The Welfare State - prepare to meet thy doom?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Matt Black, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    I read somewhere (yeah, what a great way to start a thread ) that welfare states can only function and be adequately funded if the proportion of workers/ taxpayers significantly exceeds the proportion of dependants on that welfare state ie: those 'paying in' are quite a bit higher than those 'taking out'(I forget what that critical proportion is - this OP gets better and better, doesn't it?). But with spiralling UK NHS (if in the US substitute Medicare and Medicaid) treatment costs and an ageing population (4 workers for every pensioner (in the US think Social Security costs) now, only 2 by 2050) - to mention just two (albeit highly significant) trends, how much longer can the welfare state survive? Will historians look back in 50 years' time and view the concept as a 60 year blip/ anomaly in the history of western Europe and North America?
     
  2. Jim1999

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    On the other hand, How can we survive as a nation, with lower middle class people entering hospital and exiting with a quarter million dollar bill?

    I remember the days before National Health, when we simply went without a lot of medical care, or depended on the home remedies provided by the gypsies. Many doctors provided services to needy people for the price of a chicken, a leg of lamb, or such.

    Responsibility on the part of the user is important in any system. Just how much do we need, and what should be covered by that system? How many surgeries are blitzed by mothers with children suffering the sniffles, minor cuts and bruises and such? Abuse of a system is never good. We need to develop our systems where the able pay a premium as their contribution to the system, but no one should be denied proper medical attention because they are indigent through no fault of their own.

    I shudder to think wot historians will write about much of modern society.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  3. Matt Black

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    But, Jim, if the money ain't there, how is it to be paid for? By raising the retirement/ social security age to 75?

    One of the things which bugs Mrs B as a worker within the NHS is the number of missed appointments: if a nominal fee, say £10, was charged for when you make an appointment to see the doc, refundable in you actually keep that appointment, then things would be significantly improved with both funding and also time-wasters.
     
  4. Jim1999

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    Matt, I should imagine you are a busy solicitor, and the same would apply should half your people miss their appointments, and often without announcement.

    In Canada, consideration has been given to a fee for services, along the same lines, to prevent the frivilous calls. Such measures are within the guidelines of providing social services, in my mind.

    Retirement, in my days, was at seventy. At the uiversity where I taught it is sixty-five. One can retire at 60 at a reduced rate.

    In Ontario, we paid a nominal feel, deducted at wage source, equally paid by employer and employee. In the days when the economy was booming, a brilliant government decided to cut that fee to zero. We did not experience financial difficulties and no one really complained about the deductions. Now we experience some financial hardships. Some want to return to the fee deductions. We are still left, however, with the frivilous calls. This is what we must address.

    Over half the bankruptcies in the USA..their statement, not mine..are linked directly to high medical costs when services are required. They forget to add these into the costs of medical care.

    I think in the UK, as it is in Canada, far too many draw handsome benefits, and far too easily. We read about this all the time in the rags.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  5. Dave

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    Part of the reason for the high cost of medical care in the more developed countries is that government started to pay for it for a sizeable percentage of the population. This has skewed the market such that costs are now sky-high because the government and insurance can pay those rates. Impossible for an individual to pay those rates, so if government drops out of the picture, the rates would come down.

    Doctors are not going to starve because no-one can afford to pay their rates. They will have to lower them to attract business like everyone else who is selling a service.

    Which is not to say that there won't be a lot of pain if it happens, but in the historical picture, the pain will eventually even out and the market will actually adjust.
     
  6. Jim1999

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    Dave, you obviously didn't live through the 20's and 30's.

    No, the problem is abuse....the government abuses our taxes, and we abuse the system.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  7. Matt Black

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    Or through the 19th century; why do you think we had to have a welfare state in the first place?
     
  8. The Galatian

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    The irony is that the welfare reforms in the United States (which I supported at the time) were designed to get people off welfare and working. A noble goal.

    But the incentives included help that would let a wage-earner make it on minimum wage.

    Employers predictably saw this help as a handout, and required recipients to pass it on to them by cutting wages or failing to raise them when prices rose. Such employers are now subsidized by all of us, courtesy of the welfare system.
     
  9. Hope of Glory

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    The reasons are many. Primarily, because people are too lazy to work hard. People say, "Oh, I can't find a job! Help! Help!" When the truth of the matter is that they don't like the jobs that are available, and they don't want to have to work their way up from the bottom. Here where I live, employers are begging for employees, but people would prefer to live off welfare.

    Another reason is government intervention and corruption. If the government had not started supporting the layabouts, then they would have to work. If they hadn't started paying for the ridiculous red tape that is now required by medical providers, then doctors could practice much more efficiently.

    Also, ridiculous malpractice lawsuits. When someone can sue a doctor and win because their husband died of lung cancer after smoking for 45 years, that cost gets passed along. Ridiculous lawsuits in general harm the economy; when you can ignore caution signs and stick a cup of scalding coffee between your legs in your son's sports car and get awared millions, something is wrong! When you flip a car because you're driving 120 MPH and a tire blows and you sue the auto maker and win billions, that will get passed along!

    Forcefully socializing medical care is doomed to failure in the long run. A free market economy will always produce far better results in every category.

    Now, this is not to say that the occasional person won't be forced into bankruptcy because of a serious illness.

    This is also not to say that those who truly cannot work should not be provided for. But they are the exception.

    Back in the 70's, Georgia tried to force people to work in order to receive welfare benefits. They were accused of trying to turn people into slaves! Imagine, expecting people to actually earn their keep!
     
  10. Matt Black

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    Oh, great, so the poor aren't just poor, they're also lazy. Unfortunately, your dangerous views would take society back to destitution. The views you espouse were prevalent before in the 19th century. We call it 'Victorian Britain'. A glance through the pages of Mr Dickens' novels will show (a) that the poor were far from the lazy slobs you seem to think they are (and who the heck are you to make such a broadbrush statement, by the way?) and 9b0 it obviously didn't work.

    Why would your free market system work for those who cannot?
     
  11. Daisy

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    Try Jacob Riis' How the Other Half Lives (linkie) for a picture of slum life in 1890 in New York City. Mr. Riis' main complaint was with the buildings, the tenements, themselves, but it also discusses the lives of the working poor who inhabit them.

    For rural America during the Depression, try James Agee & Walker Evans "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men".

    In addition to Dickens, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (linkie) novelization of the working poor in Chicago spurred some reforms.

    The "free market" may spawn innovation and capital, but at a price. Efficiency means sacrificing those, such as the old, the sick and the poor, who hender the system. Efficiency also often clashes with safety; hence the libertarians' bugaboo, government regulations.
     
  12. Dave

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    There are legitimate poor people who cannot work for one reason or another. Those are the people that we should pity and try to help.

    Many, many of the people on the welfare roles are not in that category, however. They don't want to work. Maybe they feel that their parents got money from the government for no work, so they should too (like it is their right!), or maybe they are a 1st generation recipient who just don't want to work. You think they don't exist?

    I think the vast majority of those on welfare are able-bodied and capable of working, they just don't want to and won't because they don't have to. That is the result of our broken welfare system.

    Oh, and we are not currently in the "Great Depression" of the 30's and we are not in the regulatory environment that we were in the 60's. Not to mention we are a looooooooong way from 1890. Nobody said working was easy, just that is man's lot in life, and we should not be rewarding those who purposely shirk their responsibilities.
     
  13. Matt Black

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    And the government should help those who cannot work: the ill, those unemployed through economic reasons, the disabled and the old. Who else will?
     
  14. Hope of Glory

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    Which, if you read my post, is exactly what I said. (Although, I think it should be at the state level and not at the Fed level because of vastly different economic situations among the different states.) If they're able-bodied, we (at the governmental level) should require work out of them. Period. Even if it's make-work to keep them busy for 8 hours per day to receive their handout.

    But, I would be leery of those who are unemployed "through economic reasons". The vast majority of those, at least in the US, simply don't want to "work beneath" themselves, or they don't want to start at the bottom and do without the little necessities in life such as cable TV, new cars every couple of years, and eating out at least 14 times per week.

    Oh, and if you check out socialist countries, they are far more likely to endorse mass abortions, euthenasia of the old, and those who are very sick. Here in what used to be a great free market economy, very few complain about taking care of the sick, elderly, and disabled, but the closer we inch toward socialism, the more people cry out to put others "out of their misery".
     
  15. Matt Black

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    There are very few socialist countries left in Europe - at least in the traditional sense of that word. I think you may be getting this confused with the concept of a 'planned economy', where the economy is essentially capitalist but certain sectors are under state control for the greater good of society eg: healthcare in the UK. That is what we've had in varying degrees in western Europe since WWII and that's what I mean by the Welfare State, not the so-called 'socialist paradises' of the former Eastern Bloc.

    By economic reasons I mean serious recessions; not just the 1930s but also more recently in the UK I can remember the recession of the early 1980s where unemployment peaked at over 3 million (in a population of 55 million at the time) and in reality was more like 5 million. Whole industries - coal, shipbuilding, auto plants, steel, in fact most of Britain's manufacturing base collapsed with hundreds of thousands of workers being laid off. They couldn't just go out and 'find other jobs' - because the jobs didn't exist.

    You talk about people not 'taking jobs beneath them'; the reality isn't as straightforward as that. The factor you've ignored is the 'poverty trap' - the issue where people are better off on benefits than in any of the jobs they can get. The minimum wage has helped here with regard to single people, but once you have a family, a minimum wage job is not going to be worth doing.

    My solution would involve a subsidy of minimum wage jobs where otherwise the job could not exist, and reduction of benefits for people who find work at 50p per £1 earned instead of £ for £.

    Because as things stand, I see people with a couple of kids, especially in expensive areas like London, saying "I need a job paying £20,000 a year to break even compared with benefits. And I can't get a job above £15,000" - and they're right. That's the poverty trap. Removing the welfare state would indeed remove the poverty trap, but only in the sense of giving those currently in it the option of a much reduced income in work, or no income at all out of it. Oddly enough I'm not up for that one.

    The other issue which feeds the poverty trap is the cost of childcare. Many people have got to find work that pays enough to cover the loss of benefits plus the cost of childcare.

    In the absence of millions of unskilled jobs paying over £20K a year, what the welfare rules must do is always make it worthwhile to take a job - including taking childcare into account.
     
  16. mima

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    I know a Christian man 70 years old who worked hard all of his life and now is living on Social Security. But his view is that there should be no Social Security. He is against all forms of welfare. He is a true red Republican compassion conservative. Aren't they just wonderful?
     
  17. Matt Black

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    You're being sarcastic, right?
     
  18. Hope of Glory

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    I would gladly opt out of the Ponzi Scheme called Social Security (illegal for anyone but the government) and give up all that I have paid in to get to keep what I have earned. Anyone who is capable of working, but not willing, should simply go without.

    To comment on what Dave said, the government and insurance industries have tremendously skewered our medical system. Both through the way they spend and the red tape. For example, my m-i-l had to have cataracts removed, but she had no insurance. So, it was billed as a cosmetic surgery (Lasik or something) so that the cost for the exact same procedure was only 20% of the cost for the cataracts. Why? Because cataract surgery is covered by insurance and welfare programs, so they make the cosmetic surgery more affordable.

    Litigation reform would also greatly reduce medical costs. There needs to be some sort of control in place to prevent bad doctoring, but you should not be able to retire a wealthy man because they accidentally removed your left little toe, or your family should not be able to receive $40million because you died of cancer after smoking for 40 years.

    Forcefully taking money from someone illegally is called robbery, extortion, and other things in the real world. But, the government does it all the time. If this were to stop, medical care would become much more affordable for the average person.
     
  19. Matt Black

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    So you would be against the government taking money from you for defence and internal security - presumably if taxation is theft according to you, then it is irrelevant what that taxation goes on.

    Also, what do you mean by someone who is 'capable of working'? Would you include within that someone who was physically etc capable of working in a time of recession when there was no job available for him to do? :eek:
     
  20. Hope of Glory

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    Did you see the "illegal" part of my post? National defense and internal security are Constitutionally legal (even mandated) for the Fed. Now, the income tax is an illegal tax because it's an excise tax that is based on a necessity. This could easily be fixed by implementing the Fair Tax, which you can read about by clicking the link.

    These are illegal taxes, and the money is not Caesar's. When I was in college, there was a very liberal economics professor who thought we were not taxed enough. However, he was opposed to the way that we are taxe. He was opposed to the fact that the Fed simply ignores the law and taxes illegally. He wanted the law changed to make the taxes legal, and if the people were opposed to that, so be it. (By his estimation, only about 25% of the Fed taxes were legal, and he wanted higher taxes.)

    You better believe it! First of all, anyone who wants to work can find a job. I meet people all the time who say, "I can't find a job". Yet, there are all sorts of places that connot get employees. The place where I work is supposed to be a part time job for me, but because no one wants to work, it has turned into a full time job. Most people simply don't want to work the jobs that are available.

    Now, let's assume that there is someone who truly cannot find a job. What is wrong with putting him to doing some "busy work" instead of simply handing him a check and telling him to go watch Springer?

    If you put people to moving the pile of rocks from point A to point B to get their handout, I would wager money (and I'm not a gambler) that they would find a job rather quickly.
     

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