Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Ross Douthat

is on fire today. 

Discussions - 3 Comments

Those are ok articles, I think his class war we need article is inferior to the op-ed by Ray D. Madoff on the repeal of the rule against perpetuities and the sorts of trusts that are thus possible. Dynasty Trusts!

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/12/opinion/12madoff.html?src=me&ref=general

I'm not impressed. The reason you can't do means-testing of these broad-based welfare programs is because they REQUIRE a "we are all in this together" mentality to remain legitimate. Once you start means-testing, a vast segment of the electorate begins to view it as AFDC or Medicaid, and the program loses appeal.

Now, it's true that one GOP/conservative strategy might be to delegitimate these programs in their very way, but it is a dangerous, foolish strategy (even the Left knows better). Why? First, you are playing the Left's game whenever you engage in "progressive" taxation of any sort. You can't ultimately win on their turf. Second, millions of Americans have become dependent on these programs. Weening them off in this fashion will probably result only in lost elections.

A far better strategy is gradual privitization of retirement and health benefits (along with legislative reform of the tax code and insurance coverage). In a sense, you would be erecting an alternative scaffolding so that when the old structure falls you have something to fall back on.

Redwald, or maybe we can note that imposing a crushing tax burden on the lower middle-class to provide unneeded benefits to wealthy retirees is alot to ask in return for a feeling - especially if the transition is gradual.

I don't see any outcome in which there is no kind of government forced savings or pay-as-you-go system for providing income and health coverage for most of the elderly. I think that going to an HSA/catastrophic coverage system as oulined in th Atlantic by David Goldhill makes sense both for the retired and everybody else too. Means-testing and higher retirement ages are also inevitable if we want to avoid a crushing tax burden, and allowing some people to put some of their social security contributions into the market might be a good idea, but will not, in itself subsitute for those steps. Creating an alternative system in which there will be mass opt-outs from social security (there are some now but its limited) such that destroy the funding mechanism for the system are very unlikely to happen.

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