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Entitlement Problems

Richard Nixon, Official Presidential Photograph

Image via Wikipedia

The most embarrassing aspect of the current debt crisis is the fact these problems were well-known to both sides for a very long time; and the problem isn’t with the anti-poverty or anti-calamity programs. The problem is not the poor. The problem is everyone else: 

Many on the right like to bash “welfare queens,” suggesting that the entitlement mentality belongs exclusively to the poor. Although it is true that the Great Society programs of the 1960s fostered a lingering sense of dependency among millions of poor Americans, it is time to tear down the double standard that characterizes most debates about this issue. The poor make convenient targets. But if middle-class and even rich Americans want to find someone to blame for the burden the entitlement mentality puts on the federal budget, they should look in the mirror. Wealthy farmers say they cannot survive without price supports. Steel makers and their unions demand protection from foreign competitors. Bankers expect the federal government to cover their bad loans. Well-off retirees whose Social Security payments far exceed their contributions oppose any politician who suggests their benefits be limited. College students believe they are entitled to low-interest loans secured by taxpayers who could not afford to go to college themselves. Lawyers, doctors, and businesspeople all want their place at the federal trough.

[…] Only one dollar of every five on non-means tested entitlement goes to the poor. If our political leadership summoned the courage to cut these programs on a means-tested basis, we would achieve substantial savings and also more fairly distribute the burden of cutting costs to middle- and upper-income taxpayers.

That quote is lifted from Richard Nixon’sBeyond Peace“, a book written in 1994. And a book I suggest everyone read (at least sections I and III and the parts of section II that deal with Asia, the Muslim world and the developing world.

Nixon’s sentiments mirror those expressed by PJ O’Rourke in his “Parliament of Whores“, another book worth reading.

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