All of the current distress over government control over American health care has brought up the subject of entitlements in general. Prior to FDR we had only a few. During his term Social Security was very controversial. Now it is expected as an entitlement and not controversial at all. We simply MUST have it. It no longer seems to matter that it was poorly drawn and funded. Today, Social Security is essentially broke. The current government is expected to fix it. There is nobody considering just doing away with it.
I have a question. From 1776 forward it was expected that a wage earner would put aside a tithe to the church and a bit for his old age. It sounded good but it did not work very well. Way too many people ended their work days with no savings for their non-working old age. The government said they could step in and fix the problem. Everyone paid taxes to the government and the government could subtract their salaries and expenses and then pay back an appropriate amount of the taxed money to the old timers. Eureka! They solved the old folks problem and in a sense purchased their votes. A success all round.
As a side effect of their magnanimous give away to the old voters, the government needed more people so they could manage the program. Government grew and grew. As more and more people came of retirement age, Social Secuity expanded to provide everyone the expected riches. Of course it took more beaurocrats to administer the program, so government employment increased some more. Question: What happened to the idea that a working person should put aside a bit for his old age? Gone with the winter wind. Blown to sea. Now everyone was entitled.
I don't want to even think about why the American worker should ever expect the to have his old age finances paid for by some young kid just hired yesterday. This is what has happened to Social Security. Despite the amount of money an individual worker has paid into the program his or her entire working life, all of it is gone. Spent by the government on something else. The only way the government's Social Security entitlement can be paid to those qualified and expecting it, is to tax the new wage earner enough to pay what has been promised. Does this make sense?
Some folks believe that it does. They say that the burden doesn't fall on the new wage earner because all the government has to do is to print more money. Politicians have been doing this for years to pay for their spending of money they didn't have. They have treated our national treasury as if it was a limitless credit card. Certainly, someone is going to come along and say "whoa, you can't do that". But unfortunately, so far no one has done that, and the national debt has increased so much that it almost can't be measured and more. Trillions and trillions are difficult to grasp.
There are two major causes of America's national debt. The first is military spending to support real or possible wars. The second is the public's growing illusion that the government can do a better job of managing the national treasury than private, profit making, free market enterprises.
There is a third. Entitlements. Getting someone else to pay your bills. Getting the entire taxed society to pay for your old age, healthcare, and etc., as well as life insurance, home insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, and more.
More later . . .