The Problem of Poverty…

The question may be asked, what do we do about the poor, the aged, the disabled?  Even in a Libertarian society with greater employment opportunities, there would still be an issue of people who are unable to support themselves.  Would private charity be able to fulfill the role that is now played by government?  We might note that a Libertarian society will have more “economic surplus” than our own.  Social Security and Medicare could be replaced by a semi-private organization that would invest in preferred stocks and investment grade bonds as index funds similar to the offerings of “Vanguard”.  As it is today, Social Security and Medicare are really only based upon a “transfer” of money from those working to those retired or disabled on Social Security.  Because of this, the “return on investment” is not very good except for those who had lower incomes while working.  There is a certain degree of “progressiveness” in Social Security where the low income worker receives more benefits than do the higher income worker.  If the same amount of money could have been invested over a worker’s lifetime of work, the return would be much larger.  And there is really nothing in my libertarian philosophy that prevents “adjustments” to take place so we don’t have people dying in the streets!  Private charity could certainly assist in resolving issues like this.  As for health care, the cost will be far lower than it is today here in the US once we remove “government enforced monopoly” from the health care system.  True, there are poor and disabled, but there are really very few people who can’t do anything “useful” at all!  No doubt there are some, but their numbers aren’t likely to be all that large in relation to the general population.  In any case, our experience with government run “welfare” systems indicates that there is a lot of “waste” and “overhead”, far more than is likely in a private organization doing the same tasks.  Plus, in an economy with much less money going to “government”, there will be far more money available to deal with problems like this.

Nor is government very “efficient” at doing things.  The Obamacare “roll out” and the problems with “Healthcare.gov” leave little doubt of this.  For example, Amazon.com is the world’s largest internet seller.  Even during periods of “high demand” (like around Christmas) there is no problem logging on.  This is because Amazon.com is a private enterprise that has to make a profit to stay in business.  Government on the other hand is a “monopoly” that doesn’t have to please those who consume its services.  With the government you don’t have a choice.  With private enterprise there is “competition”.  You will note that where there is “competition”, prices tend to be lower.  One reason health care costs so much is because it is effectively a “monopoly” that doesn’t have to “please its customers”.  Doctors enjoy the monopoly of prescription laws, hospitals have their own monopolistic practices, as do the drug companies.  The same is true of most government “services”.  There is a high overhead, along with poor service because unlike private employees, government employees operate under civil service rules and are generally also unionized to boot.  Which makes them almost impossible to fire! So they have little if any incentive to give good service.  Whereas a business that was providing the same service would certainly see to it that the “customers” received good service…

From this we can see that private institutions generally can deliver better quality services at less cost.  The same thing holds true with assistance to the poor.  Better service at lower cost.  Additionally, private charities generally insist that the person being “helped” do whatever he or she can do to help themselves instead of just depending upon charity and doing nothing to help themselves.  Taking responsibility for your life is a part of libertarianism.  Organizations such as Goodwill are effective in training handicapped people and placing them in positions where they are able to use whatever skills they have.  They may not be perfectly self supporting, but the amount of additional help needed is considerably reduced from what it would be if done by government welfare.

One of the major causes of poverty in developed countries is caused by government.  For example, our federal government actually pays farmers not to produce food.  Government also drains national economies for its own purposes.  The USA does not “need” to spend a trillion dollars a year on “defense”.  Half of that or a bit less would be perfectly adequate.  Also the policies of the developed world tend to discourage private individuals and businesses from defending themselves from terrorists and pirates.  It is perfectly obvious that if commercial ships were allowed to be armed with military grade weapons that “third world” piracy would come to an immediate stop.  Then our various attempts to control what people are allowed to do (such as drugs) also adds another “drain” on national economies.  If the basis of law requires that an activity can only be considered “criminal” when there is an identifiable victim, then the role of the police becomes much more one of actual “protection” against “real” criminals.  This would also solve issues such asset forfeiture where there is no actual proof of criminal activity.

We should not confuse a modern Libertarian society with the sort of society we had around the end of the 19th Century.  That society was more one of an alliance between business and government against the rest of us.  Business bribed our representatives to serve its own interest against that of the people.  Political corruption was endemic.  In some aspects we are seeing the same thing again today.  Large amounts of corporate and special interest money is used through “political action committees” to elect those who will serve the interests of those who paid to put them into office.  This is “why” only a “Demarchy” (selection of representatives by lottery) can resolve these sort of problems!  We have to decide what sort of society we want to live in…  And to do so, we have to do the necessary political changes to get that society.  There will be a lot of “resistance” from the established “power elite” to preserve their “first class seats on the gravy train”.  But if enough of us demand “change”, it will come.  Most likely through a Constitutional Convention.  There doesn’t seem to be any other way that it can be done today…

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About muskegonlibertarian

77 year old retired owner of a security guard agency. Member of the Libertarian Party.
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