Tag Archives: death spiral

2 cartoons illustrate the fate of socialism from the Cato Institute

Cato Institute scholar Dan Mitchell is right about Greece and the fate of socialism:

In my speeches, especially when talking about the fiscal crisis in Europe (or the future fiscal crisis in America), I often warn that the welfare state reaches a point-of-no-return when the number of people riding in the wagon begins to outnumber the number of people pulling the wagon.

To be more specific, if more than 50 percent of the population is dependent on government (employed in the bureaucracy, living off welfare, receiving pensions, etc), it becomes rather difficult to form a coalition to fix the mess. This may explain why Greek politicians have resisted significant reforms, even though the nation faces a fiscal death spiral.

But you don’t need me to explain this relationship. One of our Cato interns, Silvia Morandotti, used her artistic skills to create two images (click pictures for better resolution) that show what a welfare state looks like when it first begins and what it eventually becomes.

These images are remarkably accurate. The welfare state starts with small programs targeted at a handful of genuinely needy people. But as  politicians figure out the electoral benefits of expanding programs and people figure out the that they can let others work on their behalf, the ratio of producers to consumers begins to worsen.

Eventually, even though the moochers and looters should realize that it is not in their interest to over-burden the people pulling the wagon, the entire system breaks down.

Then things get really interesting. Small nations such as Greece can rely on permanent bailouts from bigger countries and the IMF, but sooner or later, as larger nations begin to go bankrupt, that approach won’t be feasible.

I often conclude my speeches by joking with the audience that it’s time to stock up on canned goods, bottled water, and ammo. Many people, I’m finding, don’t think that line very funny.

___________________

The Department of Health and Human Services administers the huge and fast-growing Medicare and Medicaid programs. These programs fuel rising health costs, distort health markets, and are plagued by waste and fraud. The department also runs an array of other expensive subsidy programs, including Head Start, TANF, and LIHEAP. Growth in HHS spending is creating a federal financial crisis, and the 2010 health care law sadly makes the situation worse.

The department will spend $910 billion in 2011, or $7,710 for every U.S. household. It employs 68,000 workers and runs more than 420 subsidy programs.

Milton Friedman – Roots Of The Welfare State


Timeline of Government Growth

  • See this timeline for key events in the department’s growth.

Reading Room

Cato Experts

Spending Cuts Summary

  • Here are proposed reforms to save $81 billion annually in the short-run and prevent federal health costs from consuming a growing share of the economy in the long-run.

Downsize This!

  • Medicare Reforms. Medicare should be transformed into a system based on vouchers, individual savings, and competitive insurance markets.
  • Medicaid Reforms. Federal spending on low-income health care should be converted to block grants for the states.
  • TANF and Welfare Spending. Welfare reforms in 1996 created Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, but this sort of aid should be provided by private charities.
  • Head Start and Other Subsidies. HHS funds a vast array of other subsidy programs, many of which are wasteful and ineffective.
  • 2010 Health Care Legislation. The law expanded Medicaid, added new taxes and subsidies, created new bureaucracies, and did little to reduce cost growth in health care.

The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.

– James Madison. A paraphrase from Elliot’s Debates regarding a proposed subsidy bill, House of Representatives, January 10, 1794.

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____________ Levin on Milton Friedman: ‘One Thing to Have Free Immigration to Jobs, Another for Welfare’ By Michael Morris | January 16, 2015 | 5:12 PM EST During his show on January 15, 2015, Nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin recalled the famed economist Milton Friedman and explored an important reason why open immigration, despite […]

Levin on Milton Friedman: ‘One Thing to Have Free Immigration to Jobs, Another for Welfare’ By Michael Morris | January 16, 2015

_____________________ Levin on Milton Friedman: ‘One Thing to Have Free Immigration to Jobs, Another for Welfare’ By Michael Morris | January 16, 2015 | 5:12 PM EST During his show on January 15, 2015, Nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin recalled the famed economist Milton Friedman and explored an important reason why open immigration, despite […]

Open letter to President Obama (Part 691) Milton Friedman did not favor free immigration with existing welfare state in USA

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Open letter to President Obama (Part 683) Milton Friedman’s solution to the welfare state

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“Friedman Friday” Milton Friedman had a solution to the welfare state!!!

I have written about the tremendous increase in the food stamp program the last 9 years before and that means that both President Obama and Bush were guilty of not trying to slow down it’s growth. Furthermore, Republicans have been some of the biggest supporters of the food stamp program. Milton Friedman had a good […]

Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman’s answer to the welfare problem in 1980 will still work today

_____________________________________ Milton Friedman On Charlie Rose (Part One) The late Milton Friedman discusses economics and otherwise with Charlie Rose. _________________________________________ Milton Friedman: Life and ideas – Part 01 Milton Friedman: Life and ideas A brief biography of Milton Friedman _____________________________________ Stossel – “Free to Choose” (Milton Friedman) 1/6 6-10-10. pt.1 of 6. Stossel discusses Milton […]

Milton Friedman had a solution to today’s welfare mentality!!!

  I have written about the tremendous increase in the food stamp program the last 9 years before and that means that both President Obama and Bush were guilty of not trying to slow down it’s growth. Furthermore, Republicans have been some of the biggest supporters of the food stamp program. Milton Friedman had a […]

Milton Friedman did not favor free immigration with existing welfare state in USA

Milton Friedman did not favor free immigration with existing welfare state in USA Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 2 Uploaded on Dec 18, 2009 (2 of 2) Professor Friedman fields a question on the dynamics of illegal immigration ________________ Heritage Responds to Senator Rubio on Immigration Study Amy Payne May 8, 2013 at […]

The Welfare trap can be destroyed by Milton Friedman’s negative income tax

The best way to destroy the welfare trap is to put in Milton Friedman’s negative income tax. A Picture of How Redistribution Programs Trap the Less Fortunate in Lives of Dependency I wrote last year about the way in which welfare programs lead to very high implicit marginal tax rates on low-income people. More specifically, they […]

Hong Kong and the Miracle of Compounding Long-Run Growth March 11, 2016 by Dan Mitchell (with video from Milton Friedman)

Testing Milton Friedman: Free Markets – Full Video Hong Kong and the Miracle of Compounding Long-Run Growth March 11, 2016 by Dan Mitchell Hong Kong is a truly remarkable jurisdiction. Can you name, after all, another government in the world that brags about how little it spends on redistribution programs andhow few people are dependent on […]

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2 cartons illustrate the fate of socialism from the Cato Institute

Cato Institute scholar Dan Mitchell is right about Greece and the fate of socialism:

In my speeches, especially when talking about the fiscal crisis in Europe (or the future fiscal crisis in America), I often warn that the welfare state reaches a point-of-no-return when the number of people riding in the wagon begins to outnumber the number of people pulling the wagon.

To be more specific, if more than 50 percent of the population is dependent on government (employed in the bureaucracy, living off welfare, receiving pensions, etc), it becomes rather difficult to form a coalition to fix the mess. This may explain why Greek politicians have resisted significant reforms, even though the nation faces a fiscal death spiral.

But you don’t need me to explain this relationship. One of our Cato interns, Silvia Morandotti, used her artistic skills to create two images (click pictures for better resolution) that show what a welfare state looks like when it first begins and what it eventually becomes.

These images are remarkably accurate. The welfare state starts with small programs targeted at a handful of genuinely needy people. But as  politicians figure out the electoral benefits of expanding programs and people figure out the that they can let others work on their behalf, the ratio of producers to consumers begins to worsen.

Eventually, even though the moochers and looters should realize that it is not in their interest to over-burden the people pulling the wagon, the entire system breaks down.

Then things get really interesting. Small nations such as Greece can rely on permanent bailouts from bigger countries and the IMF, but sooner or later, as larger nations begin to go bankrupt, that approach won’t be feasible.

I often conclude my speeches by joking with the audience that it’s time to stock up on canned goods, bottled water, and ammo. Many people, I’m finding, don’t think that line very funny.

___________________

The Department of Health and Human Services administers the huge and fast-growing Medicare and Medicaid programs. These programs fuel rising health costs, distort health markets, and are plagued by waste and fraud. The department also runs an array of other expensive subsidy programs, including Head Start, TANF, and LIHEAP. Growth in HHS spending is creating a federal financial crisis, and the 2010 health care law sadly makes the situation worse.

The department will spend $910 billion in 2011, or $7,710 for every U.S. household. It employs 68,000 workers and runs more than 420 subsidy programs.


Timeline of Government Growth

  • See this timeline for key events in the department’s growth.

Reading Room

Cato Experts

Spending Cuts Summary

  • Here are proposed reforms to save $81 billion annually in the short-run and prevent federal health costs from consuming a growing share of the economy in the long-run.

Downsize This!

  • Medicare Reforms. Medicare should be transformed into a system based on vouchers, individual savings, and competitive insurance markets.
  • Medicaid Reforms. Federal spending on low-income health care should be converted to block grants for the states.
  • TANF and Welfare Spending. Welfare reforms in 1996 created Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, but this sort of aid should be provided by private charities.
  • Head Start and Other Subsidies. HHS funds a vast array of other subsidy programs, many of which are wasteful and ineffective.
  • 2010 Health Care Legislation. The law expanded Medicaid, added new taxes and subsidies, created new bureaucracies, and did little to reduce cost growth in health care.

The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.

– James Madison. A paraphrase from Elliot’s Debates regarding a proposed subsidy bill, House of Representatives, January 10, 1794.

Should the rich move off the land?

President Obama and other politicians are advocating higher taxes, with a particular emphasis on class-warfare taxes targeting the so-called rich. This Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation video explains why fiscal policy based on hate and envy is fundamentally misguided. For more information please visit our web page: www.freedomandprosperity.org.

______________________

Should the rich move off the land?

Another great article from the Wall Street Journal. (I do not believe in evolution but the illustration is a good one as far as the point goes.)

  • OCTOBER 1, 2011

Driving the Rich Into the Sea

Megaship ahoy! To escape higher taxes, the wealthy could relocate…to open waters

According to biologists, billions of years ago the first sea creature wiggled onto the beach. This was a pivotal moment in life’s long march from amorphous sea snot into the highest form of mammalian beings—hedge-fund managers. Many people see that as an improvement, but I’m not judgmental. What we don’t know is why the first sea creatures were so anxious to leave their ocean habitats. My guess is that it had something to do with taxes.

Reliable people on television have informed me that taxes are the root cause of all behavior. And that means we can predict the future by looking at tax policy. In fact, I hear tax-related predictions every time I accidentally stop thinking about myself long enough to notice that others are talking. What I haven’t yet seen is anyone correctly predicting the future based on tax policy. Apparently that burden has fallen to me.

Scott AdamsFreed of taxes, a billionaire could save enough money to pay for a floating fortress of awesomeness.

Somewhere in Washington our leaders are furiously planning an economic death spiral. It will start innocently with a modest tax increase on the rich, the same way you might pluck a chicken to give it fair warning before you barbecue it. The final phase will involve a tax rate on the top 1% of earners that is so high it can’t be described without the Viking word for pillage. I base my prediction on the fact that the country is out of money, poor people don’t have any, rich people do, and the middle class has almost figured out how voting works.

In the old days, every member of the middle class thought he or she had a chance of becoming rich. In that sort of optimistic environment, you don’t want to urinate in the pool that you hope to someday swim in. But lately there’s more fatalism in the air, thanks to our crushing debt and the hobo militias that I assume are forming all over the country. The middle class will soon trade their unrealistic dreams of wealth for the opportunity to transfer money from total strangers to themselves—a process often referred to as fairness. That’s when the rich will get serious about an escape plan, just like the brave little sea creatures billions of years ago.

But where can the rich go? Their choices include nations that have swarms of malaria-infested mosquitoes, bad TV, deadly climates, decapitation issues, French people, bland food and other signs of inhospitableness. When you consider these factors plus wars, pollution, terrorism, floods, droughts, earthquakes and tornadoes, I think you’ll agree that most of the surveyed land on Earth is unfit for fancy people.

This is where technology trends come in. We’ve already entered the era of megaships, including plans for island-size vessels with permanent homes and businesses. We’ll soon see rapid advances in high-speed Internet for seafaring vessels, floating fisheries, hydroponic gardens, energy generated from waves, and desalination. The only other element needed to trigger mass migration of the wealthy to the oceans is a financial motive. If a billionaire can escape taxation by leaving his dirt-based country behind, he’ll save more than enough money to pay for his floating fortress of awesomeness.

Out at sea, you can declare your own sovereign state or form alliances with other island-vessels. Taxes would be a thing of the past. Any government-like decisions can be handled through a Facebook page. The only downside would be listening to Ron Paul nagging you to use Twitter instead to keep government small.

Pirates would be a cause of concern, obviously. But if a billionaire has enough money to buy an island-size vessel, he probably has enough to outfit it with a drone air force, radar, sonar, laser guns, torpedoes, ship-to-ship missiles, and other technology so cool that just thinking about it raises my testosterone count.

If some country with a military tells you to move from its favorite part of the ocean, you can turn off your stabilizers and let the current do the rest. Your island home would be like a Gandhi that floats. (That’s not redundant, because I’m almost positive that Gandhi would go straight to the bottom of the pool if he tried to tread water.)

And no nation is going to try to conquer an island vessel for its treasure, because most of the residents’ riches will be invested in financial instruments, not stuffed in mattresses on the ship. For a fully equipped military, the cost of attacking an island vessel would exceed the value of the designer handbags and gold toilets it could seize.

The ocean is the safest place on Earth if you play it right. Super hurricanes caused by climate change (allegedly!) are no problem for ships that can relocate at any time. And droughts can’t hurt you if you get the desalinization technology right. There’s almost no problem so big that it can’t be avoided by a billionaire in the middle of an ocean.

You might doubt my vision of the future, but let me ask you two questions: 1) How big is Larry Ellison’s yacht? 2) Does his Japanese-style house have paper walls for realism or to make it lighter because he plans to someday lift it with helicopters and move it to his boat?

—Mr. Adams is the creator of “Dilbert.”