Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity: A Redefinition of the Role of Government
April 5, 2011 · By Kevin Shih
Can we really trust for-profit corporations to provide us cost effective health care for those who can't afford it?
It is mindboggling to see Ryan’s budget being considered in its current form. Although it is true that our current budget deficit is a serious problem that needs to be tackled (although I staunchly still believe that the unemployment crisis at hand should be priority numero uno), the fact that he can actually actively promote a plan to privatize Medicare shows that people’s views of the role of government are changing. And by expressing support for the plan proposed by Ryan, you are inherently supporting Ryan and his Tea Party-backed GOP’s view of a smaller, privatized government.
From my understanding, most people who support the privatization of government argue that the private sector is much more suited to providing services and goods to its people because they believe that the government is inefficient. In their view, social safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security are plagued with excess, redundancy and waste and unnecessarily increasing our national debt.
Although it is true that entitlement spending programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security make up a lot of what our federal government spends annually, the rising costs of these programs are due to the fact that there are many Baby Boomers retiring, and a lot of these retirees are living longer. With 84 percent of wealth in this country controlled by the richest 20 percent, people can’t expect that a regressive payroll tax system is sufficient to support Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. A new revenue stream for these programs needs to be introduced if we want to keep these programs--and people want to keep these programs!
Privatizing our social safety net is the opposite of what needs to be done to lower the costs of these programs and improve their efficiencies. Sure, by privatizing it, the government won’t need to pay a single dime for it, and we will all be seeing our income taxes decrease because it is not the taxpayer’s responsibility to pay for these programs. However, the Congressional Budget Office has shown that a complete privatization of Medicare (in the form introduced by Ryan) would increase the cost of health care for the poor and the elderly who are usually the beneficiaries of Medicare.
Furthermore, have people not been following all the nasty things that for-profit corporations are up to these days? Not only have many of these for-profit corporations like General Electric, Bank of America, and Verizon been tax dodging, contributing to the ever increasing federal debt, but it is exactly this for-profit mentality that has propelled Wall Street bankers to use people’s savings to invest in risky derivatives that has contributed to our current economic crisis.
I know these companies won’t be the ones responsible for providing health care and services if our social safety net is privatized, but for-profit corporations are driven by the same mentality of profit maximization no matter what industry they are in. These corporations have no national allegiance. Contributing to the common good is only a priority to them if it brings them more money.
A vote in support of Ryan’s plan is a vote indicating that private for-profit corporations are better suited at providing the basic needs for those who are most vulnerable. How can anybody seriously believe that is true?