T Nation

Conserv. Viewpoint of Gov. Agencies

As I come to my mid twenties I’m trying to find my political beliefs. While I have thought of myself as a liberal or democrat for most of my life I’m starting to question that. I find myself liberal on social issues and conservative on fiscal or taxation issues.

But I really would like to know what conservatives think about the following programs or agencies. I will also post what I think about them or what my question is.

Social Security - I would like to see this fased out over maybe a decade as it is painfully obvious that I will never reap it’s benifits. Or I would like to see it be voluntary (a retirement fund).

Police - they get paid with tax dollars so are they bad? (obviously I don’t think so)

Fire department - Same

Health Department - This ones tricky. I view the health department as just as neccessary as the police or fire department (I work for a local health department). Especially in the age of possible bioterrorism the health department may be the best and only means to curb a threat. But I have a feeling a lot of conservatives think that the health department needs to go.

Wellfare - I have mixed feelings on this. It needs to be changed but I still think it is neccessary. I guess it used to just be “free money”, now it’s “work for wellfare” where they ship you off 2-3 hours from home to work at a mcdonalds or other place like that. What I would like to see done with wellfare is to “hire” people (if you don’t want to do what we ask sucks for you, no money) and teach them a trade (construction and things like that) then fix up their community (I’m thinking of Flint Michigan since I’m from MI). I feel if a city was redone with new infastructure and a public that has learned a trade (I know that is what schools are supposed to be for) that maybe new businesses would move in later and bring work to these run down areas. Maybe it’s just hopeful thinking.

Well the post is pretty long already so I’ll leave it at that.

Kevin:

I think it depends on how libertarian you are in you outlook. The more libertarian, the more you think government agencies’ work should be handled by the private sector. The truly hard core think even policework could be privatized. If you want to see stuff like that, go look at the guy at vonmises.org (I think that’s the website – if not, do a google search on von mises).

I don’t think I speak for all conservatives by any means, but I’ll give you some brief thoughts on the orgs you mentioned:

Social Security - Right now this is structured as a fixed benefits pension plan, plus extra expenses. No modern companies keep fixed-benefits plans – they all have moved to fixed-contribution plans (401(k)s for example). These are easier to administer, and more efficient.

Police - I think you need the power of the state for an effective police force – I don’t buy the libertarian critiques on this.

Fire department - Same

Health Department - I think a limited health department is a good idea, especially for things related to infectious diseases, which could require the police power to contain. However, you are far more qualified to talk about this than I am, as I’m not entirely sure what local health departments do.

Welfare - I don’t have problems with temporary assistance. I have a problem with permanent assistance. The argument is generally where to come down between nothing and benefits for life. I come down a lot closer to “nothing” I guess, since I think benefits for a year or two would be the upper limit. In general, I guess I see it more as unemployment insurance. Unfortunately, a lot of the private infrastructure that used to help deal with problems has dissipated, having been displaced by the state systems, so there would need to be some work done to incentivize the re-development of a private system.

I’m pretty much on board with most of BB’s points, with the exception of welfare and health departments.

I think we don’t have anywhere close to enough government involvement in the health care industry. What we have right now is extremely expensive schools that graduate doctors with huge student loan debts, who then need to command huge salaries to repay them, and thus we charge huge prices for health care to cover those salaries. Without government sponsorship, health care will simply never be affordable under this plan. If we can’t put together a federal health care plan, we need to put together a federal doctor plan that addresses this problem. I’m perfectly okay with higher taxes related to this.

On the welfare issue… I think welfare is too limited. We don’t really pay welfare recipients enough to get onto their feet. While I agree we should pay welfare for a limited time, I think we pay welfare for such long periods of time because we simply do not pay people enough of it. I think at the very least, welfare should pay the equivalent of a full-time job at minimum wage. Again, I’m not opposed to raising taxes for this.

I’ve complained previously on a few threads about not wanting my taxes raised, but I really don’t mind being taxed so other people can have the basic necessities of life. I think that’s one of the things taxes are supposed to do. The homeless are needy, so raise my taxes to build more affordable housing. The uninsured are needy, so raise my taxes to give people health insurance. The single mother in a one bedroom apartment with four kids is needy, so raise my taxes to increase ADC benefits.

But some dipshit suburbioid asshole who can’t afford his daughter’s ballet classes and son’s gymnastics classes because he doesn’t make enough money? He’s not needy, fuck him – he’s just a self-centered dickhead who can’t figure out how to manage his money. If you want to raise my taxes so you can teach him to manage his money, I’d be a lot more supportive.

[quote]CDarklock wrote:
I’m pretty much on board with most of BB’s points, with the exception of welfare and health departments.

I think we don’t have anywhere close to enough government involvement in the health care industry. What we have right now is extremely expensive schools that graduate doctors with huge student loan debts, who then need to command huge salaries to repay them, and thus we charge huge prices for health care to cover those salaries. Without government sponsorship, health care will simply never be affordable under this plan. If we can’t put together a federal health care plan, we need to put together a federal doctor plan that addresses this problem. I’m perfectly okay with higher taxes related to this.[/quote]

Eh, or one could argue we have the problem we have now because of too much government involvement.

The first problem is that tax incentives have created the current employer insurance system that everyone loves to hate. Congress makes dollars spent by employers tax deductible, while dollars spent by an employee are not. This makes employers, who are not the consumers of the services, the buyers, and employees have no say (except, perhaps, in picking amongst a couple plans offered by employers). Right now, employers want to offer “benefits” because workers value them (because they are much more difficult/expensive to get for themselves), but they don’t generally care about service or the particular details of the programs.

Employee health accounts would solve this. They would need to be flexible enough to allow employees to come together to have the bargaining leverage with insurers and health providers that large employers can enjoy. Employers could compensate with direct funding of the accounts, to make them more like traditional health benefits, or simply through higher compensation (which employees would demand if they were purchasing their own health plans). This would also help out smaller employers to be able to provide benefits.

Another problem is in the state regulation of insurance companies – they are in the position of banks before the reform, in that they basically must operate separately in each state, and be subject to various rules and regulations in each state. A national system would be more efficient.

Another reason health are is expensive: too few doctors. And the AMA, which is basically a doctor’s union, is at fault here – it hasn’t certified a new medical school in approximately 30 years (going off of memory here), while there are approximately 3 applicants for every spot available in med school, and a growing population of people utilizing doctor services.

So, obviously complicated… but, start with: 1) Employees tax advantaged direct purchase of their own health care products; 2) Acknowledge the national marketplace for health and pre-empt state regulations; 3) Take away certification power from the AMA if they don’t increase the number of certified programs by at least 50% (arbitrary number, but you get the point.).

[quote]On the welfare issue… I think welfare is too limited. We don’t really pay welfare recipients enough to get onto their feet. While I agree we should pay welfare for a limited time, I think we pay welfare for such long periods of time because we simply do not pay people enough of it. I think at the very least, welfare should pay the equivalent of a full-time job at minimum wage. Again, I’m not opposed to raising taxes for this.

I’ve complained previously on a few threads about not wanting my taxes raised, but I really don’t mind being taxed so other people can have the basic necessities of life. I think that’s one of the things taxes are supposed to do. The homeless are needy, so raise my taxes to build more affordable housing. The uninsured are needy, so raise my taxes to give people health insurance. The single mother in a one bedroom apartment with four kids is needy, so raise my taxes to increase ADC benefits.

But some dipshit suburbioid asshole who can’t afford his daughter’s ballet classes and son’s gymnastics classes because he doesn’t make enough money? He’s not needy, fuck him – he’s just a self-centered dickhead who can’t figure out how to manage his money. If you want to raise my taxes so you can teach him to manage his money, I’d be a lot more supportive.[/quote]

Interesting points on welfare. I agree with the general idea - but I don’t know if simply throwing more money into benefits would suffice – and, unfortunately, it would exacerbate the incentive to cheat the system – and make people even more upset when the system was gamed, leading to a backlash against the whole idea (kind of like we had before).

Good points, but I don’t think what you’re talking about is government involvement. There’s a difference between governmental responsibility, and governmental incentive to encourage private responsibility – and I think the latter is what you’re describing.

I think in a lot of instances, the government tries to wave a carrot and entice private enterprise into doing what the government ought to be doing themselves. They do this largely to present the appearance that the government isn’t controlling the activity of the “free” market. Realistically, it’s exactly what they are doing, but in order to pretend they’re not doing it… they have to leave the reins a LOT looser. I think the government needs to tighten the reins on health care.

On the subject of welfare, I’m not saying that we should JUST pay people more money. There are other issues – you need to reduce fraud, you need to provide incentives to work, whatever. But welfare ought to be enough for someone to cover their basic necessities, and right now it’s not.

Thanks for replying guys. Some of these responses weren’t exactly what I expected, but that just means people can think for themselves instead of following party lines (or the people that posted weren’t the conservatives I was talking about).

One thing, the health department through local, state and the cdc isn’t necessarily responsible for hospitals and doctors and things like that. The Health department is mainly responsible for stopping widespread disease through outbreaks (foodborne and vacine preventable and things like that) as well as spreading positive messages about healthy behaviors. There is obviously more but I save that for later. But I do agree with alot of the stuff you guys were talking about with the medical system.