Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wild-Eyed Libertarian (Part Four)

In which His Crankiness finally attempts to explain exactly what he means by bleeding heart. Warning: It's a long one, you might need a beverage. It's all about my bleeding heart, the "other shtuff" I mentioned last week will have to wait till next week.

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet), the Stickies, to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

[Bloggaramians: Blogarama renders the links in my columns useless. Please click on View original to solve the problem/access lotsa columns.]

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My beautiful muse (right shoulder) and back scratcher 
Iggy -- My designated Sticky 
Dana -- My designated gentlereader (left shoulder)

"There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept responsibility for changing them." -Denis Waitley

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,

The Citizens of the Republic (well, mostly) are a...

[Dana: Ah geez, there he goes again. Uncharacteristically, the gang has appeared early on in the proceedings. I suspect they're as anxious to wrap up this series of columns as I am. Dana and Marie-Louise are at their assigned shoulders. Iggy's stretched out on my bed, earbuds in place and softly singing, off key.]

Sorry, I just think it sounds cool. Also, I'm subtly making a point. The Founding Dudes set up a republic so we wouldn't be subject to the tyranny of the majority (mobocracy). Facebook, Twitter, and the like are a perfect illustration of why...

[Cough, cough. That was Marie-Louise. Dana laughs.]

Point taken. Grandstickies/Great-Grandstickies, I hope that by the time your generation is in charge, the left v. right war over how to build and operate a social safety net is over, or at least a workable truce is in place. Assuming, of course, we haven't devolved into a continent of warlord-led nation states by then. If not (or, for my gentlereaders, in the meantime...)

Warning: Sweeping Generalizations Ahead

Americans (well, mostly) are a generous, fair-minded lot.

However, Lefties tend to favor a social welfare state, to one degree or another.

Righties, to one degree or another, would prefer that the gummits role be minimal, that the private sector (as was mostly the case pre-FDR) provide the social safety net. Which, once upon a time, it did.

Except for when it often didn't, which I have a problem with, even though I tend to identify with the Righties.

And, lest we forget, there are no shortage of (seemingly endless) arguments within the clubhouses of both teams.

[Dana (who leans to the left) and Marie-Louise (who leans to the right), start arguing. Yikes! I'm a triggerer.]

Finally, we're at the mercy of the professional Pols of the Depublican and Republicrat parties and whoever it is (all I know is it's not you or me) that keeps putting the same people back in power.

The Depublicans, having secured control (for a minute...) of Congress and the Presidency "fixed" our screwy health care system via 2,300 pages of legislation and spent $200,000,000 bucks of our money on a PR campaign to sell it -- to us.

The Republicrats, having secured control (for a minute...) of Congress and the Presidency last fall, and having had 7.5 years to prepare, attempted to fix the fix, and (for the moment at least) failed, --but now are going to fix our screwy tax code.

End Sweeping Generalizations Zone

This is yet another reason America needs a reluctant, benevolent, mostly hands-off monarch (as long as it's me and/or my chosen successor) to occasionally step out from behind the curtain and split the baby. Fear not, I offer broad-strokes only. My Royal Privy Council of Perspicacious Polymaths will design the new system and sweat the details.

Righties: While I'm sympathetic to your cause and familiar with your arguments, we must be realistic. The welfare state isn't going to just go away and we need to forge a compromise and move on. Americans, in some form or fashion, take care of their fellow Americans.

Lefties: While I'm sympathetic to your cause and familiar with your arguments (in fact, as a callowyute, embraced them) we must be realistic. Not to worry, the welfare state isn't going away, but we need to forge a rational compromise and move on. Americans, in some form or fashion, take care of their fellow Americans.

Case in point -- there's been a law in place since 1986 that mandates that any hospital that receives funds from The Gummit (most of them) must provide emergency care to any poor soul that shows up. They are not compensated for this and no one that I'm aware of is calling for the law's repeal, including me.

[Gentlereaders of all political persuasions, consider this. The Dizzinformation age is upon us. It's literally impossible to not be aware of the destitute regardless of whether their destitution is the result of bad luck, bad choices, or something in between.

It's also literally impossible for a grup to not be aware that no matter how financially secure and physically healthy you may be at the moment, fate may be tightening up some fishing line stretched across the top of a steep flight of stairs that stands between you and your cozy living room with the Lay-Z-Boy and your new TV with the drive-in sized screen. 

Not your problem? Survival of the fittest? That's fine, it's a relatively free country, except... Those you wash your hands of don't have to stop at Pitchforks, Clubs, & Torches Are Us before dropping in to say hi to you and the family. They can come at you electronically without getting off their rent-to-own furniture (well, as long as they're up to date on the payments...).]

My inner libertarian, and the fact I live (well, I try...) in the real world, makes me doubt that The Gummits and the gummits current system is capable of providing an effective, efficient social safety net (genuine "social security").

What we have now are huge, hulking, expensive, impersonal programs run by unelected, mostly unaccountable bureaucrats that encourage dependency and punish ambition, (if you don't know what the Welfare Cliff is you really need to click on the link, I'll be here when you get back.)


Singapore, as I've written elsewhere (but, being 39, I can't remember where) has a health care system that gets results we can only dream about while spending far less money. It's part of a comprehensive cradle to grave social safety net. You can access some of the wonky details here.

Not into wonky details? Not up for a walkabout in the tall weeds? Allow your friendly neighborhood crank to summarize.

The title of the article about the wonky details mentioned above is, "Social Policy In Singapore A Crucible of Individual Responsibility" (my emphasis).

Three highly relevant quotes if you please.

"...many capitalist democracies in Europe and Scandinavia spend over 35% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on these programmes. Even the US, often assailed as a laggard in social spending and solidarity, spends 32%."

And, "...the government of Singapore spends only 16.7% of its GDP on all its social programmes...".

Finally, "Solidarity is the principle that the people of a nation, often operating through their government, accept some responsibility for helping fellow citizens (and even non-citizens) avoid destitution and enjoy some of the fruits of modern economies."

Full disclosure, the article dates to 2011 and programs ain't spelled wrong, at least from the author's perspective. You really should read it, it's not that wonky, but I know, I know, you're busy and you're tired.

Bottom line it for us Cranky...

Well, instead of you and/or your employer paying into programs (think Social Security and the like) legally mandated by The Gummit and the gummits...

and/or you and/or your employer paying into voluntary programs (think 401(k) and the like)...

You and your employer both pay into a legally mandated program that provides pensions, health care, and housing.

[That's socialism! Dana snorts. Were you high when you wrote part three? You said that... Marie-Louise Gibsmacks him and they both storm out of my consciousness, arguing as they go. Iggy doesn't even look up.]

No, it's not. Within certain limits, a given citizen decides how the money is spent. Your pension collects interest, and unlike Social Security, there's actually money in the bank, not IOUs placed there by the professional Pols who spend it faster than it comes in.

You choose how to spend your health care money. It's a (highly, carefully, and intelligently) regulated system, but, consumer choice and competition, just like in the real world (that the current American healthcare system only tangentially participates in...) drives prices down.

C'mon, read the article, watch the video -- you'll thank me. Oh, by the way, 79% of Singaporeans own their own apartment (itty-bitty Singapore doesn't have that many houses).

"A good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied." -Larry David. King Crank's Compromise is bound to do just that. And although he wasn't talking about political parties...

The Depublicans won't like it. They're the party of select special interests (read factions) and the self-selected elites of the Infotainment Industrial Complex. Their various factions, one of which consists of the employees of the gummits and The Gummit, all want to maintain or enlarge their slice of the pie.

Our self-selected elites think we're too stupid to be trusted with managing our own money. This is the gang that gave us, and still support, Obamacare.

The Republicrats won't like it. They're the party of um, well, that depends on who exactly you're talking about and whether or not they have an election pending, or if they're certain people that seem to be perpetually pursuing the presidency. Do you realize the next election is less than four years away? 7.5 years and the party (allegedly) of small gummit and free markets doesn't have a healthcare policy they can agree on. Please.

Thus, reluctantly, the future King of America will take care of it, all without firing a single tweet. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.

[P.S. Gentlereaders, for 25¢ a week, no, seriously, for 25¢ a week you can become a Patron of this weekly column and help to prevent an old crank from running the streets at night in search of cheap thrills and ill-gotten gains.

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©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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