We’ve been hearing a lot about entitlements and how severely they affect the federal budget. I thought I would “take on” so to speak this issue in the second part of this series.
Miriam Webster defines entitlement as – the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something; the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges); a type of financial help provided by the government for members of a particular group. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entitlement
Usually when people talk about entitlements they are in fact talking about Social Programs, including Social Security; Medicare, Medicaid; Food Stamps; etc. Now, the thing that I really don’t understand about the rhetoric is that Social Security was paid for by the people who are collecting it. That’s right, everyone pays into Social Security – it’s taken directly out of your paycheck, and of course you are entitled to it, since you paid for it. How is this an issue? You are collecting money that you “banked” with your Social Security. The reason Social Security was set up to begin with, was that the elderly did not have any savings to live on after they stopped working. This was not because they were out buying and living a lavish lifestyle, but because they didn’t make enough money to save anything. Much like today. My husband is lucky and does indeed have a pension into which he pays every week. However, since the pension is tied to the Stock Market, just like every other pension, we are unable to “count” on it. One quarter it can be worth, for example, $36,000 and the next quarter it can be worth $20,000. So, we have Social Security which hopefully we can count on. The interesting thing is that while he has a pension, college-educated me, has never had a pension – it’s not that it was offered and I refused, in all the years that I worked, I was never offered one. Not every worker has a pension. And, not every worker has the money left-over at the end of the month to create their own pension.
Now, some of the statements include such things as everyone should be responsible for their own retirement. That’s a great sentiment. However, in this country the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour. Interestingly, the federal poverty level is set at $11,880.00 per year for one person. After paying for food and shelter how do you have any money left-over to save for retirement? That is the question that I’ve never really heard addressed in any conversation regarding retirement savings. Instead, we’re all told to save money by not spending so much. The first thing a “financial adviser” will say is: stop buying coffee and breakfast and lunch out; stop going out to eat; stop going to the movies, etc. etc. etc. Well, that’s all well and good, but as an example of this, my husband has always made and brought his own coffee to work; I’ve been making and packing his lunch (and my own) for years. We go out to dinner on birthdays and that’s all. The last movie he saw was Avatar; when I go I see a movie, maybe three times a year, I go to the matinee, thereby paying half price. We get take-out once every six weeks – I know, because it’s on my calendar. And, we make much more than the federal minimum wage. We just have credit card bills from years ago, a mortgage, one auto loan, and a large vet bill to pay.
So, if we have a hard time paying (and paying off) bills, how do other people who make minimum wage do it? How about those senior citizens who collect Social Security and are on either Medicare and/or Medicaid do it? Well, since I worked with the elderly I can tell you exactly how they do it – they are on Food Stamps, fuel assistance and phone assistance. Also, many of them get Meals-on-Wheels 5 days a week as a supplement to their meal planning. By the way, I don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure of seeing these meals, but they do not follow any special meal plan, so if you’re lactose intolerant, or need low fat meals or diabetic meals, these medical conditions are not taken into account. Many of the meals cannot be eaten by the elderly who receive them. By the end of the month many elderly are eating out of cans, just waiting for their food stamps to arrive. None of them get much, perhaps $55.00 per month on average for the people that I work with. Not to mention all the disabled people in their wheelchairs or may have other disabilities who are unable to work and rely on social programs to live.
Now that we’ve covered how the elderly, infirm and disabled are screwing the system, let’s just get on with the “real” entitlements. The rich also have entitlements. These are called: no tax on estates, trusts, tax avoidance; and tax loopholes. These entitlements have cost the federal government much more than the social programs commonly known as entitlements. http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/04/27/entitlements-are-bankrupting-america-rich-keep-taking-them
I’ve included more links to articles written by people who are much smarter than I am. Please go and read them – and let me know what you think.