Here is a question we the people ought to debate often. In fact, it is rarely raised. Politicians avoid the question. Columnists and various pundits do too.
The question is NOT how and where can we cut government spending. It is NOT how and where we can ferret out government waste. It is NOT whether we can cut this benefit. Or raise this tax. Or whose ox do we gore and whose do we fatten.
The question we ought to ask is this: Should government be doing this ( this activity)?
We know the U.S. Postal Service is bleeding money. Losing billions every quarter. Our pundits and politicians debate whether to cut Saturday service. Or how we might re-negotiate with postal unions They should ask: Should government run this service at all? Many countries privatized or semi-privatized their postal services. They removed government from the equation. Their post offices make money and pay taxes to their governments. While ours clings to taxpayers like the leech it is.
We know Amtrak bleeds money. We debate what routes to keep and where to trim. Our question should be: Should government be in the railroad business at all?
When we debate Social Securityís problems we consider raising the payroll tax. And trimming benefits. And raising retirement ages. And keeping high earners from collecting. With all these questions, we assume the only way to run this system is through government. Yet a country like Chile embarrasses us. It pulled government out of social security 30 years ago. It put social security into private hands, private accounts.
Government there protects its people by regulating how and where people may invest and withdraw.† But in Chile the government stopped handling social security money. The result is that the average Chilean worker has been earning about 9 percent per year on money he puts in. While the average American worker earned about 1 percent per year.
So, instead of asking the questions about tax rates and retirement ages, we ought to ask: Should government be handling our social security money? Is this a proper role for government?
This amounts to peering at the world through new lenses. For instance, you look at your phone service through lenses that say government should not own the phone company. If someone says government should own ATT&T and Verizon, you would say it is not right for government to own such entities. Yet people in other countries accept it as normal that government own the phone company. It is all they have ever known. They never think maybe government should get out of the phone business. They have never peered at the government-owned phone company through the lenses of privatization.
I wish more of our people would look at Obamacare through such lenses. I wish they would stop nit-picking the program. I wish, instead, they would ask that simple question: Is it appropriate for government to stick its nose into our healthcare to begin with?
Ronald Reagan joked that government is not the solution to our problems. It is the PROBLEM.
In reality, this is no joke.† We should debate what things government should do. And what it should not do.† And, if we reduced what government does do and tries to do, spending cuts would follow automatically.††††††††††
From Tom ... as in Morgan.††††††††††††††††††
For more columns and for Tomís radio shows and new TV shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.