Similarly, through Social Security and Medicare, Americans have turned large aspects of their lives over to government control. If the massive tax transfers that fund these programs remained in the hands of private citizens, the power of individual choice and the creativity of the marketplace would deliver the same quality products that free markets and personal control deliver to all other aspects of our lives.
In the case of Medicare, which, according to the trustees' report, is in worse shape than Social Security, one-size-fits-all government central planning has hurt every participant in the health-care marketplace _ consumers, doctors and hospitals. Just as in the case of inner-city welfare recipients, the government takeover of private lives in health care has displaced reality with political illusions. And illusions are not a good starting point for prudent personal decision-making and planning.
Social Security and Medicare are afloat in red ink because these programs are the products of government central planning. More of the same will not solve the problems. As Bill Clinton once said, we need to "end welfare as we know it."
This is one place where we all can actually learn something from rap culture. The theme of rappers is "keeping it real." The brutal honesty of rap is what shocks and offends so many of us. We may not like what the rappers are saying, but they can't be accused of masking who they are or what they are about. Honesty helps make clear what is wrong with our country, and this provokes action and change.
In this sense, we need a little more rap culture in Washington. Americans don't need word games. They need truth so they can get on with the business of solving their problems.
When I worked to help get welfare reform passed, it wasn't a hard sell to talk about getting inner-city welfare recipients off the dole. We have a tougher political challenge with Social Security and Medicare, because now we're talking about getting Main Street America off the dole.
If we want to fix the problems, we're going to have to start getting real.