Should Medicare and Social Security be Privatized?

Feb 6th, 2010 | By | Category: Social Security & Medicare

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently proposed a “Roadmap for America’s Future:  2.0”.  In it, he suggests (among other proposals) the ‘sane’ way to proceed into the next decade would be to privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher program.

The foundation for such proposals and discussion is that privatizing and vouchers open up choice and promote competition, which—theoretically—should lower cost.  In theory, the deficit could be considerably reduced with such sweeping national change.

In his defense, Representative Ryan is looking at options for reducing the deficit facing our nation.  Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike share this very real concern.  He claims his proposed changes would reduce the deficit significantly.  However, SCJ responds with serious questions about his ‘solutions’.

  1. Social Security is an entitlement program for our country’s senior citizens.  What are the inherent dangers to entitlement when a program is based in the private sector?  Is it possible that some seniors would in fact end up being excluded?
  2. The assumption is that, in the private sector, competition would keep prices down.  That hasn’t happened, for example, with prescription drugs.  Who is to say the same thing would not happen if Social Security were privatized?  The cost of prescription drugs is totally out of hand.  Isn’t it possible that a privatized Social Security program would get worse, not better?
  3. We have similar questions about a voucher program for Medicare.  Vouchers have proven to be very problematic with the private school programs throughout the country.  In fact, in various communities in Arizona, educational vouchers have proven to generate exclusivity among educational programs rather than opening up choices.  What’s to say that would not also happen with Medicare vouchers?
  4. Without governmental regulation and management, greed seems to take over private sector behavior (e.g., big bank failures).  What’s to say that would not happen with Medicare vouchers and a privatized Social Security program?

It appears that our modern civilization has not evolved to the point that behavior based on the greatest good for all supersedes greed and private gain.  Representative Ryan needs to put his plan on the back burner and wait until we can all be assured such radical change will in fact benefit us all.



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