Monday, Dec. 5, 2011 | 2:01 a.m.
This is in response to Jim Reid’s letter regarding social safety nets. He is absolutely correct: Having safety nets does cause problems in that they have to be funded through some form of taxation.
Generally, fewer taxes are better than more taxes. However, not having safety nets causes much more severe problems. Before pensions and socialized medical care, life expectancies were much lower than they are today. Most were not able to retire. People basically worked until they dropped dead. In professions like mining people died very young.
In addition, there were people who had no access to comprehensive medical care. They died in agony in their own homes or at work.
A couple retiring today at 65 will need $225,000 in savings just to cover co-pays and treatments. A recent poll shows only one American in four can definitely come up with $2,000 in 30 days. When it comes to medical care this amount of money buys next to nothing.
Without Medicare and Medicaid, three-quarters of the population would have a hard time getting medical services. None of these people would ever be able to retire. If Americans wanted to get rid of social safety nets, they could easily do so and go back to the lifestyle of the early 1900s.
My guess is that it’s never going to happen.