Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Tyranny Of Entitlement Programs

Now that we have raised the debt ceiling, we still haven't made any real serious reforms to reducing our budget because it still leaves the nation facing a projected $22 trillion debt ten years from now - an increase of more than $7 trillion from today.
Obama is in denial that entitlement programs are the main reason why our national debt continues to skyrocket despite overwhelming evidence showing that they are the largest driver of our debt. In fact, lets look at the current estimates for these programs:
According to the program's 2011 annual report, Social Security added $46 billion to this year's deficit and will add $9.1 trillion to the national debt over the long term. Medicare was also in the red by $66 billion this year and will add $24.6 trillion to the debt over the same period. Income tax rates for all Americans would have to double to cover this level of spending. No wonder Americans are turning against the welfare state.
A long time ago, Progressives offered a social contract to the American people called the New Deal. It was a Faustain bargain that was to difficult to resist in the Great Depression. The New Deal was a Bad Deal. They traded away independence in exchange for care from the government. What the people didn't realize is that the bad terms of the faustain New Deal wouldn't fall on them but their children in the future. The elderly today continue uphold the terms of this social contract in that they are willing to sacrifice the financial security of the future in order for their government to subsidize their needs and wants today just as their parents and grandparents did before them: 
As it is, the U.S. is turning into a tyranny of the gerontocracy, one willing to sacrifice its grandchildren so the oldies can live comfortably in their Florida condos as they consume vast quantities of high-tech health care in a futile effort to extend their lives forever. As the thinker Walter Russell Mead puts it, the U.S. health system marries the greed of the private sector to the ineptitude of government. This health-care industrial complex will soon account for one-fifth of the economy. Most health care is consumed by seniors. This isn’t a formula for national greatness.
One of the reasons why entitlement programs have become sacred programs that cannot be cut is of the myth that it helps the poor and the vulnerable. Yet, when it comes to helping the elderly, most of them are not poor but are in the middle and upper class
True, some elderly live hand-to-mouth; many more are comfortable, and some are wealthy. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports the following for Medicare beneficiaries in 2010: 25 percent had savings and retirement accounts averaging $207,000 or more; among homeowners (four-fifths of those 65 and older), three-quarters had equity in their houses averaging $132,000; about 25 percent had incomes exceeding $47,000 (that’s for individuals, and couples would be higher). 
The myth doesn't apply just to the elderly but the to the 30 million of Americans who are classified as being in "poverty" in America. The Heritage Foundation provides two graphs that provide an eye opening comparison Americans in general and poor Americans:
If we want to be serious about taking care of those who really are vulnerable and poor, we're spending way too much because we're also helping the middle class and in some cases, the rich. As the Heritage Foundation points out, the exaggeration and misinformation about poverty in America has led us to divert more resources to the problem of poverty than is needed: 
Over the long term, exaggeration has the potential to promote a substantial misallocation of limited resources for a government that is facing massive future deficits. In addition, exaggeration and misinformation obscure the nature, extent, and causes of real material deprivation, thereby hampering the development of well-targeted, effective programs to reduce the problem. Poverty is an issue of serious social concern, and accurate information about that problem is always essential in crafting public policy.
As we can see, entitlement programs goes to support people who may not really need the support of these services. As a result, our government has created a unique special interest group and voting bloc that consists of people from all walks of life that have have an inordinate amount of power over the affairs of our government's domestic policy. The current debate over raising the debt ceiling proved it. 
Spending on entitlement programs are on autopiliot and we cannot make any cuts to it despite the fact that past payments into these programs were never “saved” to pay future benefits because they were "borrowed" to pay for other things. In the future, entitlement spending will demand more money at expense of all other programs until it becomes a struggle to pay for infrastructure, education, space exploration, science and defense. Yet, we can't make any changes without enraging the entitlement voting bloc/special interest group.
Their needs take priority over everything else and they want their needs met right now regardless if we can't afford it. We give into their demands with full knowledge that we are giving in to their requests even if it means our nation's financial security is at risk. 
The only way to save this country is to stand up to the tyranny of the entitlement takers and engage in entitlement reform so that we can truly help the poor so that we're no longer misallocating our resources but using them wisely. 
Its time release ourselves from the Faustain bargain we've made and rewrite the social contract. The sooner we do this, the better our future will be.

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