"But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities. All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government's job."
Ah, the good old days, when people took care of their families and neighbors and more than half of our old people lived in poverty. Then along came Social Security and weakened us as a people.
Rick Perry, the flamboyant cowboy governor of Texas, says Social Security is a "Ponzi scheme" and "an elaborate illusion cooked up by government magicians." Would it do any good to explain to him the difference between a fraud and Social Security, which has been paying full benefits since 1940? Probably not. As Samuel Johnson said of Rousseau, "A man who talks nonsense so well must know he is talking nonsense."
Where does Perry get the notion that the Founding Fathers were states' righters? Why does he think they assembled in Philadelphia during that hot summer of 1787 except to create a national government? Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, "A nation without a national government is, in my view, an awful spectacle."
Speaking of the Founding Fathers, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who actually thinks the Republicans might nominate her for president (they wouldn't - would they?) has said that "we also know that the very founders that wrote these documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States." Presumably she was talking about the very founders who in some cases held slaves, and who agreed to count each slave as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of the census.
And you can always count on Newt Gingrich for nutty notions, like this one: "The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did." That's not just nutty. It's insane.
Leonard Boasberg is a retired Inquirer editorial writer and reporter who lives in Wayne. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.