Sunday, March 20, 2011

Police State Libertarians

This is the first of what I am afraid will be a many, many part series.

The strongest proponents of liberty and Christianity for themselves support the most draconian controls and merciless coldness toward others they regard as dangers.

Today's case in point: a proposal by Minnesota Republicans that welfare recipients not be allowed to withdraw cash. Anyone receiving public assistance would have to conduct all their business transactions through a state-issued debit card, so the state could monitor and control their purchases.

The crucial provision of the original proposal read:

1.11benefit transfer (EBT) debit cardholders in the general assistance program and the
1.12Minnesota supplemental aid program under chapter 256D and programs under chapter
1.13256J are prohibited from withdrawing cash from an automatic teller machine or receiving
1.14cash from vendors with the EBT debit card. The EBT debit card may only be used as a
1.15debit card.

In a tiny step toward allowing some freedom to poor people, the revised bill allows welfare recipients to withdraw $20 in cash.


Kerri said...

It's funny how government is always too big when the upper quadrants are concerned, yet never seems to be big enough for the bottom bit.

Whit said...

I don’t think this one incident, horrible as it is, supports the broad conclusion you draw in the second paragraph.

In fact, the expansion of progressive style social welfare programs will lead to the inexorable increase in such abuses.

For example, conservative proposals for health care reform generally involve returning to a free market in health care and health insurance (based on high deductible catastrophic coverage), and providing a cash subsidy for those who need it so that they can buy basic coverage. Costs are held in check by competition and coverage becomes more generally affordable. Innovation is encouraged by the prospect of earning a profit. There is no rationing (except by the individual who must as always prioritize his own spending) and each individual, consulting with his doctor, makes his own decisions free of government control. Note this is NOT what is in place now where employers generally provide low deductible health care coverage and the individual market is moribund.

Whit said...

But under ObamaCare, and other progressive health care ideas, the government assumes the responsibility of providing the same health care to everyone based on a determination by the government of what health care is appropriate in a given situation. Cost is allocated based on income not usage and paid for through progressive taxation and premiums which increase with income - to everyone according to his need, from everyone according to his ability (to pay). Thus, while demand becomes unlimited (because there is no cost to utilization), the resource remains scarce. This requires rationing to prevent costs which exceed even the ability of the rich to pay.

Whit said...

Hence, as costs increase the government will be forced to limit the availability of certain procedures, as is currently happening under Medicaid in some states, or to ration by waiting time as in Canada and the UK. Government might, as was floated during the ObamaCare debate, limit mamagrams to women over 50 and only every other year. Or PSA tests for prostate cancer may be found to be “not cost effective” because the number of lives saved would not justify the cost (to the health care system, but not to the individual who might have lived had he had the test). And that will only be the start of rationing as costs and utilization will keep rising.

Whit said...

ObamaCare will, in effect, issue everyone in the country a debit card for government approved health services, and require everyone to get one. Approved services will be paid for. But the cash market for health services having been destroyed, unapproved services will be unavailable even for those with the money to pay for it. As profit is drained out of the system, innovation will disappear and health care progress will stagnate.

Whit said...

And as to Christianity, in my experience, those Christians seeking religious liberty for themselves are, for the most part (and with some unfortunate exceptions), in the forefront of seeking religious liberty for all religious groups both here in the United States and throughout the world.

Sorry for the muliple posts. The system rejected the whole as a single post.

Beloved Spear said...

Is the Republican Pary libertarian? They throw a few rhetorical bones it's way, and Libertarians don't have anywhere else to go in our Two Party State, but I just can't see any real evidence for it.

Pam Barth said...

I'm for these new rules and they are not draconian. Texas uses a debit card instead of cash, it works well here. Sorry your complaint is a little silly.