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"Triumph of the Redistributionist Left"

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Preacherman, Jan 23, 2006.

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  1. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    From the Christian Science Monitor (http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0123/p25s01-cogn.html):

    January 23, 2006

    Triumph of the Redistributionist Left

    Even with Republicans in control, trends are decidedly in favor of massive redistribution of wealth.

    By Patrick Chisholm | csmonitor.com

    The political left in America is emerging victorious.

    No, this isn't about the damage that Jack Abramoff's mischief has done to the political right. Nor is it about President Bush's lousy poll numbers. And it doesn't refer to Democrats' recent win of two governorships.

    It's about something much deeper; namely, that the era of big government is far from over. Trends are decidedly in favor of that quintessential leftist goal: massive redistribution of wealth.

    Republicans' capture of both Congress and the White House was, understandably, a demoralizing blow to the left. But the latter can take solace that "Republican" is no longer synonymous with spending restraint, free markets, and other ideals of the political right.

    While the left did not get its way on tax cuts, this may be only a temporary defeat: Freewheeling spending has made future tax cuts politically a lot harder.

    During the first five years of President Bush's presidency, nondefense discretionary spending (i.e., spending decided on an annual basis) rose 27.9 percent, far more than the 1.9 percent growth during President Clinton's first five years, according to the libertarian Reason Foundation. And according to Citizens Against Government Waste, the number of congressional "pork barrel" projects under Republican leadership during fiscal 2005 was 13,997, more than 10 times that of 1994.

    Discretionary spending is dwarfed by mandatory spending - spending that cannot be changed without changing the laws. Shifting demographics combined with an inability to change those laws virtually ensures that, through programs such as Social Security and Medicare, America's workers will be forced to redistribute a larger and larger portion of their income to other Americans in the coming decades.

    The near impossibility of changing the system was evident in the recent effort to convert Social Security from a spending program to a savings program. It hardly stood a chance against the powerful senior citizens' lobby and other left-leaning groups, and their allies in Congress on both sides of the political aisle.

    Time is on the side of the left. As politically difficult as it is now to reform of Social Security or Medicare, as the years pass it will get even more difficult. The swelling number of retirees will further strengthen the senior lobby. And as Social Security's surplus evaporates, there will be less money available with which to establish personal savings accounts.

    The prescription drug benefit was another victory for the redistributionists. While it is true that the left wants even more spent on that program, Republican efforts have netted an additional $1.2 trillion being redistributed over the next 10 years.

    Certain trends have been favoring the left for the past several decades. In the early 1960s, transfer payments (entitlements and welfare) constituted less than a third of the federal government's budget. Now they constitute almost 60 percent of the budget, or about $1.4 trillion per year. Measured according to this, the US government's main function now is redistribution: taking money from one segment of the population and giving it to another segment. In a few decades, transfer payments are expected to make up more than 75 percent of federal government spending.

    Currently the federal government consumes about 20 percent of the GDP, which is another way of saying that about 20 percent of Americans' income, on average, is paid in taxes to the federal government. According to the Government Accountability Office, that is on course to rise to 30 percent by 2040. Most of that 30 percent would be redistributed as payments to other Americans, rather than spent on standard government services like law enforcement, transportation, defense, national parks, orspace exploration.

    While foreign policy has taken a rightward turn since Sept. 11, 2001, it, too, could drift leftward in coming decades. As the government allocates more of its budget to entitlements, there will be less money available to spend on the military, embassies, aid agencies, and other apparatuses that enable us to wield outsized influence in world affairs. We are on track to become more like the welfare states of Europe and Canada, where entitlement spending leaves limited funds available for bold foreign policy initiatives.

    The left should be pleased that defense spending as a percentage of the federal budget has steadily declined during the past decades. In the early 1960s the Department of Defense constituted 45 percent of federal spending, whereas this year it will constitute an estimated 17 percent, according to the Office of Management and Budget. At the same time that percentage shrank, the percentage devoted to entitlements rose. This is reflected in money allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services: It skyrocketed from just over 3 percent of federal expenditures four decades ago to an estimated 25 percent this year. With the impending retirement of the baby-boom generation in addition to the new prescription drug plan, this crowding-out of defense and other government programs, such as homeland security, will accelerate.

    The left has a powerful institutional force on its side: "public choice" economics. Our system of government is highly responsive to vocal groups that lobby for subsidies, government programs, and other special favors. Since the costs are spread out among all taxpayers while the benefits are concentrated among smaller segments of the population (such as retirees, in the case of Social Security and Medicare), the taxpayers have much less of an incentive to lobby against the measure while the beneficiaries have a huge incentive to lobby for it. Whenever those subsidies are threatened, the lobbies launch their barrages of politically effective complaints.

    Forces favoring the left are virtually locked in. Even with Republicans in control, big government is destined to get a lot bigger.
     
  2. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Peter - I am depressed again!!;)
     
  3. xd9fan

    xd9fan Member

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    will real Conservatives reward the pro-govt GOP with thier vote in 06 and 08??
    will they vote GOP out of fear? (If so they are trapped like animals.)
     
  4. beerslurpy

    beerslurpy member

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    I have been thinking along similar lines myself.
     
  5. cbsbyte

    cbsbyte Member

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    I completely argree with this point made in this article that the overall trend in America is to the left. People want more Government to protect them, nature, educate and provide for them when they get older. It's only bound to get worse over the next two decades. people are also alot more Liberal, and open minded on social issues. This is called the Progression of society. I do believe that the US will be more like Canada or Europe within one generation than it is now.
     
  6. LAR-15

    LAR-15 Member

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    To the looney left?

    Ted Kennedy must be your hero. :rolleyes:
     
  7. CAnnoneer

    CAnnoneer Member

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    When foreigners stop buying the federal debt, the leftists will have far less to leech and the nation would finally realize Uncle Sam's pockets are not bottomless.
     
  8. Justin

    Justin Moderator Emeritus

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    This is news?
     
  9. Kim

    Kim Member

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    The article leaves out the big problem. With the graying of the population there is not going to be enough people to tax. The younger generation may have another revolution. This one Conservative. Plus just how can a moral elderly population tax their children and grandchildren into poverty. All it would take is for those who work to say --------take this job and shove it. About a 2 week strike of the taxpayers would do alot of damage. I say bring it on as I will not work for the MAN. I can survive without the government hand outs. Everyone who can needs to get themeselves into the positon to do so. There is a balance to when it is not worth working more to just pay taxes. I already limit how much I work because I have no wish to pay the MAN. I have food, clothing, home, car. That is all I need. I save the rest for the rainy day ahead.
     
  10. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    Ones political philosophy can be compromised if confronted with the high costs of medical care. If the reasons for that high cost were effectively addressed, this article wouldn't have much thunder.
     
  11. BigG

    BigG Member

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    That is quite a big assumption if you ask me.
     
  12. Waitone

    Waitone Member

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    The ability to spend more than we tax is possible only because foreigners willingly line up to purchase our debt. Part of the reason is "Where else they gonna go?" line used by Bush et al. Perhaps the beginning of the end starts in March when Iran opens its own oil trading exchange which will compete directly with the US and London. Then (horrors of all horrors) if Iran demands gold back securities . . . . . <poof>
     
  13. xd9fan

    xd9fan Member

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    The another great problem with Americans is that they rule out ANY thrid party as an option. Fear of the other party winning keeps them trapped in this two party dance to the drain. Now we have two pro-Govt parties......and now the only talk is......well the GOP is slower at statism than the Left....well hiphip horray for America.:banghead:
     
  14. xd9fan

    xd9fan Member

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    The Boomers absolute refusal to hear any reform on Social Securtiy is shameful at the least. SS earned 0.86 of a percent last year. A run of the mill Bond fund can whip the pants off that return. If the elder Generation loved freedom and their childrens freedom they would do what it takes to break this slavery called SS. Give us the freedom to choose what to do with our money. Because performance results like SS, in the free market, people would be running away. But its about Govt and Govt control and the beast need to be fed. Big Assumption....I think not.

    Add up all of your SS taxes and take the Stock Market ave of 9% a year (since 1926) and calculate. And then compare to what you think you will get from SS. The saving rate and retirement worries would almost no longer be an issue!!!! But we cant have freedom because some may choose to spend thier money in Vagus and blow it all........well (^*$&&^.....Life has risks.

    sorry hot button issue for me
     
  15. Pilot

    Pilot Member

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    I totally agree. However, this ain't gonna happen as no politician really wants private accounts. If you own it, they can't steal from it for social programs and put in a worhtles I.O.U's. SS is just another tax for wealth redistribution like the article says. The U.S. will go the way of Rome and have to start all over again at some point. When will these guys realize there is no free lunch.
     
  16. BigG

    BigG Member

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    xd9fan:

    You missed my emphasis. I was commenting on the assumption that the elderly population was moral. I think the Social Security reform inertia is a disgrace, also. You are preaching to the choir, bud! ;)

    A lot of the elderly of my acquaintance damn the welfare system but are quick to line up at the trough when it's their turn. :uhoh:
     
  17. Helmetcase

    Helmetcase Member

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    Talk about drinking the koolaid. Worthless IOUs? The day that the US govt decides to not pay its T-bond and T-bill obligations is indeed the day the vandals will be at the gates. I wouldn't hold your breath. :banghead:
     
  18. DigitalWarrior

    DigitalWarrior Member

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    Instead ofrefusing to pay they can just inflate the dollar
     
  19. Justin

    Justin Moderator Emeritus

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    You are aware that social security payments taken out of your paycheck go into the general fund, where it gets spent on tanks, welfare recipients, and harrassing property owners who have a mudpuddle declared to be a wetland, right?

    Social security in one of the things that gets me hopping mad.

    Just the notion that a bunch of bloviating, vote-whoring imbeciles with the inability to stick to a budget are somehow smart enough to watch out for me in my retirement is beyond preposterous.


    The way I see it, not only is that 15.3%* of my paycheck being stolen and frittered away, they're also stealing and frittering away the compounding long-term returns I'd have made had I been allowed to invest the money as I see fit in the first place.

    That anyone who takes their money to a local investment advisor can easily beat the "return" on social security by ten times or more is just icing on the hate cake.


    *6.2% from me, 6.2% from my employer, and then a seperate payroll tax of 1.45% taken out of one's paycheck, and paid by one's employer. or, if you're self-employed, you pay the entire 15.3%.
     
  20. Waitone

    Waitone Member

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    Ding, ding, ding, ding. We have a winner.

    --We can also look forward to firing the old farts somewhere between 56 and 59 years of age.
    --Confiscation of private pension programs either through voluntary carrots or involuntary sticks. Watch the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation and how it plays out.
    --Heavily taxed or outright confiscation of private retirement funds like Keogh's or IRA, etc.
    --Raising retirement age to 72 or higher.

    Boomer retirement along with Medicare constitute the perfect fiscal storm. It is bearing down on us at high speed. Our elected officials had a small window of opportunity to begin the fix and they failed. The only solution (bad as it is) is "correction on the fly."

    Yea, I'm a cynic and proud of it.
     
  21. HankB

    HankB Member

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    Actually, about 15, maybe 20 years ago, FORTUNE magazine's Keeping Up column went into Social Security returns. They used two examples - in the first, someone who was retiring at 65 that year and had contributed the maximum amount to SS was considered. They would get "X" dollars per month in SS benefits.

    The second example was a person of the same age who'd contributed at the same rate. If he'd achieved a real rate of return of only 3%, he'd have a lump sum available that, using then-current actuarial data, would allow him to purchase a lifetime annuity paying 75% more than the maximum SS benefit. :mad:
     
  22. cuchulainn

    cuchulainn Member

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    So why isn't there more anger? There are two problems, as I see it.

    1) Our taxes are compartmentalized, so we don't usually think of the total cost to us. Each tax -- including SS -- is kept at a percentage that by itself doesn't seem all that bad. But when you add them up, it's pretty hefty -- as much as half your income, depending on where you live. But who takes the time to add it up?

    2) Many of our taxes are hidden:
    • The costs of the products/services we buy have all the taxes/fees paid at each step of the supply/production/distribution line built into them. But we don't see it that way. We just see the final price tag.
    • While not technically "hidden," automatic deductions from paychecks allow most people to remain pretty much unaware of how much they pay in SS/income taxes.
     
  23. Helmetcase

    Helmetcase Member

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    Uh...no. The SS trust fund is spent on welfare and mudpuddle's? Do explain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_Trust_Fund

    If you actually read the documents you're sent every year from SS, it clearly states that SS isn't intended, nor was it ever intended, to be your entire retirement.

    For the qualified investor, it isn't a great deal. No one debates that. But it is extremely safe and ensures that even the dopiest workers have something stowed away. Is it govt helping to save us from ourselves? Well...yeah, and I can see having a principled stand against that if you're a true conservative. But pragmatically it's not the big govt. boogieman you're making it out to be.
     
  24. cuchulainn

    cuchulainn Member

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    No, it isn't. It's the government using my money to save other people from themselves. That's the problem most people have with SS.

    I'd defy you to come up with a valid, logical explanation as to why I should be obliged -- under penalty of law -- to help pay for the retirement of complete strangers.
     
  25. spartacus2002

    spartacus2002 Member

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    There are 3 ways to pay the bill on SS:
    1. cut benefits, raise retirement age. Won't happen, because the elderly do one thing that nobody else does. Care to guess what that is? Hint: it involves ballot boxes.
    2. Raise that 6.2% tax to 20% or more. Won't happen, because that would cause blood in the streets. The politicians are scared that you'd start seeing nursing homes firebombed by youths.
    3. Inflate the hell out of the dollar. Not 1% of the population understands what that means. Voters see easy credit and ballooning incomes, not realizing they've lost purchasing power.
     
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