A Nation of Takers Hurtles Toward the Fiscal Abyss


The on-going negotiations over avoiding the tax hikes and spending cuts we call the “fiscal cliff” are the simply the latest act in a farce of self-serving political denial. For decades now both parties have overseen and nurtured the expansion of the entitlement state all the while ignoring the slow-motion economic implosion whose predictable end can be seen today in a bankrupt Greece currently surviving on EU handouts. But American voters and politicians are so marinated in expectations of endless federal and state largess that modest reductions in spending, such as those proposed earlier this year by Congressman Paul Ryan, are attacked as draconian “cuts” that will “shred” the safety net and throw millions into Dickensian penury.

And make no mistake. The “cliff” might not be reached in January, even without a deal. But it’s still waiting down the road. Baby Boomers, 75 million strong, are retiring at a rate of 200,000 a month, and they can expect to live on average until 84 if they make it to the retirement age of 65. The two big drivers of entitlement spending, Social Security and Medicare, weren’t designed to transfer money to retirees for so long, or pay for artificial knees and hips for Boomers who want to be active in their 70s and 80s. If left unreformed, spending just on Social Security and Medicare will eat up 14% of GDP in 40 years, necessitating even more federal borrowing than the 40 cents currently borrowed for every dollar the feds spend. That’s not a cliff, that’s an economic abyss.

Reining in entitlement spending, then, is the major problem that everybody needs to focus on. And a good place to start is Nicholas Eberstadt’s A Nation of Takers. Eberstadt’s grim documentation of the reckless expansion of what he calls the “vast and colossal empire of entitlement payments that it [the state] protects, manages, and finances,” and his analysis of the ill effects such transfers have had on the American character should be read by everyone serious about the fiscal threats to our way of life.

Redistributing wealth through programs like income maintenance, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance has become the federal government’s most important function. This development would have astonished the Founders, who codified national security and defense as the national government’s primary role. And this momentous shift has led to an accelerating number of Americans on some sort of dole. In the early 1980s, 30% of Americans received at least one government benefit. By 2011 just over 49% were. The costs of this increase have accelerated as well. In 1960, entitlement spending by government at all levels was $24 billion in today’s dollars. In 2011, the cost was almost $2.2 trillion. As Eberstadt glumly prophesizes, we are heading for “the day in which entitlement spending comes to exceed all other activities of all levels and branches of the U.S. government.”

The costs of such profligacy, however, are more than economic. These wealth transfers have had deleterious effects on traditional American character. Observers of the American character traditionally had remarked on what Eberstadt describes as a “fierce and principled independence” and “proud self-reliance.” This independence extended to financial self-reliance as well. Americans “viewed themselves as accountable for their own situation through their own achievements in an environment bursting with opportunity,” Eberstadt writes, and had “an affinity for personal enterprise and industry” and a “horror of dependency and contempt for anything that smacked of a mendicant mentality.” Accepting help or handouts was considered “an affront to their dignity and independence.” These are the strengths of character and virtue that have created the richest, freest, and most powerful nation in world history. But the federal government’s ever- increasing handouts––which these days are not considered signs of shame, but deserved legal and civil rights––are eroding these virtues.

This corruption of character insidiously spreads throughout the culture, enabling politicians to expand these benefits in order to create electoral clients. One malign result has been what Eberstadt calls the “male flight from work.” The government has replaced husbands and fathers as providers, leading to “the proliferation of fatherless families and an epidemic of illegitimacy.” This change can be seen in the decline of men participating in the labor force. Between 1948 and 2011, male labor force participation sank from 89% to 73%, a drop twice as large as the number of men who left the workforce because of the Great Recession. For more and more Americans food stamps and welfare have replaced the wages of a working male.

Or consider the abuse of Social Security disability insurance. In 1960, Eberstadt reports, an average of 455,000 workers were receiving monthly disability payments. In 2010, 8.2 million were, four times the number of people on welfare. Worse yet, the average age of those receiving disability insurance has lowered. In 2011 the rate of workers in their thirties and forties receiving disability was more than double that of the same cohort in 1960. Given the big improvements in health care and longevity during that time, these increases do not reflect a more dangerous work environment. What happened was the addition of “mood disorders” and “musculo-skeletal” ailments to the diagnostic categories that made workers eligible for disability. Since doctors can’t disprove the existence of potentially subjective conditions like “depression” or “back pain,” we shouldn’t be surprised that these days nearly half of all disability claims are based on these ailments.

The costs of food stamps, welfare, or disability insurance, however, are spare change compared to the monstrous costs of Social Security and Medicare, which in fiscal 2012 totaled $1.2 trillion, 37% of non-interest federal spending. Nor are these programs “earned” through payroll taxes that were saved. As economist Robert Samuelson wrote recently, “But they weren’t saved; they paid the benefits of earlier retirees. Even had they been saved and earned interest, they typically wouldn’t cover lifetime Social Security and Medicare benefits, estimate the Urban Institute’s C. Eugene Steuerle and Caleb Quakenbush. A couple with average wages retiring in 2010 would receive $966,000 in benefits against taxes of $722,000.” Rather than endowments funded by worker contributions, Eberstadt writes, Social Security and Medicare funding are “accounting contrivances built upon a mountain of future IOUs.” And this problem will only worsen as the number of retired Boomers reaches 72 million by 2030. According to the Heritage Foundation, Social Security alone is projected to run a $344 billion deficit in 2035. Looking farther down the road, the unfunded liabilities of Social Security for the next 75 years is $8.6 trillion, and those of Medicare from $27 to $37 trillion.

The monstrous deficits and debt the government has been amassing for four decades correspond in part to the need to borrow money to pay for these two programs. But this downward spiral of increasing entitlements and growing debt––which in Obama’s first term has increased 83%–– will damage more than just our budget and character. We have already seen defense budgets targeted for reductions, even though we spend 3 times as much on entitlements as on defense. When President Eisenhower in 1961 warned of the “military-industrial complex,” the ratio was 2-1 in favor of defense spending, which represented 9.4% of GDP compared to 4.8% in 2010. And we are looking at another half a trillion of cuts over the next decade, on top of the half a trillion Obama has already slashed. The point is not that we can’t afford to spend more on defense, but that we have other priorities. As Eberstadt notes, “By the calculus of American policymakers today, then, U.S. defense capabilities seem to be the primary area sacrificed to make the world safe for the unrestrained growth of American entitlements.”

Yet despite this looming disaster, President Obama and the Democrats have taken entitlement reform off the table in the current negotiations over the “fiscal cliff.” Indeed, Obama’s latest offer included $600 billion in vague future spending cuts, but $200 billion in new spending along with $1.6 trillion in new taxes. According to economist Keith Hennessy, in reality this offer would lead to a spending increase, not a reduction. Clearly, Obama is not interested in heading off the fiscal disaster Eberstadt documents. Rather, he is pursuing the old progressive dream of income equality through the redistribution of wealth. Unfortunately, for future generations that dream will be a nightmare of bankruptcy at home and compromised national security abroad.

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  • victor

    This future generations are the ones who wholeheartedly supporting Obama and the Dems today, so let them drop into the Abyss , they very well deserve it. Unfortunately, there must be pain to find out that there is something wrong, sometimes it is too late and death is the only way out. This will happen to this country. Some of us will survive this, not because we are special but because we know how to protect ourselves from disasters, we learned it thru the years by a myriad of experiences, mostly business experience. So, let them feel the pain of bankruptcy, of having no hope for employment or a better life and being controlled with every decision they make by a centralized federal government which will have no regards to individual liberties of freedom. They will live under Communism and will see then if they like it. And some of us old enough won't be around to see the catastrophy.

    • Jim_C

      Enjoy that Medicare, victor.

      • victor

        For your information I am over 65 and I opted not to take my social security benefits (towards which I contributed for 47 years of working) or my medicare benefits. Had I given 15% of my income to a financial advisor for investment,for 47 years, I would have had a hell of a lot more than what the government would give me in S.S. benefits. For most of you who keep on saying that S/S is an entitlement that need to be reformed, you are wrong. It's a return on investment that the government squandered. What the government needs to do is curb welfare and medicaid. That is dragging us down, considering now the whole world is getting free medical care, and illegals are not only getting medicaid but they are also getting supplimental social security benefits. That;'s where the money is going.

    • Penny Schinke

      As a retiree who has contributed to SS&Medicare, as well as a 401k&pension plan, I need SS&Medicare, even as little as it is. My 401k was robbed multiple times. There has been no safe place for blue collar workers. Now you all want to do the final "stab in the back" of the seniors. And it is NOT our fault…politicians have been stealing from SS like it's an ATM machine since LBJ, Clinton was another big SS abuser. But now, we must suffer because we are old…most of us, right now, are NOT "baby boomers", we're pre-war & war babies, with some Depression babies in there as well. When you talk about "reforming" SS&Medicare, you might as well be talking about euthanasia of me, and anyone else over 65. Our resources for our "golden years" have been decimated over the years by government & Wall St….my husband & I had our 401k's ravished more times than I can say. We tried to "prepare", but for blue collar workers, it was very difficult. We "contributed" to SS&Medicare because we HAD TO, now you want to take even that away from us. Disgusting&heartless….all of you.

      • Salt Lick

        Penny — Paul Ryan proposed leaving Medicare and Social Security as they are for people your age. He proposed making changes, to slow the rate of growth, only for people who would be receiving Medicare and Social Security in 10 years. My guess is these gentlemen are proposing Ryan's plan.

  • http://alwaysonwatch3.blogspot.com/ alwaysonwatch

    SPLAT! That's where we're headed.

    • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

      Well, when the goal is the deconstruction of the economy, then the last thing on the pyromaniac's mind is fiscal sensibility – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/08/07/barack-hussei

      So, off the cliff they go.

      Adina Kutnicki, Israel – http://www.adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • Lor

      Everything eventually will become Darker and darker till people see this stuff just does not work! And Man what can he really do?

  • pierce

    This is the brutal reality of what has been going on for the last 4 years. Americans have their hands out just as far they can get them, and they have forgotten what hard work is, and what saving for tomorrow is all about. What is really too bad is they have also forgotten the price of freedom, and the sacrifices that go into to being free. Everybody better remember that nothing, and I mean nothing in life is free, depend on your self, and not on government, and then you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    • usmade

      I wish more of the LAZY people in this world knew what you have written. And, it's the TOLERANCE we've been taught and are still teaching our young people. AND, it's the LACK of education of what politics really is to each of us, the citizens. People don't have a clue, they are blind and followers, with their hands out far, just like you said.

    • mlcblog

      Please be careful of overgeneralizing. SOME Americans have there hands out, are forgetting about hard work, etc. Certainly not all.

  • STEVE CHAVEZ

    DEMOCRATS ARE ADDICTING EVERYONE TO HEROIN and once we become junkies, we have to vote for them in order to get our fix!

    Why would these JUNKIES then vote for someone who would take their goodies away?

    REPUBLICANS are like the family on the INTERVENTION TV SHOW which brings family members in the room to convince them to go to rehab. The JUNKIE always blames the family. The JUNKIE does eventually go, on the TV show, and those that stay see that the DEMOCRAT LIFESTYLE was not the way. BUT WHAT HAPPENS? At the end of the show it says that they returned to their old way AND THEY'D RATHER SLEEP IN THEIR OWN VOMIT! Once a JUNKIE always a JUNKIE!

    BUT GUESS WHAT: LET THEM HAVE THESE SCUMBAGS, LOW-LIFES, WELFARE IDIOTS! Republicans can go after the ones that see the DEMOCRAT PUSHERS AND PIMPS!

  • sononthe_beach

    Our incessant nurturing of the entitlement class has created a tail that is now wagging the dog with such intensity that the tail is about all that remains. How can we stop this entitlement train wreck when it has morphed into a powerful voting block which seeks little beyond voting for whomever feeds it? And try as you might to dampen its ferocious hunger, it grows exponentially like a metastasizing blob from hell.
    What I see is the paring of the country into political and cultural enclaves of the like-minded. Those who treasure conservative values of independence, self-reliance. and hard work will remove to places where such cultural values are ascendant, and there they will energize and shape local governments in accordance with their values.
    The only alternative for the long-term survival of conservatism is for the Left to somehow become rational and realize that sustaining an entitlement society is like paying the mortgage for a retirement hut in the third world. But, for the emotive Left, that onion may never be peeled.

    • Jim_C

      Wal Mart has the most workers on public assistance of any corporation. You and I pay for the non-unionized Wal-Mart worker's food stamps. In return, we get cheap microwave ovens. The Walton family holds as much wealth as the bottom 40% of the population. And Republicans are vehement about Sam Walton not having to pay any more taxes. But they'll call the Wal-Mart employees "takers," sure, no problem.

      Costco, on the other hand, pays its workers a living wage. It's CEO makes "only" $500,000 a year. This is more in line with the proportionality of worker/CEO compensation during the great post-War boom.

      If Republicans ever want to reacquaint themselves with Dwight Eisenhower and go back to those tax rates and those proportions, qnd that level of investment in this country's future success, I'll vote Republican.

      • NAHALKIDES

        Also, if the Walton family "holds" as much wealth as the bottom 40% of the population (a highly dubious statistic) it's because Walton CREATED that wealth in the first place. You make the common error of assuming that the rich get wealthy by taking money from the poor, and compound the error by thinking that income inequality is somehow a bad thing.

        • Jim_C

          Income inequality is not a bad thing, and Wal-Mart may or may not entail any sort of moral lesson. But when you look at what CEO compensation was vs. worker's wages in the 1950s–CEOs were still wealthy, workers made a living wage, and this with a wife at home. In the 1960s Time magazine did a feature on how automated labor would create a new leisure class, predicting what our production/wealth would be by the turn of the century, and what the average American would make. (And this was at a time when 30% of the workforce was unionized). They were right on the money when it came to our productivity. However, their prediction that the average family income would be $100,000 has come up far short.

          Corporations are experiencing record profits. "Unions" are a dirty word. People are still out of jobs. The Waltons' workers–people with jobs–are on welfare, while they sit on $93 billion. You tell me what went wrong and where.

          • reader

            " You tell me what went wrong and where."

            Here's what's wrong: in order to grow, the government created educational system that mass produces marxist lumpen, who don't understand economics, are taught to be dependent on the big government and spew non-sence neatly packaged into meaningless sound-bites like "Corporations are experiencing record profits," "The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer,' etc, etc.

          • Drakken

            Thank God someone explained somehing very simple to Jimmmy, a progressive/socialist who has class envy. Whatever he spent on education was a wasted endevor.

          • Mary Sue

            Please to explain why the states that are doing the worst financially and economically are California and New York, the states that tax the most out of their "evil rich"?

    • Kevin

      I agree with your analysis 100%!! This nation will split into two blocs: one with strong conservative values and the other will become Detroit on a national scale. Sad but true;(

  • Adam

    The entire government needs to implode to get back to basic values. When there are no more entitlements and the only way people have access to food, shelter and medicine is by paying for them (with monies earned) only then will the virtue of work return. The illegitimacy rate will go down when either the babies father supports the family or the baby and mother starve. Of course by the time we reach that point society will get very ugly and violent, riots in the streets , fighting over food, murders over clothing with no law enforcement left. But the survivors will eventually get back to basic constitutional rights and values.

    • Jim_C

      What's the biggest entitlement? Medicare. Why do people feel entitled to it? Because they paid for it.

      • tanstaafl

        Medicare is not an entitlement, it is a ponzi scheme.

      • reader

        So, why lie about trying to save it, as Obama has and his stooges have been doing for years?

    • http://twitter.com/megapotamus @megapotamus

      Precisely. A precursor to any real improvement is real devastation. Finally, the checks will bounce in some fashion, the worst being Weimar style inflation. Some people have forgotten that one of the big reasons for The Final Solution was to remove people who had paid INTO the Bismarckian system of entitlements before they could draw bennies OUT. It's quite simple, just as Obamacare justifies the monitoring of everything you put into your face and excrete out your bum. Collapse is the cleanser! It will be a currency collapse which does NOT necessarily mean a Constitutional collapse. We have had several currencies of various description as have all long-standing societies in history. Still less does it mean societal collapse. But it will mean many a grim Sunday dinner or for some, occasionally none at all. Pack on the pounds now.

  • Asher

    How about doing whats morally right?> The debter is the servant to the Lender..China…Let us go off the fiscal cliff, there are just as many Democrats who are going to have to pay higher taxes. The fiscal ciff was invented as another crisis to push through the Socialist Big Government Agenda and it stinks! How about adding new taxpayers to the system through jobs, not higher taxes which will not create jobs!

  • mrethiopian

    First off Social Security should have 2.6 Trillion dollars in the account today, but this money has been stolen by some of the very people that want to rid of the program. I take issue with this because I have been told all my life that you pay into the system and then get back toward the end of your life, I think that many of you have forgotten this that we pay into SS and hence its not an entitlement.

    The masses have spoken and President Obama is in office to secure Social Security and Medicare, so bickering about what might happen is pointless, time will be the test and how the economy reacts in the next few years will be the proof. We are stuck in a quagmire today and something clearly needs to change because the failed Bush policy's did noting but almost bankrupt this country, so I can understand why the Democrats want to move in the opposite direction.

    • curmudgeon

      you have been lied to all your life, and it suited you to believe the lies, and now that the consequences are near at hand, it suits you to hold blameless the people who lied to you. enjoy your medicare and ss while they last. the new hispanic and islamic majority brought to you by the same people that lied to you about your entitlements will have no inclination whatsoever to continue to support you. they have their own priorities, and one of them is not to continue to support old entitled americans who were foolish enough to allow them to take over our country. there isnt much the rest of us can do about our nation's impending doom, but you and your masses that have spoken are a huge part of the problem.

    • Drakken

      Your delusions and wishful thinking of Comrade Obummer is about to run into brutal reality.

    • carrie

      "President Obama is in office to secure Social Security and Medicare"
      So why are the only cuts being proposed by Obama to Social Security and Medicare ?

      Why did Obama dump 2 million people on Disability to lower the unemployment numbers and how does that improve Social Security and Medicare?

      How does Obama letting drunks,drug addicts ,anorexics and the obese collect Disability secure the system ?
      Clinton stole the SS fund to create a fake surplus and make himself look good and then left the account empty for Bush to be blamed.

    • Mary Sue

      Wrong.

      Bill Clinton's failed Freddy Mack and Fannie Mae policy (and its other architects, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd) is what got you into that mess. Bush tried to put the brakes on lending money to people that cannot pay it back but were unsuccessful.

  • Spider

    Obamas election is proof that there is no longer a way to fix this – there are now more people riding on the cart that people pulling the cart. America is now a runaway train speeding down a steep mountain pass with no breaks to its inevitable fate. The crash that we will witness will be cataclismic and like nothing the world has ever seen, mainly because none of the un-greatful countries the US liberated or bailed out over the last 70 years will come to our aid. Maybe we can rebuild afterward but not without starving and incredible suffering for decades to come..

  • http://twitter.com/megapotamus @megapotamus

    Actually a good few things are underestimated here. The allusion to the 47% is accurate enough, essentially half the country is critically dependent on entitlements, but that figure is taken from tax filers. 47% pay no income tax at worst and a great many get their bennies through the tax code; a genius of obfuscation. In any event it is half of HOUSEHOLDS that draw a check and we can add to that those who would have those drawers be direct dependents upon themselves to the fraction of vested interests in continued payments. Then all the projections of percentage of GDP these programs will cost in the future also have to be radically increased. Probably the writer is relying, as does the BLS, on a long-term rolling average that produces average growth just under 4%. The assumption is always that we will 'return to the mean', yet the averages at best go back to the '30s. Before that is economic pre-history. The levels of growth we have become accustomed to are NOT going to be reached again with confiscatory taxation, even if there is not taxation but borrowing instead. So real economic vitality 40 years down the road is going to be something like half what the author seems to assume and this while the payouts are indexed to inflation by law. I know consumer inflation is historically quiescent but certainly no one thinks the greenbacks can be created out of thin air infinitely? Indefinitely perhaps, but not infinitely.

  • Loyal Achates

    The real problem is inequality. If wages were higher few people would need food stamps etc. to survive. Of course, the highest salaries will have to come down, but surely our nation's top earners won''t mind?

    • reader

      Did you ever see "the equality" creating a succseful economic model? And is it moral, say, to take income away from a life saving doctor and give it to somebody who wasted time and money on "women's studies" and has no useful skills whatsoever – for the sake of equality?

      • Jim_C

        Is it moral that chief executives at our 350 biggest companies are compensated at 231 times that of the average private sector worker? Think on that number.

        • reader

          If those who own the company are willing to pay them, yes. It is non of your business what they do with what they own.

          • Jim_C

            It becomes my business if/when I am paying for the welfare of its employees. It becomes my business when they are happy to profit from my country's resources but not willing to pony up for them. It becomes my business if their company has an adverse effect on my community. And it's a moral issue if they are essentially using wage slaves.

          • Mary Sue

            Slaves are involuntary.

          • Jim_C

            Slaves at least get housing and food. If you're not paying people enough to cover that, your community and your polity are going to have issues.

            This was the great unfettered vision of the titans of late 19th century industry. It's been done. It didn't work.

          • reader

            Try to be coherent for a change. When employment is high, you won't be able to keep a good employee for compensation that is not competitive. And when you need a special talent, you will have to pony up to keep the talent from leaving. That is basic, in addition to being moral, because nobody trades anything down. So, on the macro level, a leader – not a marxist ideologue – would and should be concerned with keeping employment high, not with what you do with your employees.

          • Jim_C

            And I suppose not letting the Bush tax cuts expire will make employment high, again, somehow, even though they never did anything toward that end?

          • reader

            So this is your idea of being coherent? Good grief.

          • Jim_C

            I'm not all that impressed by your coherence, either, since you either dismiss or ignore my points out of hand. But I'll bite:

            "When employment is high, you won't be able to keep a good employee for compensation that is not competitive."

            Yes, when employment is high, there's not much to argue about, is there?

            Maybe, just maybe, if wealth wasn't personally hoarded by our wealth generators and instead of funding, say, tax lobbyists and political bribes, a bit of that wealth (wealth, of course, singlehandedly and without any outside help whatsoever generated by these producers) money was actually poured back into the company so that Joe Schmo enjoyed some of those profits, too, Joe could go out and purchase more stuff, which creates demand, which creates more employment, etc. And guess what? Our producer is still wildly, and deservedly, rich!

            Or we could continue to cut jobs while the job cutters continue to get their bonuses, and our government will continue raising their taxes, until we finally have a real s__list state, which I assure you, I do NOT want.

      • Loyal Achates

        I have seen a more level distribution of wages being successful, yes – that's what we had in this country in the 1950s.

        As for doctors, heck – half of the procedures they perform are unnecessary and grossly overpriced. I don't begrudge them for the work they do but they're not as indispensable they believe.

        • reader

          "I have seen a more level distribution of wages being successful, yes – that's what we had in this country in the 1950s."

          This is the dumbest answer I could possibly hope for. The United States in the 50s was going in the opposite direction from FDR's socialism and it was one of the few countries in the world preaching market oriented economic model. Let me repeat again, when and where did the equality produce a succesful economic model?

        • reader

          And, this perl:

          "As for doctors, heck – half of the procedures they perform are unnecessary and grossly overpriced. I don't begrudge them for the work they do but they're not as indispensable they believe."

          You'll get what you've asked for, and it's not going to be pretty. I've seen first hand what government run health care system does. Mark my words, you will look day and night for the "not as indispensible" doctor, and you won't find any when you need one.

        • reader

          In the 50s the US was moving in the opposite direction from FDR's socialism, and it was one of the very few countries in the world preaching market oriented economic model.

          • Jim_C

            True, but it was also a time when the government invested heavily in infrastructure and public universities to support commerce, when things like the GI bill were giving people the opportunity to move out of the working class, and when unions were strong and secured living wages for families.

          • reader

            Obama sure is helping to move people fast from the working class straight to the long lines of the welfare rolls – that's a helluva opportunity. Of course, a couple of hundred thousand in student loans for a gender studies degree will help those pesky Obama voters from ever getting a full time job. In case, you've never been to Europe, this is where it's going fast, and, contrary to what liberals believe, most of Europe does not look like the Louvre and the Colliseum. Most of it looks like housing projects with permanent uneployment in double digits and high prices on everything driven by VAT and gozillion of other tax schemes.

          • Jim_C

            Right, but it doesn't negate my point.

            Europe ain't that bad. They take "family values" seriously there (in terms of public policy/resources) and they still believe in a Commons, which has been a dead idea to us for the last 30 years. That said, yeah, I wouldn't necessarily want to try to open a business there, either.

            If you're looking to goad me to defend "gender studies" you have the wrong guy. On the other hand, it's becoming a trend in academia to add entrepreneurship courses and real world "capstone" experiences to humanities curriculum, which I think you would agree is a positive step.

          • reader

            What point? You mean, the Bush is bad and Obama is good? And, by the way, what infrastructure did Obama erect with all the money he wasted and the deficit he bloated? All I know he all but destroyed NASA and the military.

        • kasandra

          Hey, here's an idea. Next time you have a tingling down your left arm, severe pain in your chest and are lying there in a sweat in the middle of the night, call a Ph.D. in gender studies.

  • Jim_C

    How is that the number of people on food stamps is going through the roof, you ask?

    Did you miss that we were in a financial free fall before Obama took office? Did you think he could just magically save everybody's job?

    • reader

      "Did you miss that we were in a financial free fall before Obama took office? Did you think he could just magically save everybody's job?"

      Obama's record to-date is a net loss of jobs in the millions. Far cry from that of Reagan's in his first term after Jimmy Carter's mess, which had been far worse than that in 2008.

    • Mary Sue

      That was ultimately Clinton (and Barney Frank and Chris Dodd)'s fault.

  • κατεργάζομαι

    .my bumper sticker idea:

    ~ GOP: "SQUEEZE some WELFARE MOMS! – instead of ME!"……. please.

    Give losers butter & cheese. Then if they want more; WORK LIKE ME!

    • Loyal Achates

      I tell you: yes, we have no butter, but what do you prefer – guns or butter? Arms make us powerful. Butter only makes us fat.

      - Herman Goering.

      • κατεργάζομαι

        .

        WHAT? When welfare Kamisha,

        – Robs Peter to Pay Paul……

        ~ it makes TaxPayer Peter VERY SORE, you HORE.

        • Roy

          When Kamisha collects her welfare income-RE-distribution what does she sing?

          HI-HO, HI-HO….
          it's off to work this ho goes…..
          to pick Yo pockets and leave Yo wit locusts

          HiHo..Pass da MAYO!

      • Drakken

        It's going to be the folks with the guns that will take your butter. Good luck to you and yours, mine will feast, yours will starve.

      • Roy

        Loyal Lap Dawg says:
        "If inflation continues to soar, you're going to have to work like a dog just to live like one. "
        ~George Gobel

        Before Obama. if a man saved money he was a wonder; nowadays he's a GOP miser.
        ~Author Unknown

      • Roy

        Dear Loyal Achates,

        How does one pronounce your name? ~ Is it Royal Arse Ache?

        ……..as in,
        My most blessed big butt hurts me because it is my second most used part of my anatomy?

  • NYgal

    Republicans have lost because they call SS and Medicare an entitlement. Look at your payroll check and you will see the deduction for both. You may limit your income taxes, but your SS tax and Medicare tax is never decreased by any deductions.

    It is an insult to be told after having paid SS and Medicare Taxes for 40 + years, that you are a worthless taker. The difference between Medicaid and Medicare is that the Medicare recipients paid all their lives to be insured in their old age. The same goes for Social Security.

    My grandchildren will not have to pay for my benefits, I had already paid for it.

    • FormerOptimist

      Your grandchildren will have to pay for your benefits and they will be less than you expect (due to inevitable economic and financial collapse).
      What you and I pay for FICA and Medicare is immediately spent on income redistribution by OUR GREAT MESSIAH. In the past it was spent by previous generations of politicians. This is a Ponzi scheme, invented by FDR, that democratic politicians do not want change and you "smart" NY gals support them.
      It does not matter if you feel that you earned your benefits. There will be no money for you (and me).

    • reader

      "Republicans have lost because they call SS and Medicare an entitlement."

      Democrats created these programs by lying by calling the model insurance during the public debate and calling it tax in front of the Supreme Court. Then they proceeded to destroy these programs by treating your deductions as part of the general fund and replacing them with IOYs and making them insolvent. Now Obama has openly taken 700B out of the Medicare to pay for Obamacare and called it "savings. " So, congratulations on being so economically illiterate that you don't even see that you vote for people who lie to you and, worse, will make your grandchildren sink in debt they've created.

    • Mary Sue

      Wrong, your payments paid for retirees that had retired before you started working and during the course of your working life. That's how much of a Ponzi scheme it is.

  • Loyal Achates

    I don't know what percentage of people posting at FPM are getting govt. handouts right now, but 100% of them will justify themselves because 'their' handouts are 'different'.

    • Roy

      Replying to Loyal Achates Re: "I don't know what percentage of people posting at FPM are getting govt. handouts right now, but 100% of them will justify themselves because 'their' handouts are 'different'."

      Because you and your flakey voter base……

      ……….. never earned enough to be RE-DISTRIBUTED to ME & My FELLOW TAX-PAYERS!!!!!

      • Jim_C

        Sorry, Roy, you don't belong to some special "voter base" of taxpayers–we ALL pay taxes. I happen to be a business owner. We added three professional jobs last year because we had demand. Nobody likes taxes but I'm not crying about them; they didn't prevent me from hiring.

        • Roy

          Oh Flubber! You are SO special……and prolly a liberal.

          • Jim_C

            Definitely a liberal, and oh so special in that I am a lightbringer to conservative fantasies.

            You're welcome!

  • Ghostwriter

    I just hope that those like Victor are wrong. I'm certainly not looking forward to ANY financial collapse.

    • Salt Lick

      Right. Especially because the "takers" will just be driven further leftward and demand more of the "makers" wealth. The people who are licking their chops in joyous anticipation of an economic collapse should read up on the Spanish Civil War. First there were riots by the "workers." Then the parties squared off into militias. Then they began to kill each other — their neighbors — with death squads.

      Anybody who thinks that will bring some kind of glorious rebirth to our civic life, where the "takers" put their hands together to ask God's forgiveness for their ever doubting capitalism, lacks an understanding of history.

  • Stevecall

    If you think Larry`s story is good…, a month back my boy frends brother basically also made $5626 sitting there twelve hour's a week at home and their neighbor's ex-wife`s neighbour has done this for 5 months and actually earnt more than $5626 in there spare time at there computer. the information on this site…. Bit40.ℂOℳ

    • JoJoJams

      Spam

  • pierce

    If the US Government doesn't straighten out the entitlement situation, not the TAXES, then this country is headed in a disaster direction. Our President thinks over taxing the rich is the ANSWER. Well it is NOT.
    He had better get control of SPENDING, the kind of SPENDING of moneys he does not have, in other words, a whole lot of saying NO. and so far he only uses NO when talking to REPUBLICANS, not his DEMOCRATIC buddies. He sincerely believes that the American people are a bottomless pit, at least those who pay taxes, YOU KNOW THAT 5 to 10% that do. He should expand the TAX base, get more people working, and paying taxes. Oh, he does not like to hear that.

  • fightwarnotwars

    Not surprising but what's missing here is the other side of the coin, and how corporations milk tax payers:

    One of the most egregious forms of corporate welfare can be found at a little known federal agency called the Export-Import Bank, an institution that has a budget of about $1 billion a year and the capability of putting at risk some $15.5 billion in loan guarantees annually. At a time when the government is under-funding veterans' needs, education, health care, housing and many other vital services, over 80% of the subsidies distributed by the Export-Import Bank goes to Fortune 500 corporations.

    Among the companies that receive taxpayer support from the Ex-Im are Enron, Boeing, Halliburton, Mobil Oil, IBM, General Electric, AT&T, Motorola, Lucent Technologies, FedEx, General Motors, Raytheon, and United Technologies.

    You name the large multinational corporation, many of which make substantial campaign contributions to both political parties, and they're on the Ex-Im welfare line. Needless to say, many of these same companies receiving taxpayer support pay exorbitant salaries and benefits to their CEOs. IBM, for example, gave their former CEO Lou Gerstner over $260 million in stock options while they were lining up for their Ex-Im handouts.

    The great irony of Ex-Im policy is not just that taxpayer support goes to wealthy and profitable corporations that don't need it, but that in the name of "job creation" a substantial amount of federal funding goes to precisely those corporations that are eliminating hundreds of thousands of American jobs. In other words, American workers are providing funding to companies that are shutting down the plants in which they work, and are moving them to China, Mexico, Vietnam and wherever else they can find cheap labor. What a deal!

    For example, General Electric has received over $2.5 billion in direct loans and loan guarantees from the Ex-Im Bank. And what was the result? From 1975-1995 GE reduced its workforce from 667,000 to 398,000, a decline of 269,000 jobs. In fact, while taking the Ex-Im Bank subsidies, GE was extremely public about it's "globalization" plans to lay off American workers and move jobs to Third World countries. Jack Welch, the longtime CEO of GE stated, "Ideally, you'd have every plant you own on a barge."

    General Motors has received over $500 million in direct loans and loan guarantees from the Export-Import Bank. The result? GM has shrunk its U.S. workforce from 559,000 to 314,000.

    Motorola has received almost $500 million in direct loans and loan subsidies from the Ex-Im Bank. The result? A mere 56 percent of its workforce is now located in the United States.

    In fact, according to Time Magazine, the top five recipients of Ex-Im subsidies over the past decade have reduced their workforce by 38% – more than a third of a million jobs down the drain. These same five companies have received more than 60 percent of all Export-Import Bank subsidies. Boeing, the leading Ex-Im recipient, has reduced its workforce by more than 100,000 employees over the past ten years.

    • Mary Sue

      Oh and of course this has NOTHING to do with how much these corporations get taxed in jurisdictions like New York [/sarcasm]

  • Shannon Ledford

    Victor is right. I laugh at a few on here who whine about how they paid into soc.sec. Your right you did suckers. Constitutionally Soc.sec. should not even exist. Dems have never wanted to reform it because then the ponzie scheme would be exposed.Furthermore; let us say you get to keep your Soc. sec. payments coming to you. It won't mean didily squat when milk and bread will cost you twenty bucks. Also, the central planners will continue to tell you that they are looking out for your precious Soc. sec. medicare etc… while at the same time they are coming up with new ways to justify euthinizing you so they can continue to keep your precious entitlements going so they can stay in power. What is hilarious about this is these ideas will all be voted on,accepted etc… by your own children and grandchildren that you so passionately bestowed your ignorant, stupid, leftist eutopian ideology upon. You useful idiots just do not get it do you? Only in a free society does the idividual matter. In a communist/socialist goverment the state comes before anyone. ….

  • Smitty

    I hate to inform you, Mr. Thornton, but Social Security is not an "entitlement." I paid into this forced scam all my life, and any payments to me in my retirement consist of my own money that I have been forced to "invest" by the federal government. It is NOT an entitlement.

    Not only did we all contribute to Social Security but our employers did too. It totaled 15% of our income before taxes. If you averaged $30K per year over your working life, that's close to $180,000 invested in Social Security.

    If you calculate the future value of your monthly investment in Social Security ($375/month, including both your and your employer's contributions) at a meager 1% interest rate compounded monthly, after 40 years of working you'd have more than $1.3+ million dollars saved! This is your personal investment.Upon retirement, if you took out only 3% per year, you'd receive $39,318 per year, or $3,277 per month .That's almost three times more than today's average Social Security benefit of $1,230 per month, according to the Social Security Administration (Google it – it's a fact).And your retirement fund would last more than 33 years (until you're 98 if you retire at age 65)!

    I can only imagine how much better most average-income people could live in retirement if our government had just invested our money in low-risk interest-earning accounts! Instead, the folks in Washington pulled off a bigger Ponzi scheme than Bernie Madoff ever did. They took our money and used it elsewhere. They forgot that it was OUR money they were taking. They didn't have a referendum to ask us if we wanted to lend the money to them, and they didn't pay interest on the debt they assumed, and recently they've told us that the money won't support us for very much longer.

    But is it our fault they misused our investments? And now, to add insult to injury, they're calling it a benefit, as if we never worked to earn every penny of it. Just because they borrowed the money, doesn't mean that our investments were a charity! Let's take a stand.We have earned our right to Social Security and Medicare. Demand that our legislators bring some sense into our government! Find a way to keep Social Security and Medicare going, for the sake of that 92% of our population who need it. Then call it what it is: Our Earned Retirement Income.