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Transfer Payments

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/aug/12/mitt-romney/romney-says-government-has-grown-27-percent-37-per/

Not much to say.  Government expenditures have grown mostly in the areas of social security and medicare since 1965.  The majority of the people receiving those payments pay little to no taxes because of how low their income is.  So one fair way to look at it is saying that government is taking from the rich and giving to the poor.  You might believe that is unfair because that group of people, poor people paying little to no taxes receiving the benefits of social security and medicare, literally have more money to spend than they earn.  That’s about 50% of Americans, 1 out of every 2. Ignore the fact that they tend to spend that money rather than horde it, effectively putting it back into the economy.  Ignore that. They are getting money they haven’t earned to buy stuff. Some of it to buy stuff they need, and some of it for stuff they don’t need but might give them pleasure or make their lives easier. Simple question. That I think Americans who hate this idea should ask themselves.  How much poorer and unhappier are you willing to let 50% of the population become? How much higher will the rates of crime and homelessness and general disease climb if we collectively decided to stop giving them that money? How much harder do you think a life of poverty in America should be? A cell phone less? Okay? A microwave less? Fine? A refrigerator less? A few hours of sleep because they have to work more to earn money less? Hmm. A meal less? Rough. A place to live less?

Now I know this is somewhat of a slippery slope argument, but you can’t dispute the fact that a large number of that 50% rely on that money for daily necessities. To me it’s kind of obvious by saying that you want that part of government expenditures cut that you’re willing to let those among us that struggle most, struggle more, and you’re not worried about how that might have some repercussions for public health and safety and contentment.  Right now taxing the rich higher in any way has you worried that the rich might leave, but the rich wouldn’t mind having more tired, hungry, homeless, depressed, sick, resentful poor people around.  Now I’m not criticizing the rich.  I’m criticizing the perception of them.

Can we be honest? Most people paying taxes who have no use for social security and medicare won’t all just start supporting their fellow man if you made it so they didn’t have to pay the taxes that support that program.  That’s just not realistic.  Job “creators” won’t just start hiring like crazy because they don’t have to pay those taxes partially because it’s human nature but economically because there will be much fewer people spending money on those services that the job creators make money providing. Instead of thinking that cutting taxes and expenditures are the solution to what’s ailing America we should realize that those expenditures are part of America’s attempt to aid people who are ailing in America.

Picture this. Two guys do manual labor for a living. The labor requires two people, but one is simply better at it than the other and is compensated better because of it. One day the weaker of the two starts having back aches, and knowing neither can get the job done on his own, they go to a doctor together. The doctor prescribes pain medication too costly for the weaker one to afford so, knowing that he still needs him to do the job, the stronger one pays for the pain medication. This works well for a while, but one day the strong man becomes fed up with having to pay for the weaker one’s pain medication. It’s his money and he has the right to use it how he sees fit. Instead of identifying the source of the back pain and having the doctor fix it, the stronger man just refuses to pay leaving the weaker man in more pain and less able to function ultimately making the job harder and less fruitful for the strong man.

To me the only solution that I know of to alleviate poverty long term is education.  Even if we could wake up tomorrow and have a perfect education system, it would still take decades before we saw any progress because it takes time to learn the skills that people would pay you to have.  I think it would take decades of treating school like hallowed ground and teachers like professionals.  What I mean by treating teachers like professionals is to give them the proper tools to do their job, develop an environment that allows them to do their job well, compensate them well when they do it well, and fire them when they don’t.

It’s not a quick solution because poverty is a pervasive problem, and it will take focus and passion and resolve to address it.  Throwing money at it doesn’t fix it, but spending money to aid people isn’t just a nice thing that we should do because I feel guilty about poor people. In my opinion, it’s necessary to keep things from getting worse.  I’m not saying that we should raise or lower taxes during a recession, but I believe that a lot of the money given to people too poor to pay taxes needs to go to them.  We need to stop thinking that the only way America can be great again is by measuring up to some false, glorified memory we have it from before the growth of social security and medicare began in 1965.  Does anybody remember that the government only passed a Civil Rights Act the year before that? We need to realize that American excellence doesn’t lie in the past, and the only way that we can have it is by investing in the future and taking care of our present.

P.S.

Looking at when spending for social security and medicare took off, I think there’s a strong racial correlation that needs to be explored.  I know correlation doesn’t always equal causation, but it’s interesting to note that. From the article “First, we should note that Medicare didn’t exist until 1965, so a big share of the increase Romney pointed to stems from this single program.” With Civil Rights Act of 1964 the government starts the process of treating people of all color the same. Maybe they noticed that a lot of those people that they weren’t treating well before weren’t doing so well, but now had a louder voice in government so Medicare is enacted in 1965, but the education system still hasn’t done enough to fix the root of the problem or hasn’t been given the right tools to fix the problem.

P.S. 2

I love how we refer to America as a Christian nation when we’re deciding who the government should grant marriage licenses to, who we should wage war against, whether we should teach evolution in classrooms, and who we should support militarily, but when someone suggests that it should be U.S. domestic policy to take from people who have plenty and give it to people who don’t have enough then it’s class warfare.

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