Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Jun 22, 2013

Government Program Roulette

It occurred to me today that government "insurance" programs--social security, welfare, food stamps, subsidized school loans, anything where the government offers some kind of guarantee or assurance or "safety net"--are like a giant game of Russian Roulette.  Somebody is getting shafted by these programs so other people can "benefit", and engaging in any of them is an enormous gamble where you can only hope that "somebody" won't be you.

Social security is bankrupt and needs to end, but whoever's left holding the sack when the benefits finally get cut gets reamed.  They had to pay in, but they get nothing back out whatsoever.  And this could happen at any time--it just awaits a big enough fiasco for it to be politically palatable to make cuts, and cuts there will be.  Yet, somehow this is claimed to be more secure than saving money you control on your own recognizance?

Student loans are another example.  How many people get sufficient benefit from going to college that it's actually a worthwhile investment for them?  Very, very few of the people I know, that's who.  A good 80% wind up working in jobs that by no means should require a degree of any sort just to manage their overwhelming debt.  To keep that job, they have to go further into debt by buying a car, which ties them to further expenses like car insurance, gas, repairs, etc. etc.  Five years down the road, they're bored with their job but they have no savings and can't afford to look for another one--nor could they afford to move if they got one.  Start their own business?  Yeah, if they had savings to support them and time and energy to invest. But those are consumed by the simple maintenance of their debt and car and housing and food.  And they're not even working in the field they studied.  Then the government decides to raise the rate on their student loans.  Russian roulette.  The only way to win is not to play.

The really nasty part is that the more these programs are created, the more it becomes prohibitively difficult not to play.  The list of losers keeps growing and the opportunities for people who opt-out continue to shrink.  In the end, somebody is going to have to bite this bullet.  Nobody wants it to be them, but it's inevitable given the nature of the system.


James said...

I keep saying, I'm going to move to the woods...

Jennifer Snow said...

Unless you really love the woods and that's what you'd choose to do with yourself regardless, that's a good way to ensure that the person getting screwed is you.