One might think that the welfare state started out soaking the rich in order to subsidize the poor. Yet the Social Security payroll tax, a regressive tax in its collection, has always redistributed wealth from the young to the elderly, regardless of income, though the distribution does favor the poor somewhat. Increasingly, the welfare state is about soaking the middle class in order to subsidize the middle class.
Ernest Istook of the Heritage Foundation provided some scary numbers in a recent editorial. He writes, “Today, almost half of America’s children — 45 percent — have their health care paid for by taxpayers. The children’s health bill (SCHIP) now before Congress would boost this to 55 percent.” SCHIP stands for “State Children’s Health Insurance Program,” which is (obviously) mostly funded by federal tax dollars, Istook notes. Istook calls the jump from 45 to 55 percent “the tipping point.” However, not only could SCHIP put most children in government-run health care, it could increase tax-funding of all health care from “almost half” to “the majority of all health care.” Istook predicts, “Eventually, the whole country would be under Washington-run health care, using tax dollars to pay the bills.”
The SCHIP bill claims to cover kids in families earning three times the level of poverty — $62,000 for a family of four — but it goes further, because states are free to disregard huge chunks of income to make more people eligible. This “free” health care for the middle class mostly substitutes government coverage for existing private insurance, because more than three-quarters (77 percent) of the kids who would be newly eligible are already covered by private policies.
Yes, SCHIP would redistribute wealth from from those with more money to those with less — on average. However, SCHIP would also redistribute more money from people like my wife and me, who have put off having children because of our insane tax burden, to people who choose to have children but not financially support them. The main problem with the welfare state is not that it punishes productivity to reward poverty. Its problem is that it punishes the responsible in order to reward the irresponsible.
Let me say this. It is likely that, when my wife and I finally manage to crawl our way out of debt despite handing over many thousands of dollars every year in taxes, we will make less than $62,000 per year as a household, primarily because we’ve decided to raise our (potential) children ourselves, rather than let government employees raise them. All of you pathetic vote buyers and faux social do-gooders can keep your goddamn “socialism for the children.” We want no part of it. We don’t want the government to force other people to pay for the health care of our children. No self-respecting parent wants that. But, as the welfare state expands, our culture does not value self-respecting parents; it values political nannies.
We ask for only one thing. We ask for you to leave us the hell alone. If you’d just leave us alone — leave us alone, for Christ’s sake! — we’d have no problem affording children or their health care.