Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More on Pensions, Math, and the Right Thing to Do

This blog's two most recent posts (here and here) describe how a state government can promise its workers retirement benefits that have not been pre-funded by the workers or the state, leaving the reader to find that the source of the funds is eventually, of course, the taxpayer.  The math is straight forward.  And because in the provided real life and hypothetical examples the worker does not set aside his future financial needs through savings, and because the "state government" really is the representative of the citizens' collective will, it stands to reason that the state's citizens, and even their descendants, are ultimately responsible.

But I don't believe that those citizens who elect politicians who enact laws and policies that allow such holes to be dug are intentionally punishing their children and grandchildren.  And I believe the great majority of voters would say that one man should not be forced to finance another man's retirement expenses.  So I am left to wonder why we have allowed our representatives to establish policies and pass laws that have weakened the need for personal responsibility and accountability by shifting the burden of retirement funding for some onto the backs of others.

The growth of government has been astronomical in the past century.  We have given the government power over many areas of our lives.  Such a hand off must have been inspired by a belief among citizens that "we" would be better off after having spread the responsibilities formerly assigned to individuals to the public.  This message has been effectively spread.  I can almost hear the politician saying that "we can accomplish anything if we just work together."

But an individual will always be most effectively motivated to perform at the highest possible levels when he knows the spoils are for his family, and for himself, to keep.  The idea that a socialist system is great in theory but flawed in practice is intellectually accepted to the point that one may assume it to be a scientific fact.  We humans want to care for others, and the oldest among us need assistance.  And as the video below so emotionally communicates, this kind of care is intimate, the kind that is also most humanely given by family or by someone with whom the elderly person has a special bond.

So why do we not hold ourselves and our elected officials accountable for applying the principles of personal responsibility to policies such as pension plans for state workers?  It is possible that, after believing the message that "we can accomplish anything if we just work together," we have enacted so many policies and laws that our government has grown so large that its systems have become too complex to understand.  Or at least too complex to quickly make enough people understand to the point that they can quickly change course.  But as the repetitious use implies, the key word is "quickly."  The course will be changed, unless the "scientific fact" that a marxist society cannot prosper, and therefore allow enable us to humanely care for one another, is proven wrong.

And removing the chain of accountability between generations of family members is not only unwise economically.  It is also the wrong way to treat people.  And we citizens will figure that out.

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