17 February 2010

I want a refund

A kind of multi-faceted posting this week with the common theme of money. Not just arbitrary money, but the money that we all earn going to work every day.
I would like to have all of my Social Security contributions returned to me in one lump sum. Just the 6.25% that I see come out every payday, then the 6.25% that my employer must put in can be held for funding existing commitments. Not only do I want a refund of monies paid to date, I do not want any future withholding from my pay. I will use that money as I deem to be most appropriate for my particular situation; save, invest, or spend, it's my choice. In return, I will not collect Social Security when I turn 65 and be a burden to future generations when I get older. I will plan for my own retirement and if I do not have enough money saved to live comfortably, I will keep working. I will not apply for Medicare either as I will be negotiating with one of the "evil" insurance companies for catastrophic care coverage that will extend until I kick the bucket. It is not the government's role to plan for my retirement, it is my responsibility. For the current generation of Social Security collectors, I apologize, but you were duped into thinking that the system was set up as a type of savings account, but it wasn't. As the baby boomers have started retiring, the system is paying out more money than it is taking in and the government has been dipping in to the kitty for decades. A significant portion of the national debt is "owed" to Social Security and since the debt keeps climbing, the system is broken.
While I am at it, I would like to see a place on my Federal Income Tax Return where I get to decide where my money goes. I would like to have the ability to decide how much covers defense, how much covers entitlements, how much goes to foreign governments, and how much goes to paying down the debt. If this were to happen, it could be used as a referendum for Congress to determine what should receive funding in the Federal Budget. I think most people in the United States are convinced that money goes to undeserving line items and this would be their opportunity to state their preferences clearly. Keep in mind that this means that the more taxes an individual pays, the more their opinion matters. The referendum needs to be a weighted average. Those who don't pay any taxes do not get to decide where the money goes.
I am sick and tired of the nanny state politicians thinking that they know what is best for the country and that spending money that doesn't exist will solve all of the problems. Anybody who has to manage their own lives understands that you can not continually spend more money than you take in. Some day the bills come due, yet the Congress does not seem to get it.
When the Congress and the President acknowledge that printing money only causes inflation (more dollars chasing the same amount of goods) and that the best way to stimulate the economy is to quit proposing more regulation and taxes, this country will be on the road to recovery. If they choose to maintain the trajectory that they are taking us on, we are in for a depression of historic magnitude. Inflation will skyrocket and all of the "green jobs" on the planet will not save us.
As Thomas Paine wrote; "These are the times that try men's souls." We are heading into the most trying time endured by most Americans alive today and our government is taking us their. Paine, in the same essay, also wrote "Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered: yet we have the consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph". It is time to take our country back from the egalitarians who have decided that they have all of the answers and know where our money, not theirs, should be spent.

11 February 2010

Health care - I had to do it

A couple of people who read my blog have asked why I haven't mentioned anything about health care. It is mostly because the debates tend to be too frequent, overheated, and full of fallacious arguments, but here is my take on the whole situation.
First, health care is not a right. It is a need, but as soon as the product of someone else's labor becomes a "right", we are starting to discuss slavery. We have a right to conduct our own lives as we see fit to the point that it does not infringe on another person's right to conduct their life. If one wishes to live a long and healthy life, there will be some amount of medical care needed along the way. It is the individual's responsibility to provide for that eventuality. The idea that there is a right to health care, let alone health insurance, is the product of a government and media propaganda campaign. Humans need to eat to fuel our bodies, but that doesn't make food a right.
Second, if the desire is to make health care more affordable, it has to start with tort reform (which will impact more than health care in a positive fashion). We have to get the bottom feeding, ambulance chasing law firms out of the picture. It is very typical for a doctor to have to pay $100,000 per year in malpractice insurance premiums. This also increases "defensive medicine", the "excessive" diagnostic procedures that so much of the punditry whines about. Doctors are having to practice CYA medicine to make sure that, in the off chance something goes wrong, they have run every possible test so that they can't be nailed to the cross for not finding something. Doctors are still human and do make mistakes. Malpractice is defined by negligence, ignorance, or criminal intent, not human error.
Following on the heels of tort reform needs to be the elimination of Medicare for future generations (current recipients have been committed to and they have planned their lives based on that commitment). Based on recent studies, the expenditures from the government will be over half of all health care spending in the United States in 2010. This wouldn't be quite as painful if it were properly funded, yet as they drive costs up by mandating who and what is covered, they are also limiting payments and imposing such prohibitive rules that there is little, if any, motivation for a doctor to cover government patients. The system was a violation of The Constitution at its inception and it continues to get worse.
Third, what gets referred most frequently as health insurance is not insurance, it is a maintenance plan. I agree that there should be some type of insurance with variable coverage based on what you are willing to pay, but when you start covering every single visit to the doctor's office, it becomes a maintenance plan. Also, pre-existing condition coverage should get priced accordingly. There is a cost to continued coverage of something like diabetes that a non-diabetic does not incur. It is no different than someone with multiple speeding tickets paying more for automobile insurance with the exception that some of the conditions are genetic. The genetic piece makes the debate a bit more complicated, but let's at least start calling things what they really are.
Fourth, and finally, if you want to get the cost of health insurance reduced, the United States government should be leveraging the interstate commerce clause for what it was intended and disallow individual states to restrict which companies can sell health insurance in their state. It may be acceptable for the states to make requirements on coverage amounts (as they do with automobile liability), but not who is allowed to sell it. While I am on the subject, insurance companies making a profit is not evil. They are required, by intelligent analysis, to have a large reserve of cash to be able to cover claims. Consider if something like tuberculosis were to spread through a community that was largely insured by the same company. They would need to be able to cover all claims in a very short time frame, shorter than normal cash flow would allow. In addition, these are for profit corporations that have stock holders to answer to, not charity organizations.
It is interesting to me that people who debate this issue publicly do not differentiate between health care and health insurance. There is a distinct difference and the cost structure for each have unique solutions. Always remember the quote from Barry Goldwater; "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have."