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It has become the go-to policy argument for many liberals and the media: People will die. Repeal Obamacare … and people will die. Cut any social-welfare program by so much as $1 … and people will die. Reform unsustainable entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, and, you guessed it, people will die.
While in some cases this argument is debatable and in others it’s ridiculous, it is always politically potent. Who wants to argue about economic incentives when lives are at stake?
Consider what daily life is like in this country today compared to just just 100 years ago. By every measure we are better off. Even the poor today have access to goods and services that were undreamed of by the rich not so long ago. As recently as the 1960s, for instance, nearly a third of poor households had no telephone. Today, telephone ownership is nearly universal. Roughly half of poor households own a computer, more than 98 percent have a television, and two-thirds have two or more TVs. In 1970, less than half of all poor people had a car; today, two-thirds do.
Too often, advocates of big government look only at one side of the equation: They see the theoretical benefits of whatever program they are proposing while ignoring the costs it will impose on the economy.