea of a “pension” has been discarded as old-think), and in any event have forfeited any right to live if they don’t supply themselves and future generations their appointed number of worker-bees.

The title of Frezza’s nice little note of good cheer is: “Will Aging Childless Voters Enslave My Future Grandchildren?” For a guy worried about democracy and public pensions “enslaving” folks, he’s sure got a totalitarian frame of mind about acceptable and unacceptable ways for other people to live their lives. And I’d bet anything he considers himself a disciple of the gospel of “liberty,” which turns out to involve the obligation to procreate or die, lest he or his children have to pay marginal tax rates above what he considers necessary.

I probably shouldn’t speculate about this man’s internal motivations beyond the bile he is projecting so freely. But he and people like him might want to refrain from making such sweeping condemnations of vast numbers of their fellow-citizens whose lives they know noting about as well. The idea that people dependent on Social Security are aging libertines living the good life at his expense is factually absurd and morally objectionable. Other than that, he makes a fine case for his own entitlement to whine.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.