February 28, 2006
Something for Nothing?
left you an inheritance of a million dollars -- with the proviso
that every cent of it had to be spent on tickets for you to go
watch professional wrestling matches. If you happened to be a
professional wrestling fan, you would be in hog heaven.
if you were not? How much would that million dollars be worth
to you? Certainly a lot less than a million dollars.
there was a clause in the will which said that you could forfeit
the million dollars and instead receive a cash amount of $100,000
to spend as you pleased? Many of us would take the hundred grand
without strings, even if that was only ten cents on the dollar
compared to the million for watching wrestling.
money with strings is worth less than money without strings --
sometimes a lot less.
us who receive money from Social Security or other government
programs are learning the hard way the difference between money
with strings and money without strings. For example, Social Security
recipients have to be enrolled in Medicare, whether they want
to be or not. "Universal" coverage means compulsory
coverage, just with prettier political spin.
are complaining about how hard it is to understand the new Medicare
coverage seem not to realize that no government program voted
into law by more than 500 members of Congress is going to be simple.
in Congress has his own pet notions or his own little claim to
fame, and a lot of those pet notions and claims to fame have to
go into the legislation, in order to get the votes needed to pass
the law. The complications and restrictions are the strings attached
think that they are getting something for nothing, by having government
provide what they would otherwise have to buy in the private market,
are not only kidding themselves by ignoring the taxes that government
has to take from them in order to give them the appearance of
something for nothing. They are also ignoring the strings that
are going to be attached to their own money when it comes back
to them in government benefits.
not even counting the fact that government programs are usually
less efficient than similar services provided by private enterprises.
the service you get at the Department of Motor Vehicles with the
service you get at Triple-A. No one who belongs to the American
Automobile Association is likely to go to the DMV for a service
that is also available through Triple-A.
illusion of something for nothing has kept the welfare state going
-- and expanding. If there is something for sale in the marketplace
for ten dollars and you would not pay more than five dollars for
it, some politician can always offer to get it for you free --
as a newly discovered "basic right," or at least at
a "reasonable" or "affordable" price.
that the "reasonable" or "affordable" price
is three dollars. How do you suppose the government can produce
something for three dollars that private industry cannot produce
for less than ten dollars? Greater efficiency in government? Give
me a break!
that you pay only three dollars at the cash register means nothing.
If it costs the government twelve dollars to produce and distribute
what you are getting for three dollars, then the government is
going to have to get another nine dollars in taxes to cover the
or another, you are going to end up paying twelve dollars for
something you were unwilling to buy for ten dollars or even six
dollars. But so long as you think you are getting something for
nothing, the politicians' shell game has worked and the welfare
state can continue to expand.
boomers, who are beginning to turn sixty, are unlikely to get
back all the money they paid into Social Security, with or without
strings. The illusion that Social Security can provide pensions
more cheaply than a private annuity or other retirement plan is
the grand something-for-nothing political triumph.
boomers are going to pay the price big time.
2006 Creators Syndicate