Friday, November 4, 2016

But What About the Issues?

Everyone in the snooty set can tell you how base and shallow the 2016 election is. We are arguing about locker-room talk and mere e-mails. Eeuuw.

But what about the Issues?

In my view, the Issues are in worse shape than the candidates. Because we are a century out from the great expansion of the welfare state, and we are now experiencing the unintended consequences of big government picking up the tab for the Big Four programs that my website usgovernmentspending.com is intended to highlight. And nobody really has a clue what to do.

Government really should not be in the pensions business. Government has obviously failed at this, because both pensions for government employees and government pensions for ordinary citizens are breaking the budget. This means that young working people, trying to get a life going and raise children, are on the hook to pay pensions for their parents whatever the economic weather. I call this generational injustice. In my view the average person should retire when they have saved enough to stop working. And really, for most people the best thing would be to slowly ease off on work and not really retire at all until they get deep into dementia. Of course, we the people should help people that are poor in old age through-no-fault-of-their-own. But let's do it without government.

Government really should not be in the health-care business. Our lefty friends obviously think otherwise, and their reason is to say that people cannot afford to face any big health crisis; government has to step in. The problem is that the science doesn't really back this up. For instance, people on Medicaid don't have better health outcomes than people of similar income without health insurance. What does that mean? And how would health care look if it were, for example, modeled on the corporate model of a Walmart or an Amazon? I'm not sure that Walmart or Amazon are appropriate models for health care, but I am sure that putting government in the middle of health care is not a good idea. Suppose, for example, that the great foundations of the nation all agreed to focus on delivering health care for the poor. I wonder how that would work. I wonder how geriatric health care would look without the distorting effect of Medicare. Of course, we the people should help people that are poor in old age through-no-fault-of-their-own. But let's do it without government.

Government really should not be in the education business. The story of education is that ruling classes have always been in interested in forming the minds of the young. The classic line is that of the Jesuits, who determined that if you gave them the child before age seven, they could give you the adult. The French revolutionaries were adamant that they were going to replace the Jesuit system with their own education based on the cult of Reason. And then in the 19th century various ruling-class enthusiasts proposed new government-based schemes to form the minds of the young. But now we have a monster government-based education system that is clearly running aground, with government-supporter teachers and administrators demanding money from politicians but not delivering much in the way of education. Meanwhile -- and I just learned this -- there is Google Classroom. What in the world will happen to education with Google Classroom running the show? Of course, we the people should help people that are poor through-no-fault-of-their-own with the education of their children. But let's do it without government.

Government really should not be in the welfare business. Government welfare is nothing new. Heck, it goes back at least to the Roman Empire and the annona, the Roman free-grain program. In our modern era, government welfare started with the Elizabethan Poor Law that was the ruling-class response to the agricultural revolution, when, as Marx wrote, the "mass of free proletarians was hurled on the labour market by the breaking-up of the bands of feudal retainers, who, as Sir James Steuart well says, 'everywhere uselessly filled house and castle.'" The Poor Law uselessly failed to solve the problem of the broken-up feudal retainers for two hundred years until the industrial revolution sucked the rural poor into textile factories. Now we have the Great Society welfare programs that have demolished the low-income family and have erected huge barriers to the poor getting off welfare and into the job market with effective 50 percent marginal tax rates. Of course, we the people should have people that are poor through-no-fault-of-their-own. But let's do it without government.

Yes, but how? Well, we will have to start with a new culture, and then we will need a ruling class that is not that interested in power, and a people that are not that interested in free stuff.

Yes, imagine a culture where the culture vultures don't serve as sycophants of the ruling class. And I have to say that I don't know where that is going to come from. But then, the old are always the last to know.

One thing is for sure. The problems aren't going to go away soon, whoever gets elected on November 8.

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