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« Atrios, stupid on Social Security, helped cost U.S. workers $385 billion | Main | Who voted on those Hubble Top 10 space photographs? »

November 27, 2006



Sure, it's working, like all liberal plans work. They give things to people without paying for them. I congratulate all who support this plan, since you have successfully gotten free drugs and left the bill with your children and grandchildren.

A triumph for liberalsism. Next, we need to come up with a senior citizen prescription chauffeur plan. You know, for those of us who have trouble getting around. Don't worry about the cost, we can get the kids to pay the bill, if we backend the payments right. And it's incredibly fair to everyone, since all [senior citizens only of course] can apply.

Frank Warner

Well, you have a point. But the so-called conservative Republican Congress sure has been running some record-high deficits. Even with a stable economy, few Republicans have considered higher taxes, or spending cuts.

Liberalism has to include the generosity and intelligence to do the right thing well, and the courage to tell the people that each government program has to be paid for.

jj mollo

There are good reasons that the government gives some things away. For instance, limited access highways and bridges don't necessarily charge tolls. The reason for this is that the government wants to encourage use of the bridge or highway for economic reasons, and because the group cost of the traffic delay may exceed the tax revenue of the tolls.

Likewise, benefits that may normally be provided by employers can be usefully taken over by the government, if the process can be done more efficiently by the government, and the businesses can become more competitive as a result.

Retirement benefits are another issue. The problem here is that the employers may underfund pensions, may seek to renege on their commitment, or may find themselves in changed circumstances. In many of those cases, the government acts as the financier of last resort anyway, insuring companies against default and ending up with the burden.

Ideally, with regard to the prescription program, the Administration would have done a cost/benefit analysis, considering the country as a whole. Undoubtedly, they were able to justify the medicare prescription plan on the basis of projections that showed it provided the most public good at the least cost, as compared to other approaches of addressing the problem.

One other way that it could have been addressed would be to ignore it. Let people plan their own lives to the best of their ability. If they guess wrong, they die poor. The problem there is that no one could have predicted how much prescription costs have gone up. Medicine is a very inelastic product. People will buy it no matter what the cost. Individual patients have very little leverage on these costs and the Administration was trying to introduce some measures that, at least theoretically, could control costs.

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