Friday, March 28, 2008

Never Never land

By Capt. Fogg

Should I believe Glenn Beck? I'll forget for the moment that cynical and baseless hyperbole seems to surround him like that elusive halo of dark matter some cosmologists are talking about and assume he didn't just make up the figure of $53 trillion he tells us is
"the approximate size of this country's bill for the Social Security and Medicare promises we've made."
Beck compares this debt to an asteroid on a collision course with America and if it were an asteroid being ignored by the government, says he, the public would "be sharpening our pitchforks and demanding answers."

Fair enough, but I also want some answers first before I become another empty skulleddittohead ready to declare open season on Democrats. Sure I would like to know how and where he got the number, but I would like to know what would happen if Medicare and Social Security simply went away. I would like to know how much money would be spent on providing retirement income and medical care if we went back to the days of widespread poverty and disease and an imperilled "surplus population." Surely medical insurance and annuities and personal savings would still exist, but they would not be free, they would simply come from the pockets of those who could afford them and in many cases they would be more expensive because private, for profit providers would extract a much larger fraction than would a government agency. Such things as retirement and health would become more of a luxury, but they would be paid for by those who could pay for them. Wouldn't that cost suddenly become larger?

When he says the bill is $53 trillion, is that a gross cost that ignores that this money is supporting the health care industry and those who work in it? Doesn't all that spending help the economy and why isn't he factoring that in? What about the cost of having some 20, 30 or 40% of out population in poverty and disease - do we let them die, turn to crime or do we support them, police them, jail them and house them anyway and at a higher cost? I'd like to know how the apocalyptic Republican prediction of bankruptcy would be affected by changing retirement ages, applying means tests or other things before I suck up any more slop from your trough.

What would Beck answer if I could ask him how much more a private annuity would cost than a publicly administered one? How much more would private medical insurance cost? I would guess it would be more, and if the 53 trillion number is real, it's lower than it would be if all that stuff had to be obtained from a profit oriented vendor. Medical care is going to be paid for and is going to cost money - the question is whether a public or private conduit is less expensive and more equitable; the question is whether we force people into a minimum level of planning or let them be a burden at a higher cost later. Maybe I'm wrong, but without seeing that number, Beck has only a preamble to an argument rather than a case for privatizing the whole shebang.

Typically of such ad captium vulgis arguments, even when they are complete arguments and not mere cage rattling, what's for sale is a Utopian image of governmental minimalism that has never proved itself in the real world. Most modern countries after all, provide social services out of tax revenue and are far less burdened by the correlates of poverty, like crime. Sure, it's tempting to imagine how well we could live if we paid hardly any taxes, just as it's tempting to think how much cheaper it would be to drive a car with no insurance, but we require fiscal responsibility in that respect and we require it by mandatory payments to make us less of a burden on society if we get sick and when we get old. I don't see a difference

Why shouldn't I have to have insurance against complete financial disaster which would make me a burden on society when I can't work Mr. Beck? And why will this scary number destroy our country when it hasn't destroyed others? Aren't you just indulging in deceptive accounting? Aren't you all about letting people fantasize about a "screw you, I've got mine" world much like the one we struggled out of so many years ago? Aren't you really supporting yourself in style by being an enemy not only of America but of civilization in general? I mean, I'm just askin'.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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5 Comments:

Blogger The Angry African American said...

Well, that's what happens when Social Security and Medicare dollars are spent on far more than what they're supposed to be spent on. What YOU pay in, is meant for YOU, for YOUR personal benefit -- NOT for all the liberal socialist programs.

11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Well that's what happens when you argue with a phony - you get a phony argument.

My car insurance isn't for my personal benefit - it's to insure against my not being able to pay. But to try to have a meaningful dialog with someone who thinks liberal and socialist are related terms is impossible.

Actually I don't think you're any more black than I am, you're apparently just a shape shifting troll with a belly full of Republican bullshit. All the black people I know are a hell of a lot smarter than you are and none so dishonest as to argue the Republican line.

1:07:00 PM  
Blogger The Angry African American said...

No, of course I am NOT black, but I WAS born in South Africa, or was it Rhodesia (oops!! ZimBABwe) - hence an African American.

Don't care about your car insurance argument. SS is FOR you, not the gimme girls.

2:55:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Of course, you don't know which - maybe because you're still a phony and an ignoramus. Of course you don't care, because you're a phony and an ignoramus.

4:47:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Great post Fogg.

10:11:00 AM  

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