Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beyond Mediscare

Nobody knows which way the current argument about Medicare will go.  Is Paul Ryan proposing to "end Medicare as we know it" or has President Obama already ended Medicare as we know it by cutting it by $716 billion over the next ten years?  It's a battle of the sound bites.

What disturbs me is the bigger question.  Never mind the rough and tumble of the campaign.  Let us think about the bigger questions about government and society.

Let's start with Medicare itself (I am a Medicare recipient).  The current unfunded liability for Medicare, the benefits promised beyond what will be collected by existing taxes, is $80 trillion or so.  How is such a sum of money to be found?  Who could or should be forced to pay for this?  How can this money physically be forced upon Americans without wrecking the economy?  The fact is that the $80 trillion deficit is a moral and physical maelstrom, an utter failure of the political system.  It is a blinking neon sign that millions of people are going to be cruelly taxed and/or cruelly abandoned in the next 30 years.

As for Social Security, its unfunded liability is a mere $8 trillion.  But the problem is that Social Security, the primary means of retirement for most Americans, is not a savings program.  The FICA taxes are not saved in a retirement account invested in securities that create jobs for the next generation, the generation that will work while the retired generation clips coupons.  It is money taken from a worker's paycheck and sent directly to a beneficiary.

Never mind about Medicare and Social Security.  They are huge unexploded bombs that one day will blow up if they aren't defused.  Let's talk about the real corrosion in the body politic.  You get a feeling of the problem reading Victor Davis Hanson about the hollowing out of California: the dreamland of the coastal cities and their green liberal professional class and its dreadful hell, the blitzed out Central Valley.  Government regulation has set up rigidities, from land use to wage rates to unpayable pensions, that prevent society from solving problems and adjusting to new conditions.

There is the scandal of education, utterly non-responsive to the needs of children, and utterly failing to educate the children of the poor.  There is the mess of welfare, doling out pensions to twenty-somethings.  There is the wasteland of housing, monument to "affordable housing" and government mortgage subsidies.  There is the horror of college debt, weighing down a whole generation.  There is the cratered carcass of Medicaid.  There is the fatuity of green energy, a crony capitalist swamp of subsidies and pay-for-play.  There is the maelstrom of government employee pensions.  There is the exploding problem of disability, as the ranks of the "disabled" soars towards 7 percent of the workforce.

All these programs are liberal programs, and that's the problem.  Your liberal friends have no idea that the whole thing is flushing down the toilet.  That's because the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media carefully see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil about the cratering welfare state.  I suspect that it is not a case of evil intent, but a case of denial.  Liberal journalists just cannot bring themselves to look reality in the face and admit that their glorious vision is a terrifying tornado that is tearing society up by its roots.

Here's an interesting problem.  Our liberal friends can't see that in the coming era it will be liberals that symbolize the cruel, oppressive ruling elite, living by injustice and looting.  How can that be, they will wail, when we are the evolved, educated people that live to right wrongs and end injustice?

Because, honey, every political ruling class ends up using its power to look after Number One, and liberals are humans too.

That's why we moderns came up with the idea of limited government.  At least limited government limits the power of government to create and perpetuate injustice.

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