LETTER: Entitlement programs they’re notI guess I'll just come right out and admit it. I've been feeding at the "Public Trough" for awhile now, and I have become dependent on "Government Hand-Outs,” so has my wife and most of my friends, we feel "entitled.”
To the Editor:
I guess I'll just come right out and admit it. I've been feeding at the "Public Trough" for awhile now, and I have become dependent on "Government Hand-Outs,” so has my wife and most of my friends, we feel "entitled.”
You see, my wife and I and most of our friends are retired. In our "golden years,” so to speak, we've become dependent on government entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare. We like these programs very much, thanks for asking.
What I don't like is the problem this country is having with semantics. You see Social Security and Medicare are not "entitlements.” They are actually savings accounts. The Republicans like to demonize these programs because businesses are forced to match the amount each employee puts in. Obviously that’s not good for the old bottom line.
Social Security is a government mandated personal savings account that allows us old geezers to retire in the lap of luxury, that's if you consider $1,230 a month (the national average) a real comfortable place to be.
Medicare is really a health savings account, and Medicare covers a good chunk of medical expenses normally incurred by older people, but not all. There still is plenty left over to be hopefully covered by supplemental insurance, that we seniors pay for out of pocket, if we can afford such coverage after paying for extravagant expenses like clothing and eating and having somewhere to live.
Some of you would say we should've saved more for our old age, but when you look at the figure of $1,230 a month in Social Security benefits, that in itself tells us a story of a lifetime of substandard wages. Not everyone makes the big bucks. Most make enough to get by and, truth be told, a lot of people don't. That's a subject for another letter.
Some of us were lucky enough to work for companies that offered "defined pensions,” in most cases these were offered (or negotiated for by unions) in lieu of higher wages. I'm afraid things like that are becoming a part of a distant past.
My wife and I were lucky to have worked for companies that offered things like that, so we both have modest pensions to supplement our Social Security. I also have a company health plan for my wife and myself (a negotiated benefit, in lieu of wages) as a supplement to Medicare. This type of benefit, too, is rapidly disappearing, as corporate America becomes more concerned with the bottom line than the welfare of the employees who, through their labor, make companies successful.
There are ways to fix Social Security. Taking the cap off the contribution level would help, why not continue to pay in? Why not increase the Medicare contribution, and go to a Medicare for all plan? If you want more you can still buy a supplemental plan.
The Republicans are crying out for more personal responsibility, and more cuts to social programs at a time when we can all see that such austerity programs are driving many European nations deeper into recession. We should have learned from history that recessions are only stopped by increased government spending such as we had during the Roosevelt years (New Deal) and Eisenhower years infrastructure spending on the Interstate Highway System.
The Republicans, as they always do, say that to fix these "entitlement programs" we must privatize them, put them in the hands of the bankers and insurance companies. Really? Trusting banks, brokers and insurance companies, after the debacle of 2008, just doesn't seem like the direction I'd like to go. A real fact here and I know most Republicans don't like facts very much, is that Social Security is the most successful program ever instituted by our government. For more than 75 years it's never missed a payment.
Once again the party of big business doesn't like it, simply because they're forced to match employee contributions, and should we decide to pay back all that has been borrowed from it, while giving tax breaks to the rich, corporations and subsidies to big oil, its surplus, which is already large, could make it solvent for decades, without any changes at all.