Many changes are needed to bring aging institutions into sync with the way people are living their lives in the 21st century. Here are a few suggestions:
• We need a fairer tax system for two-earner couples, ideally a flat tax.
• We need a flexible employee benefit system that makes it easier for dual-earner couples to obtain higher wages rather than unneeded, duplicate benefits; and for part-time workers to accept lower wages in return for more valuable health and retirement benefits.
• We need flexibility in labor law, making it easier for workers (especially parents with young children) to choose alternatives to the traditional 40-hour work week.
• We need to make health and retirement benefits portable — so that people are not penalized when they switch jobs.
• We need a complete reform of the treatment of spouses under Social Security, as well as reform of the unemployment insurance and our welfare system.
John C. Goodman is president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, research fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the forthcoming book “Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis.” He is widely known as the “Father of Health Savings Accounts,” and Modern Healthcare named him as one of four people who have most influenced the modern health care system.