Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fixing Social Security and Medical Care

[Back during the 2004 election, my Uncle Hugh sent me someone's tirade about the misleading elements in the attacks by Democrats against Bush. My reply is still relevant, I am sorry to say.]

Doesn't it just make you *crazy*?

I'm a Libertarian, and no big fan of Republican conservatives or Democrat liberals--but the completely addle-headed way the Demo politicians attack Republicans is so offensive and against reason that I find myself *defending* Bush and his colleagues even though I had plenty of criticisms of him myself. But my reservations about Bush are of no comfort to Democrat politicians, since they do pretty much the same wrong or wrong-headed things themselves when they get into office.

The other big lie being thrown around just recently is about Social Security -- Bush supposedly said he was going to privatize it. Instead of singing Bush's praises for having the guts and vision to try to fix this broken system, The Demo Candidate instantly uses it to scare the elderly--again. He knows perfectly well that *any* scheme to privatize SS by *anybody* even a radical Libertarian wouldn't dream of harming a hair on the elderly's heads -- they'd be nuts, for one thing, and it's completely unnecessary anyway. And The Demo Candidate would have to deal with the problem himself one fine day. Oh, I forgot! Kerry will be out of office by the time we run out of money, won't he? Good ol' short-term "me-me-me" thinking comes to his rescue again!

(And why are the elderly so damned stupid that they can be rattled by this nonsense, anyway?)

I tell you, I'm going on SS one fine day soon and there's no way I'm going to be able to get my kids to fork over for it for more than ten or fifteen years. Then it will be crippled, unless some smart brave politician (how those words have trouble going together!) tackles the problem with a>mixture of privatization, means testing, and a heavy, heavy dose of "let's talk about this like adults, reasoning together." Kerry doesn't care, he's not the one who has to worry about being out on the street, does he? (Congress isn't IN the Social Security system! They ain't that stupid!)

Buncha jerks.
Hugh replied:
I believe that if the Congress would stop issuing IOU's to the SS fund we would be in fine shape. They have been robbing it to balance the budget since the days of LBJ. If the money was returned to the fund it would becompletely solvent.
Poor dear! He actually believes that!

My reponse:
Problem is, there is no "fund" and as far as I know, never was one. What would the fund do? Sit on a billion $20 bills in the treasury department safe? No, it would be invested - just what you would do. What do they "invest" in? Savings bonds and such. They lend the money to the rest of the government. The rest of the government owes the SS fund all the money they have been getting all these years. They can't pay that back ever. They haven't even kept track. It's all just taking out of one pocket and putting it in another pocket. The underlying SYSTEM is misconceived!

That's part of the reasoning behind private social security. If *you* had the retirement money, you'd invest it in something--the bank, the stock market, the bond market, a house. You'd have an asset in return. The asset may lose value, of course, but at least you started with an asset. The government takes your money and spends it, and puts an IOU in the till. This is not an asset. If you think it's risky to put your money in the stock market, you've been pouring it down a hole with a promissory note backed by a bunch of politicians. You'd have to have no history to your name to think that's a better bet.

It's all of a piece -- we don't say we'll protect the unfortunate from starvation when they retire; we say we'll give *everybody* enough to retire on, so don't worry about it. Pols do this because it makes everybody beholden to them. Look what happens when Kerry says "Social Security!" Everybody panics. They *love* that. Which is why they don't want to privatize--there would be lots of citizens who wouldn't owe their next meal to John Kerry and his kind.

Same thing with medical care. We don't say "we'll help make sure everyone is protected against catastrophic illness, so it doesn't wipe you out if it happens" -- no, we say "we'll pay for *everything* -- doctor visits, dentist teeth cleaning, medicines of every kind, the whole nine yards. Which is absolutely the dumbest thing we could do -- for one thing, it guarantees rising prices because somebody else is paying for everything. Someone once said this would be like buying an insurance policy that paid for regular maintence, gas, oil, and the car wash. Could we afford that? What would happen to the prices of stuff if somebody else was paying your gas bill? Of course!

And they love it! But it's idiocy. And we'll never get out of it because we're on the downward path--not a politician will save us, and since the pols won't support any solution, the newspapers, who get all their news from politicians ("Let's quote a Democrat and a Republican politician! That way we'll have fair coverage of all possible sides of the issue! Yeah!"), will treat real reform effort--of any kind, not just my ideas--as dangerous insanity.

I despair.

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