Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fix It Now: Readers Respond

This person has not read the book, but has concerns based on what I'm pitching, including the Catholic doctrine of "subsidiarity," which means government services should be provided at the smallest, most local level possible. Click immediately below for observations that I think are shared by many citizens.

Poverty is not a dead horse on the street.

A couple of things come to mind when subsidiarity is proposed in the case of caring for those who cannot (or in some cases ‘choose not’ to) care for themselves. I often refer to a ‘Net Effect’ rule. If a minimum level of subsistence is in some communities is not available (due to localities inability to adequately fund social safety nets, or choosing not to fund them), the net effect would be either fewer disenfranchised people able to survive in the community (not good), and/or they would choose to migrate to those communities that choose to offer (or can afford to offer) a higher level of service. Thus starts the spiral of more people vying for diminishing levels of services or resources in those locales.

Or, a community may choose to promote the fact (I can hear Chris Christie jumping on this one) that they offer little or no social services as a policy – “Sure, you can come here, but we have nothing for you – try Delaware, they’re giving away food stamps like candy”).

Hence, we have an argument for similar availability of minimum levels of services across communities – a federal standard for a national issue. And if there is a federal standard, because we don’t like unfunded mandates, there must be federal taxation and federal administration or at least oversight, even if there is local distribution of resources.

Another point – I’ve always been wary of encyclicals that are specifically in response to current events. Either something is a core value or it is not. It doesn’t matter if Hannibal is marching toward you on elephants or Marxism is the latest fad. Stick with the basics. They endure.

OK, I’m on a roll, now.

When you put freedom and prosperity together, it’s a bit jingoistic. People don’t achieve freedom – it exists for all in our society. But they must achieve prosperity to advance.

If insurance company-run health care is the best for the most, why are there so many uninsured?

I’m not sure you’ve made the most cogent point on the ability to provide the ‘best for the most’ – especially concerning health care. Nearly any economist would argue that a single payer plan would most efficiently accomplish this. Service providers competing for customers and to win the business from the only game in town – THAT’s competition. With only one spigot, I would sure sharpen my pencil and hone my skills to be a provider of choice.

Our best example, Medicare, actually provides the best services for the most (and the least insurable constituency on the open market), and at the lowest cost. ‘Free market’ health care is a topic we could talk about for hours – and I’d be happy to talk about death panels, thank you very much.

Not that I’m an Al Sharpton fan, but there is a commercial running on MSNBC where he states that many countries with much less wealth than the US offer universal health care. The only difference is that we lack the will to do it. This is absolutely true. We could do it if we desired it. I for one would be happy to have my employer’s contribution and my contribution to Aetna go instead to a federal health care fund, and have all preventive, necessary, and palliative health care be 100% covered for all.

I fail to see the causality in your correlation between big guvmint and dysfunctional poverty. How much dehumanizing poverty did we have as a society in the mid to late 1800’s?, when institutionalized social services were fairly non-existent? We’re a much bigger government as a % of GDP than India. Which country has a higher poverty rate?

Arguing that a more prosperous society will bring the benefit of the rich having more resources to be charitable? Really? We’ve never been more prosperous than the past 30 years. The people doing well enough has been growing (exponentially at the top end). The people not doing well has grown, too. What is this indicative of?

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