As a Marxist, I am often confronted by people who claim that "from each according to his ability to each according to his need" is a prescription for societal sloth and freeloading. "Everybody will want a free ride in such a society," they say. "If they think they'll be provided for, who will have any incentive to work lousy jobs? As uncomfortable as it is, people need the lash of capitalist want and insecurity if they are ever to get off their duff and do anything productive."
One response is to point out that capitalism, too, has its fair share of freeloaders living off society's largesse.
And there's another class of freeloader in capitalist society as well -- what Noam Chomsky calls our "political class." Take Mike Madigan, for example, the powerful Democratic Speaker of the Illinois House. For 30 years this guy has thought it OK to siphon funds from the teacher pension system to pay for goods and services Illinois allegedly needs, like subsidizing corporations with tax breaks and helping his rich and powerful buddies. No problem, right? Then how does the legislature led by Madigan vote to pay the debt down? Do they propose to tax the superwealthy, or suggest a finance tax on every Chicago Mercantile Exchange transaction? No! That would be "socialism."
Instead, Madigan and his flunkies will fund the unfunded portion of the pension system by reducing the benefits of current and retired teachers, the very working people who dutifully and in full good faith are paying out, or have paid out, week after week over their careers to fund the funded part of the system! Thanks, Mike! That's fair.
No wonder the governor signed this pension bill behind closed doors.