parsec, in the comments at Whiskey Fire, says something which triggered an "Oh, of COURSE" moment:
I'll never understand why [wingnuts] think national healthcare and a social safety net will sap their precious bodily fluids. Instead of trying to yank on imaginary bootstraps they could be using a just social order as a stepping stool.
And I thought, well shit. Of COURSE that's why they're scared. In a just social order, they'd never succeed. In a world of stepping stools rather than imaginary bootstraps, they'd be competing against people who aren't paralyzed with fear about medical bankruptcy and homelessness. I mean, I already know that social programs free people to take chances, to flex creativity, to live with more confidence; it just never quite occurred to me that this is exactly what scares people like Erick Erickson. If there's one thing we've learned from years of watching wingnut welfare recipients and the kind of people who listen to them, it's that the last thing they have the tools to do is compete against anyone other than those just like them.
What scares them about socialism* is not that everyone would suddenly turn lazy. It's that suddenly they'd have to be less lazy. On a level playing field, they'd barely make waterboy.