The final solution for the entitlement crisis with Social Security and Medicare is what I call little “s” socialism. Little “s” socialism is a more fiscally responsible form of our social welfare programs. It will provide most of benefits in the big “S” version of the social welfare program but it will have a balanced budget and the benefits it promises will be sustainable over the long term. With a simplified financing and benefit structure the beneficiaries of these plans will be able to make long term plans again. Although this cut back in benefits might seem crueler than a modern society should provide, this type of rationalized benefits is very similar to efforts Sweden implemented to fix its budget problems.
It struck me while reading the Introduction to The Libertarian Reader that our natural skepticism about power and big government has finally come full circle. Big Government Socialism which is beholden to the wealth creation of the Industrial Revolution has run its political course. Although it brought some advances to society, it also brought its own set of difficult problems to solve. As long as the economies kept growing and wealth continued to be created, the financing problems were manageable with pay as you go financing and occasional lying. The fallacy of these programs was that everyone was much better off even if the programs had deteriorated into a “pay as you go” system with no savings. This ended when the economies stopped growing and the demographics changed. The basic foundation of “pay as you go” social welfare program depends on having more people paying into the system then those claiming benefits. When economic growth fails to overcome the change in demographics and the benefit increases, a “pay as you go” system will quickly run out of money. Since we did not “save” enough money for the bulge of retirees we are now seeing, we are now confronted with several equally bad solutions on how to fix our problems. At this time Big Government Socialism had its “come to Jesus moment”. Everything about Big Government that allowed it to grow beyond its income also made it nearly impossible to respond to the changed situation. The future is not bright. Just look at the efforts of California and Illinois as they try to rein in their spending. Is this any different than the efforts by Greece or Spain to curb their spending? Is this anyway to run an essential government service? It is at this time we yearn for a government with a little less drama and a lot more results. Sweden and Indiana shows us that there are a variety of alternatives that work. It won’t be easy but I believe the common denominator in their solutions is humility. By its very nature Big “G” government is neither accountable or humble. For some supporters its social objectives are too big to be constrained by lack of income. Once politicians commit to spending more than the program brings in, the politics become intractable. The solution is a program can only spend what it brings in. When you simplify the financing the politics become much simpler. This is what I call a little “g” government. Its government that works and can be trusted. Like Sweden and Indiana in order to become better we must wisely become smaller. I think our founding fathers would approve but I think they might wonder why it took us so long to figure this out.