Allen West: Social Security Is “21st Century Slavery”

According to Congressman Allen West, people on Social Security Disability are just like slaves:

HOST: The number of people going on Social Security disability out-paced the jobs created by the economy in the the month of June, that is a trend we have seen increase, and holding steady since ’09. Do you have a theory as to why that is happening? Is that something the federal government is creating or an unfortunate consequence of our economy?

WEST: That is an unfortunate consequence of failing economic policies coming from the president so that now when people are running out of the unemployment benefits, now they are looking toward going on Social Security disability… so once again we are creating the sense of economic dependence, which to me is a form of modern, 21st century slavery.

This would, I am sure, come as news to the millions of people around the world actually being subjected to forced manual labor today.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Nick says:

    West was a light colonel. Imagine Colonel Crazy as head of your battalion. Also consider that some people in the cadre thought he was worth promoting–multiple times. When I was in in the mid-70’s there were some real tools in the officer and NCO ranks. Looks like that hasn’t changed.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    A whack job in a party of whack jobs…and before you get your panties in a twist and protest…it’s not like Allen is an outlier by any means.
    RNC Chair Reince Priebus this very morning:

    “The fact is, it’s not a question of whether can Mitt Romney win….The statement is, Mitt Romney has to win for the sake of the very idea of America. Mitt Romney has to win for liberty and freedom. We have to put an end to this Barack Obama presidency before it puts an end to our way of life in America…”

    This past week Judge Richard Posner, appointed to the appeals court by Reagan, said that over the last 10 years;

    “…there’s been a real deterioration in conservative thinking. And that has to lead people to re-examine and modify their thinking…I’ve become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy…”

    Obama is the most conservative President since Reagan, and the Republican nominee is a Massachusetts Liberal who was, as Dick Durbin says, The Obamacare Daddy.
    And Allen West is a godamn Republican star.
    Enjoy your Sunday.

  3. Scott says:

    Of course, West collects his military retirement, gets a congressional salary, and has government provided healthcare through Tricare. If he gives all that up, then he might make a lick of sense but I doubt it.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    Allen West, with his latest unfiltered comment, provides us, the electorate, with a valuable public service – he is reminding us that most of today’s Republican Party is not ideologically too far from West on the issue of Social Security. It’s just that most of the others use language like “private accounts” instead of “21st Century Slavery.”

  5. Tillman says:

    We’re still paying attention to Allen West? Honestly people, I know you all love schadenfreude, but this is the health of the republic we’re talking about.

  6. Michael says:

    Allen West clearly has no idea what the words “Social Security,” “dependence” and “slavery” mean.

    I’m also not sure he knows what all the other words in between mean either, including “when,” “is” and “the.”

  7. george says:

    Maybe he meant it in the same sense that that NBA star making several million a year to play basketball saying the NBA’s contracts are slavery?

    Obviously a disciple of Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty, who suggested words mean whatever you want them to mean. Allen knows what he means by slavery; I suspect he’d say that if everyone else uses the word differently, that’s not his problem … .

  8. The GOP seems so happy to get minority representatives that they’ll hose them down with cash and praise, never mind the crazy. In the words of Pokemon …

  9. jukeboxgrad says:

    We’re still paying attention to Allen West?

    This is a good moment to recall that both Palin and Gingrich said West should be VP.

  10. Tsar Nicholas says:

    It used to be that people were “slaves to the grind.” Remember that colloquialism? People didn’t mean it literally. They meant it figuratively. Of course.

    When someone is dependent upon the government for the basic necessities of life by definition they lack many things, one of which is free choice. If you live in Section 8 housing, for example, you can’t remodel your apartment to make it more to your liking. If you’re entirely dependent upon Social Security retirement benefits, for example, you can’t ask for nor take steps to manufacture a raise. You’re income is fixed. The same holds true for SSI benefits. If you’re entirely dependent upon Medicaid for your health care needs you can’t pick and choose your own doctors nor your own diagnostic testing. If physician X doesn’t accept Medicaid you won’t be going there. If Medicaid doesn’t pay for Y testing then you won’t be receiving it.

    so once again we are creating the sense of economic dependence, which to me is a form of modern, 21st century slavery.

    (Emphasis added.)

    Did West actually say that people on SSDI are “just like slaves?” Separately, is what West said that far away from the truth?

  11. Racehorse says:

    I do think that while SS is necessary and a good program, people should be given some choices such as having the option of investing some of this money. You do not have to be an investing expert or a broker to be able to do this and come out good. I know a few retired people who do some investing; not a huge amount, but make a few thousand a year: enough to go on a trip or buy a few things. Young people could really benefit and learn a lot about investments. Of course there would be a limit on how much would be available, but it should be an option. This was an idea that came from a Democrat years ago.

  12. deathcar2000 says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Of course if you rent an apartment and you cant remodel, are a slave to the landlord? If you work under a contract and cant “manfacture” a raise are a slave to the employer? if your health care insurance provider dosnt cover certian procedures or testing are you a slave to the insurance provider? If your local food store dosnt carry your favorite brand of peanut butter are you a slave

    In a very real and serious way you are not a slave

    When you are forced to work for no compensation, beaten at the whim of your owner, forced againt your will in to unpleasent conditions. Then you might be a slave

  13. deathcar2000 says:


    SSI insnt a retirement program, its an insurance against old people starving. Investing is a good idea for the people that can afford it, not everybody can affod it. A good persentage of people will work until the no longer can at which point they will collect SSI or SSID. Some lucky folks will have a pension or 401k or investments to enjoy the rest will do with market ground and ramen. One poor decision with a SSI personal account investment strategy when you’re 30 will lead to you giving up ramen at 65 or older and switching to bargain discount cat food.

    While there might be a good argument that ramen is more heathy than discount cat food, we all know which one tastes better. . . . .cat food wins on both counts.

  14. deathcar2000 says:

    As far as Allen West goes, if he was a ice cream flavor he would be Nutty Buddy. Biden would be birthday cake, Obama would be cappincino, Sarah Palin would be rocky road, Romney would be vanilla, John Kerry would be french vanilla and we all know Cain is self proclaimed black walnut.

  15. An Interested Party says:

    Did West actually say that people on SSDI are “just like slaves?”


    Separately, is what West said that far away from the truth?


    Next question…

  16. al-Ameda says:


    Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, pressed to respond to West’s controversial rhetoric, told CNN last week: “I’m not the police officer of the Republican party. So, Allen can say what Allen wants to say.”

    He also defended West as “one of the most dynamic new Republican stars in our party,” saying, “I’m not going to throw Allen West in a ditch.”

    Allen West should be Michele Bachmann’s husband or Rick Perry’s partner.