John Perry–The End of Entitlement

[In the 1950’s] the federal safety net designed for a time when unemployment was 20 percent and stockbrokers were jumping out of windows was still there. Not yet unmanageable, still a small fraction of the federal budget, still considered a lifeline for the desperate and a retirement income supplement for the rest.

Then along came the tumultuous, iconoclastic, game-changing 1960s….

In 1965, Medicare and Medicaid began paying medical expenses of the retired and those who could demonstrate “need.” Human nature being what it is, two things happened. First, those who could demonstrate “need” availed themselves of free medical care far beyond any level they would have used had they been required to pay for it. Second, given virtual carte blanche by the government, hospitals and other medical providers jacked up their prices in breathtaking fashion….

And voilá, our citizenry became entitled to medical care and a retirement income no matter what the cost. The more they got, the more they wanted…Now their time is up.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Economy, History, House of Representatives, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Senate, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

11 comments on “John Perry–The End of Entitlement

  1. Teatime2 says:

    How weird. The writer conveniently forgets (ignores) the other part of the story — the fact that the cost of living in previous decades was much lower and real wages were higher. Thanks to the unions, those in manufacturing earned a good living, had generous benefit packages and pension plans.

    You didn’t need a college degree to make good money. Let me put this in perspective — my father didn’t have a high school diploma but he made more money than I, with my degrees, could hope to earn as a teacher. When I was growing up, we had full medical, dental, and vision insurance with tiny out-of-pocket costs. Homes were affordable, people could save, paid vacation was generous.

    Did the unions get greedy? Yes. My father was a union man but correctly predicted and was very concerned that union greed and corruption would be the downfall of American manufacturing. But the point is that they did fight for the common worker. We have none of that now.

    My father always told me that he would never want to be in my shoes, having to survive on lower wages, high prices (particularly real estate), huge cuts in fringe benefits, and no security. There should be some happy medium between no worker rights or security and rigid union contro,l but there isn’t.

    The government has taken up the slack from employers. “Entitlements?” How about this writer get real and suggest what should happen to the old, the sick and the poor when wages are low, the cost of necessities is high, and people like him say “oh well, tough luck, you are a burden and aren’t ‘entitled’ to anything.” And he wouldn’t have the nerve to tell my father, who paid into Social Security for over 50 years and lived/collected for five years of retirement, that he was a drain. Or that those who are sick, old and live in a place with an extremely hot climate shouldn’t have “central air” if they receive Social Security.

    Not everyone has the capability to be software engineers, doctors, financiers; not everyone has inherited wealth and prominence. Not everyone is blessed with good health. And, frankly, if businesses/corporations can’t afford to pay their employees fair and decent wages, then they shouldn’t be in business. The American people have seen their jobs go overseas or be given to foreign workers, and they’ve been rendered powerless.

    If government is going to allow big business free rein and to abdicate any responsibility for employees then there are only two choices in our system — government will have to provide safety nets or the elderly, sick, and less advantaged will lack basic necessities and health care and die.

    No, Social Security wasn’t supposed to be the elderly’s post-employment mainstay but what happens when company pensions are gone? When those nearing retirement age suffered huge losses in their retirement savings because of the stock market downturns? When property values plummeted? In previous decades, the combination of company pensions, private savings and Social Security allowed retirees to live well. They also retained excellent company medical benefits so Medicare was a supplemental. No more.

    So, the author believes that “entitlements” are evil and those who depend on them are leeches. Now why do I also get the impression that he doesn’t believe employers have any responsibility in this, either? Perhaps survival of the fittest and wealthiest should be our country’s philosophy and the rest will be assisted in ending it all?

  2. Hursley says:

    Dear TeaTime2:

    I very much appreciated the content and tone of your remarks. Our nation has become deeply degraded by avarice and sloth in a variety of ways, but “social Darwinism,” which stands behind much anti-government rhetoric today, is hardly compatible with the Gospel. Your last comment is spot-on. We are moving ineluctably towards just what you describe, and the poor and elderly will be the first to be put down the maw of this “brave new world’s” next installment of dehumanization.

  3. magnolia says:

    i’m sorry but this article is just more right wing slop.
    “How did we survive before the Great Society? We relied on ourselves, our neighbors, our private charities, our churches.”

    talked to any churches lately? their plate and pledges are DOWN.

    what about the elderly who have NO FAMILY? what about those whose families are barely hanging on?

    how about charities? they are all reporting a run on supply.

    ridiculous article. no blame at all for the banks or ceo’s who threw us into this mess. yah, i would agree that there are those who game the system, but unless you can prove numbers of who is falsely benefitting vs. who really needs them, the arguments are moot.

  4. Cennydd13 says:

    I have this to say to Mr Perry: You complain about those who feel “entitled;” Okay, but you conveniently didn’t mention that millions of those who claim those entitlements are men and women who happen to be service-connected disabled veterans, and you also didn’t mention that we disabled military veterans put our lives on the line for people such as you. I am one of us.

    We don’t suck up the money, and we signed a contract with our fellow Americans, and in that contract, we were guaranteed that we and our families would be provided for……and that includes health care and compensation for our services following medical discharge/retirement for disability.

    Think about this, and remember it the next time you meet a veteran……and ask yourself if you think they’re entitled to what they receive.

    We lost our sight, our limbs, our sanity, and our ability to function normally as members of society in all too many cases. In many instances, we also lost our ability to be gainfully employed following our hospitalization and recovery. For a good many of us men, our wives had to go to work in order to support our families. We receive disability compensation from the Armed Services or the Veterans’ Administration, and in addition to that, we receive Social Security Disability Compensation until age 65 (or is it 67 now?), at which time we convert to Social Security Income Compensation.

    As Armed Forces members, we all paid into the System, and like everyone but those who are covered under other systems, we receive a check every month. We pay income tax on our Social Security, so it’s not as if we don’t contribute; we do.

  5. David Keller says:

    #3–We should have compassion, but compassionate vote buying by both parties is about to bankrupt us. How will the elderly with no family be doing when there is NOTHING to give them? The whole budget will be nothing but debt service if we keep borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. And if you want to be fair, Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd and Charlie Rangle threw us into this mess, combined with the fact that the Wall Street types give 4 to 1 to Democrats, whose friends in the SEC and Treasury Department ignore them. The current mess was caused by bundled mortgages, which were fostered by the three gentlemen above, and Freddie and Fannie, combined with regulators who go from their agencies and look the other way at those they are supposed to be regulating so they can get huge jobs when they leave government. Bush tried to abolish Freddie, Fannie and bundled mortgages and was trashed by the press and the three gentlemen mentioned above. And OK–Bush was an idiot for letting the budget get out of control in the first place. He should certainly have told Republicans he would veto any budget that contained a single pork project. But there are lots of ways to rein in the craziness which won’t hurt the TRULY poor. But Obama has declared people who make $50K are poor. 49% of Americans now pay no taxes, and all of them get some form of government assistance. That’s crazy. And FYI; Moody’s gave Freddie and Fannie AAA ratings just before September 2008. Let that one sink in.

  6. Teatime2 says:

    Thank you, Hursley. It seems to me that if there’s any feeling of “entitlement” in this country it’s among big business and certain industries, in particular. They certain feel entitled to government bailouts and all sorts of subsidies and tax breaks, even though they’re sitting on their money, not expanding, lending, or hiring.

    Haha, these same people who begrudge grandpa his $1,000 Social Security check find no problem with giving the oil industry subsidies, despite the fact that they’re making huge profits and the speculators are driving up the price of oil (and gasoline, by extension) which, in turn, increases the cost of necessities for everyone.

    David Keller, most of this predates Bush. It’s the fallout from discovering that “trickle down” doesn’t really work and creates a monster. Or many monsters.

  7. Cennydd13 says:

    Want to eliminate government assistance? Okay, then, how about eliminating all tax breaks for big business? No exceptions. How about eliminating tax breaks for large agricultural corporations and helping small farmers with low-interest farm loans? How about eliminating pork barrel projects? All of these would be good for starters, but I’m sure somebody could think of more. Reducing benefits for the elderly, the homeless, the sick, the truly poor, and disabled veterans (and I know that no one’s actually thinking of doing that….yet) is not the answer, and shouldn’t even enter into the equation.

  8. John Wilkins says:

    He’s got a few things wrong.

    First, those entitlements aren’t something that t he government simply handed out for free. Citizens paid for them, with the expectation they’d get something in return. The money came out of their salaries, through their taxes, and as their productivity increased, they thought they could expect more ase the country grew richer.

    In one swoop, the authori sloppily make sthe assertion that there are huge numbers of people with satellite TV, smartphones and can’t pay their doctor’s bills. Of course, even if this were the case, I’d like to know what the alternative economic arrangement would look like? Would the nanny state restrict how many cellphones one could have before getting health care? It seems a much simpler way would be expand medicare.

    Clearly the incentives in the medical world are skewed. Nobody doubts that. it should be geared toward outcomes and health. the market can help in some ways – in other ways there needs to be better coordination.

    But the real expense during the 1960’s that ran us into a deficit wasn’t the entitlement programs, but the Vietnam war. It was unnecessary (like, perhaps, the Iraq war), at least to the point that most people don’t want to pay for it.

  9. Kendall Harmon says:

    “This country has $10-12 trillion worth of outstanding debt. In addition however we’ve got about $60 trillion worth of liabilities. I call this Debt Man Walking.”

    This has nothing to do with the value of supporting those who need help and support, that is why the programs were set up in the first place. Almost no one is against such things. What it is about is programs that have become completely unsustainable in their present form. The level of denial simply cannot continue. Look at the huge numbers mentioned above!

    If we do not tackle this honestly then there will be no money at all for these programs for those who genuinely need them in the future.

  10. John Wilkins says:

    I agree, Kendall. Unfortunately, we’re held hostage by the religion of tax cuts. In the end, if we truly want a balanced budget and seek to pay off our debt, we have to increase revenue. Otherwise, balancing the budget is simply an excuse to reduce millions of Americans into penury. My view: balancing the budget is the Republican way to ensure the economy doesn’t improve, thus making the president’s election less likely. As long as he plays on the Republican narrative that the deficits are more important than jobs, he will be open to a loss.

  11. John Wilkins says:

    I agree, Kendall. Unfortunately, we’re held hostage by the religion of tax cuts. In the end, if we truly want a balanced budget and seek to pay off our debt, we have to increase revenue. Otherwise, balancing the budget is simply an excuse to reduce millions of Americans into penury. My view: balancing the budget is the Republican way to ensure the economy doesn’t improve, thus making the president’s election less likely. As long as he plays on the Republican narrative that the deficits are more important than jobs, he will be open to a loss.