fragments of an attempted writing.


I found this article in The Nation worth a read (I don't care for most Nation articles these days):

Charles Koch, billionaire patron of free-market libertarianism, privately championed the benefits of Social Security to Friedrich Hayek, the leading laissez-faire economist of the twentieth century. Koch even sent Hayek a government pamphlet to help him take advantage of America’s federal retirement insurance and healthcare programs.

The hypocrisy charges are a bit of emotional masturbation that is neither here nor there (yeah, communists use Dell computers and blogging platforms with ad based revenue streams to express their views, what choice do they have?, and of course capitalists who paid into Social Security are going to take Social Security, why shouldn't they?).  But the facts at hand are interesting enough, I suppose.  It turns out Hayek was eligible for SS (and Medicare) because he had taught and paid into SS (for long enough) at the U of Chicago some years prior.  At the time of the Koch-Hayek exchange noted here, Hayek had recently undergone gall bladder surgery in Austria (with a near universal health care system) and was concerned about the costs of having health problems away from Austria.  Koch wanted Hayek here in the States in order to help with a Koch think tank that would, ahem, attack institutions like SS and Medicare.

Levine and Ames note Hayek's hardening view towards government provision of SS and health care from The Road to Serfdom (with a relatively liberal stance toward those issues) to The Constitution of Liberty (all government "interference" bad, bad, bad, etc.).  Hayek's later ideology was apparently something which contrasted a bit with the concerns he had regarding his own vulnerable situation.  Levine and Ames contrast the public rhetoric of Koch and Hayek concerning the effectiveness and competence of government safety net programs and the fact that "[i]n private, Koch expresses confidence in Social Security’s ability to care for a clearly worried Hayek. He and his fellow IHS libertarians repeatedly assure Hayek that his government-funded coverage in the United States would be adequate for his medical needs."

Toward the end of the article we get two quite interesting paragraphs:

Meanwhile, in 1974, Charles Koch founded the Cato Institute (called the Charles Koch Foundation until 1977). This think tank has done more than any other to push for an end to Social Security. In 1983 the Cato Journal published a blueprint of how to destroy Social Security, “Achieving a ‘Leninist Strategy,’” by Stuart Butler and Peter Germanis. The authors acknowledged that a strong coalition of Americans backed Social Security and thus saw the need for “guerrilla warfare against both the current Social Security system and the coalition that supports it.” Victory could be far in the future, “but then, as Lenin well knew, to be a successful revolutionary, one must also be patient and consistently plan for real reform,” they write. 
As part of Cato’s campaign, the institute has launched various groups and projects, including the Project on Social Security Choice, whose co-chair is José Piñera, architect of Augusto Pinochet’s controversial pension privatization scheme in Chile. Cato Institute members and alumni also dominated President George W. Bush’s commission on Social Security in his first term and spearheaded Bush’s failed attempt to privatize the program in the early months of his second term.

Hayekian-Leninism?  Hmmm.   What an interesting choice of words from that set.

On the question of libertarian health care schemes, having some familiarity with health care, as a too frequent user and now having seen a wee bit of the provider perspective, I really don't think Hayekians and Paulites realize how many people will still not be able to afford health care if libertarian schemes reduce front end health care costs by 50% or even 75%.  But, of course, in that magical mystical fairy glitter world, private charities will make up a significant amount of the difference, right?  Just like they did before there were public safety net programs, cough, cough, wink, wink.

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