Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

...and Bad News

Significant threats to Americans' overall well-being remain.

When it comes to individual liberty, the United States has become a much better place in the 50 years since Reason magazine was born. Transformative technological advances have given Americans from all walks of life the opportunity to enjoy comforts and conveniences that only a particularly prescient futurist could have predicted. Women and minorities are unquestionably better off than they were in 1968, thanks to a largely successful though admittedly unfinished fight against discrimination. But while our ability to live as we please has been enhanced, the massive growth in the size and scope of the federal government remains a large—and growing—threat to Americans' overall well-being.

Joanna AndreassonJoanna AndreassonIn 1968, total inflation-adjusted federal spending was $1.2 trillion (in 2018 dollars), or 19.8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). This fiscal year, the federal government will spend an estimated $4.2 trillion, or 20.8 percent of our total economic output. More disturbingly, because the government spent more money than it collected in 45 of the past 50 years, federal debt held by the public has jumped from an inflation-adjusted $2 trillion (or 32.2 percent of GDP) in 1968 to an estimated $15.8 trillion (or 78.8 percent of GDP) this year. In the past decade alone, the average annual budget deficit has been almost $900 billion.

Over the decades, lawmakers from both parties have consistently found new excuses to expand the federal government's portfolio and, consequently, the country's debt. Republicans have, on occasion, talked about cutting spending, but they have virtually never followed through. And while politicians of all stripes love to make vacuous promises to eliminate "waste, fraud, and abuse," they rarely grapple with the inconvenient reality that inefficiency is inherent to government—or that merely tweaking how the money is spent cannot possibly solve the problem of how much money is spent.

One of the great myths in Washington is that policy makers have to choose between guns (military spending) and butter (domestic spending). The reality is that policy makers have chosen guns and butter, and lots of both.

Let's start with the butter.

This year, spending on health, income security, and retirement programs—the three largest being Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—will reach an estimated $2.7 trillion, accounting for 64 percent of total federal spending. In 1968, the same collection of programs accounted for an inflation-adjusted $257 billion, or just one-quarter of the budget.

In his 2017 book The High Cost of Good Intentions (Stanford University Press), Hoover Institution economist John Cogan recounts with great detail how so-called entitlement programs have existed in one form or another since the start of the republic. It was the "Great Society" domestic interventions of the 1960s, however, that fueled the ever-expanding modern American welfare state.

Designed to redistribute wealth from one class of Americans to another—young to old, wealthy to poor, healthy to less healthy—the footprint of these programs has grown as policy makers have inevitably moved to increase the number of people eligible for benefits and the amounts that they receive. This explains why per-capita entitlement spending has risen nearly twice as fast as per-capita income over the last five decades. While welfare benefits accounted for less than 8 percent of Americans' personal income at the end of the 1960s, that number reached 21 percent in 2015—and that doesn't include Social Security and Medicare.

As for the guns, military spending will end up around $650 billion in 2018, not including the approximately $300 billion in defense-related spending for veterans, homeland security, international affairs, and the associated interest on our debt. Although military spending has receded a bit from earlier in the decade, it's still considerably more than it was during Ronald Reagan's Cold War–era military spending binge, even after adjusting for inflation. Moreover, the recent dip was only temporary: The Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress wasted no time in making good on their promise to hand the Pentagon a blank check by busting the budget caps that were put in place in 2011 to restrain both military and domestic spending.

Milton Friedman once said that the size of government is measured not by the taxes people pay but by how much the government spends. By that standard alone, our government is almost incomprehensibly massive. But it's actually worse than it seems: Cronyism and corruption have flourished as countless special-interest groups have coalesced around the Beltway spending spigot. Doing something about the problem is hardly a fair fight given that the benefits of government programs are concentrated on a politically favored few while the costs are dispersed across millions of unwitting taxpayers.

Shortly after this magazine's creation, the era of the corporate bailout got underway with a taxpayer gift from Congress to defense contractor Lockheed Aircraft in the form of $250 million in emergency loan guarantees. It was the first time the federal government ever came to the rescue of a single firm. Eventually the handouts became bailouts, culminating in the passage in 2008 of the Troubled Asset Relief Program aimed at propping up beleaguered financial institutions in the wake of the housing crisis. Ten years later—an anniversary of a dubious sort—taxpayers remain exposed to the risks created by trillions of dollars in explicit and implicit government guarantees.

It's impossible to predict what state the country will be in when Reason celebrates its 100th anniversary. What I do know is that the federal government's spending and debt problems are set to get considerably worse as an aging population demands more and more giveaways from the government and the pool of worker-taxpayers remains flat. Throw in the seemingly indefatigable military-industrial complex and the reasons for pessimism only grow. But if there is a silver lining, it's that this magazine (and the other outlets and organizations fighting the good fight on government spending) will not go quietly into the night.

Photo Credit: Sirintra_Pumsopa/iStock

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Ordinary Person||

    It's a crime the way they've (mostly rightwing types) wasted so much money in my lifetime on military garbage. The military spending kills Americans and diseases our culture by nuturing sadistic types (I can't tell you how many deathhead skulls and similar like paraphernalia I see on pickup trucks). It takes the money we should have spent improving our infrastructure (you know making America great, i.e. providing something useful for life) and instead uses it kill and cripple Americans. And to what end? We toppled a dictator who was hostile to Iran our newest hard on and where are now? We're back in league with dictators and the very regime that was responsible for 9/11. What madness is this?

  • Ordinary Person||

    You can't say money spent on healthcare is wasted though you can say it was unjustly taken. It's not wasted the way the money taken for military adventurism is wasted. That's my chief complaint about the military spending. The redeeming quality of the healthcare money is that at least it goes to something useful.

  • DajjaI||

    It's wasted terribly. Old people use it for unnecessary doctors visits and rounds of medical tests. And a lot of it is used to treat fake diseases like mental illnesses, which it actually creates. And of course, subsidies inflate the overall cost of healthcare. We'd actually be healthier as a country without medicare and medicaid. Old people would not be dying in the streets, as they threaten. True, they might have to move into their children's homes, where they would eventually die. But it would be healthy to have more intergenerational connections.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    This. My grandmother insists she has numerous calamitous diseases crippling her body. Granddad did too. The doctors only seem to find things here and there that Medicare will pay for. The best part? They would never, NEVER, go to the doctor on their own dime.

    These people won't leave a device plugged in if it uses any electricity at all, but now the slightest war ache requires an emergency room trip because it isn't their money.

  • Careless||

    "a lot of it is used to treat fake diseases like mental illnesses, which it actually creates."

    Fuck off, dumbass

  • SQRLSY One||

    I am saddened to report it... But yes, totally incompetent shrinks create mental illnesses!

    A competent shrink will NOT prescribe anti-depressants for bipolar patients (will not add anti-depressants on top of a prescribed mood stabilizer), and a simple Google search will tell you as much. I personally am close to a bipolar patient who was butt-fucked over by an incompetent shrink who did exactly that! If you read books by bipolar patients, a very commonly repeated theme is that they (after learning the hard way, that these meds drive them to mania) have to FEND OFF such prescriptions by dipshit shrinks!!!

    Arrogant shrinks think that they know SOOOO much more than mere patients, that they don't listen to the patients!!! And bitching to the state med boards about stupid shrinks is a waste of time, due to "special interests", AKA, "diffuse costs, concentrated benefits". State med board are by the doctors, of the doctors, and for the doctors. FUCK the pepples, says the AMA and their flunkies!!!!

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Not that I'm arguing for a continuation of the money we spend on the military, but we do get a lot of technology from military spending. And probably in many ways we couldn't begin to realize. That said, bring folks home and cut out by 50%. The fucking Germans and Japanese have their own money for their own militaries. I think we can trust them now.

  • DajjaI||

    I agree and if we stop destabilizing foreign countries, then refugees won't have to flee here, and Shikha won't have to defend them, and you can change your handle to something a little more amicable.

  • Sevo||

    DajjaI|11.25.18 @ 11:36AM|#
    "I agree and if we stop destabilizing foreign countries, then refugees won't have to flee here,"

    Uh, even the NYT (in 2013) has last reference to US involvement in Guatemala as being in the '80s:
    https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate
    /2013/05/19/what-guilt-does-the-us-
    bear-in-guatemala
    30-40 years ought to be enough time for a country the size of greater Los Angeles to figure out how to run itself.
    I'm not going to bother to theorize what goes on in So and Central America, but they manage to produce a shit-load of governments which would make Lenin and Hitler proud, even when not stirred up by the US.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    You can't say money spent on healthcare is wasted though you can say it was unjustly taken. It's not wasted the way the money taken for military adventurism is wasted.

    You could make the exact opposite argument if you ignore the gray areas.

    Government spending in health care competes directly with the private sector and with few exceptions radically distorts the market and gives us much worse and much more expensive healthcare.

    Military spending doesn't compete with the private sector. It doesn't really distort any naturally occurring private sector endeavors.

    The (rather stretched) point I'm trying to make is that the biggest long term problem with government spending is market distortion, and from that perspective healthcare spending is worse than military spending, at least from my limited perspective.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    It's not ideal when the top comment is landed by one of the dezinformatsiya troll socks.

    It's a crime the way they've (mostly rightwing types) wasted so much money in my lifetime on military garbage.

    Yes, military spending has been way out of control for the better part of a century. The MIC is bigger than partisanship.

    The military spending kills Americans and diseases our culture by nuturing sadistic types (I can't tell you how many deathhead skulls and similar like paraphernalia I see on pickup trucks).

    Really, how many of these trucks have you seen sporting a "deathshead skull"? Playing up a tiny minority of jerks to bolster anxieties about some imagined existential threat from hordes of nazis?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    You are much more likely to see a pickup truck sporting a deathhead skull than one featuring a sticker from an Ivy League school (or any legitimate university, for that matter).

  • creech||

    Most skulls I've seen are Grateful Dead stuff and the few I know who liked them are all adult progs today.
    And I think I've seen a ton more Che t-shirts than Hitler.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Come to Texas, dumbfuck, so I can show you how wrong you are. Not that you understand the price of things, but trucks go for luxury car money.

  • Tony||

    LOL. Fucking Texas. I've been to Texas many times. Yes, the belt buckles are compensatory. And the trucks. The mind-blowing stupidity is just a bonus.

  • Sevo||

    "...The mind-blowing stupidity is just a bonus."

    You bring that in your baggage, shitbag.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Except Austin being a Lefty bastion, right Tony?

    To tony, Those Lefty Texans are okay y'all.

  • Tony||

    I've never had any use for any of them.

  • Dariush||

    *LOL. Fucking Texas.*

    Oh look the Oklahomo made a joke about Texas. Now tell us all about how Oklahoma is the Afghanistan of the United States and how much smarter you are than everyone there. I can't imagine being a bitchy queer living in that State. It's no wonder you're so bitter and resentful.

  • Tony||

    At least it's not Texas.

  • Dariush||

    You got that right Tony, it's nothing like Texas. I once had an Oklahoman bore me with his long-winded talk of Sooner football. I remember him telling me Norman was the "Promised Land". I had the unfortunate luck of visiting Norman when a horrible snow storm blew through. I promised my self I would never go back. I was never happier to leave another State in this Union than I was that night. I think Cross Canadian Ragweed was right about them boys in Oklahoma.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Come to Texas, dumbfuck, so I can show you how wrong you are.

    I resided in Texas for one year. Texas is great if you are rich, are white, are uneducated, and don't give a shit about anyone other than yourself.

    Some fine Tex-Mex food and barbeque, though, and good music in Austin.

  • ||

    What's a 'legitimate university'? Is that more useless prog terminology from their vapid little minds?

  • Tony||

    Trump U graduate?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    To progs, a legitimate university is one where you can't major in engineering, physics, or mathematics.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    What other majors are there?

  • 0x1000||

    Oh, buddy, have I got a Reason columnist editor for you!

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Editor? Somebody's editing these articles???

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    There aren't. Just groupings of courses masquerading as majors.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    What's a 'legitimate university'?

    A sensible person would (1) include the top 100 or so schools, (2) eliminate the nonsense-teaching, third-and fourth-tier goober factories controlled by conservatives from consideration, and (3) evaluate the remainder on a case-by-case basis.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    But the nonsense-teaching, third-and fourth-tier goober factories controlled by leftists are totally cool with you.

  • ||

    Controlled by conservatives: Bad. Controlled by jerk-off Maxist progressives Kirk seems to love: Good.

    All those gender studies courses they teach in those legit schools don't classify as nonsense.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    It's a crime the way they've (mostly rightwing types) wasted so much money in my lifetime on military garbage.

    Precisely. And this was yet another item on the lengthy list of reasons I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. I learned in college that women make less belligerent leaders than men, and Hillary's entire career in public life demonstrates her commitment to military restraint. Hopefully when Democrats are back in the White House in 2021 (or earlier) we'll have a leaner, less wasteful Pentagon focused on the real threat to global security: Russia.

    #StillWithHer

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    That one deserves to be on The Onion.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Lol. Hillary and "The Russians". Bootleggers and Baptists.

  • Hoofddorp Haarlemmermeer||

    You know who was instrumental in pushing the Obama Administration into toppling Libya? Who in the Obama Administration wanted to help the Saudis in Yemen and pushed for drone strikes ostensibly against the AQAP in 2012? Yep, the woman of peace and military restraint.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    slow clap

  • handsoffmypineapples||

    "the real threat to global security: Russia."

    So, OBL is actually Mitt Romney? Never would have guessed...

  • Tony||

    It's worth 1,000 9/11s as long as the gays can't get married. Oh, oops. Well, fetuses. It's for the fetuses. Republicans have done so much good over the last 50 years! I'm sure someone here can name something.

  • Fancylad||

    You two clowns really do view the rest of the world as shitty memes and parodies, don't you.

    It's not that you understand other viewpoints and reject them; it's that you can't even comprehend other viewpoints, so you have to invent reasons why people disagree with you. Because you're such unimaginative fucks, "Dismiss them because they're evil and/or stupid" is pretty much the only tool in your mental toolbox.

  • Tony||

    Nothing says imagination like "Gays do buttsex, eww! Stone them!"

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Ya know, it would help if the conservatives around here would actually present a viewpoint, rather than just whining about how victimized they are, or complaining about 'librulz' or 'progtards'.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Conservatives have been beaten into submission by a half-century or more of American progress effected against their wishes and efforts. After losing the culture war, and finding it no longer fashionable to be known publicly as a superstitious bigot, their natural state is to mutter bitterly and inconsequentially from the sidelines.

    They're basically human grievances at this point, waiting to die off.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    And you're not helping either, Reverend. Good Lord you are insufferable.

  • Curly4||

    You could say that the US spending on military is a waste and it seems to me anyway that you are saying that the US should be more like the EU. There is a problem with the US becoming another EU. If the US does become another EU there will not be any defense of Europe nor the US nor any other nation that gives freedoms to its people. Without the US military might EU and all of Europe would be defenseless and would have fallen victim to USSR long before it returned to being Russia. Now China also has a reason to want to control at least its part of the globe and with the US military who's to stop it?
    I know what the world has with a strong US military and I know how most of the world has fared with that strong US military but I don't know how any would fare with a dominant Russia nor a dominant China but from history I doubt any western nation would have fared as well as they have under the US military power. As for the US there is no doubt that the US would not have fared as well as Russia or China has. The US would have to be destroyed to prevent the US from becoming a threat to the nation or nations that attains that domination.
    You complain now which is your constitutional right to do so but if the geographical area that makes up the current US is ever dominated by another nation you will not have that right then.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I think Europe can defend itself just fine. However, most of Europe wants to trade with Russia, not go to war with it. When the U.S. meddles in their relations, it does not help. Same goes for Korea. If the U.S. wasn't so involved, then who knows, the Koreas might be unified today under a democratic, free-market-friendly regime.

  • CGN||

    Ordinary Moron: What is a crime is how you berate those you disagree with by making things up, and ranting like the very "bad guys" you hate. And how again does military spending kill Americans? Answer: it doesn't. This is just more of the juvenile ranting that we are used to seeing from Democrats and Liberals. Back to kindergarten with you, Extraordinary fool.

  • Robert||

    The madness is that it's come to be the accepted thing in the USA, largely because it's seen properly as the chief right fx of the US gov't. Non-military spending has ballooned so large that people think the military needs its rightful place upheld as a fraction of total federal spending, so military spending must balloon too to "keep up". It's also a lot of jobs, hence votes.

    Of course that means non-military spending is in the driver's seat into this swamp, but they don't want to unhitch the military trailer.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Ordinary Person,

    We spend about as much on k-12 government schools as we do on the military, and those schools make many kids disabled to avoid being responsible for their low scores on standardized tests. If you speak to the escapees from your local psych ward, and I don't mean the drug users "in recovery" who view a hospital like a spa, you'll discover how medicare spending can be harmful to the health of the people it is supposed to heal.

  • DajjaI||

    National debt and global warming are far greater threats to the health and safety of young people than gun control, but that's the only thing that gets them out on the streets. Which ironically actually puts them in danger of big government (the war on guns will destroy many of their lives). I think part of the problem is that they think they will eventually be in control of the government, and also they are scared of politically opposing their mostly socialist teachers. And they are scared that "Without social security, grandma will have to move in with us." Nothing will change until the youth revolt.

  • CE||

    national debt is a huge threat to everyone.
    global warming is no threat at all.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    My parents are almost young enough to be Baby Boomers. They built an addition to their home when I was a kid so that my grandmother could move in with us. But I understand why attitudes have changed. Baby Boomers are grandparents now. Have you met them? The long term effects of Woodstock are not kind.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    But if there is a silver lining, it's that this magazine (and the other outlets and organizations fighting the good fight on government spending) will not go quietly into the night.

    Wingnuts are hilarious.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    You are hilarious. Glad you see it too.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Lag bolts are hilarious too. Lockwashers are only mildly amusing.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    I'm always amused by socket cap screws (not the metric ones).

  • Rockabilly||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland is addicted to taxing and regulating.

  • 0x1000||

    He's probably just paid by one of the troll farms tbh. It's like the Golb trial nutcase, there's an unimaginative script and a consistent agenda. Kind entertaining though.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland is addicted to taxing and regulating.

    Sorry, Rockabilly. I don't take pointers from members of Libertarians For Authoritarian, Bigoted Immigration Policies, Libertarians For Tariffs And Protectionism, or Libertarians For Statist Womb Management and Big-Government Micromanagement Of Ladyparts Clinics.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    We know. You only take direction from your handlers.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Ladyparts Clinics

    That's a wonderful euphemism for brothels. Oh wait, my mistake. I just googled it. Left winger's don't defend a woman's right to control her lady parts. They defend the ability of government certified expert on lady parts with degrees from government certified universities to make money touching lady parts.

    The birth control pill didn't revolutionize sex in America. The prescriptions for birth control pills revolutionized sex in America, because it turned sex into a medical procedure that we can do with the consent of a government certified expert.

  • JFree||

    Designed to redistribute wealth from one class of Americans to another—young to old, wealthy to poor, healthy to less healthy

    Biggest delusion we have in the US is that our welfare programs are designed to transfer wealth from rich to poor or from healthy to unhealthy or anything that fits some 'charity' type idea. Yeah Social Security actually is a transfer from young to old - but even that is a transfer from low wealth to higher wealth. Medicare is a transfer from young/healthy to DOCTORS (healthy, wealthy, and generally middle-aged). Sec8 is a transfer from middle class to landlords. College loans are a transfer from young to tenured academia (wealthy and older).

    Everything about our system is about cronyism - not 'welfare'. It is about securing the blessings of government to enforce the accounts receivable of the well-connected so they can charge more for everything than they would be able to in a free market.

  • Tony||

    that is a transfer from low wealth to higher wealth

    Bullshit talking point that conflates property ownership with wealth. How are old people supposed to spend that kind of wealth to feed themselves?

    Are you arguing that poverty in old age is impossible, or unlikely? Do you know what you're talking about, or are you just subsisting on slogans fed to you by smarmy bespectacled nerds at pro-corporate think tanks?

    Everything government does, from a certain point of view, is transfer wealth from one group to another. That is true whether it's a libertarian government or a communist one. The whole project is for intelligent people (not you) to figure out the optimal scheme. Putting millions of old people into poverty, some might say, is not part of such a scheme. Not just for their sake, but the sake of their descendants, who'd often have to sacrifice a productive life to care for them--a burden distributed on a totally random basis, undermining the platitudes of capitalism in which you no doubt believe.

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    Not to mention that the whole premise of SS, as it has been sold since its inception, was that you and your employer would pay taxes into a trust fund that would generate income for you when you retired. Gutless politicians went and spent the trust fund because they didn't have the balls to set the level of general taxes to fund all that they wanted to fund, or to cut what they chose to fund to a level roughly consistent with the level of general taxes - take your pick.

  • ||

    Actually, no, the SS "Trust Fund" has always been an accounting fiction and FICA revenue over and above outlays for beneficiaries have always been spent on current programs.

    Now some other countries, Chile and Australia, for example have set up pension systems that do consist of individual accounts. Contributions are mandatory and there is some regulation of providers but the individual account holder generally have a variety of plans to chose from and everyone seems happy with the setup.

    Bush II tried to move the US into such a regime but the usual suspects (the Democrats and their "greatest generation" SS recipient supporters) shot it down the same way they had done with every other attempt. It was probably too late anyway. Ford and then Regan both had a chance to do the same when such reform might have been feasible but they got blocked too.

  • ||

    Like you're the only one paying those taxes.

    Actually considering how high deficits are nowadays, it's mostly that it is borrowing that's paying that interest.

  • Mickey Rat||

    The "Trust Fund" consists of non tradable government IOUs to itself. They have no more worth than you putting a post it note saying to put in $10 in your cookie jar because you raided it for beer money.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    The excess SS taxes were used to buy treasury bonds, and the money is then spent by the feds on other stuff. So the "trust fund" is IOUs that the feds wrote to themselves.

    It's like spending every penny you make and then putting IOUs (to yourself) in your piggy bank, and thinking that is a real asset.

  • ||

    Exactly.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    I'll give credit to P.J. O'Rourke for that explanation.

  • ||

    P.J. O'Rourke was a baby boomer which was the first generation that had anyone in it who saw through the fraud. Some of them even tried to change things. Unfortunately most boomers believed their "greatest generation" parents when they told them that they were entitled to it and that FDR was the greatest president ever.

  • Robert||

    It's not a fiction unless & until the obligation to redeem those IOUs is renounced. They're carried as part of the nat'l debt.

  • ||

    Well, yes, technically I suppose that's true.

    The fiction is not that SS will continue to pay beneficiaries the pensions. After all, raise general taxes and borrow enough to redeem the "Trust Fund" securities and then raise FICA taxes high enough to cover future payouts and you can keep Social Security going forever. As I have often said, you can have Swedish levels of social welfare as long as you're prepared to pay Swedish levels of taxation.

    Problem is, even the Swedes got tired of Swedish levels of taxation.

    The fiction is that the Social Security Trust Fund represents a genuine and sustainable store of wealth and producer of income.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Yeah sorry but this is not how the U.S. treasury works. All taxes, payroll, income, fuel, national park admissions fees and every other tax goes directly into the maw of the treasury, an institution that is by any reasonable measure bankrupt. The treasury doesn't have any assets, every penny was already spent before it got there. Trust funds are pure fiction and always have been. This didn't start with the New Deal. The treasury is operating exactly the way it was designed to. And I would point out that the employer contribution is also pure fiction. It makes not one whit of difference to the employer whether the 7.65% is paid to the U.S.treasury or directly to the employee. Either way the employee has to earn it.

  • ||

    "Either way the employee has to earn it."

    Excellent point.

  • JFree||

    haha. I'm a lefty to all the R's here and turning grammy into dogfood to the lefty twits.

    Are you arguing that poverty in old age is impossible, or unlikely?

    If there is one demographic that has a chance of providing for itself, it is the group that has their entire lifetime to do just that. SS was put in place cuz elderly were the demographic shat on when FDR bailed out the bankers, Federal Reserve, and govt by going off the gold standard. The elderly were the group that had deposited gold coins into banks their whole life. They were the group whose life savings were wiped out by the overnight 70% devaluation of the dollar and a life-sentence in prison under the Trading with the Enemy Act if they had instead kept gold coins in their house. They didn't even get the chance to pursue those bankers through bankruptcy - where they (the depositors) would've received all the bank assets (loans are increasingly valuable in a Depression) in bankruptcy.

    Churches, unions and other groups have had good ideas over the decades about how to house/etc those elderly who can no longer do so well on their own. I have no problem at all with fed govt using its constitutional authority to create/regulate the value of money to help provide the basic community infrastructure for that to happen. But that AIN'T an individual welfare program that requires the feds to kill off any 'competition'. More akin to being a backstop for muni bond issuance.

  • JFree||

    And BTW - here's the actual median net worth by age:

    under 35 - $6,900
    35-44 - $45,740
    45-54 - $101,400
    55-64 - $164,500
    65-74 - $209,000
    75+ - $197,800

    So yeah - FICA taxes are taking money from those trying to build wealth to those who already have more of it. So the younger can't build it - and the older don't need to spend it. THAT is cronyist bullshit.

  • Tony||

    Doesn't seem like so much for the oldies when you consider that they're simply more likely to own property--which you can't eat.

  • JFree||

    That's AFTER 80 years of FICA taxes being taken from the young and pissed away by the govt on shit. So yeah - all those current retirees USED TO BE young and screwed too.

    But hey - go ahead and defend what is STILL reverse Robin Hood.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    "all those current retirees USED TO BE young and screwed too" This is the inescapable reality. If I could get my SS taxes back I wouldn't need young people to support me and I wouldn't have to work until my body is worn out. And your argument that old people are greedy because they have higher net worth is total bullshit. I spent 35 years making mortgage payments and 45 years supporting retirees to end up with a higher net worth than a 30 year old. My primary asset, the house I live in, has a perpetual tax lien on it that I must pay under threat of state violence. If I were forced to liquidate it to pay these parasites or feed myself I'd end up living in a cardboard box in a metaphorical heartbeat. I'm not defending a system that was in place decades before I was born. I'm saying your anger may be misplaced.

  • JFree||

    And your argument that old people are greedy because they have higher net worth is total bullshit. I spent 35 years making mortgage payments and 45 years supporting retirees to end up with a higher net worth than a 30 year old.

    And they are going to have to spend their entire lives paying rent to someone else and supporting retirees in order to have no retirement themselves.

    So you tell me who has it better in this Ponzi game?

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Great points - thank you!

    Now add in all the regulations that jack up the cost of selling your house, as well as a hefty series of weird taxes, and all that value you accrued is going to be dropped by about 5% just to try to get some capital out of your home investment.

  • ||

    This is, of course, because the tax code and other and other incentives encourage the storing of wealth in real estate, especially the primary residence.

    Chile and Australia (and others) encourage encourage the accumulation of income producing assets so that home rich geezers don't have to sponge off their kids.

  • ||

    Or more properly "sponge off other people's kids."

    I can't figure out where the repeated words came from above.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Well said, JFree!

  • Nardz||

    "Everything about our system is about cronyism - not 'welfare'."

    Ding ding ding!

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    "Everything about our system is about cronyism - not 'welfare'."

    Well, yes, but cronyism only because it's one of the ways our political class gains power and wealth.

    The only point of government is to enrich and/or empower the people in government. You really don't need any sort of other rationale to explain the government's behavior.

  • Sevo||

    OT:
    New 'victim' column at the Guardian.
    "When you recognize that we are what keeps Amazon going, and the most important part of the business, putting us at the top of the pyramid is right."
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/
    2018/nov/21/our-new-column-from-inside
    -amazon-they-treat-us-as-disposable

    Amazon box packer complains: 'They treat us as disposable'.
    Yep, I'd say box packers are pretty much fungible. Hope the guy or gal has a degree in some sort of ".... Studies"

  • lap83||

    Even if he is the most ingenious and competent box packer ever, the right people still have to notice it in order to reward him. But that seems pretty unlikely, they probably only notice his attendance or customer complaints. It's like what they say about cleaning the house, others only acknowledge it when it isn't done.

  • Sevo||

    UPS used to not accept packages that rattled; too easy to claim damage in transit. They obviously don't care anymore; the packages I get from Amazon now have the product and one or two of those air 'pillows' tossed in, I guess in the hopes of making the rattles not as loud.
    So I doubt there's ways to stand out there, unless you can sink the pillow from outside the 3-point circle.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    You can say the same thing about police work. After the militias/gangs move in, residents miss the old days when they could drink in the park at night provided no one snitched. You either mow the lawn often enough or sooner or later, someone volunteers to mow it for you on his own schedule.

    By the way, I'm still waiting for Detective Nase to call me back, but at least J is safe living with T again. Now if I can just convince that guy to do his laundry with me a Bubbles. Oh, and if you see G, tell him to man up and take a more active roll in his own love life.

  • Homple||

    People are fungible and disposable said every totalitarian ever.

  • Homple||

    Also, said every slave owner ever.

  • Hoofddorp Haarlemmermeer||

    Probably less so for the slave owner - they had to buy the slaves.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Yeah, slave holders didn't want to let go of the slaves that gave them so much free labor. The plantation system was based on the feudal system where lords didn't want to let go of their serfs. An ability to end an economic relationship is what made capitalism such a radical force for freedom. Hmmmm, I guess dating a socialist is a very bad idea if you think you have the right to break up.

  • CE||

    except Social Security and Medicare don't even transfer money from the wealthy to the poor -- they transfer money from the working poor to the relatively wealthier elderly

  • CGN||

    CE: The only money "transferred" is from taxpayers wallets to the government's wallet. S.S. and Medicare should be ABOLISHED, as government fucks EVERTHING UP, as the S.S. and many other government programs clearly show. Get a clue, dumbass: the Dems started this shit, and now they want to blame "wealthy" (read everyone) people for their overspending problems.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    It must be sad to be such a disaffected, anti-social dumbass, on the losing side of the culture war and wrong side of history.

  • SIV||

    From Black men to old white and Asian women.

  • CE||

    50 years from now there will be two or more countries here, not one

  • Fancylad||

    Trust-busting? Breaking up a monopoly?

  • Alsø alsø wik||

    And the successful splinter country will be the one that applies equal protection to tax rates. If you had to narrow our current fiscal insanity down to a single root cause, it's the fact that a majority of citizens pay at or near 0% (or less) and vote to extract 40% from a much smaller minority.

    Any country where citizens can vote to have "someone else" pay for things is one that will always eventually collapse.

  • Tony||

    The only people who have zero tax burden are people wealthy enough to afford good tax lawyers or people too poor to afford to pay anything. Your shtick is so stale it isn't fit for bread pudding.

  • CGN||

    Sorry, Tony, but yours is the ranting of a low I.Q., low wage loser. Instead of busting your ass to become wealthy, as I have, you whine like a child for not having the wealth you refuse to work and save to get. The "Fucks Everything up" government LOVES dolts like you, as it allows them to take an ever increasing amount of money out of our paychecks, poor or wealthy, and pissing it away. Thanks for putting more fuel on the fucks everything up fire, dumbass.

  • Tony||

    You busted your ass to become a tax slave whose oppression knows no end? What a waste of time.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Sometimes, that's the only alternative to dying childless, Tony.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Step 1:

    The only people who have zero tax burden are people wealthy enough to afford good tax lawyers or people too poor to afford to pay anything. Your shtick is so stale it isn't fit for bread pudding.

    Step 2:

    C'mon Tony, you can do it. Is this your libertarian moment?

  • sharmota4zeb||

    If I get the nomination in 2022 to run in the NJ-5 congressional district, my one campaign position will be independence for NJ. If Catalan and the PA can have their own nations, why can't New Jersey? We'll simply join NATO and the EU after breaking away from the USA so we can enjoy the military and economic benefits of being in a large union of states without the restrictions of being in the USA.

    NJ has some great natural ports. We can develop a navy to help NATO patrol the Mediterranean Sea and enact a generous immigration policy to take in Arab and Latino refugees. Without sending money to the moocher states or paying to fight the war on drugs, we'll have the resources necessary to build homes for everyone.

  • ||

    Otter's quote has never been more relevant regarding relying on government to take care of you:

    "You fucked up....you trusted us."

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Well, you can say what you want about us. But I won't sit here and listen to you bad mouth...The United States of America! Gentlemen!!

  • Angelique||

    There is a problem with the "good news" and "bad news"

    Yes, Minorities and women have a better deal than they had 50 years ago.

    But the Federal Government had something to do with it. Which makes minorities and women less willing to curb it, because in their experience, it was on their side, while local governments were not.

    I said it once, that unless you have a taste for irony and paradox, you will not understand history. Sometimes the supposed villains did the right thing - and sometimes the supposed heroes did not

    For example, did you know that in the debate among Spanish theologians as to how to consider the Indians, it was the Renaissance scholars who advocated for their enslavement, and it was the old fashoned Medieval Thomists who inisisted on the Indian's humanity?

    And when, in the throes of the Enlightment the Spanish government decided to get rid of the gypsies, it was those backwards forces, the nobility, and the Church, who fought to the gypsies..

    It happened. Which means that you cannot always tell.

  • Curly4||

    Khrushchev was right when he said that the USSR would not have to fire a shot to defeat America. That victory that he spoke of is much closer than anyone thinks also. With the aid of both parties America has almost reached that victory for Khrushchev. As the progressives take over the democrat party and they push medicare for all, free college for all, a basic living income for including all immigrants legal or not there will not any money left over for anything else even infrastructure nor the military which would mean that the US is ripe for the picking if someone like China chose to knock out the US manufacturing ability or a possible change of political parties which would rebuild the US military.
    In my opinion Europe would as soon as the US loses its military might would turn to which ever country that has the ability to protect them but that protection will come as the surrender of sovereignty. In other words they would become a slave state.

  • CGN||

    What rot, Curly4! The USSR does not even exist any longer, as most of the old "republics" (lie) in the U.S.S.R have been replaced by ACTUAL republics. Even with this advantage, the governments in the old U.S.S.R. are failing, and for all the reasons Curly4 thinks are advantages. I humbly ask Reason to require and I.Q. test before someone can comment, as Curly4 and his ilk fuck everything up, just like the government.

  • CGN||

    What rot, Curly4! The USSR does not even exist any longer, as most of the old "republics" (lie) in the U.S.S.R have been replaced by ACTUAL republics. Even with this advantage, the governments in the old U.S.S.R. are failing, and for all the reasons Curly4 thinks are advantages. I humbly ask Reason to require and I.Q. test before someone can comment, as Curly4 and his ilk fuck everything up, just like the government.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Generals tend to fight the last war and professors tend to teach students how to live a good life in the world that existed when they got their PhD's. Natural demographic turnover will save America from collapse, but our world influence will get smaller.

  • IceTrey||

    The problem is the government initiating force. The solution is to prohibit it from doing so.

  • CGN||

    IceTrey: Good comment. Since our government has a lock on (legally) using force, they've decided to use it on criminals as well as decent citizens. CUT THE POWER AND REACH OF GOVERNMENT EVERYWHERE!

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Even Alan Dershowitz is admitting Mueller's investigation will be "devastating" to Putin's Puppet!

    Mueller report will be 'devastating' for the president: Frequent Trump defender

    I've been saying for the past year there's no way an American hero with an exemplary record of public service like Robert Mueller would investigate this long if there wasn't something huge to uncover. I'll be proved right in 2019 when Mueller's final report is presented to the #BlueTsunami Congress, and the House will #Impeach.

    #TrumpRussia
    #NotMyPresident
    #Resist

  • Rich||

    Dershowitz added that he believes the report, although it will have a strong political impact, is unlikely to result in criminal charges.

    "No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case."

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    " I'll be proved right in 2019 when Mueller's final report is presented to the #BlueTsunami Congress, and the House will #Impeach."
    If only the liberal/libertarian wave had crashed through the senate it might matter.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Herbert Hoover's presidential papers are now online and claim the Coolidge Administration and prewar cohorts spent about 8% of GNP (a measure introduced by statistician Clark Warburton who in 1932 showed that prohibition caused or worsened the crash). Then as now we are beseiged by nationalsocialist looters who want another prohibitionist autocracy and international socialists who believe Soviet communism was the noble and altruistic experiment "we" should keep trying to get right. Only the LP has given voters a way to unequivocally express a preference for honesty and freedom. That recorded preference has grown by three orders of magnitude over the past 46 years. Want some fun? Watch a looter struggle to evade that fact.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    OT https://tinyurl.com/y8stwdol
    Quote:
    The Democrats' rhetoric on immigration — and, especially, on illegal immigration — has changed radically since 2016 in reaction to the election of Donald Trump. The corporate partisan conversion to the latitudinarian creed on illegal immigration probably is an error for Democrats, because blue-collar voters, whom the Democrats need to supplement their pathetic coalition of blubbering grievance artists and the thumb-sucking bedwetters who fall in line behind them, are much closer to Donald Trump than to the editors of the Wall Street Journal on that question. But if President Trump were this morning to issue a proclamation praising Mom and apple pie, you can be sure that black-clad misfits would gather in the public squares of Portland to hurl profanity and illiteracy at Mom and her wicked white-supremacist pastries.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    O/T - Russia attacks, seizes 3 Ukranian ships

    Maybe giving up their nuclear arsenal wasn't such a good idea.

  • Duelles||

    I do despise our government. I don't protest or infringe on anyone's personal sovereignty. I do, however, use as many tax rags a s possible to leave paying our national debt and interest on it to others. Our leaders from each party may have no idea how much they are hated. Bummer! If they did maybe they would . . . . . Nah! They suck!

  • sharmota4zeb||

    But if there is a silver lining, it's that this magazine (and the other outlets and organizations fighting the good fight on government spending) will not go quietly into the night.

    :D

  • Appslure WebSolution||

    WOW, Nice Information. Thanks for sharing this Blog.

    Website Development company in Delhi

  • maxsal||

    Ok, that started out weak, but the last two sentences brought it home. Not bad.

  • Tamfang||

    federal debt held by the public has jumped from 118 days of GDP in 1968 to an estimated 288 days of GDP this year.

    FTFY. You can't divide an amount (dollars) by a rate (dollars per year) and get a dimensionless number.