Entitlement Mentality

The bill for all those free retirement benefits is finally coming due.

If you forgot to get a Christmas present for Charlie Rangel, don’t worry. The congressman picked one out for himself, and he’s sending you the bill: $2 million for a shiny new Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College.

The New York Democrat’s Monument to Me was one of about 9,000 earmarks in the omnibus spending bill Congress approved before going on vacation. Most represented a more subtle form of self-aggrandizement, aimed at maintaining power and prestige by currying favor with voters.

According to Citizens Against Government Waste, the total cost of the 11,000 or so earmarks in the omnibus bill and an earlier defense bill is about $14 billion, which is not much in the context of a $2.8 trillion federal budget. But the same tendency that explains the persistence of earmarks—the habit of staying popular by pretending your constituents can get something for nothing—also explains the failure to address the federal government’s increasingly dire fiscal situation.

The root of that situation is not earmarks, which represent less than 1 percent of federal spending. Nor is it the war in Iraq, which at $100 billion or so a year accounts for less than 4 percent.

So-called entitlement programs are the reason “America faces escalating deficit levels and debt burdens that could swamp our ship of state,” as Comptroller General David Walker put it in a recent speech. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid account for 40 percent of federal spending and are expected to consume 51 percent in a decade.

Right now Social Security makes the federal fiscal picture look better than it really is, since the program generates a surplus that masks the true size of the deficit. In fiscal year 2007, for example, the official budget deficit was $163 billion; excluding the Social Security surplus, it was more than twice as high.

Since the government spends the surplus on other programs, the Social Security “trust fund” consists entirely of federal bonds, and those IOUs will come due soon. The oldest baby boomers become eligible for early retirement in 2008. They will start drawing Medicare benefits in three years.

The result, said Walker, will be a “tsunami of spending” that “will never recede.” Under current law the estimated gap between the benefits retirees have been promised and revenue to fund them is $53 trillion, of which $34 trillion is due to Medicare.

Nearly one-quarter of that long-term Medicare deficit, $8 trillion, is attributable to the prescription drug benefit championed by President Bush and approved by a Republican-controlled Congress. “Incredibly,” Walker noted, “this number was not disclosed or discussed until after the Congress had voted on the bill and the president had signed it into law.” He said the bill’s passage “arguably represents government ‘truth’ and ‘transparency’ at its worst.”

Although it was presented as a solution to the dilemma of senior citizens forced to choose between eating and taking their medicine, the drug benefit is not means-tested. Like Social Security and Medicare generally, it transfers wealth from young workers to retirees who are often financially better off, buying the votes of older Americans with their grandchildren’s money.

Not that the Democrats, who criticized the drug benefit as insufficiently generous, are any better. If you believe a Democratic president would be more fiscally responsible than Bush, have a look at the campaign ad that presents “Universal Health Care,” “Alternative Energy,” “Middle Class Tax Breaks,” and “Universal Pre-K” as Christmas gifts lovingly wrapped by a beneficent Hillary Clinton. Unlike Charlie Rangel, at least Clinton wants to buy gifts for us, but she’s still using our money.

"Our government has made a whole lot of promises that, in the long run, it cannot possibly keep without huge tax increases,” Walker noted. Yet Clinton is making even more promises, and she proposes to do it all while cutting taxes.

I think I prefer Rangel’s grandiosity. It’s a lot cheaper.

© Copyright 2007 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  • ||

    What, you mean there's some reason why I shouldn't get to quit working in six years and sponge off of you kids for my rent, food and healthcare.

    I'm old, gimme!

  • ERIC DONDERO\'S MUSTACHE||

    Ron Paul loves earmarks. And, he hates Jews. He didn't love me in the same way I loved him.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "What, you mean there's some reason why I shouldn't get to quit working in six years and sponge off of you kids for my rent, food and healthcare."

    Before Social Security, the rate of poverty among our seniors was outrageous.

    Social Security is the price we pay to not have seniors begging in the streets.

  • Kid||

    Seniors should be begging in the streets. That is why I am saving and investing for my retirement.

  • robc||

    I expected the bolded words to spell something dirty. Maybe I have to fold my screen Mad magazine style?

  • robc||

    Seniors should raise their kids the right way, then they will take care of them when they are old. No middle man needed.

  • Capitalism||

    Why do so many people trust the government to handle so many of thier financial needs?

  • ||

    If Social Security is intended to prevent seniors from living in poverty, why is it not means-tested and paid for out of General Revenue?

    And why is it paid to people who are perfectly capable of working?

    Is there something magical about living to the age of 66 that means you can become a sponger?

  • Lou Dobbs||

    See people we need to isolate the US from the rest of the world's recources, improve social security for our seniors, raise the minimum wage, provide free healthcare, stop international trade, and build a border fence so that no one but me can marry a Mexican woman like I did.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "If Social Security is intended to prevent seniors from living in poverty, why is it not means-tested and paid for out of General Revenue?"

    Because a program that is means tested is almost universally unpopular. Look at welfare, it was means tested but didn't stop the wingnuts from turning the whole country against it.

    If you make a social program universal, there can never be much opposition to it.

  • ed||

    become a sponger

    It's hardly "sponging" to attempt to recoup some of the money
    that has been forcibly taken from you.

  • robc||

    ed,

    I dont blame anyone for cashing the checks. If it is magically still around, I will cash the checks too. But to continue to support the program....

  • ||

    I can't ever retire. I've got all these parents to support.

  • ||

    It's hardly "sponging" to attempt to recoup some of the money
    that has been forcibly taken from you.


    Just look at it as wasted; like the rest of the taxes you paid.

  • ed||

    I favor a voluntary SS program. I'd be out in a minute if I had a choice. But I have a right to claim what has been taken from me, as do all others.

  • ||

    ed

    robc and P Brooks have answered for me.

    MCW

    Of course free stuff and a chance to sponge off productive people is popular. Everyone will take it, given a chance. Then, who will be left to sponge off?

  • Episiarch||

    It would be nice if the old folks would pull a Sol Roth and "go home".

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "Of course free stuff and a chance to sponge off productive people is popular. Everyone will take it, given a chance. Then, who will be left to
    sponge off?"

    Government and social programs aren't sponging, they are called being part of a civilized society.

    You can't "opt out" of Social Security anymore than you should be able to "opt out" of police or fire protection.

  • Episiarch||

    No one can deny the logic of bolding.

  • ed||

    Government--called being part of a civilized society.

    I edited that a bit for you, MCW. The anarchists here would quibble.

  • ||

    If Social Security is similar to police protection and/or fire protection, why is Social Security a federal program? I can't opt out of police protection, but I can certainly decide to live somewhere where the price is small. Not so with Soc Sec. (Is that how it's done, Episiarch?)

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Social Security is the price we pay to not have seniors begging in the streets.

    No, it's the price we pay so people don't have to take care of their own families. You want grandma off the dog food? Buy her some groceries.

  • ||

    Like Social Security and Medicare generally, it transfers wealth from young workers to retirees who are often financially better off, buying the votes of older Americans with their grandchildren's money.

    Social Security benefits are not based on contributions. It's a Ponzi scheme which is rapidly running out of fresh "investors."

    Apparently, the suckers are being born more than a minute apart, these days.

  • ||

    Happy Boxing Day, all.

    Social Security means testing is coming folks. I expect that I'll never collect a goddam penny from the retirement system. I'm 52 and can do the math. J sub D, it has come to our attention that you have investments valued at X dollars. You also receive a pension from your 20years in the US Military. In accordance with the Social Security Reform act of 2013, you are ineligible to receive benefits from the Social Security Retirement System.

    Change the name and the some of the specifics, and many here can expect a similar letter from the SSA.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    If Social Security is similar to police protection and/or fire protection, why is Social Security a federal program?

    Because some states are poor and not all would be able to afford it. But screw the poor states right? Is that how wingnut logic works?

    As for police protection, we do have police protection at the federal level. Its called the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    Were people not taking care of their families in the 1930s? Because the poverty rate among seniors before Social Security was off the charts. Thanks to FDR and LBJ, it has been drastically reduced.

  • ||

    MCW: That's nice. Poor states wouldn't be able to afford a medical insurance and/or social welfare program? Are you sure? Could it be true that even poor states already have such programs? What are poor states? Couldn't a rich state have such an elderly population that it would be relatively poor, while a "poor" state has such a small elderly poverty problem that it would be relatively rich in this area? Methinks you've ventured into that special area called, "making stuff up to win an argument."

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Actually, Socialist Security is a little bit means tested. Like everything connected to tax law it's done with smoke and mirrors so as to appear that what is happening is not actually happening.

    Double Dippers and people who have provided for their retirement wisely often pay fed tax on socialist security benefits. Good, you say? Except the benefits were funded with after tax money effectively taxing the same money twice. Every other investment allows a tax free return of capital.

  • ||

    Middle Class Worker,*

    If you have provided for your own retirement (investment income, retirement package, home ownership), and are under the age of 50, you are not going to get shit from the Ponzi scheme investment system known as Social Security. If, however, you pissed away your money on short term pleasures with no regard for the future, you will be able to start sucking at the public tit when you reach 62.

    * Insert bold tags wherever you wish.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I expect that I'll never collect a goddam penny from the retirement system

    I have been telling my tax clients since 1984 (cue Rod Surly) that they better put something away because Socialist Security will ultimately become nothing more than welfare for old people.

    SS will become means tested and if you have more than two sticks to rub together, you ain't getting it.

    The chiller is assisted care. That's where the cost is. Every family is counseled as to how to transfer mom's assets well enough in advance to ensure that when the time comes to lock her up in an extended care facility, the state will pop for the entire $35,000.00 per day cost.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    Social Security could be around if we hadn't had a wingnut Congress for so long. If they had any sense, we would have had a lockbox a long time ago instead of wasting time attempting a risky privitization scheme designed to make Wall Street fat cats even wealthier.

  • robc||

    I am ignoring (and I recommend everyone else do the same) MCW until he answers my question from 9:53. It wasnt rhetorical.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    No, the bolded words are for emphasis. They don't spell any profanity.

  • robc||

    MCW,

    Please stop it. It is annoying. Once every 20 or 30 posts, it is okay to bold one word.

    See, that is how it is done.

  • Episiarch||

    the state will pop for the entire $35,000.00 per day cost

    Per day? Tell me that you goofed and mean per year.

  • ed||

    Baby Boomers, as a large and influential voting bloc, are not about to let SS go under. Nor should they. If and when the federal government breaks that promise, all other bets are off, and the very credibility of the U.S. government is ruined. This would have dire consequences far beyond retirement issues.

    By 2025, when the bulk of Baby Boomers will be in the 65-80 age bracket, retirees will represent 25 percent of the voting-age population, an increase of 45 percent in their relative voting power. If those aged 55 to 64 are added into the equation-a reasonable assumption, since people who reach 55 are starting to think about their retirement and tend to vote more in line with the interests of actual retirees-the elderly and near-elderly will represent 40 percent of the electorate.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    Why is it so difficult to understand? Raise taxes until we have budget surplus, and use the surplus to save Social Security.

    Thats what we were going to do until the wingnuts who want to "drown government in the bathtub" passed the BushCo tax cuts for the rich.

  • ||

    As for the original topic of this post- as long as our Elected Lords and Masters can fuck around for months passing "Sense of the Senate" resolutions about the contribution of corn muffins to the Greatness of Our Fair Land, and then roll a take-it-or-leave-it monster omnibus spanding bill down Pennsylvania Ave at thirty seconds 'til midnight, we're doomed.

    Anybody who votes on a Bill which he has not read should be impeached (or, preferably, lynched). In other words, we're doomed.

  • Pantsfan||

    This lockbox should have two different locks. One of the keys to the "lockbox" would be kept by the President; the other key would be sealed in a small, metal container and placed under the bumper of the Senate Majority Leader's car.
    It should also be camoflauged. To all outward appearances, it would be a Leatherbound edition of Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. But it wouldn't be. It would be the "lock-box".

  • ||

    Raise your hand: Who'd prefer a risky privatization scheme to a scheme that is projected to fail?

    Oh, that's right, grumble grumble, wingnut, grumble grumble, fascist, grumble grumble, Hitler, grumble grumble, grrrr, Social Security is great!

  • ||

    Is that how *wingnut* logic works?

    I dunno. You tell me.

  • ||

    This is not bold text

  • ||

    I am a middle class worker as well, but you see me salivating over Social Security and other government welfare programs.

    I guess some of us are more inclined to self-responsibility than others.

  • dhex||

    we should combine this with tlb's setup:

    The MexicanGovernment in conjunction with the WingnutsInCongress and TheTrilateralCommission...etc etc and so forth.

    i would be far happier with a SS that was genuinely welfare for the indigent elderly than one that was locking my own potential savings and investments away. i can beat the government's rate of return (if it can be called such) on my own - in fact, i have since i was 21 and first started retirement savings.

  • BakedPenguin||

    If they had any sense, we would have had a lockbox a long time ago...



    Sammy Hagar should run Social Security.

  • ||

    Errr...... you DON'T see me salivating.

    *grumble* typos *grumble*

  • ||

    Lockbox? That's like a coffee can full of hundred dollar bills buried in the back yard, right?

  • ||

    The coffe can has to be full of something valuable, not federal green.

  • robc||

    Lamar,

    My hand is raised. Then again, in under 30 seconds I can devise a non-risky privitization scheme, hmmm, lets see:

    Everyone under 50 changes to a plan in which of the 15.3% they currently pay into FICA:

    5% goes into an IRA.

    The other 10.3% goes to the feds as now. It is used to pay for medicare and current SS recipients and those over 50 and survivor benefits and etc.

    At age XX, you are required to be an annuity paying a minimum of YYYY per month from that IRA account. If your account doesnt have enough, the rest of the cost of the annuity is paid by the feds. Anything left over is yours to do with as you please, tax free.

    After everyone on the current system dies, we can start lowering the rate going to the feds because the 5% will be enough for nearly everyone.






    I

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Per day? Tell me that you goofed and mean per year.

    No, Epi, that was on purpose, an exaggeration to make the point of how expensive it is. And, by the time YOU are ready for bedpans my friend, that's about how much it actually will cost. :-)

  • robc||

    I just want to say I actually oppose my plan, I dont favor forced retirement savings, but it is an improvement over the current ponzi scheme.

  • Episiarch||

    Sammy Hagar should run Social Security.

    Hey, if it keeps him away from Van Halen...

  • ||

    Raise your hand: Who'd prefer a risky privatization scheme to a scheme that is projected to fail?

    For the record, I would be delighted to invest the money in my business and myself, and keep right on working until I croak.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Why is it so difficult to understand? Raise taxes until we have budget surplus, and use the surplus to save Social Security.

    See, this is why I can't take you seriously at all.

    The government takes in three trillion dollars a year. That's three times what it was just a few short years ago. There is no surplus, there is no salvation, there is just a CONgress shoveling hundred dollar bills into a furnace in DC at breakneck speed.

    Why do you suppose that if you give them more money every problem will be solved?

  • ||

    ...we would have had a lockbox a long time ago...



    This "lockbox" thingy, how does that work exactly?

    I mean, are you going to stuff the Benjamins under the mattress in the Lincoln Bedroom? How will we keep Hillary's sleepover guests from stealing it?

    Hint: to understand the "lockbox" fallacy you have to understand that the federal government cannot save money. It must spend all revenue in the year it is collected. Hence, the "Social Security Surplus" will always be spent on current programs and therefore is just one more tax.

    The lockbox is a figment of Al Gore's imagination. And MCW is equally delusional.

    From the comments that I see from when I last posted, I see noone else is fooled by either the "lockbox" or the "Social Security Trust Fund".

  • ||

    How will we keep Hillary's sleepover guests from stealing it?



    In the interest of bipartisan fairness (you know, bipartisanshit) I should have added:

    or Mitt's or Rudy's cronies lighting their cigars with them?

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "Why do you suppose that if you give them more money every problem will be solved?"

    Since 1980 there has been a conspircy among the extreme right wing to weaken trust in government so they can cut taxes, then spend until the entire federal government collapses. Grover Norquist said he wants to drown government in a bathtub, I guess you agree. Of course a lot of peopole will end up being drowned by the wingnut scheme. The elderly, children, our infrastructure, our medical care. Then their vision of a society ruled by straight rich white guys will be complete.

  • Episiarch||

    Of course a lot of peopole will end up being drowned by the wingnut scheme.

    One can only hope that you're the first. Glub glub.

  • Shane||

    *Sniff*

    i smell generational conflict.

    I gotta agree with J sub D @10:36, the boomers are going to lose this battle, Gen X is already seriously PO'd over this, when Gen Y makes it out of hiogh school and college and tries to raise a family on what doesn't get taxed for their parent's reitrement, they are going to make sure those are not universal but means tested, all the platitudes in the world are not going to sway them from voting to keep more in their wallet. they will not have a choice and a committed Gen X + Gen Y will have no problem beating the Boomers at the ballot box.

    and MCW, please stop with the "wingnut" references, this is not Kos, if you want to talk about the program then talk about the program, not "wingnut conspiracy since the 80's" please.

  • ||

    Since 1980 there has been a conspircy among the extreme right wing to weaken trust in government

    It's a damn good thing the government hasn't done anything to justify that distrust.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Since 1980 there has been a conspircy among the extreme right wing to weaken trust in government so they can cut taxes

    1980 spending 750 billion

    2007 spending three trillion

    You are so right, more money solved everything.....

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "1980 spending 750 billion

    2007 spending three trillion"

    Of course its not just money its what you spend the money on. I bet most of that increase goes to the military-industrial-corporate welfare complex, aka "defense" spending.

    Fiscal discipline doesn't mean reduced spending, it means spending money on responsible things.

  • BakedPenguin||

    One can only hope that you're the first. Glub glub.



    Glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read that, or I would need a new keyboard.

  • ||

    The elderly, children, our infrastructure, our medical care.

    (my emphasis)

    Oh noes, not THE CHILDREN!!!!

    Really, there are som many reasons to not take you seriously, but that's the best one yet.

    Since 1980 there has been a conspircy among the extreme right wing to weaken trust in government so they can cut taxes, then spend until the entire federal government collapses.



    Every year since 1980 Federal revenues have been higher than ever in history. So has spending, of course.

    The only thing that changes is the distribution of spending. The only area where spending has increased has been on social programs.

    I bet most of that increase goes to the military-industrial-corporate welfare complex, aka "defense" spending.



    You'd lose. At least you would on this planet which seems a lot different from yours.

  • dhex||

    Since 1980 there has been a conspircy among the extreme right wing to weaken trust in government so they can cut taxes, then spend until the entire federal government collapses.

    you have no idea how much i wish this were true, and i think republicans are fuckfaces. where do i find this conspiracy and how can i sign up?

    i do find your manichean fatalism/idealism charming, however.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "Every year since 1980 Federal revenues have been higher than ever in history. So has spending, of course."

    Of course spending is higher, but not tax rates. Deficits and debts are sky-high too. They will spend more and more without any revenue until the government collapses. That was my point, thats what Grover Norquist has been planning.

  • ||

    For accuracy this sentence should "The only area where spending has consistently increased has been on social programs."

  • Other Matt||

    You also receive a pension from your 20years in the US Military.

    There is no possible justification for me paying you 40-50% of your monthly income after 20 years in the military. This is an emotional hangover from a time when military people were essentially unable to get employment as they were damaged so badly in the military. Now, there's a VA that can take of that, and you can get disability.

    This whole thing should be scrapped, allowing us to pay people a true market rate (meaning, the $14K/mo that Blackwater and the other merc organizations pay) and eliminate the lifetime pension and lifetime medical.

    BTW, I'm prior military, a military academy grad no less, so don't give me a bunch of crap about being anti military.

  • ||

    Means testing won't help our piss poor savings rate. Why save if big spender over there is going to be just as well off in retirement? I say end the program and ship the poor, childless ones to closed military bases.

  • ||

    Fiscal discipline doesn't mean reduced spending, it means spending money on responsible things.

    And if you have the right people in power, the government can solve all our problems, satisfy everyone, and create paradise on Earth for the Middle Class Socialists.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "you have no idea how much i wish this were true, and i think republicans are fuckfaces. where do i find this conspiracy and how can i sign up?"

    Google Grover Norquist, the Americans for Tax Reform, and the Club for Growth.

  • ||

    Or one could gamble with his money affording a lifestyle that will almost certainly result in death before 62.

  • ||

    MCW is saying that we need to give the government more power and give that power to the people who he thinks will do the "right" thing with the new found power?

    That is an 80 year old, tired, fallacious argument...I'd rather argue with edward then this....

    THINKS OF THE CHILDRENS!!1!1!!

  • Middle Class Worker||

    Yes, God forbid we should care about our children--the future of our country. I guess we shouldn't fund their schools, or health care, or their future retirement. Just let them go to hell .

    How many of you people actually have children?

  • ||

    "How many of you people actually have children?"

    Good point. Only those who don't have children would put the responsibility on somebody else to raise them. That not your point?

  • ||

    MCW-

    our argument is that non-government entity could do the same service better, and actually help more of the children you speak of.

  • Helen Lovejoy||

    Won't somebody please think of the children!?

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "
    our argument is that non-government entity could do the same service better, and actually help more of the children you speak of."

    Yes, the Almighty Market. I mean, Wal-Mart would be the perfect place to educate our children! And maybe McDonalds can sponsor the nutrition classes!

    Thank The Market!

  • Shane||

    MCW, why are you here, how did you get here? Do you honestly think you are going to convince Libertarians, Small government conservatives, Classical Liberals, Anarcho-capitalists, individualist anarchists and the like that it is good to increase taxes and/or that government is not a bad/incompetent institution?

    Of course we are thinking of the children, we want our children to be free.

  • ed||

    Gen X + Gen Y will have no problem beating the Boomers at the ballot box

    Are you referring to the same "gens" who throw their hands up in hopeless despair whenever SS is mentioned and who, incidentally, don't vote? Har har har!

  • ||

    MCW-

    You realize that wal-mart is one of the reasons people who are poor can afford food and clothing?

    Oh i see, you want to cut of THEIR nose to spite YOUR face, i get it!

  • ||

    MCW: Folks like you would usually require McDonald's to sponsor nutrition classes, as a penalty for providing such horrendous food choices.

  • ||

    ugh...of=off

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "Folks like you would usually require McDonald's to sponsor nutrition classes, as a penalty for providing such horrendous food choices."

    If we left it up to the Almighty Market, and had nothing but private schools with no regulation, McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Coca Cola would run the lunch programs of every school in the nation feeding poision to kids.

  • ||

    I'm sure all the parents wont care what their kids eat either, so your point makes sense








    wait...

  • Shane||

    ed- Gen Y actually does vote. Right now they vote democratic-socialist. i think that will change once they get out of college and starts to take on more financial responsibilites. Gen X, eh, they've always been more fiscally conservative in their politics than their parents, but they don't vote, i'm betting on that changing with the Boomers retiring and demanding more in the way of entitlement spending.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "I'm sure all the parents wont care what their kids eat either, so your point makes sense"

    Given that the child obesity rate in this country has skyrocketed, no they don't seem to care.

  • Shane||

    [i]Given that the child obesity rate in this country has skyrocketed, no they don't seem to care.[/i]

    But that's alright because you're here to care on their behalf, right?

  • ||

    I'm not sure what your point is? child obesity has a million causes, mcdonalds being one of them...should we ban video games and have mandatory outside time? should we give kids a weekly workout schedule and give fines out for the kids who don't do them. Or how about we ban chocolate from their households...

    I'm done arguing with you.

  • Shane||

    damn, i should start to preview my comments before submitting them...

  • dhex||

    oh come now, you don't mean that

    Google Grover Norquist, the Americans for Tax Reform, and the Club for Growth.

    no they genuinely believe what they say. i want the conspiracy that is trying to fool people into no longer believing that government really means well, not the assholes who are proving that the government has never been capable of meaning anything but MOAR POWAH.

  • dhex||

    also guys there are three ways of dealing with trolls:

    1) ignore
    2) engage
    3) meta-troll (urkobold option)

  • Shane||

    should we ban video games and have mandatory outside time? should we give kids a weekly workout schedule and give fines out for the kids who don't do them. Or how about we ban chocolate from their households...

    unfortunately i know a lot of people who would use this as a starting point.

  • Episiarch||

    Man, I would have been fucking thrilled to have McDonalds serving lunch in my school. My mom is a heath food nut and my lunches were teh suxxor. What 8-year-old kid wants a no-sugar all-natural peanut butter, no-sugar jelly sandwich on whole grain bread plus celery stalks for lunch?

    See, bolding makes it more emphatic.

  • ||

    "If we left it up to the Almighty Market, and had nothing but private schools with no regulation, McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Coca Cola would run the lunch programs of every school in the nation feeding poision to kids."

    Not true. School cafeterias still do it cheaper than McDonalds, and with healthier food too. Besides, there already are numerous private schools, and rarely, if ever, does McDonald's hold an exclusive concession.

  • ||

    Are you referring to the same "gens" who throw their hands up in hopeless despair whenever SS is mentioned and who, incidentally

    are more likely to believe that UFOs are real than that they will receive Social Security benefits?

  • ||

    *no-sugar all-natural peanut butter paste*

  • ||

    Haven't RTF thread comments, but I'm guessing someone has defended Ron Paul's earmarks because, you know, it's OK if it's done by one of our guys ...

  • ||

    I have no problem with Social Security -- if it was made voluntary. Anybody who disliked it could permanently opt out, and "lose" the benefits "accrued". All the liberals who says they believe in it could continue participating, with a *slight* uptick in rates to reflect the people no longer being coerced into "contributing" to a program they fundamentally disagree with.

  • ||

    prolefeed: RTFA and RTF comments. The point is that earmarks aren't the problem, and in line with what Ron Paul has said on the issue, earmarks are a symptom of the government's inability to reduce spending. Personally, I don't see why people are so riled up about earmarks.

  • ||

    How many of you people actually have children?

    Oooh, ooh, me! Three of them. Did you see my post saying we should make SS voluntary (and all my prior posts arguing for minarchism or less?)

    Unlike you, MCW, I actually actually have thought this through, and don't care to inflict a welfare state upon my children. I've brought them up right -- they are employable and can take care of their own needs without sponging off other victims taxpayers.

  • ||

    OK, that's just effing careless. Take two:

    How many of you people actually have children?

    Oooh, ooh, me! Three of them. Did you see my post saying we should make SS voluntary (and all my prior posts arguing for minarchism or less?)

    Unlike you, MCW, I actually have thought this through, and don't care to inflict a welfare state upon my children. I've brought them up right -- they are employable and can take care of their own needs without sponging off other victims taxpayers.

  • ||

    Lamar, I will stipulate that I was wrong: people didn't defend Ron Paul's earmarks in this thread. Good for them. But, saying that something is only a small part of the problem doesn't make it right. Earmarks tend to increase the size of spending bills, especially if they're blatant pork like the Charlie Rangel thing, rather than specifying where the money should be spent rather than on what the money should be spent.

    I do agree with the article that entitlements are a much, much bigger problem than pork, and that Ron Paul is right on entitlements, and that all the other presidential candidates are wrong on entitlements -- some more egregiously than others, as the Hillary "gift" ad so amply illustrates.

  • ||

    At the very least, the SS/medicare eligibility ages (currently at 62/65...scheduled to go to 62/67 soon) should be raised to the point where a much smaller portion of the population qualifies for it. I'm imagining eligibility ages of 72/75 in the future. I have no problem with people wanting to retire earlier, but they should pay for it themselves.

    My dad is a textbook example of someone who retired simply because the government enabled it. He's 64 (retired at 62) and fully capable of working (he's healthier and stronger than most who are 15 years younger). He retired on SS + (very) small pension and then he works part-time to supplement it.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    No one has answered my points about senior poverty rates. Before Social Security, poverty among the elderly exceeded 50%. We would go back to those days if it were eliminated.

  • ||

    "You can't "opt out" of Social Security anymore than you should be able to "opt out" of police or fire protection."

    individuals can't "opt out" but certain govt. agencies have been able to in the past and are still opted out.

    many police and fire dept's for instance do not pay (nor do their employees pay) into social security.

    i know one cop who chose his current agency, among other reasons, because it did not pay into social security (kirkland, WA pd)

  • Putter||

    the very credibility of the U.S. government

    how did this phrase go by without snark for so long (since 10:59)?

  • robc||

    No one has answered my points about senior poverty rates.

    Its been answered multiple times.

    1. It is their childrens responsibility.

    2. It is their own responsibility to save for that day.

    2B. I even gave a plan to "force" this that I dont like.

    3. Freedom is more important than starving seniors (this is a new one, but Im throwing it out there because it is true).

  • Rhywun||

    Before Social Security, poverty among the elderly exceeded 50%.

    I'll let that unsubstantiated factoid slide and just question if you think Social Security is responsible for the elderly now being wealthier on average than their offspring or might the fact that we're not in the Great Depression any more have something to do with it?

    i know one cop who chose his current agency, among other reasons, because it did not pay into social security

    Maybe he gets a big fat pension after 20 years like most cops.

  • ||

    Thanks Episiarch, "It would be nice if the old folks would pull a Sol Roth and "go home"." is inspirational.

    Here's the thing, free trade for immigrants. Let Mexico build retirement communities for Americans. Then for each retiree, allow an extra immigrant to the USA. Everyone wins. Retirees in sunny climes with low costs of living. New source of income for Mexicans wanting to work in their own country. New source of SS contributions from new workers arriving in el Norte.

    Balance mobility of workers with mobility of non-workers...

  • ||

    No one has answered my points about senior poverty rates. Before Social Security, poverty among the elderly exceeded 50%. We would go back to those days if it were eliminated.

    So, MCW, do you agree with my post about voluntary participation or non-participation in SS?

    Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, hardly anyone in America is actually poor in the sense of being homeless and going hungry. The federal poverty standards include people who are obese, live in heated houses, have cars to drive, and have color TVs. So, pardon me if I don't trust an argument that because the government says people will allegedly become poor based on shaky statistics that are a half-century out of date, we must enforce a form of theft from young people with no assets to transfer to older people with lots of assets.

  • ||

    We would go back to those days if it were eliminated.



    Right. This is an utterly unsubstantiated assertion. And a simpleminded repetition of all the vapid welfare statist claptrap from wayback.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "So, MCW, do you agree with my post about voluntary participation or non-participation in SS?"

    No, you should be required to participate in SS. Just as you are required to participate in police protection, fire protection, education, public infrastructure, and national defense.

  • Shane||

    So, pardon me if I don't trust an argument that because the government says people will allegedly become poor based on shaky statistics that are a half-century out of date, we must enforce a form of theft from young people with no assets to transfer to older people with lots of assets.

    You got to put it into words a collectivist will understand:

    lets not forget that SS steals from poor minorities who die at 61 in order to subsidize the retirement of 100 year old wealthy elitist whites who are guaranteed payments that are more than they paid into the system.

    So, MCW you support a system that forcefully takes money from poor young minorites(who could use that money TODAY) and gives it to rich old white folks who might or might not need it? Hardley seems fair. Of course with a system that was voluntary and means tested this wouldn't be a problem would it?

  • ||

    "i know one cop who chose his current agency, among other reasons, because it did not pay into social security

    Maybe he gets a big fat pension after 20 years like most cops."

    pensions suck in WA state (LEOFF II). the point is that it is not true that some people can't avoid SS. many agencies don't pay into SS, and imo SS sux, so that's something to consider. i'm not saying change careers to firefighter or cop (and note only some agencies don't pay in) JUST to avoid SS, but t's one way to avoid that crappy program.

  • ||

    "So, MCW, do you agree with my post about voluntary participation or non-participation in SS?"

    No, you should be required to participate in SS. Just as you are required to participate in police protection, fire protection, education, public infrastructure, and national defense.


    You forgot to include the logical outcome of your beliefs: "... and should be required to participate in government-run health care, food stores, car manufacturing, entertainment, etc. ad nauseam.

    Any particular reason why you think people are incapable of taking care of their own education, police protection, fire protection, road subscriptions using private providers?

  • Kolohe||

    Grant-
    Let Mexico build retirement communities for Americans.

    This seems to be an avenue already being pursued by some in the private sector. (or maybe public-private partnership; my impression that in mexico, this almost necessarily the case)


    many police and fire dept's for instance do not pay (nor do their employees pay) into social security.
    i know one cop who chose his current agency, among other reasons, because it did not pay into social security (kirkland, WA pd)



    Don't know about localities, but my father just retired from the post office (standard libertarian disclaimer, yeah boo hiss, but it *is* in the constitution, and kept me fed and with an adequate supply of atari5200/C64 games). Since he is on the old civil service retirement system, he is not eligible for SS unless he works another year or so (although he did pay in for almost a decade)
    Ironically, my mother, who hasn't been employed outside the home for over thirty years, has now just started collecting SS from
    when she worked for about ten years. And these checks are bigger than what my recently deceased grandmother was getting in her final years.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "Any particular reason why you think people are incapable of taking care of their own education, police protection, fire protection, road subscriptions using private providers?"

    Lets take education. With no public education, and no government regulation on private educators, you would 1) have a revival of racial segregation in many parts of the country 2) have certain schools that teach such incorrect doctrines as creationism, leading to children who aren't ready to compete in a global economy 3) have schools run by people more interested in making a profit than providing education. Also, if private health care is any indication education costs would skyrocket and only the wealthy would be able to afford decent education.

  • ||

    My point earlier is that there is no response to you.

    You'll keep repeating the same vapid welfare statist claptrap without regard to any response you get.

    Your team already had its way from the thirties to the seventies. Mushrooming social programs, federal mandates and increasing taxes (except for the Kennedy tax rate cuts*)
    and borrowing gave us stagflation.

    The deficits today are largely structural and the foundation for it was laid in the years when your team had complete control. Mind you it's not like another team has taken over either, The House and Senate are still dominated by welfare state Democrats and Rockerfeller Republicans.

    All of those budgets by "teh evil rightwing conspiracy" were passed by Democrat-controlled Congresses.

    Wow, that's some mind control thing the evil ones got going. Of course that's how Karl Rove got the Democrats who controlled the election machinery in Florida to steal the 2000 election for Bush, I guess.

    *Which although pushed through by LBJ were still named for the prezz that first proposed them. How's that for a couple of old evil rightwing conspirators (oh wait, LBJ love the old folks and THE CHILDREN, didn't he?). And don't forget that communist Barry Goldwater who opposed the cuts unless spending was cut as well.

    Oh, well, Plus c'est la meme chose, plus ça change.

  • Rhywun||

    revival of racial segregation in many parts of the country

    You mean like the one reflected in voluntary residential patterns? Or should the State tell us where to live, too?

    teach such incorrect doctrines as creationism, leading to children who aren't ready to compete in a global economy

    Then that's their parents' fault, not mine.

    people more interested in making a profit than providing education

    I guarantee you, every public school employee is more interested in profit (i.e. their paycheck) than in altruism.

    if private health care is any indication

    It isn't, because "private" health care is very highly regulated.

  • Middle Class Worker||

    "You mean like the one reflected in voluntary residential patterns? Or should the State tell us where to live, too?"

    We already have fair housing laws, but you probably think those are "statist" too. I guess you're pro-segregation.

    "Then that's their parents' fault, not mine."

    It becomes all our fault when we lose our technological lead to China or India thanks to wingnut private schools. Do you ever think how things might impact the whole nation, or do you only think of yourself?

  • robc||

    Do you ever think how things might impact the whole nation, or do you only think of yourself?

    Myself. That was an easy one.

  • ||

    schools run by people more interested in making a profit than providing education.

    And how, pray tell, will those evil profit-maximizing schoolmasters achieve their nefarious ends? Not providing education will severely impair their ability to turn a profit.

  • Rhywun||

    I guess you're pro-segregation.

    And I guessed you were going to say that.

    do you only think of yourself?

    Pretty much. I honestly don't care about the pecking order between the US, India, and China. Although I think it's pretty instructive how many of their best students come here.

  • Shane||

    It becomes all our fault when we lose our technological lead to China

    It there it is, "We've got to keep pace with the commies"...

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    Social Security is the price we pay to not have seniors begging in the streets.

    "Honor thy father and thy mother."-The Bible

    "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God."-Benjamin Franklin

  • ||

    "Lets take education. With no public education, and no government regulation on private educators, you would we 1) have a revival of racial segregation in many parts of the country in public schools that are nearly 100% minority enrollment 2) have certain schools that teach such incorrect doctrines as creationism socialism disguised as democracy, leading to children who aren't ready to compete in a global economy 3) have schools run by people more interested in making a profit enhancing the pay (i.e. profits) and time off of teachers than providing education. Also, if private health care is any indication education costs would skyrocket and only the wealthy would be able to afford decent education privatization would result in our educational system attracting the best and brightest, resulting in a burst of innovation that would result in the overwhelming majority of our citizens being the best-educated people on the planet."

    Fixed for you, MCW.

  • ||

    i'm kind of surprised the repubs (who are more likely to be for SS reform/privatization etc.) don't play up the disparate impact argument vis a vis SS.

    leftists tend to love disparate impact arguments. iow, if a law, policy, or program disparately impacts minorities - it's bad. and institutionally racist.

    of course, by the same law - laws against armed robbery are "institutionally sexist" since they disparately impact men (males commit armed robbery over 9:1 TO women) which shows the absurdity of this "logic".

    SS disparately negatively impacts black males, in that they (on average) have such short lifespans, and (on average) are more likely to have incomes below the SS cap (where you stop paying a poriton of your income as SS)...

    so, they (as a group) receive less SS payments as a %age of what they pay into it.

    thus, SS is "racist"

    by the disparate impact institutional racism logic of leftists

  • dhex||

    3) have schools run by people more interested in making a profit than providing education.

    wait, but how would they keep making a profit if they sucked? (which is the implication of for-profit schooling in your particular memeplex, unless i'm mistaken)

  • Middle Class Worker||

    wait, but how would they keep making a profit if they sucked? (which is the implication of for-profit schooling in your particular memeplex, unless i'm mistaken)

    Wal-Mart sucks, but they manage to push out very good mom-and-pop stores through predatory pricing. What makes you think Wal-Mart Schools would be any different? Lowest-common-denominator shoddy goods whether its education or clothing.

  • ||

    Wal-Mart sucks, but they manage to push out very good mom-and-pop stores through predatory pricing. What makes you think Wal-Mart Schools would be any different? Lowest-common-denominator shoddy goods whether its education or clothing.

    Thank goodness your local public high school doesn't engage in predatory pricing and shoddy lowest-common-denominator "product".

  • VM||

    Dan T?

    new style? I like the occasional bold!

    Do you preview to make sure you close the tags?

  • ||

    prolefeed,
    prolefeed | December 26, 2007, 2:03pm

    "The federal poverty standards include people who are obese, live in heated houses, have cars to drive, and have color TVs"

    I must request you stop using my likeness in your posts. Thank you, ben

  • ||

    I started sleeping better at nite when I finally understood that there are folks that are prettier than me. Some work harder, (most actually). Some better educated. Some more motivated. Many have made better life choices than myself. My life, for the most part, is a result of my decisions. We read to the kids from birth and it shows. Taught them to respect others and others property. Made sure they were learning to think , even in public schools. They aspire to make something of themeselves and they both understand that they are responsible for their own future.

    BTW, I like wal-mart and I am poor.

  • dhex||

    Wal-Mart sucks, but they manage to push out very good mom-and-pop stores through predatory pricing. What makes you think Wal-Mart Schools would be any different?

    so "predatory pricing" means "low cost goods" but i'm not entirely sure what it really means within your memeplex. now, without government support wal-mart as a model falls apart - this is plainly clear from any criticism - reasonable or not - of their business. be it high cost of low prices or the frontline special or what have you.

    they need that gubmint money, and not just in the whole health-care thing (which isn't really a criticism unless you believe a job owes you healthcare) but to continue to subsidize their nonsense.

    ok so fast forward to a dream world where the gubmint got all sorts of fucked up and the public schooling model was replaced by competing religious and private schools, as well as homeschooling systems. it isn't too much of a stretch to imagine a continuation of the existing homeschooling models done up for various political biases, so the creationist kidz can get their dino-jesus on, and the progressive kidz can get their WE LIVE IN THE DARK AGES on and so forth.

    parochial catholic schools will be dying to get their hands on at least some of the best of the lowest-income students, because they are no idiots when it comes to future demographics. but that aside let's take regular ole joe blow from tuscahoe's kid, joe jr. joe jr. goes to a non-sectarian private school called WAL-SCHOOL, INC and learns all sorts of dumb shit. joe's folks find the teachers all sorts of crappy and the food is made of pets and cardboard. without some kind of fiat, what is going to prevent TARGET SCHOOLS CO. from offering a slightly better version (food mostly cardboard, teachers literate if still surly, etc) from poaching these unsatisfied customers?

  • ||

    Actually I'm still waiting for Middle Class Worker to explain how the "lockbox" thingy works.

    If he can do that he can probably explain away:

    A tax that masquerades as a pension contribution.

    A welfare sheme that masquerades as a funded pension scheme.

    And how the Treasury Department can make a buch of IOUs to itself into a "Trust Fund".

    No wonder the American people can be so profiligate, they have a government that thinks pretense is fiduciary responsibility.

    But, in fact, MCW is not going to respond to anything. He's just going to repeat unfounded assertions.

  • ||

    Isaac, good points. The key problem is the system is funded on a principle of taking from taday's earners to give to today's needy. It started that way to give immediate effect (relatively small compared to today's entitlement burden) with a relatively smaller number of recipients (age 65 was not an age many would reach in the 30's). And this was enlarged without ever converting to an investment, futures scheme. If the "surplus" were required to be invested in a true investment fund then Congress of course would wail because they use the money otherwise, but actually the investment would probably boost the economy and by the time the surplus from current funds disappears we might have some useful actual investments to draw upon.

    But it will never happen because radical fiscal reform is simply outside the capability of the US government.

  • ||

    Wal-Mart sucks, but they manage to push out very good mom-and-pop stores through predatory pricing. What makes you think Wal-Mart Schools would be any different?

    But Wal-Mart doesn't suck! They provide most of the top name-brands of nearly every retail good (Sony, Fisher Price, Hoover, Frito-Lay, etc.) for a lower price than anyone else, improving the lifestyles of many poor and middle-class people in the process.

    They also get lots of employees to apply for their jobs whenever a new store opens, which with a national unemployment of 4.7%, implies that either A) those jobs are relatively attractive, or B) the people that apply for those jobs are relatively stupid. Choice A seems the much more likely one.

    I love Wal-Mart! I even go out of my way to help them out by taking other lazy morons' carts left in the parking lot back while I'm taking mine back.

  • ||

    No, he's going to go paTROLL the Texas Death Squads Redux thread as Madeline Albright, where I out him as MCW, which means nothing to nobody.

  • ||

    I am The Flanders. I confess. But only Ned and Rod. Todd is a little shit.

  • Rhywun||

    I'm neutral on Wal-Mart. There are none where I live, but there are plenty of other big-box stores like Home Depot or Bed Bath & Beyond or even KMart that I enjoy shopping at if I'm in the area. It's true there's a huge swath of America where Wal-Mart is the only game left in town--but those places were dying anyway (long before Wal-Mart showed up), which is why I choose not to live there. Instead I live somewhere that offers both big-box and mom-and-pop.

  • Big Nanny||

    "See, bolding makes it more emphatic."

    You should try eliminating punctuation marks.

    Is MCW a caricature?

  • Big Nanny||

    "leading to children who aren't ready to compete in a global economy "

    Too late.

  • ||

    My solution is much simpler. Anyone collecting any kind of check from any government entity would not be allowed to vote. We could not then vote ourselves a pay raise (read: more benefits). I say that as a double dipper.(mil-SS) Three worst groups:military, teachers, old people. Unfortunately I belong to all three.

    Go ahead and hit me, I don't make the rules. Haven't voted in nearly 30 years, when I figured out the scam and I was taking my own kids' money.

  • matt||

    Middle Class Worker = Jackie Harvey?

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/37332

  • Lurker Dave||

    Grant wrote:

    "If the "surplus" were required to be invested in a true investment fund then Congress of course would wail because they use the money otherwise, but actually the investment would probably boost the economy and by the time the surplus from current funds disappears we might have some useful actual investments to draw upon."

    Do you really want the federal government to be able to invest in the stock market, for instance? I'm afraid this would lead to the federal government having an uncomfortable amount of control over the nation's corporations. Shades of fascism, methinks.

    Better to let people be individually responsible for their own retirement.

  • ||

    I suppose investing the SS surplus in State and Municipal bonds might be a reasonable alternative that would overcome many of the objections, both left and right, to it being invested in the stock market.

    I believe the Canada Pension Plan's Trust fund is in Provincial and Municipal bonds. Back in the 80s some kind of question came up about how secure it was but I've forgotten exactly what the problem was.

    However the "trust fund" needs to be in some kind of marketable securities not the special bonds they're in now which can only be "redeemed" through borrowing and/or taxation.

    That, or get rid of the fiction of the "trust fund" altogether by lowering the FICA to the amount necessary to meet current obligations or better yet abolish the FICA altogether and fund a means tested income supplement for the elderly infirm out of general revenue.

    And, yes, the idea of a retirement entitlement at some magic age eventually needs to disappear entirely. Noone is any more entitled to quit work and go on the public dole at 65 than at 25.

    In any event, I am perfectly willing to see something that is phased in over the lifetime of say those born today so that noone gets a rude financial (and cultural) shock.

    Unlikely, naturally, since Congress' vision of the future extends no further than the next election.

  • ||

    I suppose now is as good a time for me to ask a question that has been puzzling me for some time.

    The Federal Governemnt has several Trust Funds. The two that come to mind immediately are SS and the Highway Trust fund.

    Now both are the result of surplus collections of dedicated taxes (SS from FICA and Hwy from gas tax). And both are held AFAIK in special nonmarketable treasury bonds.

    Now, of course these surplus funds have been spent immediately on other programs but there is this fiction that there is money in the "trust fund" to be drawn on in the future when needs change.

    Now, of course, that means, say Congress could get a bug up its ass about deteriorating bridges and "withdraw" some or even all of the cash from the Highway Trust Fund to fund some huge national bridge rehabilitation project.

    So here's my question (asked in all seriousness). Do any of you know if there is any criteria set by law to determine when it is appropriate to withdraw and spend money from the Highway Trust Fund?

  • ||

    Do any of you know if there is any criteria set by law to determine when it is appropriate to withdraw and spend money from the Highway Trust Fund?

    I believe it is both necessary and sufficient that the money be spent on something that has a politician's name on it.

  • ||

    R C Dean

    ....Chuckle.

    I suspect the actual answer is that there never has been intention to ever "spend" the "trust funds" (that is, in the same way you might spend the money you've been putting away for the last ten years on renovating the Master Bathroom).

    Fact of the matter, I believe the "trust funds" are nothing more than memory holes into which money collected for one specific purpose but spent on politicians' votebuying are disappeared.

    Frankly, I find it surprising that there's any honor or decency left in a country with such a mendacious political culture.

    I actually did ask the question in all earnestness , while at the same suspecting that it no more had an answer than how that "lockbox" thingy works.

    OK, that's the last time I ask a serious question here. From now on it's back to dismissing people and matters political with the scorn and derision they deserve.

  • ||

    Too bad the well will dry up. The "painful cuts" will take place in the form of inflation. Then the seniors will have to pay for the trouble they caused. The workers will be OK because our salaries will increase. Serves the seniors right anyway. They managed to kill off about 10-15 million of my generation with abortions.

  • ||

    first of all, social security is not a govt giveaway. we all pay over 7% of our paychecks, with our employer matching that amount, equaling almost 15% of our gross pay, for our entire working careers. we pay in, we should get some of it back. secondly, medicare is identically set up but with much lower rates. around 3% in total. yes, those with lower incomes pay in less, but they get less for social security, although medicare benefits are equal. the problem is we dont truly talk about our defecit spending. iraq is ONLY 4% of the budget? what happened to the peace dividend? iraq is a collosal waste of money and , more importantly, lives. ss and med should be off-budget. ss is one of the few govt programs that truly benefits those it is intended to benefit. how we deal with ss will say alot about us a country ---- that takes care of its own, its own that need help in old age, childhood, disability, death of family members, and more.

  • economist||

    There're 3 types of situations in which 1 could argue the government should be involved.
    1. Situations where one person directly harms another.
    This category includes policing power to stop murder and theft, the power to regulate and pollution, certain public health functions (i.e. preventing people from spreading highly contagious and deadly diseases), and defense. And no, "They took yer job" is NOT direct harm. That is your employer exercising his right to associate with someone who will work for less.
    2.Correcting underallocation of resources to specific areas of the economy. This applies to situations where "spillover" benefits are involved. Examples include patents, scientific research, vaccinations (if I don't catch the flu, people around me are less likely to catch it.), and some other things I haven't thought of yet.
    3. Situations where high transaction costs prevent a mutually beneficial action from taking place in a free market. This is kind of a fuzzy area, but most include infrastructure and education in this group.

    In general, govt. should always do the first, and be more cautious about the second and third. If it does the second and third, it should distribute costs to those who receive benefits, rather than fleecing some for the benefit of others. However, SS, Medicare, Medicaid, other welfare programs, subsidized insurance, corporate bailouts, war in Iraq, and nullifying debts do not fall into this category. Scrap 'em all.

  • economist||

    A few clarifications to the above statement. Group 1 should have included imposing compensation for property damage. I should also have mentioned that intellectual property does have an important basis in natural rights, and not just in utility to society. I also should have included enforcing trademarks as a legitimate role for govt. With respect to Iraq war, I favor immediate withdrawal of troops, NOT playing chicken with idiot-in-chief over war funding. Also when I mentioned "nullifying debts" I was referring to the proposals to freeze interest rates on subprime loans. MCW, joe, and all the other socialists who like to hang out here can now yell and scream at me.

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