Political Animal


December 11, 2012 4:10 PM Procreate Or Die!

By Ed Kilgore

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 But the necessity and personal pride that drove the elderly to provide for themselves for as long as they could has been replaced by the invention of a universal “right of retirement” irrespective of an individual’s means.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 is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Doug on December 11, 2012 4:19 PM:

    People such as Mr. Frezza have just enough learning to think they know it all - and not enough to realize just how little that "all" really is. If Forbes publishes this person with any regularity, it just means there's another reason NOT to read Forbes.
    Well, except to see what the right-wing folie du jour is...

  • c u n d gulag on December 11, 2012 4:44 PM:

    Yes, what a great message this is:
    This rich teat is done being milked!!!

    You'd better get to feckin', ya feckin' poor feckin' losers, and pop out a whole bunch of other poor feckin' people who'll support you in your feckin' parasitic dotage, so me and mine don't have to pony-up another feckin' dime in taxes to support your lazy, worthless, and entitled feckin' asses.

    And you know what I think is funny?
    There are basically zero degrees of seperation, between this evil @$$clown and the 'revered' Alan Simpson.

    I have always been a great admirer of both the American Revolution, AND the French Revolution.
    In our Revolution, the British aristocracy had to come here to get killed.
    In the French Revolution, the masses had the home field advantage, and the aristocrats were sitting there, low-hanging fruit, sitting in their mansions, and ripe for the pickin'!

    Bill Frezza looks pretty ripe to me.

  • John Sully on December 11, 2012 4:53 PM:

    Douthat wrote a column, not quite so repulsive, on a similar theme a couple of weeks ago. Don't think that this isn't a real attitude amongst these "makers".

  • boatboy_srq on December 11, 2012 4:55 PM:

    Clearly this jackass has never had to care for a loved one. Between the costs of care, the strain of watching someone one cares about falling off the edge of dotage, and the conviction on the part of every busybody and public entity that just because you're taking care of someone you must be doing something wrong, the stress is tremendous and the burden - on every level, not just economic - is colossal. Never mind, of course, the conviction of these same "job creators" that, because you've put your own career on hold to attend to familial responsibilities, you're somehow unattractive as an employee and less of a person simply because you haven't put your own career first like any good earner.

    Caring for the elderly is a costly, time- and energy- consuming business. And business doesn't look favorably on anyone - employee, child, sibling, whatever - who takes on the responsibility. OF COURSE there are increasingly fewer of us who do it: why would anyone deliberately choose to become virtually unemployable, jeopardizing one's own "golden years", by damaging one's prospects at what really is the peak of one's career?

    Corporatism changed all that. The burdens of providing for the aged are larger than ever thanks to the greater longevity that healthcare-as-a-consumer-good accords. FIFY, a##hole.

    Oh, and I'll see his multitude who have no particular stake in the world they will one day leave behind and raise him a dozen retired grandparents who can't be arsed to pay taxes for public education just because it won't benefit their kids and who screw the school boards where they're living just to be greedy, spiteful old coots.

    Captcha: ountsBar expensive. It really, really is.

  • R on December 11, 2012 5:00 PM:

    This from the same bunch trying to quash unions. So not only should people work longer; they should do under crappy conditions. I'd love to see this guy spend a week as a home health aide at minimum wage. Better yet, how about cleaning up after oil spills, since he's equating "ecological consciousness" with "zipless hookups"? What's that about? Ed, I wouldn't waste any time investigating Frezza's "personal life and circumstances," but it's clear he's possessed by his own hostility. Not healthy.

  • John Sully on December 11, 2012 5:03 PM:

    And of course Frezza neglects why Social Security was started in the first place: it was because the system he holds up as a model DIDN'T WORK!

  • Peter C on December 11, 2012 5:04 PM:

    This is why we have a democracy - so idiots like Frezza get outvoted. I suggest he stop paying taxes and take his chances with the IRS. ALternatively, he could try his luck in Somalia if he'd prefer less government.

  • ninja3000 on December 11, 2012 5:04 PM:

    "I probably shouldn’t speculate about this man’s internal motivations"

    Well then, allow me: This guy is a major-league asshole.

  • Andrew on December 11, 2012 5:08 PM:

    This guy is the poster child of why we need to tax these people out of existence. They are the true parasites in our society. They didn't earn it, they don't deserve it. Capital does not exist without labor. All income above POTUS salary should be taxed at 90%. Explain to me how any of these clowns is justified in making more than the POTUS.

  • RaflW on December 11, 2012 5:10 PM:

    Oh to have the poor happily die at their bootblack stations or while the lathe continues to spin! Such fine days those were.

    Everyone knew his place (and, especially, hers!) and we rich could avoid and exploit all you cheerful wretches in peace, far from the prying eyes of OSHA, EPA, or the twin scourges of Social Security and Medicare.

    And a fine Humbug to you on Christmas, too!

  • R on December 11, 2012 5:13 PM:

    Just saw the comments from John Sully and boatboy_srq. So true, and note the implications of Douthat's and Frezza's fantasies for women: produce more babies, and get back to sole responsibility for the care of your elderly relatives, because let's face it, when we say "families" take care of their own, we really mean women. Katha Pollitt wrote a great response to Douthat (love the title):

  • Peter C on December 11, 2012 5:13 PM:

    When the estate tax pops back to life in a month (with the expiration of the Bush Tax debacle), let's call it the Frezza tax. This guy is such an asshole, no one will want to eliminate it ever again.

  • T2 on December 11, 2012 5:16 PM:

    guys like this, Conservative blow-hards, just do not understand that their ship has sailed. Marijuana is legally perscribed as medicine and legally smoked in some states, gays legally marry in some states, gays serve openly in the military, women are in combat, a large % of citizens are non-religious, cars run on electricity, internet provides instant world-wide communication, a black guy is president.
    The Frezza's of the country are living their lives with eyes closed, brains riveted on days gone by, fighting battles already lost. Life is moving forward without them. Not fast enough.

  • trex on December 11, 2012 5:17 PM:

    After reading such an interesting and radical diatribe I took a few minutes to look up this guy and found the following video:

    Bill Frezza on Science

    It's over thirty minutes long and I don't recommend anyone watch it but in it he argues that,  and I'm paraphrasing here, barely:

    "Science is bad and we spend too much money on sciencey things that would have been better spent not taxing people so they would have had money to buy cigarettes and beer and who KNOWS what other wonders?"

    Cancer research? Bad, because we haven't cured cancer. That money would have been better spent building a mall. Space exploration and all the technologies that have arisen from that? Worthless, because we might have gotten something BETTER than what we got from some "third-rate scientist."

    How you and I having more money to spend on Cheetohs is going to produce something that's better for society than transistors and solar cells and microchips he never says. It's all just "Science - bad. Pocket change - good!" But I think we know the real answer to this. Any monies that aren't being surrendered to venture capitalists by unthinking rubes is money a-wasted in his mind, even if that money might have created the Internet or a malaria cure.

    He likes to refer to himself as a "skeptical outsider" and I think that's because he's so far outside of what counts as ordinary human thinking and values he may as well be an alien...from a very stupid, if greedy race.

  • exlibra on December 11, 2012 5:29 PM:

    The title of Frezza’s nice little note of good cheer is: “Will Aging Childless Voters Enslave My Future Grandchildren?” -- Ed Kilgore

    Well... For all we know, there will be no "future grandchildren"; his own children might join the ranks of the non-procreating, sex for fun brigades.

    And, anyway... He's more than just a columnist; he's also a vulture capitalist. As such, it's incumbent on him to leave all of his children *and* "future grandchildren" trust funds which will provide each of them with a rich (in all senses of the word) life. Especially since he seems to be planning to spend his old age totally dependent on their goodwill.

  • Bill Frank on December 11, 2012 5:56 PM:

    Besides that he wants to be able to move a factory at will to some cheaper location. Hire and fire on a moments whim, no pensions etc. Basically a completely mobile workforce with no longterm obligations. Also he wants a consumer culture that can buy the stuff the venture capitalists make in China.

    To have that kind of freedom of capital we have to have a govt. social safety net. Otherwise we get old people dying in the streets. Social security has worked pretty well to limit old age poverty.

  • T-Rex on December 11, 2012 6:41 PM:

    Hey, there are Biblical precedents for this sort of argument! Remember, if Lot's daughters could ply their father with wine and then persuade him to bang them so that they could have children to support them in their old age, why can't all these free-contraception-demanding floozies get back to the bedroom, kitchen and maternity ward where they belong and start obediently popping out heirs? Never mind that the human population will soon pass the level of sustainability for the planet.

  • alkali on December 11, 2012 6:44 PM:

    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.

    "Zipless"? He's still mad about the 1973 novel Fear of Flying?

  • jpeckjr on December 11, 2012 8:11 PM:

    You know, religion used to mitigate at least some of this kind of attitude among the rich. Attending religious services, the rich would hear from time to time about the poor and the message "to whom much has been given, much is expected." Charitable institutions to help the poor and the elderly received gifts from the wealthy to do their work. You don't have to be religious to be charitable, of course, but encouraging charity was one of the roles religion played in our culture.

  • Barbara on December 11, 2012 8:14 PM:

    I thought about responding, and then I asked myself, "why should anybody care what this guy thinks?"

    Educated, liberated 20 and 30 somethings don't owe you or me or anyone else anything. God knows they've been shafted enough by my generation that if there is any justice it's we who will owe them something soon enough.

    And isn't it kind of funny, as in stupid to the nth degree, that Randians would denigrate anyone at all for following what they perceive to be their own self-interest?

  • Kevin (not the famous one) on December 11, 2012 8:51 PM:

    Bumper Sticker: The world can't afford rich people

    Crapcha: quarybea not


  • cleverclue on December 11, 2012 11:04 PM:

    I'm confused. Am I irresponsible for having lots of children or responsible? Seems I might need help raising my brood and then I need them to help me in my dotage. So the Man loses my contribution while in my prime and my babies once they are in their prime. Why don't we let woman work, plan their pregnancies, take their retirement, and help out with the grandchildren? The goal is to get a more effective work force!!!! Yes, there is a premium but it pays off.

  • Crissa on December 11, 2012 11:06 PM:

    So in his world, I'm a lucky duckie because my relatives have all kicked the can save my mother, but I'm doomed to be shiftless layabout because I'm barren?


  • Bassicdave on December 12, 2012 12:46 AM:

    I can't figure out who the hell these clowns are writing to.

    If only "producers" read Forbes then it's not an audience that matters. They had their chance and were rejected.

    We get get all pantytwisted about this kind of writing but I honestly think they just jack themselves off when reading the progressive response. They know this pseudo-intellectual babble is just that - just as we love reading the moronic comments at conservative sites, they love reading ours.

    The difference, of course, is that ours are based in reality and theirs in ignorance and bigotry.

  • Capt Spaulding on December 12, 2012 5:55 AM:

    “If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race,” returned the Ghost, “will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
    Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.
    “Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!”

    A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

  • dweb on December 12, 2012 9:11 AM:

    They vote in increasing numbers?

    I thought the point was that they weren't having children. Sounds like they will eventually dwindle away and leave the world a more perfect place for Mr. Frezza.

  • Barbara on December 12, 2012 9:46 AM:

    dweb, I think his point is that if the 20s and 30s don't have lots of babies his descendants will be left among the few productive taxpayers holding up the burden for -- well, for someone, hence they will be enslaved. (Parenthetically, if he doesn't want this to happen, he himself need not procreate, or he could move to some place with a high birth rate like Somalia.) Anyway, I wouldn't look for logic in this dyspeptic screed that evidently shows how cut off he is from the day to day world of 20 and 30 somethings.

    Feeling no compunction to care about one's fellow man is the condition. Unfocused vitriol that sounds like random echolalia of last week's conservative columnists is just the symptom.