Republicans and conservatives have been smeared as cruel throughout political discourse for a very long time.
In her September 1st NYT column Maureen Dowd repeated the assertion:
“Republicans care deeply. They really do. They care deeply about making us think that they care deeply. That’s why they knocked themselves out producing a convention that was a colossal hoax.”
Like many on the left, Ms Dowd ignores the real argument: are these policies truly benevolent, do they work? Do government entitlements and welfare truly provide a hand up to its’ recipients? Attacking the sincerity of Republican leadership and their testimony is easy for sharp witted Dowd, reason and logic proves harder.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, income related entitlements which include medicaid for the poor but not Social Security or Medicare for the elderly has risen over 30 fold since 1960. When these programs really started during President Johnson’s war on poverty they were sold as a helping hand to release citizens from a cycle of poverty. The result is quite the opposite as more and more American’s are reliant on the state. Welfare from government does not increase the fortunes of the poor, it only locks many of them in dependency. It robs them of the desire to do better and disincentives a host of good behaviors such as marriage and personal responsibility.
Welfare is also horribly inefficient and prone to corruption and fraud. Studies report that only 30-50% of the welfare dollar gets to the intended recipient. Conversely most private charities deliver 70-80% and some much higher. Private benevolence from churches and secular charities are much more effective because they are local and they have accountability to their benefactors. Mitt Romney gave 16% of his income to charity, several million dollars in the last two taxable years. According to many studies Republicans are more personally charitable than Democrats; Google reported conservatives gave twice as much as liberals, another study found 30% more.
I am not suggesting that Liberals aren’t personally benevolent- they are and most of them truly care deeply about their fellow citizen. I am suggesting that their ideas are wrong- government welfare does not work and human history as well as recent history bear that out. It is a philosophical and logical deficit not a matter of heart.
An even bigger source of government entitlement spending are Social Security and Medicare. These programs are different in that beneficiaries paid into them. When social security was started by FDR in the 1930’s Americans were not living as long and in 1940 there were only 9 million people over 65. By 2000 there were almost 35 million over 65. In 1960 there were 5.1 workers per beneficiary, in 2009 3, in 2030 it is projected to be 2.2 to 1. Having people live longer is a great problem to have but it also means that our entitlements for them must be reformed. Gov. Rick Perry was criticized heavily for comparing Social Security to a ponzi scheme which is when early investors are paid by newer ones- a “pay as you go” system- but he was absolutely right. Social Security is not an investment fund where money paid in is invested and paid back with the proceeds later; it is a pay as you go system.
Precisely zero mainstream Republicans have called for an end to payments to current recipients. Plans from the right including Paul Ryan’s merely call for reform including partial privatization for younger workers. Libertarians such as myself would prefer to see it gradually completely privatized. One thing is sure; the current plan is completely unsustainable under any scenario and the math gets worse and worse every year that we do nothing.
Medicare is even worse, as technology adds years and cost to healthcare the amount of money put into Medicare versus the amount taken out becomes more and more lopsided. Politicians cannot escape economic reality and simple math. There is no such thing as a free lunch and someone has to pay for every procedure, drug and hospitalization that a person receives in his or her lifetime. Free markets can regulate healthcare much more effectively by injecting choice and more personal responsibility into the system. Food is as essential to life as healthcare and we do not pretend that everyone can dine on lobster and caviar, yet somehow we think we should provide the best healthcare for all and have “government” pay the bill. Regulations and mandates do not lift the quality of care for everyone they merely lower it for all and lead to shortages.
I am not even considering Obamacare in this article as I hope it will be repealed. Obamacare only makes a hard problem much worse. The best healthcare in the world is in the United States because of our “more free market” system. If we kill it with government healthcare the whole world will suffer with less innovation, quality and talent in healthcare. This is the reality.
Republicans haven’t been the reformers in government and have mostly allowed government to grow and grow. At this years convention they have promised to at least slow the growth of government and maybe even make some real cuts. Mitt Romney is a man with a proven business record of success and he is also a man with a record of great personal benevolence and selflessness. To mock that record is hollow and it is missing the point. Let’s hope Romney and Ryan really mean what they say and will bring true reform to government that will be better and therefore kinder for all.