As in so much else, Progressives hold an outdated conception of the debate over entitlements. They conceive it as the Left supporting generous entitlements for seniors and the poor with no questions asked, no obligations expected, versus the right supporting no safety net at all, let private charity handle it, and if some of the poor have to starve, and some of the sick suffer or die without health care, because private charity is inadequate, so be it.
But modern, free market conservatives have built on Hayek’s recognition that social safety nets are not inconsistent with free markets, and just reflect modern social responsibility. Free market conservatives today are advancing fundamental entitlement reforms that would actually serve seniors and the poor far better than today’s outdated entitlement programs based on old fashioned, 19th century, tax and spend conceptions. These free market safety nets would be based on market competition, incentives, and individual choice. They would rely primarily on modern capital and labor markets to achieve their goals far more effectively. Their incentives would promote productive behavior that contributes to rather than detracts from economic growth and prosperity for all.
A case in point is Medicaid, the national entitlement program for the poor, to ensure that no one suffers without essential health care due to lack of money. That was one focus of the Presidential debate between Obama and Romney this week, in which Romney again thoroughly flummoxed an uninformed Obama, lost deep in the last century. That program is also a central component of the entitlement problem threatening to bankrupt the nation.