Social Darwinism, Disability, and the Ryan Plan

When President Obama called the GOP budget plan “Social Darwinism” today he told the truth. People with disabilities, the elderly, the very poor rely on Social Security Disability benefits, Medicare, and Medicaid, and by “rely” I mean to say (and let’s be clear) these programs keep people alive. I can testify in this matter: in the 1990’s I spent two full years entirely unemployed. I owe my life, quite literally, to Social Security Disability payments, Section 8 housing vouchers, and Food Stamps. I was able, with luck and persistence, to find a job and return to the tax rolls. I owe a good deal to the very social programs that Paul Ryan is aiming to eliminate. I’ve also more than paid back what those programs spent on me over the past two decades of successful employment. But I digress.

I’ve written before on this blog about the GOP and Social Darwinism. The idea that the sick and weak are not the obligation of the strong is one part of the historical misapplication of Darwin’s theory of evolution, but the meaner aspect of this is the idea that the vulnerable in a society destroy that society. Forget that our military industrial expenditures are the greatest government welfare scheme in all of human history, forget that the perpetual warfare state has destroyed our nation’s infrastructure, our schools, our freedoms–it’s the poor who are doing the most damage to this country, didn’t you know?

The dishonesty of the Ryan plan comes from its repositioning of the social safety net away from Washington and into the hands of the states–it sounds reasonable until you discern that the states (already broke) can take the diminished block grant money from DC and use it any way they like. This is not sophistry on my part. The Ryan plan would really unplug Grandma. Really. And in light of this the president told the truth this afternoon. The GOP can sneer all they want. The truth will out.