Apr 26, 2004 4:00 am


Thank you, David, for your kind invitation to return to Liberty & Power for another week of blogging.

As readers are aware, there's much discussion and no little concern about the prospective bankruptcy of Social Security in the U.S. and comparable unfunded state pension schemes in other countries. Self-proclaimed advocates of the free market have often invoked such fears to argue for some measure of privatization, usually a mandatory requirement that people invest some stipulated percentage of their wages in funded private pension schemes. I've long thought that the more dire predictions were overstated and their exposure as such would very likely discredit the cause of liberalization and liberty itself.

Economist Phil Mullan is the author of The Imaginary Time Bomb: Why an Ageing Population Is Not a Social Problem (I. B. Tauris, 2000). Last week he published "Ageing: the future is affordable", in which he persuasively argues against the prognostications of the doomsayers. Although Mullan is not a libertarian and assumes that the state should continue to provide a substantial basic pension and healthcare for retirees, he makes some good points that are well worth reading by anyone who wishes to understand what is going on. The principled libertarian case for individuals taking care of their own pensions and healthcare remains just as valid as ever.

Although proponents of the free market usually dismiss the doom and gloom forecasts of global warming, many continually harp on the worst-case scenarios regarding the future bankruptcy of government pension and healthcare schemes. Skepticism is in order in both cases.

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