By: Laura Adelmann
Is there something about our culture that makes an ever growing number of Americans feel that they should be getting everything they want, with no real effort on their part? What happened to the values of working hard and saving, starter homes and delayed gratification? It seems they’ve disappeared from the landscape and it’s a trend that should concern us all.
Once upon a time, actions had consequences. If you didn’t have the money to buy a house, you didn’t buy a house. Then along came your friendly neighborhood government and made lenders give you money because everyone should be able to buy a house, no matter their financial situation. Fannie and Freddie loaned with abandon. People put no money down, took out variable rate mortgages and the loan defaults began. Everyone now has to pay for that pandering error in judgment with lower housing values and harder to get credit.
Social Security is another program that leads to government dependence. It was created at a time when the life expectancy was much shorter and it was a safety net, not a retirement plan. It has now become for many their only retirement plan. Why save for your golden years when you can spend now and the government will provide you a paycheck when the time comes.
And, don’t forget welfare or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families as it's more politely called. People used to take care of each other in hard times. We relied on family and church if things were dire. Then along came welfare and people learned that the more children you had the more money you received. Clinton tried to end that downward spiral by reforming the system, but the truth of the matter is that many life-long welfare recipients moved to Social Security in the form of means tested Social Security Insurance benefits (SSI.) They are deemed disabled, and there is little monitoring of their continued eligibility. Others spend their time and energy trying to find new ways to stay on benefits rather than using the assistance as a step up to independence. Welfare creates very few success stories. The cost of this program continues to expand, with no end in sight and no new reforms in the wings.
Finally, since it seems we haven’t learned that entitlements drain the life out of both their recipients and the economy, we have our President eager to dabble in healthcare reform. Rather than consider the example of Medicare, a program that grows more and more expensive each year, the President appears to subscribe to the idea that a government run option will reduce healthcare spending. He has already expanded SCHIP, the health insurance program for children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. He will likely offer a government insurance option. Soon, to cut costs, rationing would start and again those entitled to this “free” insurance would suffer. Soon, so would the rest of us in the form of higher taxes and fewer and fewer private options until we are all in the same boat, our lives subject to what the government tells our doctor is appropriate treatment.
Social Security, welfare, misguided housing reforms have all trained people to look to the government for what they should provide for themselves. As our country’s entitlement programs grow ever larger and Obama seeks to add yet another large bureaucratic monstrosity in the form of healthcare reform, we must remember that entitlements depend on taxpayers to fund them. But what Congress and the President fail to realize is that the more they hand out to people, the fewer people will be out there working and paying the taxes that fund their "voter outreach." Entitlements will become unsustainable. It’s better to pull the plug now, while the patient still has a chance on his own.
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