The Harrison, Arkansas, Daily Times reports that FedEx has covered the $11,000 bill for an air ambulance to take 7-year-old Jada Harper from Houston to her home in Arkansas. The girl has terminal cancer and is expected to die within a few months. Since the ailing girl could not have survived ground transportation, an air ambulance was the only viable option, but the family was too poor to afford it.
Now, let’s assume that the federal government had a program to address this particular need and that the girl had been transported home as part of that program.
What would statists say if a libertarian were to come along and propose that the program be abolished?
They would say, “You hate the poor and the needy! Without this program, this little girl would never have gotten home to die with her family.”
But this story of this little girl and Fed Ex is precisely what happens in a free society and in a free market. While freedom provides no guarantees as to how people will choose to use their own money, the fact is that most people in society are willing to help others when they perceive an urgent need.
Moreover, it would seem self-evident that the more money people have, the more willing they would be to donate money. The less money they have, the less they’re able to help others.
The big problem facing our nation is both economic and psychological in nature.
On the economic side, the federal government is taxing people to an ever-growing extent, leaving them with less money to give away to charity. The taxes are either direct, as through the IRS, or indirect, as through monetary debasement (i.e., inflation, manifested by rising prices) at the hands of the Federal Reserve. The less people are left with, the less they are able to donate to worthy causes.
The psychological problem is that the American people have quite simply lost faith in themselves, in freedom and free markets, and in God. They simply cannot bring themselves to believe that they would survive and prosper without a paternalistic Caesar coercively providing for their retirement, health care, job loss, food subsidies, and children’s education.
The two prime examples of where these economic and psychological problems coalesce are Social Security and Medicare. All that Americans want to consider is “reform, reform, reform” of these programs. Repeal is simply not part of the debate lexicon. The thought of repealing these socialist programs strikes more fear in the hearts of the American people than that which strikes a heroin addict at the thought of losing his drug.
“How would people survive without Social Security and Medicare? Old people would be dying in the streets! You must hate senior citizens! You just want them all to die!”
But the fact is that free human beings are remarkably resilient. If Social Security and Medicare (and all other socialistic welfare-state programs) were repealed today, everyone would not only be fine, they would be better off.
For one thing, the younger generations would have an immediate and significant pay raise, given that they would no longer be burdened by the heavy taxes that fund these immoral, corrupt, and wasteful programs.
Second, many old people are wealthy enough to handle their own retirement and health care needs.
Third, doctors and insurance companies would immediately come up with ingenious ways to handle people’s health-care needs at reasonable costs.
Fourth, older people would feel better about themselves knowing that they had lifted the enormous state-imposed tax-and-inflation burden on their children’s and grandchildren’s generations.
Fifth, the private sector would come up with ways to help those people who truly need help, just as it has with 7-year-old Jada Harper.
What is needed in America most of all at this juncture of our lives is a restoration not only of economic liberty and free markets but also a restoration of faith in ourselves, in freedom, and in God.