Through New Lenses

By: Tom Morgan

Through new lenses

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 Security’s 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.

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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.

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