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What a Conservative Social Safety Net Would Look Like

If I were to design America’s social “safety net” policy, it would look like this:

1) Assistance to the Unemployed Able-Bodied Adult

The unemployed would receive a maximum of nine months of unemployment insurance payments.
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It’s significant that almost everyone receiving unemployment benefits manages to find work during the last month or so before their benefits run out. So many use their unemployment checks as a way to have an extended paid vacation.

So here’s the concept . . .

If after nine months, the able-bodied continue to need public assistance to survive, they would have to report to a facility that looks something like an army barracks and would be run much like an army barracks. Tenants there would be put to work, just like a “work release” program that prisons use for non-violent offenders.

They would be expected to pick up trash along the side of the road, do whatever work is needed around the community, or go out to find work, or get schooling so they can qualify for work. They would be expected to be back in the barracks after work. It would be a spartan existence. They would have clean facilities and good nutrition, but very little freedom. Their day would be highly structured, with regular testing for drugs. They would be required to attend evening educational programs focused on developing marketable skills.

Some people might choose to live this way for the rest of their lives. Most able-bodied people would like to find a way to get out of the barracks, get their freedom back, and move back into the productive economy — which they are free to do at any time.

But so long as they are on public assistance (living in the barracks) every minute of their time is scheduled.

By the way, this is how dead-beat dads are treated. If you are a “dead beat” dad not paying your child support, you are jailed. You are then put in a “work release” program where you either find a job and go to work each day, or the jail gives you a job picking up trash on the side of the road, or whatever other job needs doing.

The government then confiscates your paycheck, which is then used to feed your kids.

You then get out of this situation when you persuade a judge that you’re ready to start paying your child support. Most find a way to start paying their child support again.

This Barracks-style welfare system, by the way, would just about eliminate the dysfunctional drug and prostitution economy of the inner-city. People engage in these underground, black-market activities to earn cash that’s not reported to the IRS so they can keep their welfare benefits rolling in.

This “tough love” barracks system, boot-camp-style of welfare for the able-bodied ends all that nonsense, and would likely put the drug gangs out of business.

If you are an able-bodied adult, public assistance must become a last resort, an emergency situation — not a way of life . . . and certainly should not be used by Democrats as a way to buy votes. If you are long-term unemployed, we’ll find things for you to do. We’ll structure your day for you.

By the way, this probably won’t be cheaper than the system we have now. But it would be far more effective.

And welfare should all be handled at the state level — with perhaps some block grants from the federal government to assist in areas of the country that have extreme poverty. There should be almost no federal administration of welfare on the principle that government works best when government is close to the people. Most of the governing in America should take place at the state and local level.

2) Crack Down Hard on Disability Fraud

The Barracks-system of welfare described above is for the long-term unemployed able-bodied adult who needs government assistance to live.

So this “tough love” welfare system would certainly create a big incentive for people to fake back injuries and the like so they could go on long-term disability. Clearly, we would have to step up enforcement of laws against disability fraud — increase penalties, and the like.

Again, this becomes easier if we shift responsibility for all welfare and poverty programs back to states and local governments — where local officials are on the scene and are in the best position to police disability fraud.

3) Social Security

Social Security is not a “means tested” welfare program, so it really doesn’t belong in a discussion about the social safety net.

It’s supposed to be a supplemental retirement program. You pay for it throughout your life with your FICA payroll taxes. And you are compensated in retirement according to how much you’ve paid in.

If I were to start over again with Socialist Security, I would certainly set it up differently.

Social Security contributions would not go into the federal treasury for Congress to take and use for whatever it pleases. Social Security contributions would go into personal retirement accounts that would belong to each individual.  Congress could not touch these accounts.  And the individual would manage and direct their accounts, much like they manage their own IRA and 401-k retirement accounts.

Chile went this route, and it’s been very successful.  Of course, it required a dictator to make it happen.

Chile’s Social Security system was privatized by Augusto Pinochet in the early 1980s.  This produced an economy in Chile that became known as the “Miracle of Chile.”

Libertarians say scrap the Social Security system.

The big problem with that is people have built their lives around the system, have paid into Social Security their entire lives on the promise that the money would be there for their retirement.

We’re conservatives, not radicals.  We look at life and reality as they are. The current Social Security system is here to stay.

It will be tough to change and reform in a Chilean direction because of all the demagoguery.  And we aren’t governed by a dictator who can do what he wants, as Chile was under Pinochet.

He was a dictator who was sold on free-market economics by Milton Friedman.  Chile has prospered enormously as a result.

Our Social Security system, far from perfect though it is, has also accomplished a lot of good.

It’s kept people from falling into poverty during their old age.

Most Americans see Social Security as a success. Most people don’t want to see grandma forced to eat dog food to survive.

Social Security now faces financing problems for two principal reasons:

FIRST, politicians have been using the Social Security Trust Fund for other government expenditures rather than to ensure the long-term health of the system; and

SECOND, people are living much longer today than they were when Social Security was enacted.

Both are simple problems to fix. Politicians must be stopped from using Social Security as a piggy bank to fund the rest of the federal government. Even Al Gore campaigned in 2000 on the idea of passing a “Social Security Lock-Box Law” that would stop Congress from doing exactly this.

Of course, the only way to have a true “Social Security Lock-Box” would be for each American to actually own their own Social Security account, just as you own your IRA and 401-k.  Short of that, Congress won’t be able to stop stealing from the Social Security piggy bank to spend on other things.

When Social Security was first passed in 1935, the life expectancy for the average man was 58, for the average woman 62. Social Security benefits kicked in at age 65 — which, back then, was considered extreme old age. The purpose of Social Security was to assist those in extreme old age who were no longer physically able to work. Only 54 percent of Americans in those days lived long enough to receive any Social Security benefits. And most of them would only receive benefits for a few years.

So financing this system was not a problem.

Today, average life expectancy has reached 78 years of age. The average baby born today will likely live into their 90s.

Clearly, Social Security can’t pay benefits to people for 30 years.

We must raise the retirement age.

Right now, retirement age to receive full Social Security benefits is 67. But you can start receiving benefits at age 62 if you want to accept 30 percent less.

The retirement age for Social Security should be raised to 72 and then indexed to average life expectancy.

That would take care of the Social Security financing problem.

4) Medicare

The best way to protect and preserve Medicare is to repeal ObamaCare.

Like Social Security, Medicare is designed to provide good medical care in our old age — when we most need it. Health insurance for younger Americans can be purchased relatively cheaply (if government would mostly just out of the way).

As with Social Security, we have been paying into Medicare our entire lives on the expectation that the system would be there.

As with Social Security, Medicare also has a Trust Fund that Congress has been raiding to pay for other expenditures, having nothing to do with Medicare.

Now, ObamaCare is stealing $716 billion from Medicare in order to pay for ObamaCare.

Because of ObamaCare, doctors and hospitals are now scheduled to be paid just 33 percent for Medicare patients of what private insurers pay for the exact same treatments — again, because of the need to fund ObamaCare.

As a result, doctors and hospitals are increasingly turning away Medicare patients.

Health insurance premiums have risen 32 percent since ObamaCare passed into law in 2010. The IRS now estimates that the lowest priced health insurance plan for a family (a “Bronze Plan") will cost $20,000 per year in 2016, when ObamaCare fully kicks in.

How is this happening?

Well, because whenever government takes over an industry (in this case one-sixth of the U.S. economy), costs always go up, while quality and service decline. So now we have the equivalent of the Post Office managing our health care — except worse . . . because it’s the IRS that will be the enforcer of ObamaCare.

The best way to save Medicare is to repeal ObamaCare.

We can then talk about ways to improve and strengthen Medicare and America’s health care system generally, such as with . . .

·         Expanding tax-free health care savings accounts

·         Allowing health insurance costs to be tax-deductible for individuals, not just for businesses.

·         Allowing health insurance companies to compete across state lines.

·         Providing subsidies to low-income Americans and to people with preexisting conditions.

Click here for Part II of the series, We Do Need a Social Safety Net

Click here for Part I of the series, Why I’m a Conservative, Not a Libertarian

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Its funny to me that you say social security is here to stay and yet you believe that a barracks type welfare system could be implemented. It would be easier to get rid of social security. Since we are talking what ifs lets take the money given to the welfare system and give it to the churches. Since churches don't pay taxes and are supposedly doing the work of God it's only right that they take care of the poor. This would be considersably cheaper than the current system. Eleminate every welfare office and welfare employee in America. There are 4 churches in my little town of 1000. If each one had the means to supply a meal or bed there would be no hungry or homeless in the area.

Insurance is a joke. Make it non profit. The people paying in should own the company and not Wall Street. If there were 100 million working people paying in $1000/ yr. wouldn't that be a $100 billion? Or did I not do my Zeros correctly? That should be enough to supply healthcare to every one. Instead insurance companies spend $millions on lobbyists to keep themselves protected so they can turn exorbitant profits while telling Grandma she's no longer covered because she reached her limit. 

Chile's GDP grows at 6 percent per year

Chile's GDP growth has been about 6 percent per year the last two years -- compared to less than 2% growth for us. Some years Chile's GDP grows more than 10%t, as high as 12%.

Source; World Bank. Here's the chart:

conservative vs libertarian

From what I have read, the so called miracle of Chile lasted a relatively short time and soon it was business as usual in yet another "banana republic!"  The net result is that Chile is now yet another Lorenz curve embarrassment.  If the so called "proof of the pudding is in the eating,"does anybody know anyone who has gone or spoken of going to Chile?