Let's talk about government

Government should do things like build roads. You might think it also should support Head Start, PBS, national parks, Meals on Wheels, Pell grants to help poor high school graduates, Alzheimer’s research, solar power experiments, subsidies for high-speed rail, drug safety etc. Do you know what percentage we spend on these things? Today it is 4% and in ten years CBO says it will drop to 2.7%.

Defense spending is also less a % than it was twenty or thirty years ago and it is dropping. What is growing is entitlements. These have gone from 1/3 of the budget in 1960 to about 2/3 today and will take over the whole thing if we don't do something.

I have often wondered how much smaller governments of the past could accomplish such great things that we cannot do today. We could not build Hoover Dam today. We could not build the Interstate system or the water systems on which our great cities depend. Hell, we cannot even properly maintain what we inherited from our fathers and grandfathers.

Yet we spend a higher percentage of our GDP on government than they did. And our GDP is much bigger than it used to be, so this is a bigger percentage of a much bigger pie. We spend more in real dollars than anybody else has in the history of the world. But we still cannot accomplish as much as our poorer, less technologically advanced ancestors.

Some people say we should just tax more. But think about this. Who will we tax? The rich already pay a fantastically high percentage of the total budget. At some point you just cannot take more of their money.

It should come as no surprise that our vastly bigger government cannot accomplish as much as our smaller and leaner government did. It is like an athlete who let himself go. He used to weigh 180lbs; now he is 280lbs. He is undoubted bigger, but is he as fast, agile or able? If you put him on a diet, he may complain that he is hungry, but would eating more get him back to his old agile way?

Posted by Christine & John at June 17, 2013 6:40 PM
Comments
Comment #367379

I agree that we need to rethink the social contract regarding entitlements. I think it can be argued that 75 years of social welfare programs have helped much of the “honest poor”, but I’m not sure about their efficacy in the future. In my opinion, we would be much better off if the money we spend on entitlements was spent elsewhere instead.

Posted by: Warren Porter at June 17, 2013 7:10 PM
Comment #367381

Warren

I think we are suffering from earlier success. We used up most of the honest poor. Many of the people who were ready to be helped moved out of poverty and error, leaving the less ambitious or less able behind. IMO, this is one of the leading causes of growing inequality, as the poor perpetuate their bad habits and the not poor are no longer nearby to instruct them by word and example.

Posted by: CJ at June 17, 2013 7:18 PM
Comment #367382

Congress is about ready to approve a new farm bill totaling about $1 trillion. Most of it is nothing more than a subsidy.

Our Supreme Court just ruled in a seven to two decision that it is unconstitutional for a state to require proof of citizenship to vote. As horrendous as the subsidies we have today are, tomorrow will be much, much worse.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 17, 2013 7:22 PM
Comment #367383

“I agree that we need to rethink the social contract regarding entitlements.”

What do you mean by entitlements? Do you include SS? It has been running a surplus of dedicated tax revenue (FICA) over outlays for decades. Do you include Medicare? Are you talking only about on-budget “entitlements” such as food stamps, Medicaid, etc.?

Posted by: Rich at June 17, 2013 8:41 PM
Comment #367384

The Democratic Party survives by having a low information, low income crowd. If the goal of the Democrats was to do away with the poor; why after 75 years, do we still have poor. In fact, judging from the entitlement numbers, we have more poor today than we did 75 years ago. As Warren Porter stated:

I think it can be argued that 75 years of social welfare programs have helped much of the “honest poor”,

We have to wonder, is the goal of the Democratic Party to replace the successful poor with another group that needs government help?

The Senate passes its version of amnesty and anything the House passes, no matter what conservative appeals are added, will be removed in conference. Once any bill is passed, even with the so called conservative protections; Schumer and other liberal democrats would begin to cry unfair. The result would be to throw out any restrictions on illegals, i.e. doing away with a fine, granting voting rights, qualifying for welfare and food stamps, and so on.

Amnesty will destroy the Republican Party two fold: first by adding 14 to 30 million low income voters to Democratic roles; secondly, by further dividing the Republican Party. The Republicans lost many more conservative votes in the last election than it will ever pick up from amnesty.

Amnesty will further destroy our economy by placing millions more on entitlements.

Posted by: Political Hostage at June 17, 2013 8:41 PM
Comment #367388

For the past three years, baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,000 a day and will be doing so for 19 years.

Through a combination of procrastination and bad timing, many baby boomers are facing a personal finance disaster just as they’re hoping to retire. Starting in January, more than 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65, a pattern that will continue for the next 19 years.
http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/RetirementCrisis/2010/12/27/id/381191#ixzz2WWZiCGR9

Even the liberal Huffington Post reported in 2011, a drop in the work force due to people leaving, and nothing has changed over the past two years.

How could a person honestly believe that Social Security is solvent?

Faithful devotees on the Left continue to peddle the notion that Social Security is not in crisis, that it doesn’t contribute to the deficit, and there is no need for reform. However, reading through this year’s just-released Social Security Trustees report, the annual “State of the SSA”, we find that the Trustees tell a different narrative — one that is grim indeed. The following primer pulls directly from the report and then explains the statement in layman’s terms. It is copied text from summary of the entire report.

What it actually says:

“Social Security’s total expenditures have exceeded non-interest income of its combined trust funds since 2010, and the Trustees estimate that Social Security cost will exceed non-interest income throughout the 75-year projection period”.

It doesn’t even sound logical to say that a work force that is dropping, and a work force that is increasingly making less money, could possibly support twenty plus years of increasing retirees who are drawing SS.

Posted by: Political Hostage at June 17, 2013 9:36 PM
Comment #367390

Political Hostage,
So, you’re saying we should remove the payroll cap on Social Security, make it solvent for as far as the eye can see, and at the same time, lower the retirement age to 62. Right? That is totally doable. Great thinking! And it would free a lot of jobs through early retirements. Brilliant!

Unless, of course, you’re just shilling for the 1% because you hate the 47%. A lot of conservatives are willing to shill, wittingly or half-wittingly. Why? Because it means denying free stuff to the 47%, the ‘takers’. You know. Those people. The old, the young, the blacks, the latinos, single women, and virtually anyone who is not an old white man living in the rural South.

But you wouldn’t do that, of course. So congratulations on the great idea about removing the cap on Social Security. I think virtually everyone would favor making it solvent forever, lowering the retirement age, and opening job opportunities.

Posted by: phx8 at June 17, 2013 11:45 PM
Comment #367391

phx8, I don’t believe I offered a solution. I simply recognized we have an entitlement problem that it is not getting better; it’s getting worse.

The original post is concerned with the growth of government. The only answer to a spending problem is to tax more, or to spend less. Taxing more destroys the ability to create. The City of Detroit is a perfect example of liberalism gone mad. Detroit taxed people and businesses right out of the city. Detroit is a microcosm of what liberalism is doing to the nation. The government can print more money, but they cannot create jobs. The governments purpose is to create an atmosphere for job creation. Less spending and lower taxes creates that atmosphere.

Posted by: Political Hostage at June 18, 2013 9:32 AM
Comment #367392

So the solution is to tax more phx8. Simple enough. And if those rich folks don’t pay then the IRS will come with their new guns, their better training, and take them off to jail. That way us folks can have our free stuff.

I sure hope we keep making more rich folks…

Posted by: George in SC at June 18, 2013 10:12 AM
Comment #367393

Political Hostage,
The problem with Detroit was never liberalism. The problem was the cars made there. They went for short term profits at the expense of quality, and vehicles that were fuel inefficient. When the Oil shocks of the 70’s hit, the Japanese cars, which were more fuel efficient and of higher quality, swamped American cars.

The same problem recurred last decade. American car makers opted for short term profits from the most profitable line of their vehicles at the time, SUV’s. It nearly resulted in their bankruptcy, no thanks to Mitt Romney. Fortunately for all of us, the Obama administration rescued Detroit… not because they deserved it, but because we needed to keep those industries alive and those jobs intact.

The problem was never liberalism. It was the lack of government-imposed CAFE standards and the lack of quality control.

George in SC & Political Hostage,
If the agenda is to cut back or do away with Social Security, Medicare, and other so-called entitlements, just come out and say so. No need for concern trolling. Just say what it is you really want.

Posted by: phx8 at June 18, 2013 11:23 AM
Comment #367394

Well, it seems clear that if we stay on the globalism track we can only amplify on what we have, growing inequality and bigger entitlements with a bigger gov’t to instruct.

Seems a balance should be struck between big business and those being entitled. Why not use anti-trust law to break up the largest 50, just saying, corporations/monopolies/conglomerates thereby creating some 200-250 smaller, COMPETITIVE, companies. These new companies would provide good paying jobs for newly minted college folks.

And, why must farm and service industries operate on a fake business model. These folks say they can’t make it without cheap foreign labor. What a lie. Pay a wage that will coax workers off the entitlement roles and let the cost of their goods and services fall where it may. Get the gov’t out of making winners and losers and let competition work in the market place. Recall that the US is ranked 38th, right after Romania, for their free market traits.

And, that doesn’t mean that busting up the ‘too big to fails’ is picking winners and losers. I hope few would support a world owned in total by just a handful of people. When a corp starts buying up their competition, buying somebody’s technology rather than R^Ding their own, etc. they are getting too big to fail and need to be downsized.

Balance, centrists - - speaks to the need of a new 3rd party w/a/dif/pol/att, etc.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at June 18, 2013 12:16 PM
Comment #367395

The problem with the left is that they eventually run out of other people’s money. We’ve hit that point now. There’s no more taxes to collect. Even if you take 100 percent of the income of the 1 percent, you still cannot pay off the national debt or afford all of the Democrats’ gifts to the dependency class. The revolutionary war was sparked by ol’ King George’s excessive taxation. Want to take a guess how his excessive taxation compares to today? It’s time for a new revolution. Maybe that’s why Democrats are scared of Americans owning guns? They might rebel. We can’t have that, now can we?

Answer me this: How can someone be both poor and obese? It makes you wonder why so many Americans who are “poor” can afford to eat so much food that they now have health problems related to obesity. I laugh when Democrats talk about “the poor.” Right. I’ve seen real poverty in Africa and Southwest Asia when I deployed in the US Air Force and I don’t see very many Americans who go hungry for days or weeks, drink from contaminated water sources or live in a shack with no heat, no running water and no electricity. If a real poor person could live in the home of an American “poor person,” he or she would thing the American is rich.

Democrats don’t want to help real poor people. Democrats want a dependency class of voters, so they can stay in power forever.

Democrats are not for the working man. Democrats are for the man who does not work.

Posted by: Joseph at June 18, 2013 12:27 PM
Comment #367396

If the Corpocracy can make their own laws so they can run off to far away places where labor is cheap(est), environ laws are near non=existant, where they can pay low, or no taxes, where they can enforce ‘defacto’ immigrant worker amnesty by supporting open borders and still retain their captured, lucrative consumers back in the home country then one can understand why the imbalance tween the haves and have not’s can only deteriorate from here.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at June 18, 2013 12:40 PM
Comment #367397

Yes Phx8, support for a smaller, more efficeint government means one is “shilling” for the lefts mythical Wal-Mart Bilderberg 1%. LOL!

Evil 1%? Check.
Pro-Constitution and pro-individual rights people are racist terrorists? Check.
People who dare question freebies means they have declared “war on (insert flavor of day)? Check.

Little early to be trying to use fear and lies to scare up votes, isn’t it?

Posted by: kctim at June 18, 2013 1:35 PM
Comment #367398


PH, here is no free money. If more is needed for me or for others that I’m concerned for then someone else has to have less. You say that the rich can afford it so take it from them, but I guess I wasn’t raised that way. So yes I would do with less especially if it means more for my kids in the future. But on that last point I won’t hold my breath.

Posted by: George in SC at June 18, 2013 1:40 PM
Comment #367420

George in SC,
Maybe you are unaware of this, but if a person earns more than @ $108,000 in income in a year, the income above $108k does not pay Social Security tax; in other words, the wealthiest among us are effectively given a tax break on Social Security.

The payroll cap does not apply to other kinds of wealth, just income. In theory, every American starts at the same place when it comes to income. There is not reason for everyone not to continue to contribute through a lifetime, since, in theory, the amount of income each of us will eventually earn is unknown. (Keep in mind, this does not apply to inherited wealth). At birth, we can only do our best to ensure equal opportunity. Outcomes will vary. While everyone presumably intends to succeed, the actual outcome for most people results in no money at retirement. This was the situation for most of humanity until the last century.

Now, we have found a way to do better, and provide a minimum level of retirement income. Old age no longer means dire poverty for Americans. Making sure that minimum level persists means that EVERYONE should contribute.

Posted by: phx8@aol.com at June 18, 2013 2:26 PM
Comment #367421

Ph, do you recommend we lift the corresponding cap on benefits as well?

Posted by: George in SC at June 18, 2013 2:51 PM
Comment #367422

No.

Posted by: phx8 at June 18, 2013 3:11 PM
Comment #367423

Joseph,
In the US we see poverty, but we do not see misery.

You write: “Democrats are not for the working man. Democrats are for the man who does not work.”

Social Security is funded by income. Most people work for their income. Since retirement comes later in life, most people will accumulate enough over the course of a lifetime to make the system work.

Disability and medical care are different matters. We all share the same potential need for medical care, regardless of wealth and regardless of age. This is why is makes more sense to implement universal health care, like most other countries in the world.

But the good news is that the states on the West Coast- CA, OR, and WA- are seeing a lot of positives with Obamacare’s state run exchanges. While premiums for young people will be slightly higher, no one can be refused coverage for pre-existing conditions under Obamacare. In WA, where only three major insurers provided the coverage, nine have applied. In OR, for the same coverage, one major provider quoted $422, while another offered it for only $169. The large provider re-applied to submit a more competitive rate. In CA, 5.3 million new people will purchase insurance. Thirteen companies will compete for the business. According to the CBO, the average monthly cost will be $321, which is $110 below the national average.


Posted by: phx8 at June 18, 2013 3:24 PM
Comment #367424

phx8, how much of the premium you quote is subsidized by government?

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 18, 2013 3:29 PM
Comment #367425

Royal Flush,
Here is the Kaiser site for calculating subsidies. It varies by factors like income.

http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/

I imagine it will ultimately vary a great deal from state to state. There are a lot of factors that will influence subsidies and cost of medical care. The good news is that Obamacare restricts health care insurers from charging more than 20% overhead; in other words, insurers must spend at least 80% of the money on medical care, rather than gouging with administrative costs & profits.

Posted by: phx8 at June 18, 2013 4:06 PM
Comment #367426

phx8 wrote; “According to the CBO, the average monthly cost will be $321, which is $110 below the national average.”

However, we don’t know how much of this lower cost is due to subsidizes. This certainly is not an apples-to-apples comparison. As I understand, the federal portion of the subsidy decreases after a time and the state share increases.

phx8 writes; “…Obamacare restricts health care insurers from charging more than 20% overhead; in other words, insurers must spend at least 80% of the money on medical care, rather than gouging with administrative costs & profits.”

Since when were “profits” and company employee payroll considered gouging? Assume that you, phx8, worked for one of the insuring companies and you had your wages or benefits lowered to comply with this law. Would you feel good about that? If you owned stock in those companies how would you feel about a cap on company earnings which would directly affect your personal investment?

Are car makers “gouging” purchasers by charging more that 20% for administrative costs and profits? How about the clothing manufacturers, airlines, food industry and others…are they gouging consumers?

Is this not just “wage and price” control under a different disguise? How well did that work when tried before?

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 18, 2013 4:43 PM
Comment #367427


I used my friend’s situation for the calculator since he’s the only person I know that doesn’t have health insurance. Currently they pay $0 for insurance for themselves, cover the kid through school, and pay in cash if anyone has to go to the doctor. They could take the Bronze plan and spend the same amount on care as they do now with tax payers paying the entire preimium of $12,787.

Great deal for them I guess as long as there’s free money involved. See above about free money.

Posted by: George in SC at June 18, 2013 4:51 PM
Comment #367428

Good analysis George. Instead of the “Bill of Rights” many have insisted on a “Bill of Needs”.

If one has unsatisfied needs others are required to pay to satisfy them. Government can make this happen until there are none left to pay.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 18, 2013 5:07 PM
Comment #367432

George in SC & Royal Flush,
Would someone who has no health care insurance no longer need medical care? That is the problem. The most expensive care of all is emergency care, and we do not withhold emergency medical care from someone who needs it. We already pay. It is just a question of how.

And yes, excessive profits are gouging in the case of a private health insurer, just as they would be considered gouging for utility providers of water, heat and electricity. While we can do without a lot of things, water, heat, electricity, and medical care are fundamental to survival.

Another great aspect of Obamacare is shifting the focus from treatment to prevention. The balance of power will shift back to GP’s, and away from Specialists. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention…” Obamacare goes there.

Posted by: phx8 at June 18, 2013 5:50 PM
Comment #367433

phx8 says; “And yes, excessive profits are gouging in the case of a private health insurer, just as they would be considered gouging for utility providers of water, heat and electricity.”

So in effect, some bureaucrat gets to decide what is “excessive profit”. I wonder what it is based upon…do you know? Do you even care?

Public utilities can not be compared to privately owned companies.

Here’s a quandary for you phx8. Insurance company A has union employees with a generous pension. With profits and overhead limited to 20% of premium, the company declares it can no longer provide pension benefits and health insurance. phx8 works as a union member of the company. Is he pleased with this outcome?

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 18, 2013 6:05 PM
Comment #367434

Profits and administrative costs “limited” to 20%?!

To put this into perspective, Medicare has administrative costs of about 5 - 6%. (Technically, it is only about 2%, but Medicare outsources billing and a lot of other things that would normally be considered administrative). Medicare has no profit margin.

Costs for private insurers vary from 7% for insurers covering large groups of 1,000 or more, to as high as 26% to cover small groups of 25 employees or less, and an even higher percentage for individuals. On top of this, private insurers have the need for profit margins. If insurers are able to provide group coverage rates to a large pool of new individual customers through state exchanges, most insurers are likely to find a profit margin of up to 13% highly desirable. The surprising number of private health insurers willing to compete on the state run exchanges confirms this.

For more detail on the 80/20 rule for insurers:

http://www.healthcare.gov/news/reports/mlr-rebates06212012a.html

Btw, I am no expert on this by any means. I’m learning as I go along. I know it will affect me. I would be amazed if the system does not need adjustments as the process continues. Also, some states are doing everything possible to stop health care reform for their citizens. As time goes on, I do not think those citizens will be pleased.

Posted by: phx8 at June 18, 2013 6:35 PM
Comment #367435

Also, some states are doing everything possible to stop health care reform for their citizens. As time goes on, I do not think those citizens will be pleased.
Posted by: phx8 at June 18, 2013 6:35 PM

You do realize why there is this opposition by many states. Some citizens will not be pleased, but most taxpayers will be pleased.

Regarding your link…I am not doubting the law, as it stands, just the reasoning behind it. Answer some of my questions above if you can.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 18, 2013 6:54 PM
Comment #367436

By the way phx8, if you work for an employer, or yourself, ask or determine what a limit of profit and overhead in their or your business to 20% of sales would mean for you.

Posted by: Royal Flush at June 18, 2013 6:57 PM
Comment #367437

Phx8

“Great thinking! And it would free a lot of jobs through early retirements. Brilliant!”

This is a difference in our thinking. I have spoken to Stephen about it and it may be a liberal/conservative split.

I would never express a thought like this because for me people doing jobs are adding value. They are not merely occupying a place. For you – and maybe for most liberals – work is less valuable. A job is much like a piece of property for you all. If a person is occupying a job, he is taking a place someone else could have.

I consider people valuable producers; you consider them charges. You see another mouth to feed. I see another pair of hands to work and another brain to create. That is why you want people retired at 62. I prefer to be productive as long as I can.

In other words, you see a fixed pie to be divided. I see a growing human potential that is expanded by human intelligence and innovation.

We see the world differently. My way is better.

Posted by: CJ at June 18, 2013 8:31 PM
Comment #367438

CJ,
What makes you think a person who retires no longer does anything productive or valuable?

Posted by: phx8 at June 18, 2013 8:45 PM
Comment #367439

phx8

It depends on what he does. It is possible that the person might engage in volunteer work etc. and I suppose some people might do something more valuable after retirement than before, but I don’t think that is the rule.

In any case, the idea that you need to “free up jobs” is fundamentally backward. It certainly implies that jobs are a finite resource that is consumed by the incumbent, rather than a wealth creating position. If someone is paying you to do a job, presumably they believe that you are creating more value than your salary is consuming.

Of course, people can retire any time they choose. But you are not advocating that. You are advocating that someone else pay them to not work.

Posted by: CJ at June 18, 2013 9:32 PM
Comment #367442

If we are going to talk about the ineffective, intrusive bloated government we now have, we have to talk about what brought it here: People.

People used to be proud to be an American, but now they wish to be just like everybody else.
People used to have a sense of self-respect, now they have a false sense of entitlement.
People used to admire the hard work of others, now they envy what others have.
People used to help their neighbors, now they expect government to force others to help on their behalf.
People used to respect individual rights, now they believe in the special treatment of some.
People used to support freedom OF religion, now they demand freedom FROM religion.
People used to believe in the Bill of Rights, now they come second to their list of desires.
People used to be willing to die for their flag, now they sneer at it and wonder what the fuss is all about.
People used to respect our founders, now they see them as out of date evil white men.

Religious beliefs makes one a bigot. Lower taxes makes one racist. Speaking out in support of the Constitution makes one a terrorist.

People are the reason we have ended up with this ineffective tyrannical government and their greed and lack of personal responsibility will continue to feed it well into the future.

Posted by: kctim at June 19, 2013 11:02 AM
Comment #367443

kctim I don’t disagree; for the most part our bloated government is a natural consequence of our representative style of government. Maybe that’s why Jefferson always thought the Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with a good rebellion (natural manure).

Posted by: George in SC at June 19, 2013 11:33 AM
Comment #367463

A bloated government is a natural consequence of liberalism, George. The representative style of government we were given would be fine if the people hadn’t allowed leftist emotions and desires to pervert and re-interpret our founding documents.

Posted by: kctim at June 19, 2013 4:39 PM
Comment #367511

When you continually see taxpayer dollars just whizzed down the drain by the billions one gets the sense that the Corpocracy is pretty much out of control. Bechtel and the nuke waste treatment plant, various agencies partying away on the taxpayer dime, $100M for the president’s trip to Africa, etc.

Just tally up the huge number of jobs created since Obama won the election. And, look at all them roads and bridges that have been built/repaired. Throw in some immigration reform –

“Sessions and other Republicans have cited a report from the conservative Heritage Foundation that estimated the bill would lead to the government paying $9.4 trillion in benefits and services to the newly-legalized immigrants, but receiving only $3.1 trillion in taxes from them - resulting in a $6.3 trillion loss to the U.S. over 50 years”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/18/immigration-cost-estimate-deficit/2435647/


CBO also reports a $200B gain in economy over 10 years and 700B reduction in deficit.

http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/19/senate-bill-allows-46-million-immigrants-by-2033-says-cbo/

Depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.

Then, there is the Eisenhower syndrome aka the military industrial complex as in the DOD trashing some 20% of all the stuff drug over to Afghanistan. 170M pounds of stuff or some $7B of equipment. Two wars on a credit card with number three coming up pdq.

I digress – more tautology – useless, etc.

Otherwise - - -

I did like the role that Globinhower played as a mafia hit man. Had that hair that was slightly balding, but not too much, a little pudgy to give him that Caponish ilk, and so on - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at June 20, 2013 5:57 PM
Comment #367536

Thesis is mainly research work that is developed in the same form as dissertations are developed. Thesis is basically a document, which has its submission in support of application related to specific academic degree and professional qualification.

Posted by: Essay Help at June 21, 2013 5:18 AM
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