A while back, John Goodman wrote,
No one questions why we provide help to people who are sick or disabled. Or why we provide benefits to people who are temporarily out of work and looking for a job. But why subsidize people who want to play golf?
The short answer is that the elderly are treated as an oppressed class. They receive “senior discounts,” for example. (To be fair, in some cases this is price discrimination, intended to maximize revenue.)
From a conservative point of view, Social Security undermines the incentive to work, and not just for seniors. It is funded by the payroll tax. It also undermines the incentive to save, because people count on Social Security instead. Thus, Social Security goes against an important value for civilization–deferred gratification.
Are the elderly today truly an oppressed class? I think it would be hard to argue that case. However, the same might be said for many of the oppressed classes as defined by the progressive model. All unionized workers, including public-sector workers making more than the median income? All women?
One issue that I have not addressed in the oppressor-oppressed axis is how these classes come to be defined.