Why We're Broke (it ain't healthcare)

This morning, I heard a woman angrily exclaim: "we HAVE to get RID of all these ENTITLEMENTS!"

That's what's wrong with America. By entitlements, she of course means welfare, healthcare... Medicare? I suppose anything that protects people who haven't managed to grasp the "American Dream" of prosperity, security, and complete autonomy.

I don't think "entitlements" are the problem...

9 comments:

Eruesso said...

Mega Bloks are the problem! Who needs Mega Bloks when you've got Legos. Please tell me I'm not the only one who owns the Fire Breathing Fortress from the Dragon Masters Series.

Wait, what are we talking about?

Peter said...

I do love Legos...

Al said...

Legolas was OK too...

But methinks me agrees with you--military spending is a tad larger than appropriate or even necessary.

nadine.w said...

I like your observation of people who have attained the American Dream vs. those who haven't yet.

The Fly said...

A few quick(ish) points.

First, provision for a strong national defense is set out in the Constitution. Government welfare programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are not. These expenditures also represent a much larger portion of our GDP than military spending - military spending was about 4.06% of GDP in '05, whereas health care alone is about 16% of the American economy. Whether our military spending is excessive is another issue - it is social welfare entitlements that have made the federal government insolvent.

Second, a very strong case could be made that the more the government meddles in the affairs of people who struggle, the less motivation those people have to take care of themselves on their own. Case in point, there are Americans who reach retirement age thinking that Social Security will be enough to live on, rather than investing or saving a little bit throughout the course of their lives to provide for themselves in their old age.

Third, for better or for worse, much of the perceived "need" for government intervention results from active efforts over the last several decades (into the late 1800's) to delegitimize the institution of the church. Critical discussions of the positive and negative roles of religion aside, when the church had the membership and resources to play a more active role in society, it addressed many of these problems and did so more efficiently than government attempts to do today.

Just a few thoughts. Hope all's well, Peter!

- Tom the Fly

mwp said...

Tom the Fly--

I'm not doubting your overall point, but I wonder about your numbers. Is the VA system counted under health care or military spending, for example?

One way or another, it sure would be handy to have that trillion dollars we spent removing Saddam Hussein from office in the bank right about now!

Peter said...

Hey Tom! Good thoughts - well put.

I'm not terribly interested in the Constitution - I suppose until it aligns with my purposes, and then I admittedly probably try to co-opt it. And not being interested in the Constitution is a direct result of my own middle class priviledge, that allows me to be detached and avoid risking my life for something like freedom. So I'll own those things up front.

Ultimately, my politics don't originate from how I think a healthy 1st World Superpower should function. I am interested in taking care of people - I believe in the Welfare State. Jesus didn't make sure the 5,000 had earned the bread and fish he distributed. He didn't ensure that Blind Bartimaeus stopped begging after he was given sight.

We aren't called to ensure people are accountable to the charity we offer - that's an American value, not a Jesus value.

Peter said...

And Tom, no disrespect intended toward your vocation. While Quaker pacifism increasingly captivates my own personal ethic, I cannot in all honesty say I am a pacifist individual. And I remain in respectful awe of those who willingly enter military service out of deep patriotism.

Anthony said...

We come into a world as physical creatures with five necessesities: food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and education for the young. We are responsible,acting in society,for making sure every person has these necessities. Government entitlement programs are one way of attempting to meet this responsibility. Individual or organizational charity is another. And there are more. Each society has to determine the correct balance of these methods for its own culture and circumstances, but the responsibility is common to all.

What I want to know is what is the minimum level of military needed to preserve the people in their possession of these necessities of life? For the responsibility to provide must imply the responsibility to maintain. It seems to me that if I provide housing one day I must make sure it is not stolen or destroyed the next. (Or does it?) Until the whole world learns to act with one mind and heart in caring for its people and living in gratitude to God.

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