Thursday, August 16, 2012

Entitlements and "Fair share"

I really wanted to wait until after Labor Day to write any political thoughts, but events don’t seem to want to cooperate with me.  After the letter from CMS, the one mentioned in the last post, explained to me that my Medicare claims were now being evaluated by a ‘local committee,’  I’m just plain getting too worked up not to give my thoughts about things I really know nothing about, except I do know those things play a major part in my life. 

Let me call your attention to the About Me over there on the right.  It points out that my thoughts are usually unsubstantiated although most of them probably could be supported in I weren’t three quarters of a century old and willing to do some simple Google searches.

The Federal Government now includes Social Security benefits and Medicare in the list of entitlements.  Entitlements, according to politicians looking for a scapegoat for their own fumbling and bumbling of the economy, are major reasons why this country is going broke.  After all, entitlements provide money to the population by the government.

I don’t accept SS and Medicare benefits as being “entitlements” to those of us who are now over the age of eligibility.  Neither Social Security payments nor Medicare healthcare coverage is simply given to me by the government.  You and I have paid for them.  We have had taken from us, by law, a certain portion of our paychecks every year since we first held employment to provide for these last years.  Our employers have also contributed to our future through the years.

Many of us have also paid into other retirement type accounts knowing that SS probably wouldn’t cover it all.  Those accounts, however, aren’t the subject of these thoughts.

When Social Security was first established, as I understand it, workers were contributing to a fund.  As people retired, they began drawing earned income from that fund depending on several factors, such as longevity and amount of contribution.  When it was explained to American back then, and I was simply too young to have any clue or interest in this Social Security thing then, the contributions by just about every working person would pay for the distributions to retirees.  Americans at the time were told, enough was taken from each paycheck to last for a very long time, probably forever.

But the government greed took over.  That fund was so secure, the Feds began taking from it to pay for other things.  It was the government that changed the rules, not you and I.  Let me toss in here this important ingredient:  This change took place long before the election of President Obama so I’m not blaming the SS financial trouble on him.  The raiding of funds was truly something he inherited.  However, his policies have not helped but have added to the problem.

Now Social Security is in danger of running out of money, not because we haven’t continued to contribute but rather because of government’s raiding.  However, it is we who must now sacrifice even more to pay for it.  One way to force us into that situation was accomplished when the government began calling SS an “entitlement.”  Now it can literally do whatever it pleases with our money.

But, it is not an entitlement even though mandated by law.  We retirees have already paid for it.  For those of you who will say we’re receiving more than we paid in, if the government had handled those funds properly and not only kept them dedicated but had invested them in low risk stocks and bonds, there would still be no problem.  No, the government chose instead to take it from us and blame us.

I won’t even go into the fact that that SS payments are made to a whole bunch of people, you know who they are, that have not even paid into Social Security.  For them and for many others who are collecting for other than retirement reasons, perhaps Social Security is indeed an entitlement created by the government.

The Medicare problem is slightly different, but it’s still not an entitlement even though when I turned 65 I had no options but to join it.  I still have to pay a monthly premium for this insurance which covers some of my medical expenses, but I also have to pay a premium for a supplement plan to help with some of the expenses Medicare doesn’t pay.  And now that I’m 75, those payments will be even less as I now have a “local committee” to determine if my care is necessary or not.  I’ll bet a lot more will be the latter.  After all, didn’t our President once say that we seniors probably should just consider taking a pill?

I’ve also already received a letter from my supplemental insurance company recommending their prescription choices might be better than the ones prescribed by my physician.  Of course their recommendations are less expensive.

No matter how the government tries to spin it, neither Social Security nor Medicare is an entitlement.  I have paid for both.  I’ll concede my insurance payments may not cover all that has been paid out for healthcare, but no insurance policy does. 

Finally for this time around, I have a question for the Democratic candidates and the Dems.  Just how much is “fair share?”  The so-called rich (the top 5% of all taxpayers) already pay about 95% of all taxes while all the rest pay about 5%.  I even found one source that said 49% of our population pays no taxes at all.  By the way, all my references to taxes here are for the income tax only.  So again, I ask, just how much is “fair share?”  If everyone did indeed pay their share, everyone could see lower taxes, except, of course, those who currently pay nothing.

The only possible way for everyone to pay fair share is for everyone to have to pay the same percentage of their income for taxes.    I’d bet there’d be one mighty uproar if the concept of “fair share” were truly adopted.


No comments: