Saturday, April 16, 2011
The writer Ayn Rand and others have offered a homily for the rich as justification for their good fortune and their natural right to hold on to it and increase it. It's a saying, something like this: "No one has the right to take from me what is mine and give it to others, especially those who are poor." Followers of this belief argue that governments have no business trying to redistribute wealth. As an example, Medicare is a program that provides needed medical services and care to many elderly persons who otherwise could not afford them. Thus, it is a government activity that redistributes wealth and ought not exist. Mr. Ryan's budget takes away medical services from those most in need and thereby serves to correct an activity that redistributes wealth.
Mr. Ryan's budget also reduces the tax rate on the wealthy. This reduction reduces the redistribution of wealth. Many other features of the budget aim to accomplish the reduction, at least, if not the end to any redistribution of wealth by the government.
My own opinion is exactly the opposite of Ayn Rand's. It is obvious to me that one of the most important functions of government is to redistribute wealth - to discourage the accumulation of great fortunes by a few individuals while the rest of the population gets no share in the total increase in wealth of the nation. This accumulation of additional wealth by the few and the stagnation of the fortunes of everyone else has been occurring for the past thirty or more years in our country. It is time for government to take strong measures to stop this concentration of wealth at the top and redistribute at least some of it so that the rest of us can enjoy improves and enhanced services from our government. Rather than converting Medicare to a voucher program where senior citizens buy health insurance from private insurers government should plan to improve the existing medicare system to achieve more efficiency and an adequate mechanism for funding. More taxes, of course for the funding, and incentives to encourage medical care providers and drug companies to provide their services in more effective and economical ways are needed reforms. Certainly not vouchers!