Tuesday, April 02, 2013
America: The Welfare State
The United States has a big problem. The rise of the welfare state has driven this country into the ground. America as we know it is going bankrupt. The main cause of this bankruptcy will be the fact that we have allowed ourselves to turn into a welfare state.
The government has failed in providing only its core functions by trying to become something it was never meant to be.
Welfare exists in many forms in this country. I am not just talking about welfare in regards to providing economic relief for low income families, although that is part of the problem.
I believe that there are 4 forms of welfare that exist within this country and they are all tearing us down. These 4 forms of welfare, of which I will go into detail on, are:
Social welfare. Corporate welfare. Political welfare. Foreign welfare.
The first one is social welfare. This is the type of welfare that most people think of when talking about welfare. Entitlement programs such as social security, medicare, medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance.
Social Security, the cornerstone of social welfare, provides government benefits mostly for retired or disabled people. The yearly budget for this one program is $781 billion. Billion!
I am not going to go into the yearly budget of each of the other programs but I will tell you that combined, these programs cost the taxpayers of America over $200 trillion!
Another way to describe the enormity of these programs is that they take up 67% of the federal budget. 67% of the annual federal budget goes toward programs that is not the federal government's core responsibility. As I have said before, it is the job of the government to protect our citizens individual liberties and to protection our citizens from invasion, not from circumstances. Social welfare, although its intentions are pure, is a failed experiment. It turns American citizens essentially into slaves to the government in that these citizens become dependent on the government to provide for them. Dependent people are easier to control thus it behooves the government to continue these programs.
It is a harsh fact but it is a fact nonetheless that the government can not and does not make a person's life better by getting too involved in people's lives.
The next form of welfare is corporate welfare. Also called corporate tax credits, this is the type of welfare given to large corporations as an incentive for various reasons. A large corporation could be given a tax incentive to keep its operations in the country instead of re-locating to a foreign nation as a way to circumvent the tax system. Or a corporation could be given a tax credit to build more factories to try and bolster employment in a particular area.
Now I'm not stranger to the fact that our tax laws need to be reformed but giving tax credits is essentially bribing or paying these corporations off to do something that is already in their best interest to do in the first place.
Corporate welfare ultimately leads to the next type of welfare that is bankrupting this country: political welfare.
Corporations that receive tax credits generally line the pocketbooks of legislators or other politicians that on board with keeping this whole scheme going. Legislators agree to keep the corporate welfare system going and in return, these corporations contribute heavily to the war chests of these legislators. With these contributions, these legislators continue to get re-elected and perpetuate the scheme indefinitely.
This is not the only type of political welfare however. Think of the vast amounts of money that are paid out of the Treasury in political pensions.
Here is how this travesty works. A person runs for congressional office and wins. They serve only one term after being voted out by the people. That person, because they held a federal office for only 2 years, is paid at least $40,000 a year for the rest of their life.
And that's only for a Congressman. For a former President, it is even worse. Once out of office, a President receives a financial pension of almost $200,000 a year. For life! Additionally, the taxpayers have to provide for that President and his family, Secret Service protection for 10 years after they have left office (up until 1997 that service was provided for life). Our taxes also provide for the reimbursement of his staff, travel expenses, and office expenses. For a President that is no longer in office! Keep in mind these Presidents spend most of their remaining years on the lecture circuit usually raising at least $1 million per appearance. This does not include whatever money they make off of book sales. Believe me, former Presidents are not broke by any stretch of the imagination.
I could also go into the money legislators and other politicians make from lobbying firms. Much like the corporations fund the war chests of legislators, lobbying firms do the same for legislators by convincing them to serve the best interests of whatever client the lobbying firm is representing, rather than serving the real interests of the citizens these legislators represent. I'm not really going to get into that here though because that isn't necessarily what could be included in the political welfare category although it could definitely be considered as such if you dig deeper into how all that works.
The last form of welfare is foreign welfare. This is just another way of simplifying the act of sending funds to foreign nations. This is something that has gone on way too long and needs to stop.
We are a country on the verge of bankruptcy. Tours of the White House have been shut down due to the looming economic disaster and yet, we continue to send money overseas. This is preposterous.
Not only do we physically send financial "aid" to foreign nations, we have hundreds and hundreds of military bases located in foreign nations. One of the direct results of this is that our American military personnel live in these areas and spend their money in these local communities, thus contributing positively on that local area's economy, instead of our own.
Looking back a few years in world history, the United States provided assistance to a group of people in the form of money, military advisement, and munitions (guns, rockets, ammunition, etc.) to assist them in fending off foreign invaders. Years later, we ended up having to fight this same group of people.
This has happened time and time again in our country's history. So who in our country benefits from this type of foreign welfare? Who benefits from this type of behavior at the taxpayers expense? Other than the corporations that design and manufacture guns and airplanes and helicopters and rockets and ammunition, nobody! Well, nobody except the legislators that get kickbacks from these companies.
The United States leads the world in foreign aid. We spend almost $40 billion every year in foreign assistance and that number is scheduled to rise to almost $60 billion in 2013.
Want to know where that money is going? Here's a breakdown of where most of it is going (these are 2010 numbers by the way):
Afghanistan - $4.6 billion
Pakistan - $1.9 billion
Russia - $379 million
Haiti - $1.4 billion
Mexico - $622 million (not including the millions we provide in social welfare for their citizens that come to our country illegally)
Iraq - $1.082 billion
West Bank/Gaza - $693 million
Israel is a completely different animal altogether. Depending on what report you look at and what exactly is considered foreign aid, that number usually ranges anywhere from $3 billion per year to $16 billion per year. And even those numbers could be greatly under exaggerated because much of the country's military aid has been deemed classified so we may never know the real numbers.
So when I call the United States a welfare state, understand I'm not just talking about the how badly the budget is bloated for social programs such as food stamps and medicaid. I'm talking about the vast amounts of money that the taxpayers provide in these other areas.
The social welfare system, at the very least, needs to be reformed. Corruption and abuse is rampant in the system and rather than trying to find ways to get people off government assistance, legislators and other politicians would rather find ways to perpetuate the system. The more people on government assistance of some sort, the more people they can control. The more people they can control, the longer they can hold onto their power.
The corporate welfare system needs to be completely done away with in its entirety. If a company chooses to relocate to another country, for instance, they should be ready to deal with the repercussions of that decision. If a company chooses not to expand their business without the promise of tax incentives, that company will deal with the consequences of becoming a stagnant business.
Political welfare is something that is completely outdated. A one-term Congressman has no business continuing to take money away from the taxpayers. Find a real job! Contribute to society somehow rather than sponging off your time as an elected official. Serving your time as a legislator is a civic duty. You are serving your country and the people you represent. Not yourself and not your own financial well-being. Same with Presidents. As I stated earlier, they make enough off the lecture circuit and book deals. They do not need to be sponging off the taxpayers the rest of their lives.
Foreign welfare can easily be done away with and it is certainly past time to eliminate it altogether.
The United States is a welfare state in the worst way and it needs to change, lest we become a thing of the past.
This republic cannot stand if it is bankrupt.