US national debt


English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If we pay payroll taxes for 30 or 40 or 50 years as I did, then an individual is entitled to expect that the government lives up it its promises and provides adequate Social Security and Medicare benefits. If lenders lend money to the US government to fund the US national debt as wealthy citizens here in the US and around the world together with some governments have done, then they are entitled to expect repayment with interest in the future. Thus it is possible to look at all government expenditures as an entitlement of some sort. One principal difference among the various forms of entitlement is whether the funding is voluntary or forced through taxation. Another principal difference and one that is often overlooked is who are the beneficiaries of government entitlements? In the case of Social Security and Medicare, the beneficiaries are the 99%. The 1% pay payroll taxes too, but they are wealthy enough to pay for their own retirement and health care, most of us are not. The beneficiaries of the national debt being repaid are the 1%, wealthy individuals here in the US and around the world and some governments.

As I see it, some in government are willing to reduce some entitlements if the beneficiaries are the poor and middle class, while entitlements for the 1% must not be touched. Looked at that way, the GOP willingness to reduce Social Security and Medicare while preserving those entitlements of the wealthy 1% make perfect sense.

Entitlements part 2

Bill O'Reilly - Caricature

Bill O’Reilly – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

I think that today’s show is a repeat, but I had not seen it before. Bill O’reilly was at it again, comparing apples and oranges to make a false argument against so-called “entitlements.” He used a chart that disappeared before I could write down the numbers exactly, but they were approximately 105+ million employees in the private sector, 20+ million government employees and 60+ million recipients of government largesse. Government employees pay taxes at the same rates as you and I and teachers, policemen, firemen, and members of the armed services provide services that we all need and benefit from. There are drones on the public payroll just as there are drones in private enterprise.

And not every recipient of a government “entitlement” check is a single black mother with three or more illegitimate children. I suspect that most recipients of government “entitlements” have paid taxes for many years and feel “entitled” to them. O’Reilly lumps different categories together to generate large numbers so that he can draw simplistic and false conclusions to support his GOP world-view.


English: President signing the Medicare Bill a...

English: President signing the Medicare Bill at the in . Former President is seated at the table with President Johnson. The following are in the background (from left to right): Senator , an unidentified man, , Senator , Vice President , and . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An entitlement is something to which you are entitled; you own the right to use and enjoy it. It is a synonym for ownership. If you buy a house and pay on a mortgage for 30 years, at the end of that time, you own the house. You are entitled to use it for the rest of your life and pass the ownership to your survivors in a will. If you buy a car and pay for it over 3 or 4 or 5 years, at the end of that time, you are entitled to continue using it until either you or it wears out. If you work and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for 30 oe 40 years, you are entitled to benefits from those programs for as long as you live. You bought and paid for those programs and you are entitled; you own the right.

George W. Bush spoke about an ownership society when he proposed Social Security privatization. What he meant was a change from one form of ownership to another. Some people would benefit from Social Security privatization and some would not. Sure winners would be people working on Wall Street because they would earn sizable, up to 40%, commissions on money invested by the owners of the money paid into Social Security accounts under the revised ownership formula.