Letter: Reform needed

December 5, 2012


To the editor:

As a senior on Social Security and approaching Medicare, I don’t get the failure of everyone in Washington. Raising taxes on the “rich” is projected to increase federal revenues by some $850 billion over 10 years. In the same time period, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will increase by $1.5 trillion if nothing is changed. We are not even keeping pace with these program costs.

Washington is projected to get $5.5 billion in revenue next year but has a debt of $17.5 billion. By 2016, the next election, that debt is projected at $20 trillion. By 2020, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid will consume two-thirds of the federal budget. Reform and adjustments are desperately needed.

Some agencies and departments will complain that they are just a small portion of the budget and should be spared, but when you are borrowing as much money as Washington is, every penny helps.

Audit every department extensively, cut spending everywhere and raise revenue to meet somewhere near the middle. Demand constructive change.


Liberty_One 5 years, 6 months ago

Here's the thing--those programs were nothing more than excuses to raise taxes. The government got to tax your earnings, and hoped that you wouldn't live long enough to collect much in benefits. Back when it was started it worked well enough for the state, but now that life expectancies are so much higher these programs that once were big for revenues are now in the red. The government never intended to have to pay out this much money--that was just a way to trick people into supporting tax increases.

The only common sense thing to do is just phase the programs out.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

You're only half correct. Yes, life expectancy increases has created an unsustainable system. But no, when these programs were implemented, it wasn't done simply to increase taxes. There was a genuine need then, one that government sought to address. And if we followed your advice and phased out these programs, what will happen when the genuine need comes back?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

Your suggestion that families respond to the need when it arises in other countries is fine. That's how they respond to the genuine need. We responded differently. However, that contradicts your assertion that the need wasn't there or that is wasn't genuine. It existed then and it will exist in the future.

And of course you do know that while not all countries have such programs, many others do. In fact, those with whom we share the most with in terms of culture, history, etc. are the very countries that do have such programs. And while they also struggle with issues such as life expectancy, within none of those countries is there any serious talk of eliminating these programs entirely. In those countries, and in ours, a complete elimination is rightly seen as a huge step backwards into the Dark Ages.

But then again, if it's other countries you prefer, other systems, other reactions to events, you are always free to seek out those other countries that more closely suit your ideals. Or you can live in our society, with our customs, our history, our reactions to certain events. That choice is yours. Or you can convince a majority of Americans to come around to your way of thinking, an unlikely occurrence in my opinion. And if you should succeed in having a majority come around to your way of thinking, then the choice of staying or leaving will be mine. Good luck with whatever you choose.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

You are free to hit your head against a wall, again and again. Have fun.

gudpoynt 5 years, 6 months ago

Your system has failed everywhere it's been tried.

yes... there are no examples anywhere of social programs successfully being run by the gov't. There is no evidence that people benefit from these programs, nor is there any indication that those beneficiaries actually prefer, and support these gov't programs that don't exist.

You are like the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil monkeys. Except you are just one monkey, with six arms. And instead of evil, it's the real world you're trying to ignore.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

A "balanced" view isn't likely to conclude that all social programs are "net negative".

It might conclude that that they are a mix of positive and negative, with some of them balanced, others tipping in one direction or the other.

But a "net negative" assessment for all shows a bias of ideology at work in analysis.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

Arguing with Liberty is like arguing with a child. To him, if a program used just one penny of public funding, or tax revenue, yet yielded ten trillion in benefits, he would argue the penny was thievery, coercion, violence, and therefore negated any and all benefits. His ideology blinds him to all common sense.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes, it is childish. It's like a doctor giving inoculations to a child. The doctor's oath is to do no harm. Clearly, injecting a sharp object into an unwilling person is doing harm. Evidence is that the child screams in pain and fear. That's your line of thinking. You give no thought that the medicines being injected cause far greater benefits than the initial pain caused by the shot. So to you, all inoculations are wrong, all the time. That, sir, is childish. It's foolish. And if it's ideology driving that, then that ideology is stupid.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

I don't agree.

You're shifting the ground of the conversation.

"It" is a very very broad generalization, encompassing many different programs - as I've said, I'm sure some are balanced, others tipping towards a positive or negative net.

In order for "coercion" (your word for taxation) not to be necessary, not only would the programs have to be net positives, but people would have to analyze and understand them correctly. And, of course, some would have to be willing to pay into systems they don't directly benefit from, or may not directly benefit from.

It's pretty clear to me that most people favor government spending that benefits them, but not the spending that benefits others, which is a rather small lens to use. So we have different groups advocating for cuts, but not the cuts to the spending they benefit from.

Alyosha 5 years, 6 months ago

Demonstrate that there was, in fact, not a "genuine need," or admit that you're simply making things up to fit your radical ideology.

Absent evidence for your claims, they're as worthless as all those projections that Mitt Romney was going to win.

gudpoynt 5 years, 6 months ago

m'kay, LO. Let's start with Medicaid.

What did families do with disabled who suffered developmental disabilities in the days before Medicaid?

Show me just how well capitalism and charity were able to care for this neglected part of society who were incapable of participating in normal economic activity.

Next... we'll repeat the exercise with the elderly and Social Security.

gudpoynt 5 years, 6 months ago

In the absence of a blueprint.. we look at recent history and do our best with that.

I'm talking about modern social issues that have had a very real impact on people who are still alive, and your trying to draw relevance by contrasting what a band of 20 hunter gatherers would do? Weak.

One thing is 100% certain, however--the more wealth a society has in total, the better able families would be to handle such things

The "in total" part of this statement makes it ridiculous. Total wealth in a society only helps all of the people in the society if it translates to a greater access to resources for all. Thus, some sort of equitable distribution is required.

gudpoynt 5 years, 6 months ago

Equali distribution of a tiny pie isn't as good a as a smaller slice of a huge pie.

Are you deliberately demonstrating your inability to reason or do math? You do realize that this assertion is not correct without qualifying numbers, don't you moron?

You do realize that some form of reasonably equitable distribution of wealth within a society is a necessary... i repeat... necessary... condition for reasonably equitable access to the resources that wealth creates?

High tides raise all ships? Is that your argument? Well guess what? Water distributes itself evenly, you dolt. If wealth spread as evenly as water, I might agree with that simpleton's view.

But wealth doesn't spread like water. Our society has a series of reservoirs, locks, dams, and channels designed to pool wealth in certain places.

And guess what is required to build those handy bits of wealth directing infrastructure such that they benefit you?

If you guessed wealth, then you might not be as foolish as you insist on presenting yourself.

Liberty275 5 years, 6 months ago

"You do realize that some form of reasonably equitable distribution of wealth within a society is a necessary"

That's so true. You work your 40 hours, you get some wealth redistributed to you.

Alyosha 5 years, 6 months ago

Provide authoritative evidence that the sole goal for these programs was to raise taxes, not to provide national / social security for at-risk parts of the US population. Absent any such evidence, your claim is without any merit and deserves zero respect from serious citizens.

gudpoynt 5 years, 6 months ago

here is why this argument is stupid...

If someone were to come out and create a "Peace Keeping Station" that actually, genuinely worked toward promoting peace, you could simply pull this trusty argument out of [orifice] and say that because somebody lied in the past, nobody can be trusted in the present.

In other words, this argument, which you have made on numerous occasions, is the rhetorical equivalent of "liar, liar, pants on fire". That is why it is stupid.

gudpoynt 5 years, 6 months ago

It's a fact that Social Security helps people. Period. Has for decades and will continue to.

Your stupid "liar liar pants on fire" argument from above was an effort to mitigate all benefit of the SS program, claiming that it's entire purpose was for raising taxes for other gov't ventures.

That assertion is flat out wrong, and simply calling the gov't a liar, as if it is one giant conspiratorial brain who over the last 80 years can be plotting to steal your money, has the intellectual depth of a 6 year old who is upset he has to go to bed at 8pm on a school night.

Checkmate. Right. You clearly don't know how to play the game like the adults play.

Alyosha 5 years, 6 months ago

Liberty, rather than impute things to me you cannot know, try answering the points I made. Your shifting the terms of the discussion leaves reasonable people with the warranted conclusion that you do not engage in honorable argumentation.

You made the assertion that the only reason for these programs was not to provide social security — which we all benefit from — but rather simply to raise taxes. I find that historically to be an unwarranted assertion, and asked you to provide evidence for your claims.

You either cannot or willfully do not provide such evidence.

In either case, your claim is worthless to serious adults, no matter how you attempt to attack and demean anyone who challenges you.

Alyosha 5 years, 6 months ago

Again, no evidence for the claim. Claims without evidence are worthless.

Briseis 5 years, 6 months ago

The government people could care less about anyone but themselves. They want the menials money and that's it.

This fiscal cliff ploy is just that. A made up word of gloom and doom to scare folks into turning their money over to the government gulags.

ha ha...and Obama is the perfect front man to whoo people into loving him and turning over their money to him.

Obama already took a mountain of cash from Medicare to give it to Obamacare for the 40 million people that can't pay for themselves.

skinny 5 years, 6 months ago

You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

Alyosha 5 years, 6 months ago

There's not a whit of historical / empiircal accuracy in this post. Educate yourself a bit on how governments have functioned over time before parrotting Ayn Rand inspired maker-taker nonsense that has zero applicability in the real world.

verity 5 years, 6 months ago

Oh, but, Alyosha, if you repeat it often enough it becomes truth---or is that truthiness?

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 6 months ago

I get so tired of hearing this Randian BS. You would have been far better off reading Lord of the Rings when you were 14 instead of Atlas Shrugged. Neither of them have any basis in reality but at least LOTR wouldn't have warped you for the rest of your life.
By the way, Ayn Rand died drawing Social Security.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 6 months ago

"A little-known fact is that Ayn Rand herself collected Social Security. She may also have received Medicare benefits.
An interview recently surfaced that was conducted in 1998 by the Ayn Rand Institute with a social worker who says she helped Rand and her husband, Frank O’Connor, sign up for Social Security and Medicare in 1974.
Federal records obtained through a Freedom of Information act request confirm the Social Security benefits."
I find it full of lulz that libertarian blogs call it a "smear campaign" and "lies".
Here's a good article on the background of it all (and includes Ms. Rand's real name and the name under which she drew benefits).

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 6 months ago

Oh and another "by the way" for you people who say, "Why shouldn't she? She paid into it." No she didn't. None of her book earnings went to FICA, She drew her benefits under the name "Ayn O'Conner" under her husband, Frank O'Conner's, account as a dependent housewife.

somedude20 5 years, 6 months ago

I can't help but feel that all the cats who are rocking the Social Security now are eating a pie that I never will have a chance to even sniff. Have not stopped working since 15 years of age, 37 now and have been paying for others for a long time but it won't be there for me. Enjoy yours, cause myself and people my age are going to get the green weenie.

Briseis 5 years, 6 months ago

Do not fret. You are doing exactly what you are suppose to do. You have evolved exactly the way the people in government have intended. You are an important cog of the greatest ponzi scheme ever developed.

You should be proud of your governments investment.

No worries forthright. You have the government investment Obamacare to fill in the gaps of your existence. Sprinkle in some EBT and your life will be grand.

Diversity regarding investment is rewarding to know....ain't it.

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

Such ignorance

If we just continue as is the system will be able to pay about 70% of what has been promised on the income from the existing payroll tax. So the 37 year old above will not get the green weenie.

If we make adjustments we can get to providing most of what has been promised just at a later age.

We could also raise the payroll tax and achieve the same.

WE could also cut benefits. WE could even make it sound like all seniors are greedy geezers and deserve to have there benefits cut.

Or we could cut people off at 85 to be consistent with the expected longevity when the payroll tax was set.

The system was not planned for the longevity we now enjoy.

gudpoynt 5 years, 6 months ago

"Trillion" is a scary word for individuals, because for most of us, it is orders of magnitude larger than anything we are used to dealing with.

Thus, when confronted by the fact that the U.S. is running a $1 Trillion deficit, it naturally tends to freak one out.

But one would be good to remember that one is not the United States, and that one's household budget is not the national budget.

For instance, my current salary is far less than than the $15 Trillion GDP of the United States.

The number that is important is deficit to GDP ratio, which right now is at about 7%.

Note that this is down from the 8.7% we saw last year. We are moving in the right direction.

Is the debt and deficit something to be concerned about? Of course it is, as a general rule.

But try not to let the numbers scare you into thinking that we're a hair away from finding ourselves in a situation similar to Greece. We are not.

Here's a little history lesson challenge for y'all. Identify the time in the last 100 years when the deficit to GDP ratio was the highest.

gudpoynt 5 years, 6 months ago

Why can't the nation pay all that it has promised? What's stopping us?

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

Money. How much more are you willing to pay to enable us to pay the bills (at least twice what we collect). The "rich", while they should pay more, can not solve this problem.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Where does that figure come from, and what time period is it referring to?

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Thanks - I'll look into that.

If I understand it correctly from your post, it's the projected "off budget" debt for 75 years from now, with a variety of assumptions built in to the calculation.

It's called the "Alternative" scenario, which also means something, I'm sure.

We wouldn't need the $222 trillion "right now", we'd need it in 75 years, according to your post. But I understand the point about it growing over time as well.

As I thought, a lot of assumptions in that scenario, including the idea that the Bush tax cuts would remain in place over time.

The "extended baseline" scenario fits more closely with existing laws, and is much less pessimistic, with revenues increasing to offset much of the spending, although not all of it.

And, the CBO says that none of these is an actual prediction of the future, since it doesn't know what laws will change and how, etc.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

I'll have to look at it more carefully.

But, as I said, the projection is filled with assumptions, and even the CBO doesn't call it a prediction.

Alyosha 5 years, 6 months ago

When the GDP goes down, as in the case of severe recession, even the same amount of debt will result in a higher ratio. That's just simple math.

For instance, with simple numbers: begin with a ratio of 1:10, and then decrease the 10 to, say, 7 (representing the decrease in GDP from 10 to 7) and the ratio becomes "higher."

The economy is suffering from depressed aggregate demand. Getting demand back up will result in the GDP increasing, and the ratio thus decreasing.

It's very simple, if, instead of ideology one approaches the world with rationality and open eyes.

Plus, the cost of debt is at an all time low, and there is little inflation — which to objective observers supports the idea that the debt, though very, very large, is not the biggest danger facing us, regardless of how you disparage the US's capacities.

Alyosha 5 years, 6 months ago

You can rail against main-stream economics all you like. Bothers me not a whit.

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

Do not mix the 1T annual deficit and SS. SS (old age &survivors benefits) is not doing that except to the extent that Mr. Obama gave everybody a tax break on payroll taxes.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 6 months ago

LOL!!! Pearl Harbor was 70 years ago and FDR knew it was coming. He didn't know exactly when or where but he had enough information to know it was only a matter of time. It wasn't the "big surprise" you seem to think it was.

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago


Germany declared war on us not the other way around - stupid decision as it made the presidents day.

We apparently knew something was coming and chose to not react. At least we knew. Apparently you would prefer to not know.. There are a whole lot of us that do not think that is a good idea.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

No offense, but given your comment that Japan attacked us so we went to war against Germany shows that you have little understanding of history. Hence your opinions in this post should be rightly viewed with great suspect.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The United States declared war on Japan. Germany declared war on the U.S. The U.S. declared war on Germany.

In that order.

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

Gee, and I thought we are a target because we are filthy rich?? You are certainly entitled to your opinion but I wonder how you know we have had no successes as nobody would tell you if we did.

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

I guess we should get rid of the warning systems that monitor missile launches. How about the systems that monitor the planet for nuclear detonations? Maybe the drones that are attempting to track the Iranian Bomb.. Maybe you are prone to hyperbole?

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