We are quickly reaching a point where the poor in the Medicaid system will be managed "aggressively" because states can no longer bear the burden of Medicaid, and 5% of the cases amount to half the costs. This is government's answer to sickness in poverty, and I think we all know what "manage aggressively" means. This is not going to turn out good -- it's not really the War on Poverty that Johnson had in mind.
Entries in poverty (33)
I, of course, don't speak for all libertarian-minded people or for all limited government conservatives, but I can safely say that the Left doesn't have a corner on the market for compassion regarding the plight of the poor, disabled and disadvantaged. The Left doesn't want to research which groups give more to charity, or which groups are more active in volunteering time and energy to help those in need. Whether or not you agree with conservative politics, it's not reasonable to question their compassion. Most libertarian-minded people have always supported private charities, at least from my experience this is the case. America once was known for its charitable associations, a self-help nation of people helping one another in times of need, as Tocqueville wrote about long ago, but the welfare state replaced most local community associations, and taxes replaced a great deal of charitable giving, although Americans are still the most charitable people in the world.
There's no doubt that if the welfare state collapsed, communities would pull together and associations would once again proliferate. But small, loosely organized, local efforts are not the only organizations which can replace the welfare state. Sophisticated, national, private organizations, profit or not-for-profit, can develop to replace the welfare state without any government funding in some dysfunctional public/private "partnership" -- the private sector can do the job without government help or interference. If government can create welfare programs, the private sector can address the problems through private asistance organizations and do it more efficiently and effectively.
In a free market with low taxes and the absence of stagnating regulations, wealth creation will grow at a rapid rate. If society in the private sector is challenged with social problems like poverty, education, re-training, care for the indigent handicapped, etc., society will respond if they are allowed to keep more of what they earn. The charitable spirit of Americans and American companies will meet the challenge, and large organizations will develop to deal with these problems. We aready have the experience of helping organizations like United Way, church organizations, Red Cross, and others, to build on. Society just needs to trust the private sector and support the efforts. Together, the American people can do it, and do it well, utilizing all the experience and skills posessed by professionals in the helping fields all across the country. The duplication of wasteful government programs will be replaced by organizations specializing in different needs. There's no doubt that without red tape, bloated bureacracy and political manipulation, innovation in the private sector will do a better job and be more effective in providing true assistance. Creative means will develop to deal with problems the government simply throws money at and hides from the public. If people are invested in private helping organizations, they will take more interest in their efficiency and effectiveness.
What blocks this from happening is political in nature. The State justifies much of its power by being the source of welfare, but welfare is not something the State has to provide. If the national attitude changes and it's universally decided that the private sector will do a better job providing a safety net for the most disadvantaged, then it will be done. We just need to spur our imagination and think creatively.
This is the last of the posts for now dealing with free market solutions. Starting last week, I wrote about four posts dealing with this subject, and I would like to see more people thinking about ways to implement a free market which deal with societal problems. I post these periodically, restatisn how I think it can be done, but the truth is that "plans" are created once the freedomis established -- this is the nature of a free market -- many, many minds tackle the problems and create many, many solutions, not just a handful of government officials creating a one-size-fits-all solution.
The State will not do it, because it means loss of power and control and direction, but we need a free market. Once a free market starts dreaming, creating, innovating and producing, it could go in any direction, or many directions at once -- this is what scares statists. But the world needs an area of freedom. Practically the whole world is in economic turmoil. While some cultures are not concerned with innovation, productivity and economic creativity, and that's fine, many are. There are investors all over the world looking to fund profitable enterprises. A free market revolution would create many, many high paying jobs, and there are people everywhere looking for good jobs and opportunites to advance and improve their position in life. Productive energy is a vital force, and right now it's bottled up in many areas around the globe.
America is best situated to become the Investment Mecca of the World, but it'll take embracing the vision opposite to European social democracy. We can argue from now til next year about whether America has been a free market country in spirit or a statist country in spirit, even from the beginning, but now, 2011, is all that matters. America has been both relatively economically free and it has been under the thumb of statism -- however, where we go from here is the decision to be made. America is a different place from what it was only 30 to 40 years ago. We know much more and technology has advanced to a degree that past generations could never have imagined.
In America, not only has technology changed, but people have changed -- there's more sensitivity to fairness in regards to race and gender -- there's more awareness regarding the plight of the poor and handicapped -- there's just a better understanding of one another all the way around, even if problems still exist. The private sector is much better prepared for self-governance than at any time in our history, and more ill-suited to control by technocrats than at any other time.
If we could elect the right people to fix the problems of an over-regulating, over-spending, over-managing, over-taxing government and create a free market enviornment, we could attract the most productive, educated and creative people in the world. And, if public education was ended in favor of myriad private efforts to provide education, innovative solutions would pop up all over the country. If we could allow insurance companies the freedom to develop safety net policies that are purchased at birth, 85% of the nation would have better coverage than any Medicare program or SS scheme can ever provide -- we could retire earlier with more income to start a whole different phase of our life in old age. There are so many things the private sector can do better than government, that if we really limited government power, and society could become as prosperous as they would become with this kind of freedom, private assistance organizations would handle the problem of the poor and handicapped much better than our old, politically-perverted and creaking welfare system.
Some on the left are calling Obama a visionary, but this is so far from the truth, it's laughable. Old statist solutions are the past, not the future. If we had hundreds of millions of minds across the country dreaming, creating, innovating, and finding solutions, understanding that it's up to all of us to make things happen, just imagine what could happen. Compare that to a committee of technocrats with political pressures from every side in Washington DC making plans for 300 million people, then tell me which direction is best.
Pollyannaish? I don't know. We need to dream big, but be grounded to know that it'll be difficult to create a free market, and it'll take responsibiliy to maintain it, but two things are true -- it can be done, and it will be worth it.
Jeffrey Sachs was on Morning Joe this morning arguing with George Pataki that millionairesandbillionaires (it's become one word now) are running around avoiding taxes, spending their money in any way they choose, and that the government should 'go after them' and take it away. Sachs is always built up to be a brilliant thinker -- Scarborough and others referred to him as a brainiac.
Pataki tried to explain to Sachs that mills&bills pay most of the taxes and that many will shift investments if you try to soak them. This shifting of investments to avoid government confiscation is usually non-productive -- and when government 'goes after' too much wealth, it backfires and revenues do not increase -- there are usually negative economic consequences hurting those without wealth in the process. Sachs could not understand any of this, or he refused to admit he understands -- Sachs insisted that government should take much more money from the rich, period.
I believe that Sachs is a smart man, just like they say. So, why is it that a smart man can't understand a simple reality? I believe he understands completely what Pataki was saying. What Sachs is doing is building a case to take more extreme measures to redistribute wealth. Sachs is clearly stating his philosophy -- government should prevent 'excessive' private wealth, and all 'excess' wealth should be confiscated by government and redistributed for social justice efforts. Sachs is involved in social justice/poverty work and gets funding from George Soros, or has in the past -- I'm sure he believes the confiscated wealth would be put to better use under his guidance, or people like him, rather than allowing those who made the wealth to spend it as they wish.
What kind of world is Sachs promoting? Yes, I believe Sachs is a smart man, but he is not a wise man. Dr. Sachs' intelligence is limited by hatred of private wealth and a failure to grasp free market principles. Even if it could be shown to Dr. Sachs that a free market, private charity direction would be more beneficial to his anti-poverty efforts, he would still complain about wealth inequality and demand that 'excess' wealth be confiscated by government. His argument with Pataki proved that this morning -- not once did Dr Sachs show any sign that he's open to a different way to achieve his goals. Dr Sachs' anger at the rich has caused him to become blind to innovative, realistic solutions to poverty -- he can only see a pile of money made by the rich and determne that government should take a lot of it and give it to the poor. Wll, I'm sure it's not that simple, but I doubt Dr Sachs is searching for every possible solution to poverty, or he would be more curious about and open to a free market.
Pataki brought up the unintended consequences of redistribution of wealth -- mainly the fact that money will flee to safer environs -- but Sachs was having none of it, because what Sachs has in mind is something more restrictive which doesn't allow the wealth of the richest in the US to escape. It's the only explanation, because being a smart man he has to see that the way things are now, just simply taxing higher won't work. Dr. Sachs is signaling what is ahead for us in a progressive world -- it will be ruthless towards those who create wealth.
There are many erroneous, old ideas that linger in spite of a reality which constantly refutes the ideas. One such idea has to do with poverty. Most politicians and the media still represent poverty as a matter of a certain class which is static. Just recently I've been involved in a debate about the fundamental importance of property rights, but some still argue that property rights are of little value to people who don't own any property to speak of.
This assumes that there's a static class of people called the poor who don't have need of property rights and will never own property, so if the right to own property is taken away, it will not affect these people. Aside from the fact that most millionaires today are self-made and at one time had no property, the fact that we have the right to own property allowed them to advance and enjoy the fruits of their labor at a later time. But even if someone remains poor throughout their entire life, although the permanently poor are very few in a free nation, the fact that others can own property and thus prevent the State from controling all property can only help to prevent tyranny that would affect rich and poor alike.
I grew up in poverty and didn't own any property until I was 35 years old -- after I advanced, the fact that I had this right to enjoy the fruits of my labor enabled me to enjoy my other rights more fully. If it had been decided that since many people don't own property there is no need for the right to own property, I could never have improved my situation as I did, and all my other rights would have been restricted.
An atheist could be said to have no need for a right to freely excercise religion, but if this right of religious freedom had not been part of the American Revolution, the atheist might be forced to adhere to a State religion. Just because many people don't own property doesn't mean they don't benefit from the right to own property, especially when you consider the full meaning of property and the fact that many people escape poverty in fantanstic ways.
But the main point is there is no static class called the poor to whom basic rights don't really apply. The group of people who remain permanently in poverty is relatively small and there's no way of knowing when any one of them will escape poverty, as long as opportunity is open to them -- having the right to own property provides this opportunity.