Medicare

A ponzi scheme called welfare

In the US and in Europe there is great debate about retaining “entitlements” promised by successive governments.

The same goes for New Zealand…especially with schemes such as ACC, Superannuation, interest free student loans and Welfare for Families. Those programmes all have to be paid for and as Margaret Thatcher once said…eventually you run out of other people’s money to spend.

Sometime soon our politicians are going to have to start being honest with us.

If there were not a single Republican, or none who got elected to any office, arithmetic would still end “Medicare as we know it,” for the simple reason that the money in the till is not enough to keep paying for it. The same is true of Social Security.

The same has been true of welfare state programs in European countries that are currently struggling with both financial crises and riots in the streets from people who feel betrayed by their governments. They have in fact been betrayed by their politicians, who have promised them things that there was not enough money to pay for. That is the basic problem in the United States as well.

We are not yet Greece, but we are not exempt from the same rules of arithmetic that eventually caught up with Greece. We just have a little more time. The only question is whether we will use that time to make politically difficult changes or whether we will just kick the can down the road, and keep pretending that “Medicare as we know it” would continue on indefinitely, if it were not for people who just want to be mean to the elderly.

In both Europe and America, there are many people who get angry at those who tell them the truth that the money is just not there to sustain huge welfare state programs indefinitely. But that anger might be better directed at those who lied to them by promising them benefits that were inherently unsustainable.

Neither Social Security nor Medicare has ever had enough assets to cover its liabilities. Very simply, there has never been enough money put aside to do what the government promised to do.

These systems operate on what their advocates like to call a “pay as you go” basis. That is, the younger generation pays in money that is used to cover the cost of benefits for the older generation. This is the kind of financial pyramid scheme that got Charles Ponzi put in prison in the 1920s and got Bernie Madoff put in prison in our times.

Attack Ads

Daily Beast

Many people don’t like negative campaigning. I do, mainly because it is truthful. David Frum at the Daily Beast thinks it can;t be far off having an ad like this hit:

The likely script of the next attack ad. A woman in her later 40s, looking worried at a kitchen table. She’s probably vaguely Latino; the photos on her refrigerator (kids, no dad) suggest a single mom.

A woman’s voice over. “You’ve worked hard all your life. You’ve paid Medicare taxes for almost 30 years. But under the Republican plan, Medicare won’t be there for you. Instead of Medicare as it exists now, under the Republican plan you’ll get a voucher that will pay as little as half your Medicare costs when you turn 65—and as little as a quarter in your 80s. And all so that millionaires and billionaires can have a huge tax cut.”

That ad will draw blood and will—as Henry Kissinger used to say—have the additional merit of being true.

Weird Science: Aussies dumber than Kiwis

Sydney Morning Herald

It is a relief to know that some in the Australian medical and insurance establishment are even more gullible than the NZ counterparts who support the dingbat theories of Homeopathy.

In Australia, Medicare will pay your fees for a visit to a loon who will talk to your ovaries for $70 an hour.

His followers call him The One. They say he’s the reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci. He claims massaging women’s breasts can prevent cancer. And his growing business empire, built on spiritual healing, is being funded in part by Medicare.

Serge Benhayon, a former tennis coach from Maroubra, has up to 1000, mainly female, devotees to his movement, Universal Medicine, based in the hills outside Lismore on the north coast of NSW.

Mr Benhayon told The Sun-Herald he had no medical qualifications but stood by the effectiveness of his treatments, including ”esoteric breast massage” – administered only by women – and ”chakra-puncture”. His daughter, Natalie, 22, claims to be able to talk to women’s ovaries – for $70 an hour.

Mr Benhayon defended himself against claims a personality cult had built up around him, with dozens of relationships from Brisbane to Byron Bay and Bangalow breaking down as a result. The Sun-Herald spoke to nine men who blame Mr Benhayon for their break-ups.

But Mr Benhayon said his female students had merely discovered the ”livingness of love” from his ”esoteric way of life”. There is concern in the medical fraternity that certain treatments provided at Universal Medicine’s Lismore headquarters are being subsidised by Medicare.