Letter to the editor: Response to column on "welfare state"

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Response to column on "welfare state"

Don Keelan's tongue in cheek article, "Let's complete the welfare state" ( Banner, July 30-31) calls for a response. Continuous reference to 'welfare state' belies fundamental facts in the development of just, sensible, civilized societies.

The statement of Vermont priding itself in the past for independence and being self-reliant of government is disingenuous. Tell that to the self-reliant individual who just lost their life savings in bankruptcy due to a medical exigency. That can't happen in the rest of the developed world. We should look at history and realize progress has been made in relieving misery, saving lives and developing a strong nation by the provision of entitlements as productive progress was made. Reference Wagner's Law in economics, simply stated: government ( and some NGOs) will increase in size and involvement at an increasing rate as inflation adjusted per capita productivity increases. That is we have the wherewithal. A conservative, Theodore Roosevelt, proposed the radical idea of workmen compensation.

We since have seen social security, minimum wage, 40 hour work week, unemployment compensation, medicare and other entitlements that few would want to eliminate.

Moreover, we are way behind the rest of the developed world in bringing about entitlements we need and can well afford: Universal health care, statutory paid, sick leave, vacation time, maternity leave and so forth. One recent survey of 185 countries found only two without paid maternity leave: The U.S. and Papua New Guinea. Economists measure inequity with the 'Gini coefficient' . The U.S. has the worst of any developed country. So, are we to arrogantly say we are right and the rest of the (developed) world is wrong? By the way, Greece suffered because legitimate taxes were not collected. Venezuela relied on the single commodity oil whose price plummeted. Those examples are not arguments against entitlements, but against poor planning and management.

— Dr. Edward Scott, M.A. (econ) D.B.A. Hoosick Falls, N.Y.


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