Friday, May 15, 2009

"Fiscal Suicide Ahead"

David Brooks, writing for the New York Times, laments that President Obama started the recent deluge of spending in the hopes that entitlement reform, particularly in the area of health care, would provide him the necessary capital to keep his spending programs afloat. Whether or not that idea was feasible, Brooks writes that none of the president's proposed health care or other entitlement initiatives will actually save that much money over the years. He warns that, unless the president can eliminate costs quickly, we may be heading for "fiscal suicide".

I can think of a great way to eliminate costs: get out of the entitlement business. Yes, there are many people out there who simply have no alternative but to turn to the government; but as even President Bill Clinton understood, you cannot keep people on the government dole forever. You need to help them a little at first, and then wean them onto self-reliancy. With President Clinton, the issue was getting people off the welfare system. With President Obama, it MUST be getting people onto affordable, non-governmental health care plans.

Can anyone doubt that, as more people adopt private insurance plans, the health care industry will boom? More people will get jobs in the health care sector, thus growing the economy as we grow coverage. Not only will costly entitlement programs fall into disuse, but more people will be paying taxes.

I haven't always been a free market advocate. It was actually George W. Bush's plan to incentivize private savings funds as an alternative to the Social Security problem that got me thinking about the role of government in our lives. I tried to come up with arguments against the former president's plan, but I kept coming back to the issue of personal responsibility. Eventually, I realized that, while we may need the government sometimes, we should never rely on it to fix our problems; or to run our lives.

It's the old "give a man a fish, teach a man to fish" argument all over again. The government needs to get out of the health care business. Regulate it, maybe; run it, never. If you agree, then please, write to your representatives in Congress; and to our representative in the White House.

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