Although the stock market seems to have steadied (apparently more because of the Republican House, than because of the Administration’s schemes), we are not living in flush times. Instead, we’ve entered a leaner, meaner time in the world today. There’s still lots of money lying around for some people, but overall, things aren’t going well. They’re especially trending in a bad direction for the poor, the sick, and those who are generally more vulnerable. Here’s an example of what I mean, coming out of the bankrupt state of California:
Poor people with chronic illnesses such as kidney failure, cancer and HIV face the prospect of dying due to budget cuts proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, lawmakers and health advocates said Wednesday.
As Brown’s proposal faces its first week of scrutiny by the Legislature, the governor said he believes the budget process is on track for an early March deadline, but modifications are likely. Dozens of hearings are scheduled over the next few weeks, but resistance from a wide variety of people who would feel the brunt of the cuts continues to grow.
Reductions in health spending could doom some of the state’s sick, advocates said. The governor has proposed limiting most people on the state Medi-Cal program to 10 doctor visits per year, which would save the state almost $200 million next year.
Preliminarily, I’m not accepting at face value the apocalyptic doom-and-gloom the “advocates” are selling. We know, for example, that 1994’s vote to end “welfare as we know it,” didn’t turn America’s streets into a charnel house filled with the bodies of dispossessed homeless women and children but, instead, somewhat corrected a government culture that encouraged poverty behavior. Nevertheless, I am certain that the budget cuts will cause a certain amount of hardship to some, and great, even fatal, hardship to others.
Faced with this situation, Progressives are predictably advocating increased taxes on the rich. This is a band-aid remedy, of course. At a certain point, the rich hide away the money, the state squanders the money, and the economy breaks down, destroying hopes of future money. Think of Greece, Spain, Italy, England and (sigh) current days in the U.S. In other words, increased taxes replenish government coffers briefly, but there’s no long-term promise.
I’m a believer in the market place. If we take off many of the constraints we place on the market place, more people will make more products and services, including products such as drugs and dialysis treatments. That’s not happening anytime soon, though, and, even if it does happen, it takes a while for the market place to react.
We are left therefore with vulnerable people who have depended on government, but now find themselves in a situation in which they no longer have a government on which to depend. With wealth vanishing, the only way in which the government can provide the same level of services to the unfortunates is to further destroy the state’s finances. Even Jerry Brown, a Progressive before anyone in my generation recognized the renewal of that old-fashioned socialist political movement, recognizes that political reality.
Where we’re left, then, is being forced to acknowledge, unpleasant though it may be, that life is not fair. It’s not fair when people are born with or acquire horrible diseases. It’s not fair when young parents die in car accidents. It’s not fair when someone is born into a poverty-stricken and dysfunctional home. As a humane society, I believe we have an obligation to aid people as much as possible when they’re on the receiving end of this lack of fairness and we’re in a position to help. However, as a viable society, I don’t believe we have an obligation to destroy ourselves in an effort to eradicate life’s unfairness.
During the flush times, we can and should make more pushes to help those less lucky than we are. During the dry times, though, sometimes the only thing left to us is the consolation that (we hope) this too shall pass.
(And then of course there’s the Chavez approach to poverty and unfairness.)
UPDATE: I’m p.o’d at Christie for his pandering to Islamists, but there’s still no one who does a better job of explaining out of control government spending, and the need for cuts that are cruel to individuals, but necessary for overall fiscal health.