“Don’t blame people, blame system” • Greg Morin
Poor Mitt Romney – apparently no one ever taught him the first rule of politics: always assume you are being recorded. The issue at hand though is not so much his ham-fisted point making, but rather that he, like so many other politicians, decries the effects of government policies while ignoring the underlying causes.
Both the left and the right work their constituencies into a lather by heaping denigration upon individuals rather than upon the system that fosters the behavior they impugn. When government intervenes they not only give but take as well. What they give in benefits they take away in choice. Government programs crowd out or eliminate private markets that would permit the individual to take personal responsibility. For example, Social Security participation is mandated by law. We cannot opt out. After being robbed of 12.4 percent of our income whom but the wealthiest has anything left for private retirement? Social Security offers supplemental income for children with disabilities (to help pay for care). There currently exists no private insurance market for disability/long term care for those under 18. Likewise, there is no private market for unemployment insurance. Is this surprising? Why opt to pay for something that is already “free.” Private disability insurance for adults exists however only a minority (http://goo.gl/S5Uto) of workers have such coverage. It offers little to lower wage workers relative to the “free” offerings of Social Security disability. People are not stupid. You can’t blame them for choosing “free” over “not free” given the choice. And you certainly can’t blame them when there is no choice at all. The solution is to fix the system, not the people. Phasing out government monopolized programs like social security, unemployment insurance, and welfare would give people back their natural incentive to look out for themselves. They would purchase their own individual (a) disability policy, (b) unemployment policy and (c) save for their own retirement. Elimination of the taxes that pay for these programs would permit higher wages thus offsetting or eliminating net costs. These changes alone would mean the private market would cover 99 percent of what people are currently receiving as government “handouts.” Private charity would easily handle the 1 percent of cases where extreme bad luck has left some unable to care for themselves. And even if you believe in the government “safety net” concept, surely it should be for the bottom 1 percent, not the bottom 50 percent.
The left is no more immune to this chicanery then the right. They decry the evil 1-percenters and crony-capitalists without addressing what created them. Their outrage is the moral equivalent of leaving all the windows and doors of your house wide open while on vacation and then being surprised that someone robbed you. Maybe hunting down the robbers and putting them in jail will make you feel better, but wouldn’t it make sense to just lock your house? The solution to combat cronyism and corporate welfare is to simply eliminate government authority in the arenas that the large corporations are controlling. End the bailouts, the money printing, fractional-reserve lending and bogus deposit “insurance,” the tariffs, the competition-eliminating regulations, the subsidies and the mandates. All of these are mechanisms by which government helps big business to the detriment of everyone else. Big banks and big business are big and powerful because of government standing behind them like the kid on the playground who has the big bully backing them up.
The left and the right have something to learn from Mitt’s gaffe: don’t blame people for simply using the bad tools government gives them. Destroy the bad tools.
Greg Morin is a member of the Libertarian party and CEO of Seachem Laboratories located in Madison. Constructive comments are welcomed to this paper or at gregmorin.com
Printed in the September 27, 2012 edition