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Social Security isn't '21st century slavery'

<p>Rep. Allen West, the unhinged Florida Republican, appears to have reached some strict rules regarding his foes.</p>

Rep. Allen West, the unhinged Florida Republican, appears to have reached some strict rules regarding his foes. If you dare disagree with him, West believes you're either (a) a communist; (b) a supporter of slavery; or (c) quite possibly a communistic supporter of slavery.

Igor Volsky flags the congressman's latest gem.

For those who can't watch clips online, West complained about those who've sought Social Security disability benefits. "[W]e are creating the sense of economic dependence, which to me is a form of modern, 21st century slavery," he said.

Putting aside West's preoccupation with comparing everything he doesn't like to slavery -- really, congressman, it's time for a new metaphor -- the argument here is especially bizarre. If Americans qualify for Social Security disability benefits, they're relying on a safety net that's keeping them out of poverty. They're not living on easy street -- you won't see these folks attending any fundraisers in the Hamptons -- but SSI helps beneficiaries, many of whom are children, from being destitute.

By West's reasoning, that makes them slaves. Of course, by that logic, any group of Americans who rely on public institutions are also slaves. Do you rely on public schools to provide your kids with an education? Then you're a victim to public dependence, which to West is a form of modern, 21st century slavery. Are you a senior citizen who relies on Medicare to see a doctor? Then you're a victim, too, and are necessarily some kind of slave in Allen West's mind.

Of course, West isn't the only strange person with odd ideas about slavery. Did you catch Herman Cain last week?

The former Pokemon-quoting presidential candidate was troubled by Chris Rock's Independence Day comments, in which the comedian called the 4th of July "white peoples independence day."

Cain was unimpressed (thanks to reader F.B. for the tip).

"I think it was Chris Rock who made fun of the fact, 'Well, it might be Independence Day, but the slaves weren't free then.' Look at it this way, if America had not become independent, slaves might still be slaves."

As a matter of history, that doesn't make any sense at all. If the United States were still under the crown, African Americans might still be slaves? There's no real ambiguity here: the United Kingdom banned slavery in 1833. Parts of Canada ended the slave trade as far back as 1793. The United States didn't end slavery until after the Civil War in 1865.

The only way slavery would have continued is if the South had won the Civil War -- and apparently some on the right now believe that wouldn't have been so bad.