Saturday, June 10, 2006

What about my medicine?

Transitions from Socialism to Capitalism

Pro-capitalist and libertarian politicians routinely lose debates and elections because of the challenge of people who have become dependent upon the system which is the target of reform. A Republican politician in a public debate once was unable to come up with a satisfactory answer to a senior citizen in the audience who demanded, “what about my medicine? How am I going to get my medicine”? It’s a fair question; as we seek to roll back government programs that never should have been established in the first place, we have to address transitions; getting from here to there.
In the case of senior citizens dependent upon government-managed retirement programs, the answer actually shouldn’t be that difficult. Permit me to imagine a response to that member of the audience.
“We will honor all contracts made with you and your generation, without reduction in service or benefits. We will not reneg on binding promises, because to do so would be wrong, immoral and destructive to society.
“What we do say is that for the next generation and the one after that, the contract has to be re-written, because it was fraudulent to begin with. This program is 100% guaranteed to go bankrupt and be unable to support anyone after X years as it is currently defined. If this program had been established in the same manner by a private corporation, its executives would be in jail today for foisting a Ponzi pyramid scheme upon the public.
“Before you judge this proposal as unfair or improper, take the example of your own life, the income that was taxed from you in order to reap the benefits that you enjoy today. Which of the following statements do you sincerely believe is true:

  • “I’m getting a better rate of return on my investment than any private health insurance or retirement savings plan could have offered me [That may be true for some in the currently retired generation; it will be less so with each passing year].
  • “The government is the most caring, knowledgeable and efficient agency for administering health care and retirement programs.
  • “If I have not saved enough or insured myself adequately, there is nobody, no private charity or religious organization that will lift a finger to help me or anyone else like me.
  • “If the government didn’t force people to contribute to the program, no one would save for their own retirement or health care.”

There is no reason for pro-capitalist politicians to be defensive about any of their principles. Bring on the challenges! Free markets and free people will make the solutions.

For additional perspectives on Social Security reform, see and Llewellyn Rockwell's contrarian article Save or Else.

(Suggestions for other links are welcome.)

Copyright © 2006 by Howard Hyde. All rights reserved.