Entitlements Aren’t Commitments They’re Coercion

From Obama’s inauguration speech:

The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.

This is wrong from start to finish: I’m certainly not strengthened by having thousands of dollars taken out of my pay each year. But it’s the first part that made me feel like Wile E. Coyote taking an anvil to the head. Entitlements are a “commitment we make to each other”? Really? I didn’t make such a commitment, except in the sense that John Dillinger’s victims “made a commitment” to give him their money.

But Obama’s euphemism isn’t accidental. It’s part and parcel of how the left talks about democracy — as if it were some social club where “we all get together” and hash out decisions. Can’t you just see the smiles and back-patting?

You could say it’s just a metaphor, but it’s an intellectually unjustifiable metaphor, because the salient fact about a social club is that, if you don’t like what the majority decides, you can go your own way: it can’t force its will on you. In the sort of unlimited democracy the left savors, the majority (or a politically influential minority) can vote to violate your rights.

The left regularly denounces as “coercion” many actions that leave others perfectly free to make their own decisions—as when a corporation doesn’t offer employees health insurance, or uses corporate funds to engage in political speech. Meanwhile, the left treats actual coercion like entitlement schemes as voluntary. If it was honest and clear about what it stood for, it would have a much harder time selling its agenda.