The United States government has become the largest insurance company in the world.
Its citizens are among the most heavily insured people in the world. We are insured for many aspects of our lives, from our life itself to other people’s mistakes.
Some insurance fees we pay directly. These include insurance against getting old, Social Security and Disability Insurance, insurance on our health, home, car and mortgage. Some insurance fees are indirect in that the cost of that insurance is passed on to us in the price of a product we buy or income to us is reduced by these fees.
Examples of the first type of indirect insurance are “mistake” insurance, malpractice and liability. A business pays a fee to protect themselves in case they make a mistake. Those fees are passed on to us in higher prices.
Unemployment and FDIC insurance are examples of the second type of indirect insurance.
Unemployment insurance is a based on a percentage of the wages paid by an employer to an employee. An employer typically reduces the wages that it can pay an employee by that amount. FDIC insurance is a fee charged to banks to protect savings against bank failure. The bank reduces the interest it can pay on a savings account to offset the fee. Like individuals, businesses pay for many types of insurance, passing the cost on to their customers in the form of higher prices.
There is another indirect form of insurance in the form of taxes paid into a general fund.
We are insured against poverty in the form of SSI and food stamp programs, whose payments come out of general Federal and State tax revenues.
How have Federal and State governments become so heavily involved in the insurance business? With the passage of the Social Security Act during the 1930s Depression, the Federal government entered the annuity insurance business – sort of. Annuities are a type of insurance where a person pays premiums over a period of time and, at the end of that period, begins collecting payments from the insurance company. Insurance companies invest the premiums paid in order to make the payments at a later time. The Federal government, on the other hand, spends the premiums received each year, relying on future premiums to make payments. If our Federal government did not spend the premiums each year, Social Security would be more like an annuity program. Since the premiums are spent, it is a Ponzi scheme.
With the introduction of the Medicare and Medicaid programs in the 1960s, the Federal government stepped into the health insurance business. Unlike private health insurers who charge higher premiums for those with higher risks, the government charges higher premiums based on a person’s ability to pay higher premiums. This premium pricing system is most often used by those in the protection racket.
Ponzi schemes and protection rackets eventually collapse. What can we do? Elect representatives who are willing to make a transition to a valid business model. Elect representatives who will support a new law giving them a legal fiduciary duty to the voters and taxpayers. Without that duty, our elected reps have no responsibility to the public or liability for their actions other than the prospect of losing their jobs. They can enact laws and make promises with impunity. We, the voters and taxpayers, pay the price.