Real freedom comes with a well-funded social safety net

Susan Reimer's thoughtful column ("How much are they worth to you?" Oct. 9) reminded this reader how fortunate my Baby Boom generation has been that the federal government provides so many services for our elderly parents. Without them, we would have long ago had to start making even more agonizing choices between pursuing our dreams and caring for Mom and Dad.

These programs have made us all, boomers and the World War II generation, much freer in our personal lives. Conservatives often deride federal programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the state programs that supplement them, as "entitlement programs," implying that the increased government power and taxes necessary to run them somehow make us less free. Nonsense! Conservatives and their libertarian allies currently trying to cut these "entitlements" need to understand that the wealth, freedom and opportunities many Americans enjoy exist because we have an aggressive, pervasive, coercive and, up until now, well-funded central government to enforce the property rights and contract law necessary for a free marketplace to exist, while providing an extensive social safety net for the poor and elderly.

Liberals need to proudly and loudly champion the need for more and smarter government so that the social safety net can be extended and the generations behind the Baby Boomers can be even more free from poverty and the potentially crippling costs of caring for their parents.

Jay Hilgartner, Baltimore

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