I read this week that Planned Parenthood was abandoning the pro-choice label for their pro-abortion position as “not descriptive” of their actual position. I have to agree, and the good news is that leaves the pro-choice label for real choices, made by individual in their own lives to direct their future, not for an event that is made by one individual for another. Hence, the title of this article, because liberty is about allowing people to direct their own lives. To this point in this set of articles, I have made broad brush statements about the importance of a liberty agenda for the future of the Republican Party in California. This article is going to break down that agenda into individual policy areas, specifically welfare, health care, and education.
To a Republican, these policy areas are the most difficult to approach from a pro-liberty perspective, and so most Republican officeholders and even a few think tanks and activists, get lost in the debates about how to address these issues.
First welfare–our current welfare system (and by welfare system, I mean all programs that address the less fortunate, whether they are in that position because of economic circumstances or physical or mental disabilities) has failed those it purports to serve, but those who are in the system feel they have no choices, and they are correct. In addition, those who fund the system, the taxpayers, face the same issue. They have to give the money to the government. The current system, driven as it is by government employee unions and other professionals who make money off the system, uses those who need the system to survive, and the welfare profiteers care little about the recipients, except for the money those profiteers get from it. The key fixing the system is giving choices, either to recipients, or to those who fund the system, the taxpayers.
Second–health care. The same goes for the government run health care systems. Those who make money off the current system drive the policy choices. Those who need the system for their survival are afterthoughts in the policy discussions, and are literally left without choices. The same for private insurance systems driven by the tax code. Almost all of the health care decisions in our current system are made by third parties, government, insurance companies, or business owners. The key to fixing our health care issues is granting choices to those who require health care service, either through revising the government plans (today mostly for the poor), or changing the tax code.
Finally–education. Parents know the system is failing their children, but most parents feel like they don’t have a choice. Taxes take their money, and send it to these school systems, who then react to the demands of the teachers’ unions, and not the needs of the children. Once again, offering these parents choices is the liberty agenda.
So, how would Republicans pursue a liberty agenda in these policy areas, without sounding hard hearted? Simple. First, change the tax code, so that taxpayer choices in these areas would be more than just “send the money to the government.” Whether the tax code provides credits or “full” deductions for contributions or payments to charities, or health care or educations decisions, a change in the tax codes affecting these areas would maximize taxpayer choices. Today, if you give to charities, those deductions are limited. If you pay for your own health care, or your child’s education, those payments are from after tax dollars. That eliminates, or completely removes in most cases, choices from the taxpayer. Pressing for equal treatment in the tax code for faith based charities, or health care or educational decisions made by the individual paying for those services promotes liberty.
As for the system itself, it needs to maximize choices for the recipients. Faith based charities give the person in need an alternative to the welfare office. As important, private charities are more likely to find the truly needy, and weed out the leeches.
Allowing those who care most about the developmentally disabled or mentally ill to make choices about the service providers rendering services to their family members or loved ones maximizes the value of the service provided. Is it perfect? No, there will be fraud, but there is fraud now. Today, the politically connected who engage in fraud are protected. In a liberty based system, they will, more likely than not, go out of business. Government agencies, no matter how they are constituted, are always subject to political pressure, territorial-ism, or a variety of other “bureaucratic” evils that ultimately serve the government, and not the needy. Family choice is the key to improved taxpayer value and liberty
In education, the system of school placement must be one of parental choice. Parents know who the good teachers are, and once parents are allowed to choose, teachers will get better, or leave the system. The parent network in any school system (and I mean ANY school system, rich or poor) is a wealth of information, and parents who care will find out who is good and who is not in a particular school. Today, the argument that some parents don’t care deprives the majority of parents who do care of choice. In a system driven by parental choice, parents who don’t care will actually receive a benefit in higher quality education, by the decisions of the parents who do care. Advancing liberty makes education better for everyone.
In all of these cases, the pursuit of liberty improves the quality of these heretofore government only services. As important, defining how liberty can advance the cause of everyone, even those in need, gives the Republicans a heart, and increases their stature in the eyes of Joe Everyvoter. Increasing individual choices increases Republican electoral chances.