The Entitlement Rip-Off

How unfunded liabilities drain the treasury

Bernie Madoff took money from people who thought he'd invested it, gave some to others who thought it was a partial return on their earlier investments, and kept much for himself. That's called a Ponzi scheme, and his $50 billion fraud was called the biggest ever. But it wasn't the biggest. Social Security and Medicare are much bigger ones.

These are trillion-dollar scams. Medicare has a $36 trillion unfunded liability. Social Security's is $8 trillion. There's no money to keep those promises.

But Congress isn't investigating this scam. Congress runs it. That FICA money you thought government had saved for your retirement is gone. There's nothing left but IOUs backed by nothing. Your money was spent not only on current retirees but on wars, welfare, corporate bailouts, earmarks, and all the other stuff Congress wants. For years, this was possible because the FICA tax brought in surpluses that allowed government to pay retirees more than they contributed and still help buy those other things.

Those days are gone. The huge group of baby boomers has started to retire, and that means trouble. In 2008, for the first time, Medicare paid out more than it took in.

So instead of filling the government's coffers and hiding the real size of the budget deficit, the entitlement programs have now begun to drain the treasury. Part of the "problem" is that we live longer. When Social Security started, most people didn't live to 65. Now we average 78.

This means that baby boomers like me who expect to collect Social Security and Medicare are basically stealing from children.

Think of the burden: When I was a kid, there were five workers for every retired person. Now, there are only three. And soon there will only be two young workers to fund each baby boomer's Social Security and Medicare checks.

When I explore this alarming matter on my Fox Business New show tonight, Veronique de Rugy, an economist at the Mercatus Center, will point out that Social and Medicare right now consume almost half the federal budget. In coming years, if nothing changes, they will swallow nearly the whole thing. But since Congress will want to spend money on all the other things it now buys—not to mention a new medical entitlement—the government will either have to raise taxes to stratospheric heights, borrow like crazy, or inflate the dollar. Whichever it chooses, we'll have serious problems.

Higher taxes are not a good solution because taxation suppresses economic activity by transferring capital to politicians. Yet our only hope is a sustained economic boom.

As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), points out: "You literally cannot tax your way out of this problem. It's not mathematically possible. ... You wipe out the middle class."

Well, how about borrowing? That might mean raising interest rates, which, again, would depress economic activity. Even then, lenders such as China may soon be too nervous to lend Uncle Sam more money. Moody's recently announced it might downgrade America's credit rating.

The most likely outcome is that the Fed will print more money, inflating the currency, so that the creditors are paid with less-valuable dollars. Our purchasing power will disappear.

The architects of the welfare state sure have left us a big mess. Yet hardly anyone talks about entitlements, except to add new ones.

De Rugy asks: Why can't people take care of their own retirement by investing the money government now takes? Had we done this all along, the looming problem would have been averted. Instead, "We're about to witness the biggest, most massive transfer of wealth from the relatively young and poor people of society to the relatively old and wealthy people in society."

Our forefathers would be appalled. After the American Revolution, when the new government was debating how to pay its bills, George Washington said this about a national debt: "We should avoid ungenerously throwing upon posterity ... the burden we ourselves ought to bear." Well, we sure are dumping my generation's debt onto posterity. I wish we had more politicians like George Washington.

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site johnstossel.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS, INC.
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  • ||

    John is not the first to observe this reality. Irwin Schiff was talking this up thirty years ago.

  • smartass sob||

    Harry Browne beat him by 10 years.

  • Thomas||

    Of course we Reason readers are aware of this, but most people need to be told something so obvious. I don't think they're actually aware of how the system works, let alone the consequences it is beginning to have.

  • Untermensch||

    I know, if we stick our heads in the sand and promise more ice cream and ponies, the problem will go away. Vote Untermensch 2012!

  • Untermensch||

    Wait, that was essentially Obama's platform.

  • Warty||

    NET TAX COT

  • Democrats||

    We don't want to talk about it!
    LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!

  • smartass sob||

    Yeah, you all didn't want to talk about it back in the 30's when it was passed either. Up yours.

  • Democrats||

    But the CBO passed it! It's not our fault!

  • Mike M.||

    And instead of doing what responsible leaders should be doing, trying to figure out how we and the rest of the advanced world is going to transition out of the bankrupt Bismarckian Ponzi welfare state in a gradual and sensible manner, instead our deranged leadership is doubling down on empty entitlement promises, like a broken and degenerate gambler getting ready to lose his last remaining bucks on a couple of final spins of the roulette wheel.

  • smartass sob||

    ...like a broken and degenerate gambler getting ready to lose his the last remaining bucks he borrowed or stole on a couple of final spins of the roulette wheel.

    There - that's a bit closer to the way it usually is with degenerate gamblers.

  • ||

    ... and so also with government!

  • ||

    The median net worth of people in their sixties is $168,200, in their seventies is $173,500, and in their twenties it is just $7,800, as of 2003. Social Security and Medicare is a "reverse Robin Hood" scenario. See www.dallasnews.com/sharedconte.....board.html for these numbers. The typical couple retiring in 2004 will recieve 7 times as much in benefits, after adjusting for inflation, than they have paid in. See www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2.....ver_x.htm. "But the money is promised to them!" If I promise to rob my neighbor to pay my other neighbor, is it morally proper to keep that promise?

  • rho||

    I'm pretty sure "net worth" includes real estate. I'm not sure that having a paid-for house necessarily makes one wealthy.

    Not that I'm defending SS. I'm an independent contractor (not a stripper, alas), so I know precisely how well fucked I am by payroll taxes. It's just those net worth numbers don't paint a fully accurate picture.

  • ||

    Of course it includes real estate. That is wealth that can be used, in order to pay for current needs. Reverse mortgages enable people to live off their large stores of accumulated wealth, rather than forcing others to work for them through confiscation under threat of deadly force. Which is a more moral approach?

  • Old Timer||

    Why can't we have both?

  • ||

    Both of what? Your wealth and somebody else's? Seniors already have both of those. That is the problem. Younger people would like to keep some of theirs, so they can save for their waning years.

  • another Old Timer||

    Yeah, we too, wanted to keep ours when we were young. Good luck with that.

  • ||

    Generation A robbing generation B does not make it right for generation B to rob generation C. Intergenerational robbery is morally wrong. Too bad you can't get yours back from the people who robbed you. They are dead now. You are robbing my generation now.

  • ed||

    It isn't the "generations" who are doing the robbing. It's our government. We're all victims.

  • ||

    You're correct--communism/fascism is inherently evil. Along with the intergenerational unfairnesses, it presents many others...among these, the ease with which illegal "immigrant" aliens can trade votes for citizenship, & other goodies.

  • ||

    Ah, James, I feel for you. Too bad boomers are going to be the largest voting bloc in the country for the next 3 or 4 decades. We vote, you lose.

  • ||

    Younger people are starting to wake up. Your post will not engender sympathy for your generation. The attitude of "too bad, we have enough votes to take your money" will help educate people as to the real reason for Social Security. It is about political power, contrary to the principles of justice and morality. If we get enough people educated, through articles like John Stossel wrote here, and comments like yours, then we can just vote to end the whole thing.

  • smartass sob||

    then we can just vote to end the whole thing.

    Sure, you can - and then your parents can move in with you. Or you can pay taxes for the government to keep them in nursing homes. On the other hand perhaps they could be turned into Soylent Green. ;-)

    One of the reasons we have Social Security in the first place is that people were swindled out of the purchasing power of their "savings" back during the 1910's and 1920's by deliberate policies of inflation. The creation of the Federal Reserve banking cartel and the federal income tax can be blamed for much of it - not to mention the seizure of everyone's gold. I'm not trying to justify the creation of the Social Security system here - I'm just saying that's a large part of the reason it was put in place - the government had to do something about destitute old folk.

    Fact of the matter is this: even if people were allowed to keep their money and invest it for old age and retirement as you suggest, they'd see their purchasing power get ripped off before they got there - just as my grandparents and great grandparents did. Hell, look at how much purchasing power the dollar has lost just since the first year of the Bush and Cheney administration - at least a third. If you want to go back to the beginning of the Clinton administration, it's probably two thirds. And any attempt to invest and make up for losses to inflation gets taxed. Government is gonna get your money, one way or another - boomers and the "greatest generation" are just as much victims as are gen x-ers and y's. Again, I'm not justifying or defending Social Security - I, too, think it's a scam.

  • ||

    I would take care of my parents if they had done anything to deserve it. I'm young and let me just say that if you keep taking more of my money, I will kill you someday. Nothing personal, just don't touch my shit, you old fucker.

    People acting voluntarily who get swindled by other people acting voluntarily are not victims. ONly the government (or any other source of violent coercion) can turn people into victims.

  • ||

    The elderly are the richest segment of society. Even if you had invested a million dollars right before the stock market crash in 29, you'd have been rich 40 year later.

  • smartass sob||

    The elderly are the richest segment of any society that is relatively free - it's because they've been working and accumulating wealth longer than the young. Don't worry, if there's anything left after the government steals their cut, it's usually bequeathed to their children or grandchildren. The children and grandchildren didn't earn it, but I've seldom seen any of them turn up their noses at it. (Lord, I'm glad sometimes I never had kids. Geez.)

  • ||

    When you have kids, you're kind of responsible for them. You make it sound like a travesty that parents are supposed to pay for their kids, however its okay that kids have to pay for strangers parents lifestyles?

  • smartass sob||

    When you have kids, you're kind of responsible for them.

    Well hell yes, you're responsible for them - at least until they're of age. How do you get that I'm saying otherwise? Look, if someone brings a new human being into this world, as far as I'm concerned he and/or she are responsible for that person until grown - not only for taking care of him but for seeing to it that he (or she) learns to take care of himself.

    however its okay that kids have to pay for strangers parents lifestyles?

    No, it isn't okay. It's not even okay when kids have to pay for their own parents' lifestyles, as I did for my old man's when I was still in high school. Also, I might add, it isn't okay that someone should have to pay for someone else's kids, but they do nevertheless.

  • ||

    What do we disagree on then?

  • ||

    The government spend six dollars on old fuckers for every dollar it spends on young fuckers. Including the money they spend to keep the young from fucking. Old people get to have that too. And only old people are allowed to be hooked on drugs.

  • Contrarian P||

    Clearly you've never met the government's friends estate taxes and probate. As we need more and more money it's very likely that new sources of funding will include estates. Can't you see the reasoning? Clearly, these beneficiaries didn't earn any of this money. It should be spread around to all. They should pay their fair share to insure everyone's progress. Right?

  • smartass sob||

    Don't know which "old fucker" you're addressing that to, but don't be too sure of your ability to kill him before he kills you, kid; he probably didn't get to be an old fucker without learning a thing or two. Nothing personal.

    BTW, people who get swindled are victims - fraud is a crime for a reason. For example: theft by check does not involve violent coercion, but it is still theft.

  • ||

    It's not always fraud. In most cases people just make bad decisions. I'm not saying that somebody shouldn't be able to sue for damages in a court of law, but just announcing "fraud" on a large scale without any real court proceedings to point to is nonsensical.

  • ||

    We've already lost, because the cookie jar is empty. The wealth that should have been set aside to invest in the productive assets needed to support the boomers in their retirement was confiscated from them and spent for nonproductive ends by the politicians.

    Vote all you want; voting does not create capital. There is nothing left to redistribute.

  • smartass sob||

    yup...pretty much.

  • ||

    Attitudes like yours will lead us to use the cartridge box instead of the ballot box to fix this mess. My eyes are better than yours and I can move a lot faster. What you gonna do when WE come for you?

  • ||

    My generation already gets treated like shit. We already have guns in our face all of the time. My plan is to get the people younger than me on my side.

  • ||

    I'm the non violent type personally,but I like to think that old people should be at least a little bit afraid. Those with the power should be at least a little afraid of those without it.

  • smartass sob||

    I'm the non violent type personally

    Yes, I can see that. (snicker)

  • ||

    This is the internet, if I can't express myself completely here, then where?

  • younger people||

    My plan is to get the people younger than me on my side.

    Bullshit! Never trust anyone over thirty! Hm, come to think of it - never trust anyone over twenty!

  • ||

    How about I agree not to take your money? Is that good?

  • ||

    Ridiculous--the people younger than you have already received their "free public educations". This means that they're good little fascist/communists, and believe that all Americans should travel by bicycle, become vegitarians, and eliminate fat, salt tobacco products, and alcohol from their lives.

  • ||

    Saying that children receive free schooling is akin to saying that prisoners receive free prison.

  • ||

    This is tautologically true. What's your point? Is it that net worth isn't the same as disposable income and therefore old people should get SS?

    I'm calling shennanigans!! Old people spent much of their lives' paying for and finally paying off a house. Now are you really implying that once their need for a large income (to pay for a mortgage) they have the right to take from young people who have just started their lifelong struggle to pay off a house?

  • Contrarian P||

    Actually if you look at the percentage of people, even older people, who have a paid for house, it's pretty small. This generation of elderly was encouraged to keep trading up to bigger houses, taking on more mortgages, often stretched out to 30 years. Now that housing prices have collapsed, much of the nest egg in their "largest investment" has been wiped away. And they didn't bother saving much either. A net worth of 150k is chump change. Sure, it's better than nothing, but even living modestly you'd burn through that in just a few short years. It's the perfect storm. No savings, fewer and fewer workers to help, and a government made up of these same bastards that can't stop spending money.

  • ||

    Considering that social security only pays an individual about 90 grand, that net worth of over 150 grand is pretty good. Even if we save social security, the benefit is nothing compared to what that savings would amount to in even a modest cd, even taking recessions into account.

    Maybe there is a pragmatic argument for helping seniors who get caught with their pants (the ones who turn 65 in the middle of a recession), but SS and Medicare isn't that. And even that requires stolen money. Nobody gives a shit when a young person can't afford something.

  • ||

    Foolish, to think that seniors caught in this mess will be "helped" by Almighty Fat Federal Govt! Rather, their remaining savings will be confiscated, once it becomes obvious that Bail-outs/Stimulus/Fascism/Communism fails to produce economic growth.

  • ||

    That's why it is better to get rid of the program rather than try to save it.

  • ||

    Especially when the inflated value taxes the shit out of you.

  • smartass sob||

    You got that right for sure.

  • The Gobbler||

    "I'm pretty sure "net worth" includes real estate. I'm not sure that having a paid-for house necessarily makes one wealthy."

    Let me tell ya, it doesn't hurt the monthly O&M.

  • Ted S.||

    Not that I'm defending SS. I'm an independent contractor (not a stripper, alas),

    I think the rest of us are happy you're not a stripper. :-p (Or maybe not; you could always show us some samples and let us judge for ourselves.)

  • smartass sob||

    Bernie Madoff took money from people who thought he'd invested it, gave some to others who thought it was a partial return on their earlier investments, and kept much for himself.

    And Bernie Madoff got the shit beat out of him fell out of his bunk the other day in prison. Terrible thing to befall an old man, but old men shouldn't try to screw the rich and powerful. They have ways of reaching one even in prison - perhaps especially in prison.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    All the more reason assholes should avoid stealing from people. Between the basic fraud/theft laws, and the implied prison rape why do we need reform to prevent Madoffs from screwing people? They end up screwing themselves, and there are probably ways of taking back their ill-gotten gains without squeezing an industry's balls. Moreover, if (on the whole) Madoff screwed over other rich people, why do progressive care so much about their plight? Oh I know, because it deprived them of oppurtunity to screw over rich people.

  • The Gobbler||

    Until Reason addresses the ubiquitousness of prison rape...

  • West Texas Boy||

    Still wondering where my pony is. HELLLO?

  • CBO||

    We're working on the numbers. Please be patient.

  • Sudden||

    Obama promised no ponies. He fashioned himself in the tradition of Lincoln, he promises forty acres and a mule, but only to his bruthas.

  • .||

    forty acres and a mule

    Mule or Democrap donkey?

  • ||

    Despite living longer and healthier lives, seniors are retiring earlier and drawing benefits from the paychecks of others. In 1960, 46% of men aged 65 and older worked. In 1998, only 16.5% of men at least 65 worked. See www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1999/12/art1full.pdf.

  • Cookie Kwan||

    Why work when you can be a burden to society?

    Seriously, 65 year old retirees are bored. I work at a hospital and many retirees look for ways to have extraneous, unecessary medical tests done as a routine social event, because they're that bored. That tells me they need to get back to work.

  • ||

    "That tells me they need to get back to work."

    One problem is that retirees have made their way up the ladder and don't want to step back down, so many are unwilling (at least at first) to take lower paying jobs. They don't need a 'job' in the usual sense. They need a hobby that also happens to bring in a little income. (Any suggestions?)

  • The Gobbler||

    "They need a hobby that also happens to bring in a little income. (Any suggestions?)"

    How about running a ponzy scheme?

  • bmp1701||

    They should work as Obama campaign volunteers!

  • Sudden||

    Geriatricide?!?!?

  • smartass sob||

    Who's going to hire them, Cookie? Many of them were virtually forced to take early retirement. And many businesses will not hire the elderly for various reasons - one being a fear of lawsuits in case of injuries and accidents. Yes, I know discrimination in hiring based on age is against the law; lots of things are against the law - so what?
    But you're right - they should be doing something with the rest of their lives.

  • Sudden||

    They should start businesses since they don't have to worry about being discriminated against and since their the only ones that have any friggin start up capital.

  • ||

    Why retire when you can be a burden to society while "working"? I mean, now that everyone has been coerced by Almighty Fat Federal Govt into bestowing monopoly status upon the "healthcare/medical insurance" sector, aren't you just another glorified, unproductive, unaccountable, over-paid, Federal employee?

  • ||

    Yeah, up until a few generations ago there was no expectation that one was "entitled" to retire at a certain age. If you were healthy enough to work then you worked. If not, then you relied on your own money, your relatives, or the kindness of others.

  • ||

    Why quit working when you still have something to offer? I am most content when I am working, providing useful service. I would feel guilty drawing money from somebody else's paycheck.

  • ||

    The old people I know who are healthiest and happiest all work. The ones who sit around all day are the ones who are sick, depressed, etc.

  • ||

    Also, the retired folks who have disposable income tend to volunteer and mentor. I personally believe that the older segment of our population have much to offer in terms of life experience, accumulated wisdom, and knowledge.

    I think the human psyche is healthiest when one feels useful and using his or her talents to the maximum potential, or to quote Rogers, "self-acualized".

  • .||

    The old people I know who are healthiest and happiest all work. The ones who sit around all day are the ones who are sick, depressed, etc.

    Actually, that's true of any age group.

  • ||

    "If not, then you relied on your own money, your relatives, or the kindness of others."

    All of which seem to be more and more in short supply.

  • Sudden||

    All of which are in short supply for reasons directly related to confiscatory taxation, but I digress...

  • Blanche Dubois||

    or the kindness of others.

    "I've always relied on the kindness of strangers,"

  • Cookie Kwan||

    That's okay. With The One's death panels, we can just hope all the elderly get sick and die because they sure aint getting healthcare!

    What I don't understand, with life expectancy the way it is now, why are we allowing people to retire at 65??

  • ||

    That's the $64,000 question. The answer is that the elderly are a huge reliable voting block and no one wants to piss them off...lest they'll almost assuredly get voted out of office.

    The sad part is that they're robbing the younger generation (and the black race who have a much lower life expectancy and thus collect a lot less SS/medicare) who overwhelmingly vote for the party that encourages the theft.

  • The Gobbler||

    The only people robbing the black race is black people.

  • ||

    With their toxic culture, you mean?
    That is, 70% child illegitimacy rate, only 56% literacy rate, etc.

  • The Gobbler||

    AARP

  • proletarian leech||

    I, for one, welcome our new health care overlords.

  • ||

    Of the three options (taxing, borrowing, or inflating), I vote for inflating. At least then, everyone pays and not just some small group of unluckies. Afterall, the poor and elderly are the ones who have benefitted the most from the profligate spending, so they should help pay.

    Of course, the best option is to cut spending to the bone and actually require people to pay for the goods and services they consume, but we all know that isn't going to happen...so inflation it is.

    It's very sad...I've actually built up a nice savings, but now I'm starting to ask myself, "What's the point?"

  • The Government||

    To give it to me, of course.

  • ||

    If you really think that inflating the money supply is the probable solution that the fed will choose, then convert your savings into commodities such as gold and silver. They will probably retain their value. Storage of some food and other essentials would be wise. I would not leave savings in IRAs/401Ks and such things, because I figure those will probably be raided by the fed when they become desparate for the money. Of course, I could be wrong. After all, I am a doctor, not an investment professional.

  • ||

    Right now I'm going with real estate, but you're right. Personally, I think we have a few more years (maybe even a decade or two) before the really big shit hits the fan, but it's going to hit make no mistake about it.

    One thing the US has going for it is that nearly all the other developed nations are worse off than we are. China and India have comparatively booming economies, but they each have more than a billion people to keep fed.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    If you really think that inflating the money supply is the probable solution that the fed will choose, then convert your savings into commodities such as gold and silver. They will probably retain their value. Storage of some food and other essentials would be wise. I would not leave savings in IRAs/401Ks and such things, because I figure those will probably be raided by the fed when they become desparate for the money. Of course, I could be wrong. After all, I am a doctor, not an investment professional.


    Stocks also rise with inflation.

  • ||

    "Stocks also rise with inflation."

    I'm sticking with mid- to large-cap on the theory that small-cap business will be hardest hit.

  • Contrarian P||

    If the feds decide to raid 401k and IRA money it will be a meltdown at the polls of epic proportions. Unless they put in the usual class rhetoric...i.e. "all accounts over 1 million dollars" or whatever.

  • ||

    Inflation means that everyone who spent a lifetime flipping burgers will have several accounts "over 1 million dollars" or whatever...THEN WHAT?

  • EVL29||

    Hasn't Argentina just done that?

    Or Venezuela or somesuch.

  • ||

    You seem pretty radical for a Doc.
    Yeah, um. Cool. Cool.

    Look, man um yeah, lately my back has been killing me. And uhh, um, is there anything, you know, that might help me with that. Oh yeah, I think that umm, I am allergic to tylenol and aspirin and stuff, so, you know, cool.

  • ||

    I converted my IRA to a LLCIRA which allows me access to my funds. I then have used the funds to buy land and other commodities.

  • ||

    After nearly 30 years of worrying about this problem and hoping our government would opt for fiscal responsibility somewhere along the way, I have now come around to precisely NAL's way of thinking. I think inflating is by far the fairest way to do this. So, government, go ahead and print the money.

  • Ben Bernanke||

    Don't worry, I've been working on it for years.

  • ||

    Wait--there's a 4th option! DEFAULT! This means that Almighty Fat Federal Govt pays some of its bills, but not others. Easily accomplished...all it need do is mandate that the inconvenient bills vaporize! Furthermore, your inflation option is unfair, since it makes the elderly do most of the paying. The non-existent portions of their net-worths generally went to pay for their childrens' college degrees, and their parents' nursing home expenses...plus, they were the first generation to pay into social security/medicare for their entire lives! (Shaft them, and lightening will strike you dead).

  • ||

    Which parents paid for their children's college? I don't have any friends who received more than a couple hundred bucks and a "good luck!" However, my father the baby boomer received a substantial portion of his college money from parents. The baby boomers actually had parents who made sacrifices, my generation has parents who care more about their house and their car.

    In what way did my generation get anything handed to us, other than public education, which none of us asked for or really benefited from. Public school is a zoo for children.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Why is not the director of the Social Security administration facing prosecution?

  • Your Government||

    It's his predecessor's fault. We're not to blame.

  • ||

    I have to ask. Is there any "progressive" or socialist type who honestly believes there is anyway on earth to divert a total collapse of society if we continue on this course? I have not even heard an argument how this is even possible, let alone plausible. I don't even know what the argument is. Does anyone seriously believe we can "grow our way" out of it with "green" jobs? Or is it that we need to make rich people pay more? I just want to know how humane big government, social engineering types will feel when a substantial portion of population will not even be able to have their most basic needs met - something to eat and a way to keep warm in the winter. You would either have to be utterly stupid and/or delusional not to see we are headed for disaster.

  • Progressives||

    Worrywart! We'll deal with that after every American has affordable health care that can never be taken away. This is a recording.

  • ||

    I'm sorry, what did you say? I was busy thinking about the poor and how we need to give them more.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    EQUALITY!
    EQUALITY!
    EQUALITY!

    We must have a relentless egalitarion pursuit of literally equal outcomes at all costs!

    It matters not if we are all equally miserable, broke, sick and scrabbling around in the dark in a recreation of the good old stone age.

    We will finally be equal!!!!

    Fairness demands it!

  • ||

    ""We will finally be equal!!!!""

    What ever happened to reap what you sow?

  • The Gobbler||

    Religion is now teh evil.

  • ||

    "What ever happened to reap what you sow?"

    It got mangled somewhere along the line into 'rip what you sew'.

  • Cookie Kwan||

    What ever happened to reap what you sow?

    Is that a trick question Vic?

    That would require some accountability. We can't have anybody be accountable for their actions. Have you no heart?

  • Troy Dyer||

    Apparently conservative folks find it somewhat difficult to recognize sarcasm. Or just really enjoy desposing their own witnesses, if you know what I mean, and I think one or two of you do.

  • Contrarian P||

    I've never "desposed" a witness before. Pretty sure nobody else has either. Looked it up in the dictionary and can't find that word anywhere. Deposed? Disposed (of)? Maybe you meant that. But in the meantime perhaps the conservatives can work on recognizing sarcasm if you'll work on recognizing spell check.

  • smartass sob||

    perhaps the conservatives can work on recognizing sarcasm if you'll work on recognizing spell check.

    Please see meaning #5 below. Also...please search this site for "Joe's Law strikes again."

    Verb

    Infinitive
    to depose

    Third person singular
    deposes


    Simple past
    deposed

    Past participle
    deposed

    Present participle
    deposing

    to depose (third-person singular simple present deposes, present participle deposing, simple past and past participle deposed)

    1. (literally) (transitive) To put - or lay down.
    2. (transitive) To remove (a leader) from (high) office, without killing the incumbent.

    A deposed monarch may go into exile as pretender to the lost throne, hoping to be restored on it in a next revolution

    3. (law) (intransitive) To give evidence or testimony, especially in response to interrogation during a deposition
    4. (intransitive) To take, swear an oath.
    5. (law) (transitive) To interrogate and elicit testimony during a deposition, typically by a lawyer.

    After we deposed the claimant we had enough evidence to avoid a trial.

  • smartass sob||

    Er, yes...about Joe's Law striking again: damn him all to hell anyway. :-)
    Sorry about that, Contrarian P

  • ||

    You have very precisely expressed the growing movement toward the collapse of our nation.

  • Freeranger||

    Like those miserable, broke and sick Danes? Oh, wait...they're the happiest people in the world!!! Take a toke of what they're having, Gil...SOCIALISM!!!

  • ||

    "Take a toke of what they're having, Gil...SOCIALISM!!!"

    And here I thought they just had better drugs.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Like those Danes whose country would not be in existence today as an independent nation state if it had not been getting military protection welfare from the United States ever since World War 2.

  • Freeranger||

    Speaking of welfare, the biggest welfare queens in the world are US military contractors. They make the Danes look like pikers.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Your acknowledgement of the Danes socialism system systemic failure to exist on it own is duly noted.

    And of course, you have also demonstrated a blantant ecnomic ignorance of what welfare is. Military contractors have to actually deliver a product or service in exhange for the payments.

    Welfare receiptients provide nothing of value in exchange for the subsidy they receive

  • Diversity Coordinator||

    They provide wonderful diversity to the human tapestry!

  • Untermensch||

    I don't know. Government contractors, including military ones, tend to deliver ridiculously overpriced items. It's corporate welfare. If you don't believe, watch the justification to keep every crap-minded make-work military project alive: if we cut this project people will lose their jobs. It's never that we actually need this crap.

  • donkey counter||

    Welfare receiptients provide nothing of value in exchange for the subsidy they receive

    Ah Contraire! The votes, my man, the votes!

  • ||

    "...you have also demonstrated a blantant ecnomic ignorance of what welfare is. Military contractors have to actually deliver a product or service in exhange for the payments."

    Remind the patrons to tip generously when you're done your set.

  • ||

    Freeranger|3.25.10 @ 2:41PM|#
    "Speaking of welfare, the biggest welfare queens in the world are US military contractors. They make the Danes look like pikers."

    Speaking of ignorant liars, you're doing a good job:
    http://www.usgovernmentspendin.....pie_gs.php
    Any other brain-dead lefty propaganda to offer, asshole?

  • ||

    Wait, Ron L: Did you just...

    1) ...post a pie chart with state and local government spending included

    2) ...fail to mention that states don't spend on defense, nor do cities nor counties?

    3) ...fail also to mention what that would do to the chart

    4) ...then call someone ELSE a liar?

    Man. You really suck at this.

  • ||

    states don't spend on defense

    Ever heard of the National Guard?

  • ||

    "Ever heard of the National Guard?"

    Why yes, I have. Ever heard of the US Code? No? See, under Title 10 of the US Code, all National Guards are paid for by the federal government.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/10/usc_sup_01_10.html

    By the way, let me make a suggestion: get a clue about government before you think yourself qualified to type about it.

    The place is named "Reason", you know. Might as well take the hint.

  • Mike M.||

    Is there any "progressive" or socialist type who honestly believes there is anyway on earth to divert a total collapse of society if we continue on this course?

    There is a socialist shithead who frequently posts here under the name "Chad" who seems to sincerely believe that there are unlimited amounts of Other People's Money, and that all we need to do is raise taxes and we can continue on down this path indefinitely.

  • ||

    There IS an unlimited amount of other people's money, Mike. To quote our esteemed Fed Chairman Ben: "We have a technology called the printing press..."

    The question is, what will our money buy us?

  • .||

    Not much unless someone produces something. What the fuck does anyone in this country make anymore - besides babies, I mean?

  • ||

    Lots of excuses, rationalizations, and denials.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Porno. But thanks to the internet, only dumbasses pay for it.

  • ||

    I'm not a "progressive" or socialist type--but many of them are sufficiently fluff-brained as to believe utopia results from their idealogies, provided the central planners are "intelligent"! (Thus, the love-affair with Obama). I don't believe complete, virtually world-wide, collapse is avoidable, since the root cause is monetary--fiat currency systems, almost everywhere.

  • ||

    If I didn't know how to spell the word ideology, I'd worry about my own literacy before I worried about anybody else's ideology. But that's just the utopian in me talking.

  • .||

    Odd way of spelling "oral," dude - or are you just one of those creative artistic types?

  • ||

    One of the greatest pitchers in baseball history was named Orel. Baseball, relying as it does on an elaborate and fairly complex rule system and context for team and individual performance is the most quintessentially American game. Naturally, because of this, libertarians would be ignorant of it.

  • Hershiser||

    Orel's fixation on spelling may make him more anal than oral. Or are you another stupid pedant?

  • ||

    You're thinking of my brother, Anil.

  • Upgrayyed||

    With advances in modern science and my high level of income, it's not crazy to think that I can't live to 245, maybe 300.

  • ||

    Wait until reform kicks in, if it does. Then your cyborg body may be delayed. . .indefinitely.

  • Not Sure||

    Well, Upgrayyed... you need to live 500+ to catch me and your wayward Ho. Sucker. Plus, I'm the future president Bitch.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    And low and behold the bond vigilantes are already starting up:

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/36034856

    Oh and Social Security will be paying out more than it collects in FICA taxes this very year.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/36033318

    Which means even more borrowing by the govt, since the SS trust fund is nothing more than a massive financial fraud.

  • Spelling Kow||

    It's "lo and behold," not "low."

  • Contrarian P||

    Maybe he's looking at his shoes.

  • Mike M.||

    More bad economic news: housing purchases appear to have hit rock bottom last month, in spite of the incredible home buyer tax credits that are available and the trillions upon trillions upon trillions of dollars the Fed has injected into the system to help keep interest rates artificially low.

  • AlGore_rich_from_AGW_scam||

    That's not true. We have your money safely in Washington in my lockbox.

  • ||

    A true fiscally conservative plan would be:

    1) Get rid of early eligibility (currently 62) for Social Security all together.

    2) Gradually increase the eligibility ages for SS and medicare (currently 65) for anyone under 61 as of Jan. 1, 2010. The increase will follow the formula: 4(61 - age) = Xmonths. (For example, if you were 58 before 1/1/10, you aren't eligible till age 65 + 12 months, or 66. Age 55 becomes eligible at 67, etc.)

    3) Follow the formula till it reaches three years before the average life expectancy (ALE) at the time, then peg the eligibility age to ALE - 3 years.

    4) You're always free to retire earlier, but don't expect others to pay for it.

  • ||

    SS is not, never will be ficsally conservative. The only plan is to allow the federal government to secure the national border, and provide national defense. Nothing else. States can fund it by percentage of population. States protect the property rights of its citizens, and collect the tax to fund its operations, and the federal government. Front door immigration on the national level, open door on the state.

  • ||

    There are too many people who are too used to receiving entitlements of one kind of another. Work for what is doable.

  • ||

    Agreed, but it's here to stay. All I'm saying is let's be reasonable in doling out that entitlement. The phase in would work in two ways:
    1) fewer years of withdrawing money
    2) more years of paying in

    This, to me is much more palatable than raising the cap or increasing the tax rate. It actually weans people off the entitlement.

    I forgot to add that once SS/medicare are shored up, people should be allowed to opt in or out. If you opt out, however, your contributions will go to a 401K type savings account in your name fully owned by you.

  • ||

    NAL

    The eligibility ages for SS were increased in the eighties.

    As you can see in this chart the retirement age for someone born after 1960 is 67.

    I think you and I would agree that they haven'y gone far enough but it is a start.

  • ||

    Yes, I was aware of that, but thanks. In fact, I fall in that category (age 43), but it's too little too late. A plan like the one I outlined would override that and phase it in much faster. A 43 year old would be eligible at 72.33 years old, for example.

  • ||

    I still don't like the idea of paying 15% of my income to SS and medicare for the next 49 years(I'm 23), when I could invest the same amount of money and see a 6% year over year long term interest rate, and essentially become almost a millionaire with the same amount of money.

  • ||

    Even when the programs work the way that they are supposed to, it's a fucking joke/scam.

  • ||

    I don't think you'll have to! It would surprise the tar out of me were complete financial/economic/political collapse not to occur well prior to your reaching age 30! The root cause is MONETARY.

  • ||

    That makes me even less happy about paying into the system now. I believe that there is a good chance that America as we know it could cease to exist 20 or 30 years before I can even touch these programs. It's like being forced to invest in a stock that you know will most likely fall to zero before you can cash out. It just doesn't make sense.

  • typical_baby_boomer||

    I didn't like paying in for 40 years either, but now that I can smell the goal line I'm gonna get every damned nickel I can out of your hide.

  • ||

    You could have reformed the system 30 years ago when you knew it was going bankrupt. Your chance is over, it ends now.

  • ||

    Just wait until they come for your individual retirement accounts, which I suspect they will. All those greed driven, private accounts need to be pooled together and dispensed equitably.

  • ||

    "Well, we sure are dumping my generation's debt onto posterity."

    That's not all we're dumping.

  • Freeranger||

    Why not raise taxes? The US is a very low-tax country compared with most industrialized countries. In 2009 federal receipts as a percentage of GDP were the lowest (14.8%) they've been since 1950 (14.4%).

  • ||

    They will, they have too.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Why not raise taxes?"

    Why not take a long walk off a short peir?

  • Freeranger||

    Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.

  • Brian Trust||

    Taxes are the price we only the wealthy (and therefore evil) pay for civilization.

  • Freeranger||

    Common, middle and low-wage folks pay a higher percentage of their gross in taxes than many of the wealthy, as Warren Buffet has famously pointed out.

  • ||

    Yes, and you want us to pay more. All so Goldman Sachs and the rest can be bailed out, and we can fund endless wars. But hey: That's "civilization", right?

  • ||

    Rich people aren't tax payers, they're tax collectors. You don't think they don't pass on their taxes to us? Fuck you.... All taxes inherently hurt the poorer class the most no matter who gets taxed when or where.

  • Warren Buffet||

    You believe that bullshit?? Haha.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Civilization isn't one iota superior today than it was in the time when taxes were far lower and government did far les.

  • Freeranger||

    You mean, kinda like Somalia today, one of those low-tax countries where the government isn't so intrusive?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Let's see now was the United States in the pre New Deal era even remotely like Somalia in any way?

    Nope.

    So you get an epic fail on that one.

    Pluse extra demerits for being unoriginal. About a million other liberals have been squealing that line for quite a long time now

  • ||

    Before the progressive push-back against plutocrats in 1895-1910 and again in the 1930s, children worked in the US like they do in Somalia, enormous poverty among the young and the old was felt in the US like it is in Somalia, women had no say in any political process, just like in Somalia, private interests decided day-to-day life for most people, like they do in Somalia, there were no unions, such as in Somalia, native ethnic populations were locked in warfare for survival, just like in Somalia, public health was a joke, just like in Somalia, public safety boiled down to having a gun, just like in Somalia, literacy was rare and for established elites, just like in Somalia.

    "Let's see now was the United States in the pre New Deal era even remotely like Somalia in any way?"

    Great point! Except for at least nine enormous, culture-defining similarities, you're EXACTLY right!

    Close enough for glibertarianism.

  • .||

    Prior to the "Progressive" era people in the US enjoyed a living standard that was probably either better or at least on a par with most of the rest of the world at the time - it was the 19th century after all. One thing is for sure: increased prosperity wasn't brought about by the god damned Progressives' taxation and redistribution of wealth. Something has to be produced before it can be redistributed, and taxes don't produce anything

  • ||

    "Something has to be produced before it can be redistributed"

    ...no matter how many children get black lung to do it!

  • ||

    No, just cut spending to what it was way back in 2001 (adjusted for inflation). Remember those dark ages?

  • ||

    Taxes are the price we pay for a particular kind of civilization, not civilization in general. Also, stating that we need taxes to have some kind of civilization (I assume via at least a minimal government) is very far from saying we need to raise taxes to pay for another unsustainable entitlement.

  • WTF||

    ...and the price we pay for all this other extraneous shit that the government has cooked up to go way beyond the fundamentals of "civilization."

  • Cookie Kwan||

    So, it's civilized that HALF the people in this country don't pay taxes and yet expect the other half to provide for their wants?

    As Dennis Miller suggested the other day on his radio show, why can't the half who doesn't pay any taxes chip in a buck a year? Wouldn't a buck be so much more civilized.

    Punishing people for working hard is hardly civilized.

  • ||

    You're NOT being punished for working hard--you're being punished for failure to use your wealth to lobby against the unconstitutional Federal Reserve System (which enabled Almighty Fat Federal Govt, and whose fiat monetary system mandates inevitable, horrible, human sufferings in the final financial/economic/political collapse) BEFORE THE SYSTEM REACHED ITS CURRENT SIZE, WITH SO MANY VESTED ENTITLEDS!

  • ||

    Raising tax rates will lower GDP and lower overall tax revenues, worsening the situation. It will discourage work and investment. The converse of this, that decreasing taxes stimulates the economy and actually increases revenue, was observed at a national level 4 times in the past century. This was observed during or shortly following the administrations of Kennedy, Reagan, George W Bush, and I believe it was Coolidge.

  • Freeranger||

    Nonsense. This kind of illogic (cut taxes to raise revenue!!!) that brought us these crazy deficits. Deficits exploded under Reagan and Dubya. Clinton raised taxes and revenues increased. So there.

  • ||

    I said, cutting tax RATES increases total revenue. This was demonstrated 4 times, as I said. See www.heritage.org/Research/Repo.....and-Future for a more detailed discussion, including tax rates prior to and after the cuts that occured during the Coolidge, Kennedy, and Reagan administrations, and the income tax revenues that resulted. The deficits that grew during the Reagan and Bush years did not result from cuts in tax rates. They resulted from massive growth in spending, which exceeded the increases in revenue.

  • Freeranger||

    By this logic, cut rates to zero and revenue becomes infinitely large!!!

  • ||

    That's not at all what was said, but okay, dumbshit....

  • ||

    By your logic, obese people losing weight would not be good for their health. Think before posting. Read the reference. These are historic facts. There is a point under which decreasing rates would decrease total revenues, just like the obese person's weight. Where is the maximum in the revenue curve? We do not know. That maximum does not need to correlate with the best possible tax rate. That involves the ethical issue of forcing one to work for another, through confiscation of his money.

  • Mathlete||

    We call these things "elliptical curves" and they have a maximum efficiency point on a graph that generally tends to be something less than 40% (average tax rate of a factoring in local, state, and federal taxes) and something more than 0%.

  • ||

    Deficits exploded under Reagan and Dubya. Clinton raised taxes and revenues increased.

    You're leaving out the expense side of the equation. Taxes were cut under Reagan and W, tax receipts actually went up, but spending went up even more.

    We're not stupid, here. If you're going to spout lefty talking points, at least try to spout the good ones.

  • Serf||

    In response to a 1920 recession, Harding lowered taxes on the advice of Andrew Mellon. He also reduced government spending by nearly half. Coolidge was smart enough to keep the sensible measures intact. Wilso, the progrssive racist, was the enabler to this mess. Here is a blurb about it.

    http://www.calvin-coolidge.org.....perit.html

  • Serf||

    That would be Woodrow Wilson. I'm in a dark lab, can't see the keyboard.

  • .||

    The "touch" typing system is your friend.

  • ||

    Deficits exploded because then, as now, no one wanted to cut spending. Cutting tax rates is only half the equation.

  • ||

    You need to consider federal, state and local taxes all together. You can't compare taxes taken in only at a national level since political organization is different between nations.

  • ||

    Freeranger|3.25.10 @ 1:51PM|#
    "Why not raise taxes? The US is a very low-tax country compared with most industrialized countries. In 2009 federal receipts as a percentage of GDP were the lowest (14.8%) they've been since 1950 (14.4%)."

    You could try an even more transparent lie and pick the income tax of, say Nevada.
    Or were you hoping your cherry-picking would go un-noticed?
    Possibly are you a sleazy politico?

  • .||

    Besides, why should the US be a kleptocracy like the rest of the countries in the world? It was founded to get away from all that - my ancestors didn't come here so that they and their descendants could keep getting ripped off by the ruling elite.

  • Just Wondering||

    Does anyone have actual quatitative analysis on how the total (fed, state, local) taxes of a CA resident, for example, compare to other industrialized countries? Just curious.

  • Just Wondering||

    Does anyone have actual quatitative analysis on how the total (fed, state, local) taxes of a CA resident, for example, compare to other industrialized countries? Just curious.

  • ||

    I know that nationwide we spend about 6 trillion all together. There are 300 million human beings in the country (including babies, children, and elderly in addition to working and non working adults), so that amounts to 20 grand a year worth of spending. Ask the average family of four if they are receiving anywhere near 80 grand a year in benefit from the US government. Especially since the argument that we get is that government money is supposed to focused towards the poorest people, you could ask the average poor family if they receive anywhere near 160 grand per year in assistance.

  • California Resident||

    please don't tell me... I will do unspeakably bad things if I really know.

  • Mike M.||

    Why not raise taxes?

    If Herbert Hoover were still alive he could explain it to you, but since he's dead, you should do a bit of research and learn a little history.

  • Freeranger||

    Hoover's tax policies were idiotic: he was for cutting taxes before he was against cutting taxes. Taxes were cut continuously and aggressively during the 1920s with the top rate going from 73% to 24%. That didn't prevent the Great Depression from happening. The resulting gigantic deficits freaked him out and he pulled the ultimate boner of raising taxes in a depression. That is the opposite of what I advocate.

    I'm a Keynesian now, aren't we all?

  • ||

    Federal spending was a much much much much smaller percentage of the economy back then, so tax cuts had very little effect compared to the massive, negative effects caused by the swoot hawley tariff, and hoarding of gold by the federal reserve. That's right, government caused the problem.

    One estimate is that the swoot hawley tariff and similar tariffs around the world accounted for half of the decline in international trade during the global great depression. Government doubled the scope of the problem in that regard.

  • Sudden||

    Wow! Did you proofread that? Fact check maybe? Apparently not. Hoover took the oath of office in 1929. So how he is credited with the tax cuts of the 1920's is beyond me. Oh, and the guy who preceeded him, Cooleidge, happened to be the last president that actually REDUCED the national debt. Only 2% of americans paid a federal income tax by 1928, the budget was in surplus (and being used to pay down Wilson's warmonger debt, he paid 1/4 of the overall national debt down), and spending remained contant at $3.3 billion from the day he took office to the day he left. Pretty friggin good I might say.

    Now you might give me the standard lefty tripe "but Hoover served under Coolidge, he iz az bad az Hoover." Coolidge was hardly a Hoover fan. Reacting to Hoover's nomination, Coolidge said "for six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad." Interestingly enough, your hero (presumably) FDR, while running against Hoover in 1932 blasted him for "reckless and extravagent spending" and "greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history" and interestingly enough, FDRs running mate accused Hoover of "leading the country down the path of socialism".

    I guess facts are pernicious things.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "I'm a Keynesian now, aren't we all?"

    OK you jumped the shark with that one.

    It's a common rookie troll mistake.

    You have to at least attempt to maitain some veneer of possessing more tha one brain cell.

    Anyone who believes in the effectivenss of Kenyesean economics automatically rules out that possibilty.

  • Serf||

    The actual depression in the market lasted from Oct-Dec 1929. A combination of tax hikes and Smoot-Hawley tariff policy ensured the prolongation of the effects.

    Keynes' model is based on fantasy-land economics and should not be taken seriously.

  • Punk||

    Why not raise taxes? Because it's my muthafuckin' money and those "compassionate" giveaways are unconstitutional and economically idiotic.

    Oh, did I mention that it's my muthafuckin' money and you're not entitled to it??

  • Freeranger||

    Hope that works for you on April 15th.

  • Progressives||

    It's for the community, you greedy fuck.

  • ||

    If it's for the community, why are Wall Street and Lockheed-Martin first in line?

  • Al Gore||

    You all laughed when I invented the lockbox. Whose laughing now suckers? Hope you enjoyed the sterio/new dress/nice dinner you bought with your tax rebate. Ah-ha-ha-ha!

    Sincerely,
    A Laureate Gore

  • ||

    Will you people shut up! I'm trying to bask in the glow of universal healthcare and you buzzkills are bringing me down.Our masters errr elected officials know more than us and will solve this problem like they have all others. Don't Worry Be Happy

  • Bobby McFerrin||

    Preach!

  • Tor||

    Stossel's options of tax, borrow, or inflate represent a kind of fallacy, as they do not represent all of the options. If we weren't pouring ridiculous amounts of money into misguided overseas wars, we would have more than enough money to fortify our own economy and ensure that people don't fall through the cracks. Right now, WE are paying (through our taxes) a ridiculous amount of money to provide a health care program for those without insurance: it's called the ER. I'm not enamored of SS or Medicare, but I wish people would propose solutions instead of constantly bitching about problems. You don't like entitlement programs? Fine. Propose a solution. Stossel's notion that letting people "invest" their own money to provide for retirement is likewise a joke. Most people in this country aren't capable of so much delayed gratification. The result of such a plan would only increase the gap between the rich and poor, and increase the burden on the middle class. It is in no way a populist solution. I don't have any quick fix ideas, but this article veered into the rhetorical. I'm a little bit disappointed.

  • ||

    Fine. I will propose a solution. In brief, get government out of the way. Now, more specifics. Our high costs resulted primarily from tax incentives toward employer sponsored health insurance. That started health care inflation around the time of World War II. Next came Medicare and Medicaid, which further accelerated costs and added enormous regulatory burdens. Other regulatory schemes were also instituted, like EMTALA (which causes the ER problem you pointed out), CLIA, Stark Laws, FDA, HIPAA, etc., all of which have destroyed the free market in the United States. The solution is to dismantle these government interventions, and then health care would be affordable for common people. An example in primary care is my own medical practice. My average fee in 2008 was $49, including labs, meds, and house calls. Most of my patients are uninsured. I generally see them the same day that they call. Patients pay me directly. Surgical examples are found in medical tourism, wherein people can get knee replacements for about $4,000, or maybe 10% of the cost here. That is because it is through direct payment. An uncomplicated appendectomy cost about $1,000 in the 1950s, after adjusting for inflation to current dollars. That is because it was a direct pay environment.

  • ||

    I agree! Most practicing physicians DON'T agree...they welcome becoming full-fledged govt employees & have enabled the lack of transparency regarding pricing of services. ObamaCare will force the price of care much higher (at least, for those unwilling to pay the fines & travel outside of the US for their medical care).

  • ||

    As a ER doc, I am on the "front lines" of this mess. ObamaCare will be a financial boon for ER docs. 20% don't pay me. Add 30 million new customers who pay and cha-ching. What a beautiful little bottleneck that was created. Dare I say a "rationing point?" However, the last thing I want is to be slave to the Govt. Many free market solutions exist but those don't satisfy the Dems need to control every aspect of our lives.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Most people in this country aren't capable of so much delayed gratification."

    People are capable of quite a bit if they have no other option than to die.

  • ||

    Dismantling the welfare state is a solution. Just because you don't like it does not mean it is not a solution to what we perceive as the problem: the welfare state itself.

    Furthermore, your assertion that Stossel's point that folks should save for themselves and for their retirements is a joke because people can't resist the temptations of immediate gratification is just rank speculation unsupported by fact or reason.

  • ||

    Regarding the main problem addressed in the article, the solution is as LibertyMike said, dismantling the welfare state. We would not have deficits at all without it. You are right about misguided overseas wars being a problem, and that we should stop them. However, the effect on the deficit is much smaller than Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all our other welfare programs. By the way, the "publicly insured," such as Medicaid patients, use the ER substantially more frequently than the uninsured. See Newton et al, "Uninsured Adults Presenting to U.S. Emergency Departments: Assumptions vs. Data," Journal of the American Medical Association, October 22/29 2008.

  • Contrarian P||

    Oh no! It's the leftist's worst nightmare! Actual facts! Help, help, I'm being repressed!

  • ||

    Once a good or service is cheap or free, it is no longer valued. I despise the "entitled poor." They often treat me and my staff as their servants. Tonight, I had 4 patients from one family. Ages 2.5 to 7. All with "ear pain." All ears were fine. Guess what? Over 100 ER visits between them. All of them on welfare and paid by us.

  • just wondering||

    Just out of curiosity, Doctor, why do you suppose they were complaining of ear pain, if their ears were fine?

  • ||

    Bullshit, Tor! I got into this same argument with somebody on youtube. Yes military spending accounts for almost a trillion dollars a year of GDP, and yes it should be less than half that, but the federal and state governments spend 5 trillion dollars a year on every other program put together. The wars themselves have only been a drop in the bucket at 800 billion dollars to date. Yes, we should end the needless fighting, but it won't close the budget gap. We need reform in a lot of areas. You'll get no argument from us that the military should be smaller.

    At least the constitution actually allows the government to provide for defense.....

  • Budget Guru||

    Total Cost of Both Wars for 9 Years: $944 billion

    Total Costs of SS and Medicare for FY2010 alone: Over $1 trillion.

    Not that I support either war, just stop living in this fantasy world that if we didnt kill brown people we'd be able to save all our people.

  • ||

    Okay it's up to 944 billion to date now. Thanks for the up to date info. Still paltry compared to the 6 trillion total spend every single year now.

  • ||

    Stossel's notion that letting people "invest" their own money to provide for retirement is likewise a joke. Most people in this country aren't capable of so much delayed gratification.

    Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps if we changed the incentives to reward delayed gratification, instead of telling everyone to max out their credit cards because the government will be there to support them when they get old, this might change.

    The result of such a plan would only increase the gap between the rich and poor,

    So?

    and increase the burden on the middle class.

    How, if the middle class isn't paying taxes to support an entitlementy/welfare retirement scheme?

    It is in no way a populist solution.

  • ||

    Taxs are neither the problem or solution.You can increase revenue by raising taxes and you can increase revenue by cutting taxes.The problem is those morons don't use the new money to pay down our obligations, they run out and buy something new

  • ||

    Consider that they wouldn't be able to function as spendthrifts without the unconstitutional FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM AS ENABLER! Abolish the Federal Reserve, and all of this country's problems would be overcome. (Too late to avoid the recent, massive, illegal, wealth transfer that recently occurred from taxpayers to Wall Street "elites").

  • J_L_B||

    Why not raise taxes? The US is a very low-tax country compared with most industrialized countries. In 2009 federal receipts as a percentage of GDP were the lowest (14.8%) they've been since 1950 (14.4%).

    Ok raise them, the average receipt as a % of GDP has only been about 17% in the post WWII era. Even at it's highest point, somewhere north of 21%, the revenue is still insufficient for massive entitlement programs.

    We have historically only provided around 1/5 of GDP (give or take) for government services despite top tax rates varying from 28% to 91%.

  • Contrarian P||

    Add those to state and local receipts and see what percentage you come out with.

  • Lazy Jack||

    John is so wrong. The Healthcare bill is paying for it all, beginning with the tax on indoor tanning.

    Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have put a noble line in the TAN to eliminate the deficit, the excise tax on indoor tanning.

    I wanted to make a big joke out of this, but then I thought harder about it. A few days ago I would never, in my wildest dreams, have thought any thinking U.S. legislator would enact such a ridiculous behavioral tax. As the artificial vehicles created by this legislative march off the cliff run out of money (notice I did not say if), how long do you think it will be before they start taxing other things. Since tanning is so evil, I can imagine a beach vacation tax. Yeah. How about we tax 10% of the rental property revenue at any location less than a mile from a body of water? If we are to stamp out bronzing, let’s do it the right way.

    Venereal Disease should be next. Let’s tax any alcohol sale at a 10% rate at any pub within 10 miles of a college campus. Or, better yet, let’s put a 12.5% VD surcharge on tuition and on all airline tickets to Cancun. Even better, let us copy our European teachers and call it a VDAT (VD Added Tax).

    As VIP Biden says: ‘This is a Big F_____ Deall!!!’ One of the first elements to go into force of this “Historic,” “Ground Breaking,” “Compassionate,” “Life-Saving,” legislation is a tax on tanning.

    Nice Job, Party of the Democrat. We cannot wait for more. At least Jane, Britney, and Matt can still do jazzercise without a tax…for now.

    Really, thanks for the laughs on this one.

    Lazy Jack

    www.thanksforthelaughs.wordpress.com

  • Wing Nut||

    Slippery slope and reduction ad absurdum arguments are, as a professor of mine used to say, not very interesting.
    Besides, the principles around charging for negative externalities are not all that crazy.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Besides, the principles around charging for negative externalities are not all that crazy."

    The medical expenses of people enganging in self destructive behavior is not an "externality" because the individuals doing it are not (and are not capable) of imposing those costs on others.

    The government itself is the entity responsible for that by forcing the taxpayers to pay for other people's medical expenses.

    Remove the government involvement and there is no cost imposition.

  • ||

    ""The government itself is the entity responsible for that by forcing the taxpayers to pay for other people's medical expenses.""

    Most of the money spent on my insurance policy over the years has gone to someone else's care.

  • ||

    Who do you think is going to pay for someone who can't? Charity has never been enough.

    As long as we, as a nation, decide it's wrong to deny people care when they really need it, we'll have that problem.

  • ||

    No, risk pooling has nothing to do with externalities.

    You paid a premium for coverage. You got the coverage you contracted for. The fact that you didn't use the coverage doesn't mean someone else submitting claims to your insurer "imposed" their costs on you.

  • Wing Nut||

    If my premium is higher because of economic transactions to which I am not a party then were pretty close to an externality. I will certainly concede that this particular issue gets rather convoluted once you work in all the players. My original point, however, was that reduction ad absurdum arguments are not a particularly strong way to make your case - especially when you're dealing with a subject matter that is somewhat commonplace in the study of economics (regardless of your views whether taxing or crediting for +/- externalities is appropriate/wise/good/evil, the concept itself is just not novel enough to warrant this type of argument).

  • Wing Nut||

    I agree with TrickyVic and in a risk pooling system I believe externalities is an apt description.

  • ||

    Yes, they are. Especially when people overuse the term "externality." In my view, pollution is not an externality, as the effects show up in home values, and it is MY CHOICE whether I want to accept a little bit of extra pollution in the air in return for a higher level of material consumption. You don't have a god given right to see your property value go up eternally, and it is this kind of thinking that led to the housing market unraveling.

    Every country goes through a period of high pollution levels as they try to increase their material standard of living. Even in super eco friendly japan, some rivers were pretty much acidic after the japanese growth miracle of the post war era. Once the japanese aquired a significant amount of wealth, they decided that they'd rather have clean water and air rather than another car or a third TV, and voters and community organizations began to demand eco friendly policies.

    Unless we're dealing with a situation in which one property owner sues another property owner for specific economic damages that have gone through the courts, is pollution really an externality? The positive externality of the jobs and opportunities as well as increased material standards probably more than outweigh any negative externalities.

    WHy do you think that people leave the picturesque countryside to live in slums outside of the most polluted cities on earth? BECAUSE THEY WANT TO!

  • Wing Nut||

    Now I get to use the make me laugh line:

    "WHy do you think that people leave the picturesque countryside to live in slums outside of the most polluted cities on earth? BECAUSE THEY WANT TO!"

    = HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • ||

    This is completely true. I know lots of older folks who say that the day they could afford to leave the farm and move to the city, was the happiest day of their lives. Many scholars now will tell you that quality of life is much higher in the slums than the countryside. You might get all warm and fuzzy for "the simple life," but I sure as fuck don't. The majority of the world's population lives in cities and not the countryside for the first time in human history, and guess what, living conditions have INCREASED dramatically for the poorest people in the world who are moving into these places. I've recently finished reading "The mystery of Capital," and the author makes a good point that slums are not dens of evil, but examples of humanities will and the entrepreneurial spirit that causes people to seek more from life. If people in the slums weren't forced into the extralegal sector, there would be about 9 trillion dollars in capital brought to life (a 2000 assumption, probably much more now) directly in the hands of the worlds poor. It is government that makes the slums, and it is the people who make civilization. Read a fucking book.

  • Wing Nut||

    I'll have to look into some "fucking" books. I always assumed those were just porn - I didn't realize they contained such detailed and groundbreaking socioeconomic studies. For now, however, I'll just take your word for it since you clearly have 1) a great grasp of the use of the word "fuck" and its many derivations; 2) multitudes of elderly urban friends who made their way up from the farm (ok...); and, 3) access to a set of foreign logic rules that I simply don't understand.

  • ||

    Read "The Mystery of Capital." ALso, I forget where I saw it, but somebody else also did a story about how Slums are often better than the alternative for most of the world's poor.

  • ||

    My point is that if a third party has any kind of choice in the matter, it isn't too much of an externality. The courts are the only agreeable instrument with which to deal with externalities.

    The author of "The Mystery of Capital" put his ideas to work in Peru and made it a much more successful nation.

  • Mike M.||

    Exactly. The amount of tax revenue the federal government is currently collecting would have to increase by more than 60% in order to completely eliminate our current deficit. And the situation is even worse in the states, which would have to nearly double their current revenues in order to balance their budgets.

    There is absolutely no way this staggering feat can possibly be achieved without completely destroying our already shaky service-based economy.

  • ||

    james brooks : " I would not leave savings in IRAs/401Ks and such things, because I figure those will probably be raided by the fed when they become desparate for the money. Of course, I could be wrong.

    Oh no, you're not!

    http://www.qando.net/?p=7646

    This will be us (U.S.) eventually, no doubt about it.

  • B H Obama||

    No Way! NO F*ing way we're going to be Argentina! ...and I'm not hiding Nazis under my bed, I swear.

  • Tim||

    Massive inflation. Get yer wheelbarrows...

  • Gilbert Martin||

    And guns and ammunition.

  • bob||

    You retards act like it is the Democrats fault we have no money. Last time I checked, there are very few reps turning down earmarks and cutting anything in their district. And please can we stop blaming Washington for all the country's problems. All the fuckers stealing your money are from the rest of the country, so it is your fault, not DC's.

  • J.Blankenship||

    Yes, the Democrats want entitlements. No surprise there. But let's not for the Republicans, and their new slogan: "Medicare Forever!" Please, let's not live under the fantasy that the Republicans offer any solutions to this mess.

  • Troy Dyer||

    For the record, you guys are hilarious. I'm going to have to bookmark this site for afternoon entertainment. Well done folks, well done.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That single green bar in the graph is like a middle finger pointing right at me.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    And what did Ryan's challenge to the president get him? NOWHERE.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Veronique sounds like a foreigner! Get her!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It's a visible crisis as far as her graph is concerned.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Stossel to Ryan: Jazz it up or step off.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Cut back from Ryan talking policy to Stossel face down in a pool of his own drool.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Stossel just realize he's relatively old and wealthy.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Uh, personally-owned means you might do something the feds don't like. So no go on that one, Ryan.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Why in the future is the kid still the same age and being recorded with scratchy sepia filmstock?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Be careful, John. These two look like they might dress up as pimp and hooker and trick you into extinction.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Cut the waste. Stop making it difficult, John.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Ha, this guy knows Social Security and Medicare will always be solvent. His job depends on it.

  • ||

    Hey Troll.....give it up

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Heeeeeyyyyaaaaa! Give it up for da troll in da house!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Awww, I was hoping for more footage of John stealing toys from toddlers. It's addictive, like those videos of puppies licking peanut butter off the camera lens.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Older people are better at mustaches, though.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Stossel does not like optimistic guests.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Ugh, audience participation.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Barely.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Looks like Van Gogh grew his ear back.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This book is a manual for Obama: Loophole Closer.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Stossel suddenly doesn't want people to keep their money from the government.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Well, we won't solve this today."

    Stop procrastinating, John!

  • ||

    But we have to keep SS going, “for the children”.

  • $||

    rctl is entitled to a load a day, 2 on Sundays.

  • ||

    Ronald Regan, may he RIP, announced on national TV and subsequently dipped into social security coffers in broad daylight, spent it and no one said a thing.

    Social security has been the difference between life and death for millions. Is it in crisis today? Maybe. But let's not forget about "the great communicator" who emptied part of that fund and who has impacted countless lives by doing so.

  • ||

    What the fuck are you talking about.

    That may be the stupidest comment ever on Hit and Run. And there's been some doozies.

    Ronald Reagan may have done some bad things but "empt[ying] part of that [non-existent] fund" was not one of them.

  • ||

    Again another circumstance that justifies the use of public caning for public officials that abuse the public trust. We could sell lottery tickets, let the winner(s) wield the cane and televise the event. Procedes to a worthy cause.

  • ||

    Don't worry. Obamacare, once fully implemented, will allow us to mitigate the whole "live longer" issue, saving money both through selective denial of medical services and, ultimately, shorter life expectancies.

  • louboutinvips||

    That may be the stupidest comment ever on Hit and Run. And there's been some doozies
    http://www.christianlouboutinvips.com
    http://www.christianlouboutinvips.com

  • louboutinvips||

    Saying that children receive free schooling is akin to saying that prisoners receive free prison.

  • louboutinvips||

    http://www.christianlouboutinvips.com
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  • louboutinvips||

    http://www.christianlouboutinvips.com
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  • louboutinshopz||

    welcome to our shop

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  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on...the Bible's books were written by people with very different mindsets...in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it's literally a labyrinth, that's no joke.

  • abercrombie uk||

    Even if you go on his website, it's still just a a ten minute discussion. The interview with Jim Cramer simply amounted to Jim sputtering something every couple of minutes while John wagged his finger at him the whole time. I've never seen him have an intelligent discussion with anybody, and he only talks to people that he knows he can bully into a corner. Usually idiots, yes, but it's still dispicable. I don't watch him that often, but it is people like him that make me wretch. The fact that people go around saying "He slammed so and so" in that "debate" pisses me off. John's not directly responsible for that, but he certainly plays his audience to get that effect.

  • abercrombie uk||

    Even if you go on his website, it's still just a a ten minute discussion. The interview with Jim Cramer simply amounted to Jim sputtering something every couple of minutes while John wagged his finger at him the whole time. I've never seen him have an intelligent discussion with anybody, and he only talks to people that he knows he can bully into a corner. Usually idiots, yes, but it's still dispicable. I don't watch him that often, but it is people like him that make me wretch. The fact that people go around saying "He slammed so and so" in that "debate" pisses me off. John's not directly responsible for that, but he certainly plays his audience to get that effect.

  • abercrombie fitch uk||

    Well said. Tucker is despicable, Crossfire became despicable (despite the presence of supposed "heavyweights" like Novack and Carville), and Jon Stewart is a comedian who has never proclaimed himself to be anything else. Just because certain people here don't understand how satire works doesn't change that fact. The fact that The Daily Show has gained some cultural traction doesn't change that.

  • abercrombie and fitch uk||

    "The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one."

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