Suppose you find yourself debating a Progressive over the moral (in)validity of welfare legislation — because you're a masochist or you just have a penchant for wasting your time. Try the following gambit. (It won't work, but the results will be instructive, or at least amusing.)
You: "So, you think that it's justifiable to mandate paying taxes to support [the elderly/the poor/the sick/the (insert your favorite 'downtrodden' or 'powerless' group here)]?"
Progressive: "Yes. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, 'Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.'"
You: "And it's moral to force [derivatives traders/doctors/health insurance companies/[pick your favorite 'selfish, evil rich bastard'] to supply the money or the good or service in question."
Progressive: "Yes, of course. We are our brother's keeper, after all."
You: "Fine. Tell you what. Since quality sex is as vital to human well being as money or medical care, let's establish a National Bureau of Prostitution, with a branch in every town in America."
Progressive: "What? That's ridiculous. Get serious."
You: "I am serious. There are a lot of lonely, ugly, poor guys (and gals — let's not be sexist) out there who aren't getting any. Or, what they do get is below acceptable quality. [If pressed on the standard of 'acceptable' be very vague.] We need to improve their 'access' to quality quim.
"So, I propose we establish a tax to pay for prostitutes for them. Better still, since there aren't enough good looking hookers to go around, let's require some Hollywood babes to participate. 'Voluntarily', of course, unless they want to pay a fine or go to jail.
"Now, this being a government program, the time required will be minimal when the bill is passed, say only once per month. It will rise in a few years to once per week, then once per day. Sooner or later, half their time will be spent in the brothel. But that's only fair, after all. They happen to be blessed with gifts that nature hasn't granted everyone. So, they should do this, and if they won't they should be legally forced."
Progressive: "But, but, that would be pretty much the same as kidnapping and rape." [Granted, I'm really exaggerating here, because no Progressive would ever make the connection. If government does it, on his/her view, it can't be equivalent to the crime performed by a private individual. Thus, for example, taxation can never be theft.]
What do you suppose would be the response?
Now, this may seem like a fantasy debate, but I actually tried this once with a dyed-in-the-wool 'liberal' female, an extremely smart mathematician. (She also happened to be very unattractive and would never have been required personally to contribute her services.) She was, not surprisingly, outraged. She was, however, unable to find a single flaw in the argument.
Naturally, I'm a little worried about giving Rahm Emmanuel any ideas here. But, hey, if we're going to have a government program, it might at least be one I could, so to speak, get behind.