Quick hits: Medved feels your pain. Libertarians want new friends.
The conservative radio talker Michael Medved notices that middle class voters are anxious about money. He acknowledges it. He relates. He says conservatives really have to address this. How? Apparently, it's time to explain the free market to the people again. Except. More. Slowly. This. Time.
Meanwhile, Brink Lindsey of the free-market Cato Institute sees room for small-government types to cut a deal with liberal Democrats. They might even be able to get behind expanded "social insurance" programs, including wage insurance. He'd still cut back Social Security, though. Lindsey argues that Social Security and Medicare--the two biggest social insurance programs we've got--don't really count as insurance. Since everybody knows they are probably going to get old and need medical care, he says, it's not really a risk that needs insuring. You just have to be responsible and prepare for it.
That's a good argument. A question, though: Just because I'm pretty sure I'll get both old (I hope) and sick (I'm resigned), that doesn't mean I know exactly how old or how sick I'll get. Don't I still want some insurance against the extremes? I can save enough on my own to live to, say, 90, and I might be able to set aside enough money to pay for doctor's visits and prescriptions in old age. But what if I make it to 100 and have a few very expensive strokes along the way? Can't government help me get insurance--not a hand-out--to protect against the cost of that?
A good argument of Brink Lindsey's? I think your argument is better. By his logic, life insurance isn't really "insurance", since we're all going to die. Life insurance, like Social Security and Medicare, insures against specific undesirable situations.
Yes SS and Medicare are insurance programs, that's true. But if you insure your house against robbery, you pay a lower premium if you install an alarm system, and you get a payout only in the case you're actually robbed. Similarly, people who take certain steps to prepare their retirements, such as stuffing 401(k)s and planning to be mortgage-free homeowners at retirement age, should pay lower social security premiums on the one hand, and SS payments and medicare benefits should be conditionned to demonstrated lack of other ressources, or having had life accidents that would justify arriving to retirement with no savings.
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