Tuesday, May 6, 2014

An Ugly Thought -- but Someone Has to Express It

Even as a curmudgeon, I take no pleasure in the stories illustrating the decline in America's greatness, that parallel the stories of the declines in all aspects of our society. For a long time, I was with the other dissidents in figuring that as bad as Obama could make things, there still would come an opportunity for the electorate to acknowledge its monumental mistake (repeated, as all tragedy must, in order to become farce). But no more: the current "Republican" leadership is showing zero capability of leading the electorate down a new and different path.

So we have to accept certain facts on the ground. Obamacare is here for at least another three years, and in that time, it will do incalculable damage to our once great healthcare system -- to say nothing of our economy at large. The only way we can pay for the depredations introduced by Obamacare is by seizing more and more revenues from the private sector (or -- what comes to the same thing -- increasing that sector's costs).

At the same time, the Social Security coffers are burgeoning with payments to the recently retired Baby Boomers, which are forecast to burgeon still further in the years to come.

But Social Security is supposed to be different, and yet we all (by now) must know that it is not. The money that goes to pay Social Security retirees comes from current taxes on those who are employed -- the fictional "trust funds" were long ago spent by our profligate Congress, and no longer exist except as a paper entry on the nation's books of account. In short, the "trust funds" have long since been replaced by "IOUs" -- which can be repaid only out of the money taken from those currently working for a paycheck.

So let us put two and two together here.

Obamacare will take more and more revenues from the private sector. But Social Security will require that same sector to contribute more and more to fund elderly retirement benefits.

And the same entity -- the United States Government -- backs both with its "full faith and credit."

Does anyone else see the conflict of interest here?

The more the elderly age and do not die, the more the Government will have to take from the private sector to pay Social Security benefits.

But the more that Obamacare pays to keep people alive who are dependent on government "health insurance" for their care, the more the Government will have to rob the same source -- the hapless ones who still work for a paycheck.

At some point, the light is bound to click on: if the Government stops paying to keep elderly people alive, the less the Government will have to pay in Social Security benefits.

This double whammy is possible only because with the advent of Obamacare, the same entity has become responsible both for health insurance and for Social Security benefits.

Before Obamacare, the two systems were separate. You arranged for your own health insurance, out of your own (or your employer's) resources, and the Government provided Social Security benefits.

But no longer.

There can be no other result, so long as both bills (for Obamacare and for Social Security) increase, as everyone agrees they will over the coming decades.

So the control mechanism will come through what Sarah Palin and others first identified as the "death panels" of Obamacare -- the bureaucrats who refuse to approve treatments for the terminally ill or the marginally sustainable among us.

And when that conflict becomes inevitable, as it certainly must, God help us.


  1. This is, I believe, what is referred to in dynamic sociology as "The Soylent Green Prinicple" .

    No government can give more for long than that which has already taken away. That is referred to as the "Peter and Paul Principle" but that slogan has been prohibited because it seeks to establish a State Religion.

  2. This past weekend, in a private conversation, a candidate for US Senate countered my pessimism with an optimistic, "We can change things and get rid of Obamacare."

    In theory perhaps, but the reality is that once a government program gets started, it keeps on rolling and is extremely hard to stop.

    1. That is known as the Tar Baby Effect. Very similar to the heroin addict saying, "I've got this under control."

  3. Curmudgeon, I am generally educated by your posts; but I believe that you have missed something here. Even before Obamacare, we old folks (over 65) got our medical care through Medicare, run by the same outfit as Social Security. That doesn't mean the scenario you are presenting won't happen. It just means that the scenario won't be the fault of Obamacare, although many other depredations will be caused by Obamacare.

  4. John, what you say is true, and I do not deny that we might end up in the same predicament even had Obamacare never been passed. But what Obamacare adds to the mix that Medicare did not are its unique rationing panels, plus its tendency (already under way) to drive private insurers out of the market. Before, one could always purchase supplemental insurance for the things Medicare did not cover; once Obamacare occupies the field, we will be sitting ducks with no alternatives for escape (except for the very wealthy who can pay for their own care).