Monday, March 22, 2010

Rugged Individualism: Refusing Uncle Sam's Debilitating Handouts

My heart grieves this morning as I hear that our national government will soon make the "healthcare reform" bill law.

Rather than bemoan this issue today though, I want to talk about things that we can do to make our lives independent of government meddling. I am not talking about communes or refusing to pay taxes. What I am talking about today is exercising our individual rights to refuse government assistance.

Every time the government creates an entitlement program, it alters human behavior. For instance, when Social Security was instituted, people began to save less as they anticipated the government would pay for their future income when retirement came. With medicare and medicaid, people have become less conscious about their personal health habits because it is anticipated that the government will pay for their medical bills when they get old and bad health habits catch up to them. The same is true now for yet another national health insurance program.

These programs all create a diffusion of personal responsibility. Why would we choose to behave in a responsible way when the cost of our behavior is paid for by everyone else? It's the same reason that individual people drop wrappers, cigarette butts and other trash on the streets. "The public" owns the streets, they will take care of it, and they do!

Personally, I refuse to live in such a manner that makes my personal actions the responsibility of another. I live my life, and I am teaching my children to live their lives, in a world without Social Security, Medicare, and now National Healtcare. I am not wanting to be pessimistic or alarmist, but, the reality is that these institutions will likely not exist in their current form in the next 30 years. It's a mathematical certainty.

So how to we live "off the nanny-state grid" with this lifestyle of rugged individualism? It's quite simple. To plan for our retirement, my wife and I are saving and investing in things that will provide income for us when we are old. I am not counting on Social Security at all. To help us in medical needs, we purchased a HSA (Health Savings Account) that has a $6000 dedecutible. Premiums and this high deductible are LESS than what premiums for our old 80% coverage policy was. Since we are now paying as we go for health care, we are much more mindful about our personal health decisions. We eat much healthier and we are careful about what the children do while playing. When we were younger, my wife and I qualified for WIC. Despite my family pleading for us to use the state assistance, we refused...and we survived to tell the story.

During this period of growing government dependency, we all need to become more independent of government assistance. If we allow ourselves to become dependent on a system that is unsustainable, who shall we turn to the day the system fails us? We can only turn to ourselves. And by that time, it may be too late.

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