Saturday, November 26, 2005

Bad Ideas Catch up with Reality

Michael Barone is one of our best political and social commentators, and his latest on the decline of GM and the unions is valuable because it does not focus on what is happening right now, but rather on how these problems were created in the first place.

To expand on Barone's theme (trying to create a socialist nirvana on earth through government may sound good, and may get some votes, but will lead to tragedy), most of the major issues our country faces have roots in the attempt to sell a socialist scheme to (sometimes) willing Americans.

Social Security proposals helped vault the Democrats to national power for years, and as long as there were more people working than retired the Ponzi scheme would work. So now reformers in the Republican party (I haven't heard anything substantial from the Dems) have to correct the errors made decades ago.

The initial proposals for Medicare and Medicaid projected low costs and much smaller enrollment levels than we are seeing today. Voters flocked to the Democrats for providing these "free" programs to the elderly and the needy because it was difficult to understand how years later these programs would weigh heavily on the economic health of the nation.

And as we have discussed before, the current insolvency of the PBGC (the next bailout of a govt. entity by the American taxpayer) has not been caused by the bankruptcy of companies in the last few years, but rather by the creation of a program by the govt. that shifted the decisions of private individuals and corporations engaged in the free market onto the govt.

Barone effectively outlines how the "visionaries" at GM, the UAW and the govt. schemed to create a socialist version of society. Their scheme actually "worked" for years. Half of my family worked in the auto industry around Flint and I remember tales from childhood about their workdays filled with sleeping in back rooms or sitting around waiting for a delivery or some instructions. Yet despite their lack of production they were paid well and had the opportunity to live good lives. I can't begrudge them their work habits and attitudes, but those who led the auto industry and the unions and failed to reform their institutions until it was too late should be ashamed.