“I’ve been working on something serious,” he told me the other day.
“Like what, serious?”
“Like sort of reform serious.”
“No two people who work on that stuff ever agree. It’s a waste of time.”
“Probably, but I’m tired of the Washington Highway Robbers trying to take every penny I’ve got every year while none of them are hurting for anything. So I came up with some ideas after I heard some old fart rich guy make a comment about if we wanted to have Washington stay on budget we should just make a law that the first time they overspend the budget no one in office can run again.”
“That’s Warren Buffet”
“No kidding? He owns all those Restaurants in Vegas? The Buffets?”
“Not exactly. It’s complicated.”
“But what’ve you got for this serious reform thing?”
“It’s complicated. You got time?”
“I start talking to you, you know I’ve got some.”
“OK. This isn’t too complicated. Even you should understand it. You may not like some of it. A few of my other friends offed to bring their dogs over to my house and let them loose on me.”
“Yeah, yeah. Just get to it. I got time, but not all the time in the world.”
“OK. It goes like this. We are approaching the time in our grand national political cycle when I am gonna have to listen repeatedly to misuse of the term “entitlement,” for perhaps as long as one year. I got physically ill during the last election cycle listening to people telling me I did not deserve benefits I had worked years to attain. These critics claimed I felt “entitled” to my benefits and the cost to provide them was killing our economy.
How about a $28 million Reaper Drone with a couple of $70,000 Hellfire missiles on board? Not the same issue? Really? Aren’t these ordered by people who feel “entitled” to launch them at various jihadist SUVs, raise their arms in triumph at the explosion and adjourn to some club for a nice Diamond 100 vodka martini or a few fingers of Glenmorangie 18? Never heard of these spirits? Those who have feel “entitled” to partake of them.
Entitlement is a disparaging term used by conservatives to identify government programs guaranteeing some benefit to members of a specific group based on established rights or by legislation.
Entitlement as used in this context, reflects a derogatory connotation, as in a “sense of entitlement”. A “right” is in itself an entitlement associated with a moral or social principle. Entitlements are usually based on concepts of principle (“rights”) of social equality or enfranchisement. Federal level entitlement programs in the United States (which might also be called universal benefits) include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, most veterans administration programs, federal employee and military retirement plans, unemployment compensation, food stamps, and agricultural price support programs.
Social Security is an entitlement which the recipient has paid in advance to receive. Medicare insurance premiums are deducted from Social Security payments to beneficiaries to defray covered costs. Veterans Administration programs are “payment for the rigors and commitments of military service.” Military retirement programs are comparable to 401(k) or other pension programs in the private sector.
Agricultural price support, food stamps and unemployment compensation are entitlements unsupported by payments from the recipient and are preventative in the sense they guard against a predictable hardship.
Social Security has been identified by conservatives as an “entitlement.” The program is projected to run out of funds to support retirees, the main beneficiaries, in the near future. The reality is Social Security trust funds have been diverted to other uses over the years. A shortfall in Social Security accounts is not a case of a greater percentage of the population growing older and the percentage of contributors growing smaller. If it had been illegal to use Social Security funds for anything other than Social Security the fund would today be robust. Social Security is only in trouble as a result of wanton misuse.
To fix all Social Security problems it should be merely mandated, no American, and this is specifically includes any federal employee, at any level of office, may be on any other retirement program other than Social Security, Medicare and individual savings in a personal account. Federal pensions, healthcare and benefits programs are ridiculous to the degrees they exceed the benefits of the average citizen. “Entitling” every United States citizen to the same benefit program would assure the focus needed would be applied, and the program would remain viable.
“Sort of like that lunch guy’s thing.”
“Yeah, that guy. Also, All state pensions should be funded by contributions of members only and not by any tax burden or non-eligible wage earners contributing either directly or indirectly to such funds. Also a legal should be use of these funds for anything other than their stated purpose. Any management of a pension plan should have its salary and operation budget capped by law and any projected change subject to the vote of its plan members.
As a safety check-reference, all voting records of all elected officials should be made public and easily accessible back as far as committee discussions on submitting or modifying laws. Since we live in a democracy the entire electorate should be able to clearly see what representatives are doing and have done.
With a world ranking in the bottom 40% among developed nations US healthcare plans should adopt a more supportive and cost-effective structure for citizens, modeled after the top performing countries. Problems with the cost of health care in this country are specifically not rooted in benefit programs, rather they originate from outside cost inflation the rest of the top-performing countries have identified as unnecessary.
Campaign donations to political recipients should be limited. Healthcare is a visible lobby which generates cost inflating Medicare activity. Candidate contributions should be capped and corporations should be restricted from any large donations since they are not “people” and the destination of funds they “collect” and “allocate” are chosen by few, and in many cases only one employee, and do not represent the will of all employees. This particular problem exists across corporate political activity in general. It’s only cure will be high visibility for active and potential miscreants.
Corporate profit dollars earned from any operations outside the continental United States should carry a tax burden calculated by an algorithm containing a costs/currency exchange-rate leveler. A company may increase its size, income and scope with additional sales and revenue but may not profit from tax, currency or manipulation of responsibilities gained via offshore locations.
The federal government employee, and individual state employees if mandated, should also be responsible for the achievement of specific goals. There should be a salary plus one-time bonus reward for goal attainment, and a progression of consequences for degrees of non-achievement. Bonus Payment for success is a one-time individual personal income item taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income, incentivizing achievement.
Term limits should be in place for all elected offices politics should not be an opportunity to gain a system based upon tenure. A procedures manual should be sufficient to tell any elected official what duties are involved and how to perform them.
With a few changes like these we could be having as much fun as lighting up jihadi SUVs at a fraction of the cost. Our only problem seems to be people in office making the laws don’t ever seem to pay any attention to us. To fix this see paragraphs 9, 11 and 16.
“You’re a goddamn Commie Socialist.”
“I am not. I was raised Roman Catholic.”
“Forget it. You’re an idiot.”
“Let’s talk about it again after you’re sixty-five.”