For a long time now, the United States has had imposed on it the concept of Salvation By Bureaucracy. Not spiritual but material salvation. Welcome to our welfare state. It isn’t the kind of welfare state we should have, since these bureaucracies are inadequate and wasteful and very expensive, and government deficits are still rising. Every year 70 billion Medicare and Medicaid dollars are lost to fraud and improper payments, which means every year 70 billion is poured down a rathole, thus we often have Salvation By Bureaucracy for people who don’t need to be saved.
I say we ought to do what Charles Murray has proposed: abolish Medicare and Medicaid and all other transfer-payment programs, and replace them with an annual grant of $13,000 to every adult in the nation, 21 and older. The grant would be reimbursed through a surtax placed on what are by anyone’s estimation decent salaries. This way, Salvation By Bureaucracy is attenuated. This way, low wages are less of a burden. This way, Social Security and Medicare never become unspeakably insolvent. This way, bargaining for a particular salary can be a sure thing.
My own view is that at the same time there should be nationwide federal propaganda teaching the American people to use this money for health care, assisted living, car insurance—the important things. It should stress that this is all the government money they will be getting, unless the states are stupid enough to provide some welfare dough of their own. Many will not listen, of course, but others will; and why, in any case, should we have a government which babies American adults? Bureaucrats regularly decide things for low-income people, as though they alone possess the smarts for this. They won’t be propagandists; they’ll be—and they are—nannies. But nannies can’t prevent the staggering debt that will spring up when, in the span of two decades, millions and millions of Americans start receiving Social Security and Medicare. What politicians have recently done is cut taxes by $1.5 trillion, but, well, what’s going on is not exactly economic conservatism.