American Elephants

Seems Like Common Sense to Me by The Elephant's Child

Democrats will not consider reform of entitlements. They have achieved what success they have found by being the party of handouts. Everywhere, it is entitlements of one sort or another that are destroying economies. California cities are going bankrupt right and left, largely because of entitlements — overly generous pensions promised, and overly generous pay packages that they can no longer afford. The state of Michigan is about to dump Detroit’s city government and install a manager with the power to try to rescue the city.

At the federal level, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all destined to go broke sooner, rather than later, but Democrats will not consider reform. All three programs are rife with fraud and waste. Vastly increased life-expectancy has played hob with the original assumptions behind these programs, and on the other end is a birth-dearth which leaves more older people to be supported by ever smaller numbers of working people. Throw the retiring baby boom into the mix, and all three programs are in deep, deep trouble.

Democrats have long-expected to be reelected by claiming that Republicans want to take away your Social Security, deprive you of care in your old age (“Throw granny off the cliff”), and to take away all the benefits that Democrats have promised. If they cannot depend on scare tactics, what do they have to offer?

With increased life-expectancy, people should be able to accept a gradual increase in the retirement age. Working one more year before retirement shouldn’t be that big a problem. Many people don’t want to quit working anyway. Those who are not required to retire at 65 often choose to work for many more years.

One must assume that Democrats are just naturally bad at math, or math avoiders, or unfamiliar with cost-benefit analysis, or their thought processes naturally turn only to emotional content. What is the matter with these people? Do they just assume that these programs are destined to always survive? Or like Scarlett O’Hara— they’ll think about that tomorrow?

In the years since the end of World War II, from 1945–2008, the number of jobs grew in 86% of the months, or 640 out of 744. The Reagan recovery produced job growth in 81 out of 82 months — twenty million new jobs in the first seven years alone, increasing the federal work force by 20%. That grew into eight million new jobs after 2003 — with capital gains and dividend tax rate cuts. History.

Some states and cities are learning that they can no longer afford the generous promises they have made. The federal government is approaching that tipping-point.

President Obama believes that consumer “demand” drives economic growth and prosperity. If he just puts money into people’s pockets, consumers will quickly spend the money and the economy will recover. That was the flawed notion behind the cut in payroll taxes. Didn’t work. Observing hard times and uncertainty about jobs, people saved the extra money in their paychecks, and cut back on spending as well.

The benefits provided by government largess are never enough for a comfortable life. Food stamps (without cheating) don’t provide gourmet meals. Social Security alone is not enough to retire on. Welfare doesn’t move you up in the world. The more government largess is distributed, the fewer people there are to support that largess. It is inevitably a downward spiral for everyone. When the government provides a bad example of crony-capitalism or dishonesty, soon more people follow the example set.

Government doesn’t have any money of its own. It only acquires funds by taxing the people. The more government grows, the more revenue it needs; the more revenue they get by taxing the people, the more the economy declines and the fewer working people there are to pay taxes. Why is that so damned hard to understand?



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One of the best reforms that could be made to entitlements is simple, with minimal cost and should drive down entitlement spending within 6 months of the change.

What would change? Stop calling these wealth transfers “entitlements” and start calling them what they are: Charity.

I’m reasonably sure that people would do almost anything to avoid being seen as “taking charity”. They might even get jobs. And by not immediately cutting funding, the entitlement hustlers wouldn’t have a legal leg to stand on when they realized what was happening. I mean can you see the judge’s face when one of them starts in about how these folks are not charity cases? Yeah, sure Wilbur. They subsist on someone else’s labors, and that makes them “entitled” to that money?


Comment by Jim Yardley

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