Getting Caught in the 'Safety' Net
People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get (Frederick Douglass). From anyone but a former slave, a scholar and noted abolitionist, this quote might sound trite, arrogant and self serving, so I chose a man with unimpeachable credibility to relay an unimpeachable truth.
The safety net of social services, including health care, is being promoted as necessary for enhancing the freedom of individuals. And far from being a plot to control people by holding their healthcare and income hostage, a safety net allows people to have more discretionary income, take risk and do things they normally would not.
Without means (money), people have fewer choices and are less free. A person without means is not free to buy things. By supplying, for example, healthcare, people can re-task the resources that would normally be used for buying health insurance, to pursuits of their choice. In theory, people could start businesses, increase their education and a host of other things that would make them more productive members of society, if they have government run healthcare and other assistance. Any parent knows that more free time for children means the schoolwork and chores get done sooner, and the same principle applies here. People freed from the concerns of providing for their needs will become more productive.
Conservative arguments that a government takeover of industry, such as healthcare, makes us less free are founded in a total cost analysis. Conservatives say that a government run monopoly is historically inefficient (with the post office a frequent whipping boy) and being forced to pay more, with fewer choices, reduces our net resources and makes us less free economically. Conservatives argue that when the government doles out a product or service, party officials decide if and how much we get, making us subject to their approval and therefore less free politically. In addition, conservatives assume that products and services still cost money. And, under the assumption that money doesn't grow on trees, money will have to come from somewhere. That somewhere is businesses, which will have to raise prices and cut wages, raising inflation and unemployment, thereby depressing economic activity and depressing everyone's income which makes us less free by the measurement used at the beginning of this piece.
So, who is correct? Should we raise taxes, eliminate competition, control wages, and manage every aspect of business from Washington? Or should Washington concentrate on those things that are charged to them by the charter of the country and force us to work for all that we get? To be free, we must have choices. There are many countries that have chosen the first option. If we change to be the same as those other countries, where can people go to choose the second option? --James Madison stated"The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government." The founders are all dead now, so what they said apparently no longer matters. On the other hand, their logic is still relevant and sound, so maybe we should still respect their opinions.
Experience shows that a lightly reined horse runs faster. The safety net has caught too many people. I think it is time to free them. "I didn't know I was a slave until I found out I couldn't do the things I wanted" (Frederick Douglass)