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What a Conservative Social Safety Net Would Look Like – Part 3 of 4

Medicare
Social Security

Social Security and Medicare are designed to protect those who are too old to work from falling into poverty. These are not welfare programs because we pay into these systems all our lives and expect these systems to be there when we reach retirement age.

Most Americans see Social Security and Medicare as successes. 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.

I doubt Gore was serious about his proposal. It was probably a campaign gimmick. But it’s a good idea.

We also need to index the age at when people begin to receive Social Security according to increasing life-expectancy.

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 long 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.

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

Age 60 is the new 40.

Scientists now believe that with some genetic tweaking, it’s possible in the not-so-distant-future for humans to live for 500 years. They’ve achieved this with genetic tweaks to worms. Now they are trying this with mice.

Clearly, we must continue to raise the retirement age as life expectancy increases.

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 age 72 immediately and then indexed to average life expectancy. That would take care of the Social Security financing problem.

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.

But ObamaCare steals $716 billion from Medicare over the next ten years 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 same treatments — again, because of the need to fund ObamaCare.

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

There is nothing about ObamaCare that’s working.

It took a pack of lies to sell ObamaCare – which passed in the Senate by a single vote.

But what’s really dooming ObamaCare is cost — the sticker shock of the monthly premiums people are experiencing right now who have been thrown into the ObamaCare exchanges. According to a 49-state study by the Manhattan Institute, ObamaCare is causing an average increase in premiums for individuals of 41 percent.

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.

But also because ObamaCare requires all of us to have health coverage for items we don’t want.

As a 55-year-old male with kids out of the home, I have no interest in paying for insurance that covers maternity care, pediatric care, birth control pills, contraceptives, abortions, vasectomies, or a sex-change operation. But now, because of ObamaCare, I am required to have health insurance that covers these things.

So ObamaCare is a total catastrophe on every level.

ObamaCare is a disaster because it attempts to micromanage 18 percent of the American economy — a task we learned from the collapse of the Soviet Union that government is incapable of doing.

Social Security and Medicare are different. All these programs require government to do is write checks. Government can do that simple task.

Now that ObamaCare is such a self-evident disaster, liberals are saying what we really need is “Medicare for All” — which is single-payer health care, with the government as the single payer.

No, that’s not what we need.

Government should step in where the free-market isn’t, or can’t.

90 percent of Americans are covered by private health insurance. Why dismantle that?

Medical expenses and health insurance costs are low for young healthy people.

Medical expenses and health insurance on the private market become unaffordable for most when they enter the final years of life. It make sense for government to make provisions for that reality.

Social Security and Medicare have done an effective job at keeping the elderly from falling into poverty.

The big reform I would make to these programs is that our contributions to these programs should go into personalized IRA-style savings and investment accounts — accounts that could not be touched by politicians. This is the Chilean model Herman Cain talked about in the 2012 primary elections.

This is an excellent idea.

We also need to index the age people become eligible for Medicare to account for increased life expectancy.

But the big point is: conservatives must be careful not to sound like they oppose Social Security and Medicare.

These programs are popular with voters. If I were to re-launch these programs — start over — I would make some changes and adjustments to make them work better. But the programs are here. People have paid into these programs all their lives on the expectation that these programs would be there in their old age. People have built their lives around these programs.

For conservatives to sound, sometimes, like they oppose these programs is political suicide. We are conservatives not radicals. We are conservatives, not libertarians. Conservatives certainly have bedrock principles (rooted in America’s Constitution and Declaration of Independence), but we also deal with the world as it actually is. We look at reality. We might prefer that a particular road was not in that location, but it’s there. It makes no sense to move it.

Social Security and Medicare have become American institutions. Most people believe their parents and grandparents should be protected from falling into poverty after they’ve lived beyond working age. On the whole, Social Security and Medicare have achieved what they were supposed to achieve.

It’s worth noting that both Social Security and Medicare were enacted with strong support from both political parties — unlike ObamaCare which could not garner a single Republican vote in either the House or the Senate.

Obama could have crafted health care legislation that would have attracted Republican votes, but he chose not to. He chose to craft legislation that could not even attract the vote of a liberal Republican, not even Olympia Snowe (who loved to vote with Democrats) — because Obama is a radical. Any legislation that any Republican could vote for is not radical enough for Obama.

But the Republican message can’t just be to oppose ObamaCare. 

Polls consistently show most Americans oppose the current ObamaCare law.  ObamaCare only has 39-41 percent public support. But polls also show most Americans don’t want the law entirely repealed.

I believe that’s because most Americans believe there were things wrong with the old health care system. The old health care system needed some fixes.

Conservatives and Republicans need to present an alternative to ObamaCare.

To read more from conservative writer Ben Hart go to EscapeTyranny.com.

Part 1: What a Conservative Social Safety Net Would Look Like 

Part 2. The Free Market Can't Solve All Problems 

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I beg to differ

Dear Mr. Hart,
I have thus far enjoyed reading your commentaries on the Federal “safety nets”, and respectfully offer some feedback, and counter commentary.

No offense, but it is hard for me to take some of your commentary seriously, when it is not only false, but contradictory to itself, and dare I say, at times intentionally false. I realize your intentions are good, and that you may be more concerned with winning elections in the short term, than with protecting individual Liberties in the long term. I feel this may partially be due to the inescapable preaching we are all exposed to daily. Preaching from the unholy Gospel of Leftism, specifically from the Book of Political Correctness, Chapter 13, verse 666, which pontificates, that all compromise is good, and the solution to all problems is to compromise with the demands from the furthest reaches of the Leftist spectrum.

You start off Part 3 by saying that Social Security (SS) and Medicare are designed to protect those who are too old to work from falling into poverty, and that these schemes are not welfare programs, because we pay into these programs all our lives. You also later go on to say that SS & Medicare have become American institutions, and that these institutions have done an effective job of keeping the elderly from falling into “poverty”. This is not only false, but sounds to me like it could be coming directly out of the mouth of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The truth is SS & Medicare are designed to be addictive Socialist programs, and have thus become Socialist institutions, not American institutions, as they are totally opposite of American ideals. Please check the available statistics again, and see just how many of the “elderly” are currently considered to be living in “poverty”, and then let us discuss your definition of “effective”. In your commentary you yourself stated that in the beginning, only 54% of Americans “lived long enough to receive and SS benefits. And most of them would only receive benefits for a few years”. You see, it has been a Socialist scheme from the start, always intending to transfer earnings from the people who earned them, to people who did not. With further intentions to bribe some people into voting to keep the Socialist scheme makers in positions of power. As with most Socialist, Leftist, Liberal, and Democrat schemes, the bribe comes in the form of any extremely addictive drug. The drug is known as OPiuM. No, I am not referring to the poppy derivative narcotic known as opium that has destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives throughout history. I am referring to the even more dangerous and far more addictive drug known as OPM (Other Peoples Money), which has destroyed millions of people’s lives, as well as societies, cultures, and the two greatest civilizations mankind has ever created on Earth, the Roman and American civilizations

Some people work for, earn, and deserve wages. They have some of their earned wages involuntarily taken from their employers prior to them getting paid, the so called “SS employer contributions”. Then workers then have some more of what they earned involuntarily taken directly out of their earnings, this is what they can actually see and account for on their paystubs, (aka. FICA). Your insinuation is that SS and Medicare are not welfare, they are just the wage earners getting all of their own money back, and no one else’s. If this were true, there would be no need for SS & Medicare, as it would be a wash, like putting your own money in a non interest bearing bank account, and taking it out when the powers that be tell you that you are old enough or sick enough to have it back in installments.

Mr. Hart, I have no idea how old you are, or if you are currently collecting SS or Medicare, but as an interesting exercise, I suggest the following. Start asking some of your friends, family, neighbors, or even strangers who are not currently collecting SS, if they can tell you how much of their earned wages has been confiscated from their employers, and their pay checks during their lifetimes? I doubt you will find anyone who can tell you. Then ask them if they can tell you exactly when they will be allowed to get their earned wages back, and if they can tell you how much of their earnings they can get back per month. Again, I doubt you will find anyone who can tell you, as you yourself are advocating to change the ages at which people can get their own money back.

You see, the SS system is nefariously designed to be intentionally complicated and confusing, to prevent the average Joe (and I don’t mean Biden), from figuring out how much is being taken from them, or when and if, they will live long enough to get any, or all of it back. It is much easier to con and Ponzi people if you confuse the heck out of them in the first place.

If you blow away all the smoke, and break all the shiny mirrors, the SS scheme is really very simple. Under the SS scheme every person in America, (and I do mean every person) falls into one of two very simple categories.

Category One- These are the people who will never get back from the scheme all of the earnings that have been involuntarily taken from them. These people would have been far better off to have been able to have kept their earnings and done with them what they wanted, and when they wanted. These unfortunate people have been victims of systematic Socialist theft whether they realize it or not. Many people in this category are speaking out for dismantling of the SS scheme, or serious, fair and just reforms.

Category Two- These are the people who will get back all of their earnings, and then will also be getting other peoples earnings. Many people in this category feel like they are winners in this involuntary and rigged life expectancy lottery, and are speaking out for maintaining the SS scheme, or for further rigging of the scheme in their favor. The fortunate people in this category are perpetrators and profiteers in this systematic Socialist theft scheme whether they realize it or not.

The God’s truth is that there is only one thing worse than being a victim crime, and that is to be the criminal.

I know, I know, people will say how can I be so cruel and critical of a program that “has literally helped millions of people”.
Well, just think about it, if me and my cronies get millions of people to vote for us on the platform that once elected we will proceed to confiscate all of the personal property, retirement accounts, cars, property etc. etc. from all of the CHQ staff and their extended families, and then divide the confiscated proceeds between the millions of people that were bribed into voting us into power, then we too could say with a straight face that it was a fair and just program because it “has literally helped millions of people”.

My suggestion to help solve the potential problem of “protecting those who are too old to work from falling into poverty”, is really very simple. Start telling people THE TRUTH at an early age. Teach children in school and at home the fact that they are animals; mammals in general, primates in particular, and homo sapiens to be species specific. Teach them that animals including humans are alive, and that they get older every day. Teach them that if they live long enough, they will get to an age where they will be less willing or able to work to support themselves as every animal on earth is born to do. Teach them to be responsible for themselves and their families and to work long enough, hard enough, and smart enough while they can, to prevent themselves from falling into “poverty” once they reach the age that they can not, or do not, want to work anymore. I know, I know, this will sound totally alien to all the Roosevelt babies who over the past 80+ years have been convinced that the all a person has to do is be patient. Being patient is all that is required in life, because sooner or later it is guaranteed that they will either get old enough, or sick enough, that the Federal Government (actually just the responsible and productive taxpayers), will do for them, what they did not do for themselves during their lifetimes.

We should immediately and permanently close off the SS scheme to new participants. Any young person entering the work force should not have any of their earnings involuntarily taken from them and put into the SS “insurance” scheme, or rigged life expectancy lottery, whatever you want to call it. If they want legitimate old age insurance, and think it is a good deal rather than saving their own money, let them shop for their best “insurance” deal in a voluntary free market. But also teach them that “insurance” is a bad deal for over 80% of the people who are sold insurance of any type, (whether it be health, auto, home, or the extended warranty insurance on your new flat screen TV or refrigerator, believe me I used to sell this stuff. Seriously, how do you think we paid for all our employees, office buildings, perks, lobbyist, vacations, taxes, policy outlays, advertising etc. Even the Geico cavemen were union actors and made big bucks, why do you think Geico has switched from the popular cavemen to Geckos and camels?)

As for all the millions of people who are already addicted into the SS scheme I propose the following. The average productive working life for Americans is roughly from age 17 to age 65, (or 16 to 64, or 21 to 70, or whatever). Roughly 48 years to be the most productive with your mind and body. I propose that any legal American Citizen that has had some of their earnings taken from them and put into the SS scheme for half of this time, 24 years or more, should have two options. The first option would be to stay within the scheme as is, with no changes whatsoever. The second option would be to allow them to exit the scheme, and get back every penny they have put into it, with interest, so that they could do with their earnings what they wished, and when they wished.

For people that have had some of their earnings taken from them for less than half their working lifetime, less than 24 years, they would be allowed / forced to exit the system and would get back every penny that was taken from them with interest. Anyone who was forced to exit the system, and still thinks old age insurance is a good deal or safety net, could shop for such insurance in an open, and voluntary free market.

No winners, no losers, everyone gets what they worked for, earned, and deserved. Anyone and everyone who has religious beliefs in charity and social welfare, is free and empowered to voluntarily contribute towards such. No one is forced against their free will and inalienable rights, by the Federal Government, to contribute towards a Government established religious charity, socialist welfare scheme, or rigged life expectancy lottery.

We could talk about HSA’s, tax breaks and deductions for this type retirement savings plan, or that type plan etc. etc, but in the long run it is the same old compromising with the Devil, oops I mean Democrats. The typical Democrat solution to every problem is to create two additional problems. Then to solve the two new problems, you create four more problems, and so on, ad nauseum. Sooner or later, you will end up in America under Obama circa 2013.

Hart - part 3

A couple of observations:
1.)Isn't it disingenuous to say that Obamacare "could not garner a single Republican vote in either the House or the Senate?" As I recall, the "party of no" refused to vote for Presidential initiatives not just a majority of the time, but almost always, even when Obama put forth suggestions which had originally been suggested by a Republican!
2.)Sophistry??? While it may be true that only 39-41% of a poll sample favored O-care, I note that you make no mention, that of those opposed (again according to polls), 15-18% would prefer a single payer system, and over 20% favor an extension of Medicare to all, which as I understand was the historical goal (increasing numbers on a year by year basis) when it was enacted, unfortunately killed by Vietnam War expenses.

Retirement HSAs ...

You wrote:

"The big reform I would make to these programs is that our contributions to these programs should go into personalized IRA-style savings and investment accounts — accounts that could not be touched by politicians. "

To which I respond:

Yes, yes, yes. Let us take the money we've already invested in Social Security & Medicare and roll it into our own 401(k)s or IRAs, etc., and manage it ourselves.

I would also change the requirement that employers are forced to add to these accounts, but can do so if they choose to, such as with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

And like HSAs, this money is ours and travels with us - it is not employer-attached and dependent - and is to be used for retirement and medical expenses respectively.

In order to get to this point, I would no longer allow "FICA" taxes to be automatically deducted from our paychecks; make people actually write these checks to "FICA" and see how quickly they demand to have more control over these funds that the government is taking from us INVOLUNTARILY.