Finding Our Way Back to What Made America Great

Finding Our Way Back to What Made America Great

© David Burton 2013

The lure of entitlements

     Today’s America is mired in a swamp of government paralysis, failed politics, impending economic disaster and a citizenry that is increasingly demonstrating a lack of self-reliance, a lack personal responsibility and an old-fashioned American work ethic.


     Federal spending is out of control. America is drowning in debt. This country cannot continue to spend a trillion dollars a year more than it takes in.

     “Federal entitlements are driving this spending growth, having increased from less than half of total federal outlays just 20 years ago to nearly 62 percent in 2012. Three major programs—Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—dominate in size and growth, soaking up about 44 percent of the budget. All three programs are growing faster than inflation, and—when joined with $1.7 trillion in new Obamacare spending—will drain about 18.5 percent of the nation’s total economic output by mid-century. Because that is about the historical annual average of total federal tax revenue, it means all other government programs—national defense, veterans’ health care, transportation, federal law enforcement, and others—would effectively have to be financed on borrowed money.
     “Other entitlements continue growing as well. Anti-poverty programs have surged by 49 percent in just the past decade, even after adjusting for inflation. Spending for food stamps alone has more than tripled since 2002. Health programs, including Medicaid, have increased by 38 percent, and housing assistance by 48 percent.
     “Although these entitlement programs have dominated the government’s spending growth, discretionary spending—spending authorized by annual appropriations bills—also has grown by 40 percent more than inflation, to $1.289 trillion. Spending on non-defense programs has grown 29 percent. These outlays peaked in 2010 due to the stimulus bill, but remain 7 percent higher than their pre-stimulus level of 2008.
     “The result of this increasing deficit spending—which is financed by borrowing—is growing debt. If current policies continue, debt held by the public will approach 90 percent of total economic output by 2022, and will be twice the size of the entire economy 25 years from now. (Ref. 1)

     “What is monumentally new about the American state today is the vast empire of entitlement payments that it protects, manages and finances. Within living memory, the federal government has become an entitlements machine. As a day-to-day operation, it devotes more attention and resources to the public transfer of money, goods and services to individual citizens than to any other objective, spending more than for all other ends combined. [Emphasis mine]
     “The growth of entitlement payments over the past half-century has been breathtaking. In 1960, U.S. government transfers to individuals totaled about $24 billion in current dollars, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. By 2010 that total was almost 100 times as large. Even after adjusting for inflation and population growth, entitlement transfers to individuals have grown 727% over the past half-century, rising at an average rate of about 4% a year.
     “In 2010 alone, government at all levels oversaw a transfer of over $2.2 trillion in money, goods and services. The burden of these entitlements came to slightly more than $7,200 for every person in America. Scaled against a notional family of four, the average entitlements burden for that year alone approached $29,000.” (Ref. 2)

     A Pew Research Center survey conducted Nov. 28-Dec.5 2012 found that “55% of Americans have received government benefits from at least one of the six best-known federal entitlement programs. [Emphasis mine] (In addition to Social Security and Medicare, they are unemployment benefits, food stamps, Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, commonly referred to as ‘welfare.’ Of the major programs, unemployment benefits and Social Security are the most used.)” (Ref. 3) This is astounding! These are statistics that we would expect to find in moribund communist and socialist economies – not in what once was a vibrant capitalist nation like the U.S. Indeed, the stagnant economy and high unemployment rate of recent years are symptomatic of these statistics.

Just the facts, ma’am

     Over the past 20 years, federal spending grew 71 percent faster than inflation.
     Entitlement spending more than doubled over the past 20 years, growing by 110 percent (after adjusting for inflation). Discretionary spending grew by 60 percent.
     Deficits have pushed up the debt each year since 2002 as federal spending exceeded revenue. Fiscal year 2012 marked the fourth consecutive year of $1 trillion deficits.

     All of this has been before Obamacare, which kicks in in 2014.

     Obamacare will spend $1.7 trillion (over 10 years) on its coverage expansion provisions alone, including a massive expansion of Medicaid and federal subsidies for the new health insurance exchanges.
     Debt held by the public surged from 33.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2002 to 73 percent in 2012.
     In 1993, Social Security surpassed national defense as the largest federal spending category, and remains first today.
     Interest on the debt is the fifth largest federal spending category.
     In 1962, defense spending was nearly half the total federal budget (49 percent); Social Security and other mandatory programs were less than one-third of the budget (31 percent). Two major entitlement programs, Medicaid and Medicare, were signed into law by President Johnson in 1965.
     In 2012 entitlements were nearly 62 percent of total spending, while defense dropped to less than one-fifth (18.7 percent) of the budget.
     Today, 69% of the federal budget goes to entitlements!

     Spending on the largest entitlements, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, will leap from 10.4 percent of GDP in 2012 to 18.2 percent by 2048.
     The big three entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) alone will absorb all tax revenues by 2048. Other spending, such as national defense or interest on the debt would have to be financed completely on borrowed money.

     Some more unpleasant facts that we as a nation must face up to are the following:

     Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid already cost $1.6 trillion per year. - - - In 2010, an estimated 49% of households received benefits from these three entitlement programs or other federal and state government assistance. - - - Entitlement programs are a main driver of federal deficits. - - Medicare’s annual cash shortfall in 2011 was $288 billion. The program is responsible for more than 25% of all federal debt since 2000. - - - Social Security had a cash flow deficit of $58 billion in 2012. - - - In 10 years’ time, the total price for these programs will soar to an astounding $3 trillion a year. - - - During the next 17 years, 77 million workers will retire—that’s 10,000 people a day. Thirty-six million Americans are already retired. - - - Social Security and Medicare as currently structured and financed can’t come close to meeting the demand. - - - Not a single major entitlement program is projected to be financially solvent 20 years from now. - - - The trust fund for the Social Security Disability Insurance program will be exhausted in just three years. - - - The trust fund for Medicare Part A, which pays for hospital services, will go bankrupt in 13 years. - - -Social Security will be unable to pay full benefits beginning in 2033. - - - The cost to make these programs financially solvent for the next 75 years is almost $40 trillion. Paying such a price would bankrupt the country, cripple our economy. - - - Mandatory spending—entitlement programs and interest on the debt—are already squeezing out important investments in other essential programs. Mandatory spending already exceeds all federal income tax revenues collected. We have to borrow money and increase debt to pay for everything else. - - - The biggest threat imaginable to Medicare and Social Security as we know them will be if we do nothing at all. - - - To do nothing will set into motion the most harsh, extreme, and burdensome entitlement changes of them all—the massive benefit cuts and tax hikes that would have to be imposed when the programs’ funding just flat runs out. - - - The challenge for political leaders, stakeholders, and citizens is to settle on the right menu of options and to find the right mix of adjustments on payouts and pay-ins.[4]


     “A new report from the Census Bureau showed a total of 108,592,000 people were on some sort of means-tested government benefits program in the fourth quarter of 2011, yet only 101,716,000 people were employed full-time for the entire year.” (Ref. 5) This means that more people are receiving some form of government entitlement than are working! America cannot continue to function this way!

     “The history of the rise and fall of powerful nations offers a lesson that Americans today must not ignore: Great powers are rarely brought down by outside adversaries; they destroy themselves from within. Very often, they do it by falling victim to economic imbalances and the decay of once-vibrant governing institutions that prove unable to adapt to changing circumstances. [Emphasis mine]
     “The pattern has repeated itself with remarkable regularity. In examples as disparate as the demise of the Roman Empire, the decline of imperial Spain, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and Britain's loss of global power, we find a common story: As political institutions fail to keep up with economic changes, elites respond by concentrating political power, increasing public spending, and eventually taking on an unbearable burden of debt that brings down the entire system. [Emphasis mine] If America's global economic power comes to an end in our lifetime, it will surely result from a loss of fiscal balance that forces the nation down this well-worn path. The subtle signals we have already received — a minor credit warning from Moody's, acrimonious political fights over the debt ceiling — confirm that trouble is coming.
     “Indeed, it is now perfectly clear that our political system is struggling to contend with an economic and fiscal reality for which it was not designed. That reality is above all a function of our ballooning entitlements and of the peculiar political incentives and forces that have grown up around those entitlements. The structure and rules of our politics create a situation in which it is in the interest of both major parties to let these problems get worse rather than to take the steps required to address them. [Emphasis mine]
     "This is a depressing fact, but it also suggests the shape of a solution. If we are to prevent the entitlement state from leading us into a fiscal catastrophe, we will need to change the rules of our fiscal politics — especially the rules of federal budgeting.


     “America today faces a financial imbalance that threatens our economic strength and position of global leadership. At its core, the threat is a function of a breakdown in long-term fiscal discipline. Under President Obama, the budget deficit has grown to more than $1 trillion every year, with more than $3 trillion in expenditures funded by about $2 trillion in tax revenues and the remainder by debt. [Emphasis mine] That deficit now amounts to more than 7% of our annual gross domestic product, and the consensus is that such spending is not sustainable. [Emphasis mine] Indeed, the only reason the United States has gotten away with funding a runaway national debt at relatively low interest rates is that some key competitors, especially in Europe, are in even greater fiscal trouble.
     “While this problem has drawn much public attention over the past four years, it has been far longer in the making. To be sure, the Obama administration has worsened the nation's fiscal situation. But the country faces longer-term structural budget problems that have been growing for decades — problems that our federal budget process has simply failed to address.
     “Politicians like to focus on federal discretionary spending when they talk about those budget troubles, because discretionary spending presents some relatively easy targets for cutting. Many on the right argue that reducing foreign aid or subsidies to public broadcasting will meaningfully help our budget situation; many on the left claim that cutting tax breaks to corporations or slashing the defense budget can save us. But they are all wrong. The growth in our debt is not being driven by these comparatively small programs.
     “What we are facing is an entitlement crisis. It has been growing for decades, and it is reaching a truly catastrophic scale. [Emphasis mine] Consider that four decades ago, in 1973, the federal government spent 17.6% of the nation's GDP. Of that amount, 3.7% of GDP went to Social Security spending, 1.1% was for health-entitlement spending (Medicare and Medicaid), and 9.9% was discretionary spending (including defense), according to the Congressional Budget Office. In contrast, the federal government in 2013 is projected to spend 21% of the nation's GDP, not counting interest. Of that spending, 5.1% of GDP will go to Social Security, 5.6% will be health-entitlement spending, and 7.8% will be discretionary spending. This means that, as a percentage of the economy, federal discretionary spending has actually declined over the past 40 years while entitlement spending (especially health-entitlement spending) has increased dramatically. And the CBO projects that this pattern will continue in the coming decades. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “Recent years have seen several proposals to close the fiscal gap. - - - Many of these proposals would likely have addressed the basic problem, but none of them has been enacted. This should suggest that the problem is not that we lack a plan with just the right mix of policies, but rather that we lack a process by which a viable solution could actually become law. Put simply, our runaway budget deficits are not a math problem. They are fundamentally a political problem. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “But there is one big thing {our government has proven that} it cannot do: It cannot govern the entitlement state. [Emphasis mine] A system that worked well for two centuries is now failing precisely because it is being asked to run a fundamentally different type of government — one that exists largely to provide material benefits to individuals. This is where the source of our dilemma lies, and it is where any new budget rules must be focused.


     “The unprecedented nature of the problem confronting policymakers is readily illustrated by a look at America's debt. . . . Until about the 1970s, our debt spiked only during wartime (and the grave economic catastrophe of the Great Depression) and tended to decline or to hover at very low rates in peacetime. The spikes {in debt} conform . . . to the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the two world wars, with an additional spike {in debt} in the early 1930s resulting from government spending to combat the Depression.
     “But the {debt} spike in borrowing and debt that began in the 1970s and persists to this day is not explainable with reference to any external shock or economic calamity. It has continued almost unabated through good economic times and bad. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it will continue to grow far worse in the coming years — eclipsing even the enormous debt spike during the Second World War.
     “What is the crisis that explains this extended period of intense borrowing? It is the crisis of the welfare state. [Emphasis mine] In the United States, the introduction of Medicare in 1965 and structural reforms to Social Security in 1972 bound the federal government to significant expenditures extending into the distant future, beyond the horizon of political consequences. This created the political dynamic that has enabled unprecedented spending — yielding a four-decade period of growing fiscal imbalance that is now becoming truly disastrous.
     “The catastrophe has been building slowly. When Social Security was signed into law early in Franklin Roosevelt's presidency, it was a modest program to fight destitution among the elderly, and it worked. No longer do we see many senior citizens who are homeless on the streets. And the income supplement was relatively small: The first monthly payment, to retiree Ida Fuller in 1940, was in the amount of $22.54.
     “Today, however, Social Security is a major retirement pension, with average payouts of more than $1,200 per beneficiary per month. Demographics are driving the system toward bankruptcy. More than 50 million people, one-sixth of the population, receive Social Security checks. This number is much larger than the system's designers anticipated, and the increasing longevity of retirees is accelerating the program's fiscal decline. Moreover, roughly one-fifth of recipients are not even retirees: They qualify under Social Security's disability benefit, which has grown far more dramatically than trends in observed workplace disability. [Emphasis mine]
     “The fiscal consequences of these trends are dire. Social Security's trustees reported in 2012 that the so-called ‘trust funds’ through which the program is financed — basically accounting conventions that theoretically set aside payroll-tax dollars for Social Security while actually spending the money on other programs — will be empty in 2033.
     “The structural problems are even deeper for Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare provides health insurance for roughly 50 million Americans, mostly over the age of 65. Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that offers similar insurance to low-income people and now supports more than 60 million beneficiaries. Unlike Social Security — which simply transfers cash from the young to the old — {Medicare and Medicaid} provide a service that is itself getting more expensive, in no small part because of these ill-designed entitlement structures. Both programs displace private health insurance; they also generate perverse incentives within the insurance market by shielding consumers from costs and providers from real prices. Medicare recipients can demand substantial medical care without ever having to pay the bills, leading to overconsumption and needlessly rising demand for care. [Emphasis mine] That explains the spiraling costs, but it's not the entire story. As the late Milton Friedman explained in 2001, this dynamic also hurts patients by elevating the bureaucracy over doctors in the course of rationing care. [Emphasis mine]
     “What these three programs together illustrate is a failure by policy-makers to think ahead. Over the decades, elected officials promised increased future benefits to reap immediate political payoffs. The real costs of these entitlements were placed safely beyond the politicians' career horizons; even today, lawmakers who seek to reform the entitlement state face severe political consequences. The bill for this reckless, unsustainable behavior is coming due, and yet the political incentives all still encourage policymakers to abide a perfectly avoidable fiscal catastrophe. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “American politics today is presented with a . . . dilemma. There are two paths toward reducing deficits and debts of the magnitude we face: raising taxes or cutting spending. A balanced compromise would involve some amount of both, but the two political parties face strong electoral incentives to do neither. If Republicans push for reduced spending, they are criticized for taking away the benefits people rely on. If Democrats push for raising taxes, they are decried for swiping workers' hard-earned dollars. Both solutions are seen as taking money away from voters, and are thus fraught with political peril.
     “Consider the matrix above, in which both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have two policy choices. Republicans always promise lower taxes, so their choice is whether to cut or maintain spending levels. Democrats, in contrast, want to keep spending high, so their choice is whether to raise taxes or keep them low.
     “A close look at the matrix shows that it is politically rational for the Republicans to maintain today's unsustainable levels of spending when faced with either behavior from Democrats. And, campaign rhetoric aside, that is what they tend to do. Republicans have learned that whenever they actually legislate spending cuts, they are attacked by their opponents and tend to lose elections. They are not keen to do the fiscally responsible thing when the price is giving up power.
     “Likewise, whether Republicans cut or maintain spending, Democrats are politically better off if they allow taxes to stay low. This explains why, despite President Obama's rhetoric about raising taxes, he and other Democrats have generally refrained from actually doing so, especially at the levels needed to pay for their spending. - - -
     “To be sure, politicians in both parties make noises about good economic choices (from their perspectives) that balance the budget, but their actual behavior is what matters. President George W. Bush oversaw the expansion of spending on entitlements, as well as on defense, education, and other discretionary programs. President Obama serially preserved Bush's tax cuts. Politicians know what is best for the country in the long term, but they have no easy way to change their behavior now during a period of polarization in which the institutions and incentives are set up for imbalance.
     This amounts to an institutional failure. For most of the nation's history, the rules of the budget game worked. Today, however, they no longer function. Politically rational behavior is now fiscally perverse. [Emphasis mine] Addressing this institutional failure thus requires changing the rules of the game. The only remedy to {the} dilemma, therefore, is to change those rules so that they in fact rule out structural fiscal imbalance — by imposing painful penalties on lawmakers for failing to budget responsibly. [Emphasis mine]


     “Ultimately, implementing reforms to address our self-destructive fiscal habits will require Americans — and their representatives in both parties — to . . . agree to change the rules. This means that those new rules cannot be divisive: They cannot prescribe a particular policy of spending or tax changes as a remedy and expect that one-sided fix to be enough. Rather, they must focus on developing a budget process that is politically viable and that brings the country toward a lower and more stable debt-to-GDP ratio. Both Congress and the president will face greater disincentives to continue the fiscal imbalance if its true costs are made more visible and its consequences are made more immediately onerous. - - -
    ”Four kinds of rule changes would advance this cause. First, Congress should change the rules that define how taxes and expenditures are ‘scored’ for budgeting purposes by the Congressional Budget Office. Today, fiscal changes are modeled by CBO in static terms with no consideration of the effects of different policies on economic output. For instance, in providing Congress with an official estimate of the effects of a tax cut or increase, CBO does not try to estimate how the change would influence people's willingness to work long hours, and therefore influence their earnings potential. In another example, the extension of unemployment insurance to 99 weeks — adopted in stages over the past few years — is acknowledged by most economists to have caused higher unemployment rates. [Emphasis mine] And yet these kinds of dynamic behavioral effects are not considered in CBO's macroeconomic modeling.
     “CBO should thus be required to offer estimates of dynamic effects using broadly accepted economics methods — whether as part of its standard scoring of legislation, or appended to such scores as additional budget scenarios. Moreover, the agency's semi-annual economic and budget projections should be required to include forecasts over long horizons. Today's artificial five- or ten-year horizons are easily manipulated by legislators eager to hide the costs of legislation in the more distant future; a budget window of several decades would allow for much more honest estimates. And CBO reports should include an accounting of entitlement programs' expected future liabilities and annual changes in accrued liabilities, not just current costs. That is, when costs or numbers of beneficiaries are expected to rise down the road, such changes should be acknowledged and accounted for now. [Emphasis mine] As things are arranged today, Congress can feign ignorance when, year after year, the Social Security trustees issue their annual report announcing that the program is more costly than they had expected in the previous year's projection.
     “Second, Congress should fundamentally reform its budget process. For one thing, the budget passed by Congress each year should be an actual piece of legislation — not just a resolution — so that the president has to sign or veto it. If that change were implemented, the president would have to engage the details of the budget process seriously, rather than put on the irresponsible charade that now passes for an administration budget proposal. [Emphasis mine] The budgets proposed by the Obama administration in recent years, for example, have garnered zero votes in the Senate.
     “Congress could also give real teeth to efforts to slow the growth of spending by changing the so-called ‘baseline rule’ that automatically adjusts the starting point of the next budget cycle to reflect expected future increases in cost. The rule is effectively an automatic spending increase each year to keep up with inflation, population growth, and other variables. Eliminating baseline budgeting and instead writing a new budget from scratch each year would mean that all increases in discretionary spending would have to be scored as such, raising the visibility of spending increases to the public. It would also be wise to put all types of spending — mandatory ‘entitlements’ as well as discretionary outlays — on equal footing and subject to an annual constraint, so that entitlements could no longer continue to grow automatically. [Emphasis mine]
     “Third, Congress should formally set long-term targets for a well-defined debt-to-GDP ratio that includes both the explicit debt and the implicit liabilities in our entitlement programs. [Emphasis mine] Explicit debts are those associated with outstanding government securities — money the government has actually borrowed in the open market. Implicit liabilities are, for the most part, future promises to pay Social Security and Medicare benefits minus expected future payroll taxes. For example, Americans apparently have the bad habit of living longer than the architects of Social Security expected. According to the program's trustees, changing demographics are the dominant reason why the Social Security trust funds were estimated in 2012 to be exhausted three years earlier than had been estimated in 2011. Failure to achieve newly established debt-to-GDP targets (with exceptions for serious economic downturns or major wars) would require congressional action — automatic pay cuts for federal workers, say, or across-the-board sequestration. - - -
     “Finally, we should change the basic rules of the budgetary game to leave no room for entitlements to balloon while Congress stands by. [Emphasis mine] One way to do so is through the passage of a realistic balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. - - -


     “- - - we can see where continued fiscal imbalance will ultimately lead. All great nations fall. And as economic historian Douglass North reminds us, they almost always fall when political institutions reveal their ‘inherent instability.’
     “But history also shows us that adaptation is possible. Decline can be averted, at least for a time, by leaders who are able to see their way out of the trap of imbalance —
     “We are in such a trap today. Everybody knows that our current fiscal practices are unsustainable. The question is whether our leaders will figure out in time just how we can escape that trap by rebalancing the rules of how we budget, tax, and spend. (Ref. 6)

Lack of Responsibility

     “The United States deals with thousands of problems every year — everything from international issues such as the war on terror and global security to domestic issues like illegal immigration and social programs are issues that our Legislature confronts daily. But America's biggest problem today is the lack of personal responsibility [Emphasis mine] . . . . America has become a {litigation}-happy society where people are not accountable for their actions. We continually blame everything but ourselves for our problems. This is a disturbing trend for Americans whose nation was originally founded on ideals of rugged individualism. American obesity is a prime example of this lack of personal responsibility. In 2005, the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act was passed by the House but not by the Senate. This bill would have been a step in the right direction, as it would have barred people from filing lawsuits against the fast food industry for reasons related to obesity or the health complications that go along with it. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the San Francisco Chronicle, ‘The notion that a food seller should be held responsible for an individual's food consumption is absurd.’ Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way. It has gotten to the point that if fast food restaurants don't chase away their customers, then customers can sue. Never mind that people's unwillingness to exercise plays a major role or the fact that they know fast food is fattening before they eat it. No one is forcing anyone to eat or do anything that would cause obesity. It's your choice and your responsibility to take care of your body and no one else's. Yet people such as Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-Washington, D.C., stated in the Washington Post, ‘We're talking about a public health problem for which our government has not taken responsibility.’ And why should they? Uncle Sam is not forcing anyone to eat at McDonald's every day. This is just part of an overall disturbing trend in the United States, and this lack of responsibility and accountability is not limited to American obesity. The same attitude is stretching into all walks of society. The attitude has become: If you steal, it is because of socioeconomic forces. If you become a mother when you're 15, it's because you didn't receive a good enough sex education. If you murder someone, as we witnessed immediately following the Virginia Tech tragedy, it's because of race or easy gun access, violent movies, violent video games or bullies who picked on you too much on the playground. It's never just that person's fault. People now look at wrongdoers as victims of their society. This is true at every level of society, from major felonies all the way down to youth baseball. If Johnny didn't make the team, it's because the coach is on a personal vendetta to squash his baseball career, not because Johnny is simply not good at baseball. If you start smoking cigarettes or doing drugs, it's because of peer pressure and societal forces — nothing you did. When students do poorly in class, it's because they're not the teacher's pet and the teacher hates them, not because they didn't study hard enough or that they're poor students.” (Ref. 7)

     We all pay, and we pay very dearly, for many of the one-parent families in this country. Our welfare rolls are overburdened with dysfunctional families with fathers that take no responsibility for the children they produce or with promiscuous mothers who breed fatherless children and live off the largesse of our government. Unfortunately, our government really has no money of its own. The money it hands out is taken from you and me. In my case, I’m hard-hearted enough to state that I don’t want to pay for the upbringing of a child because his father won’t take responsibility for the offspring he produces. I am also mean enough to not want to pay for the children of a woman who brings children into the world without caring about establishing a family to support them. I am mean enough to want these poor excuses for mothers and fathers to be forced to work and contribute toward the support of their offspring. If we need to bring back chain gangs to accomplish this, then so be it. I don’t want a penny of my money to go toward supporting these leeches.

     Here are two worst-case examples of what I am talking about. One is Desmond Hatchett, a 33-year-old in 2012, who impregnated 11 separate women and fathered 30 children. “Nine of these children were born since 2009, according to newspaper reports.” (Ref. 7) He achieved some notoriety because of his inability to provide child support to these children and the females in their lives. Estimates in news stories indicated that some of these children were receiving as little as $1.49 per month as his contribution to their "support." Throwing debtors in prison until they paid off their debts went out of fashion long ago for many reasons, the most obvious being the inability to earn enough money to pay off large debts. In the case of Desmond Hatchett, I would favor incarceration as punishment for his actions, as a lesson to others of the consequences of this type of behavior and to keep him from fathering more children with other women.

     The second example is Angel Adams, a 39-year-old Tampa, Fla., woman reported to be pregnant with her 16th child. Her 15 children are the products of liaisons with three different men. . . . Adams has been an ongoing story beginning in 2008 after falling behind in payments to the Tampa Housing Authority to the tune of $6,000 and more than 30 court hearings to deal with her children who were not adequately fed, clothed or housed until others intervened. . . . {According to Adams,} “Somebody needs to pay for all my children!”[7 ] Guess who that somebody is – you and I! Why are her children still with her? Why hasn’t she been sterilized and locked up? Paying for her innocent children is one thing - giving her your money and my money to support her life style is something else.

     “We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
         --- Ronald Reagan

     “America has devolved into a nation of finger pointers and blame givers, a country in which people no longer expect to be held accountable for their actions. Worse yet, we have become a nation of entitled Americans, people who, rather than taking personal responsibility for their lives, expect the government to take care of them.
     “In his book Liberty and Tyranny, Mark Levin says this about government entitlements: ‘If the Statist were to devise a scheme whereby a grandparent would be stealing future earnings from his own grandchild, would the grandparent consent to such immoral behavior? Yet entitlement programs tend to be intergenerational swindles that threaten the well-being of future generations with massive financial obligations incurred from benefits received by today’s generation.’
     “Levin has put his finger on the real problem with government bailouts, handouts, and entitlements. It is not just that they are crippling the American economy — which they are — but that they are crippling individual Americans by robbing them of any sense of self-reliance and personal responsibility — two key ingredients in the traditional American work ethic. People who come to depend on government entitlements are saying that it is acceptable to expect someone else to pay for their needs rather than taking personal responsibility for them. This is nothing more than legalized theft, and the government is the thief.
     “Entitled people tend to . . . eventually see themselves as permanent victims who deserve to be taken care of by others in the form of government entitlements for which they are neither appreciative nor thankful.” (Ref. 8) Entitled people have lost their sense of personal responsibility and replaced it with a sense of entitlement.

     “. . . many people believe that over the past three decades a dangerous anti-ethos has arisen: the idea that the individual American is not responsible for his or her own fate. From the point of view of these observers, too many individuals have come to see themselves as victims rather than as agents, to feel sorry for themselves instead of working to pick themselves up -- a mentality that government assistance programs helped to spawn and now continue to reinforce. With the expansion of government has come a feeling of entitlement and an emphasis on rights over responsibilities. The creed of personal accountability so important to the American ethos has withered, and with that has come a rise in welfare, illegitimacy, crime, and other social pathologies -- the price the society has paid for the abandonment of character." (Ref. 9)

     Another example of what’s gone haywire with the Liberal brand of entitlements for all occurred in Massachusetts in August of 2013. An immigrant from Haiti was stopped for a traffic violation where it was discovered that she was drunk and had three EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards in her possession, only one of which was in her name. The EBT card is a successor to America’s food stamp program. Food stamps were found to be too demeaning for America’s Liberals and were replaced by EBT cards which are similar to debit cards.

     When stopped, our intoxicated Haitian immigrant cursed the police officer, accused him of racial profiling, and threatened to put a voodoo curse on him. “Every sentence from her lips is an incantation straight from the ‘culture of Dependency’ spell book.
     “Forget about the three EBT cards and the racial slurs and voodoo curses for a moment and think about how amazing this is: A woman from a different country, with a different language spends just a few years in the United States – and she already speaks fluent ‘entitlement’ like a native.
     “That doesn’t happen by accident.
      - - -
     “- - - The sense of entitlement has no limit.
     “And why should it? {Massachusetts} Gov. Deval Patrick insists that able-bodied people living off the dole should net feel embarrassed about it. President Obama has even experimented with a program in which H&R Block would determine if you were eligible for food stamps and, if so, send in the paper work putting you on the program without even asking you.
     “{As our Haitian Voodoo Queen aptly put it,} ‘people who work for a living {are} dumb [expletives]’
     “She’s got a good point. Why work for your food . . . when the EBT cards just keep arriving?
     “Since Obama took office, spending on food stamps has risen 100 percent – despite years of ‘recovery’. But when Republicans proposed cutting food stamps by 5 percent and adding a work requirement just for single, able-bodied adults, Democrats were outraged.
      - - -
     “And how fascinating that this immigrant knew to immediately play the race card.
     “Even this relative newcomer knew to channel the spirits of Al and Jesse once the cops arrived.” (Ref. 10)

     Our Haitian immigrant learned early on how to scam the system and is “just as embedded in America’s entitlement culture as a fifth-generation welfare mom.”[ 10]

     There was a time in America when people borrowed money only in dire emergencies. When they borrowed money, they borrowed only what they needed. And, except in very rare cases, they paid back what they borrowed. How different today. Take out a mortgage you can’t afford? No problem – the government will bail you out. Once, it was an embarrassment to borrow money and a shame if you couldn’t pay back the loan. Today, if you borrow money and get the government to fulfill your obligation to pay it back, it’s viewed as something coming to you and you are perceived as being smart for taking advantage of the entitlements provided by the government. Work for a living? You’ve got to be stupid to do that. Instead, hold out your hand for your entitlement. Our government is falling all over itself to take money from those of us who work and give it to those who prefer not to. Those of us who don’t have our hands out for these freebies are now considered to be stupid [expletives].

     “The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing, this year, the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever, to 46 million people.
     “Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us ‘Please Do Not Feed the Animals.’ Their stated reason for the policy is because ‘The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.’"

     - - - Unknown Source

     The citizens and the politicians in America need to stop sticking their heads in the sand and face up to reality. Let’s start by admitting that we have a major problem. Next, let’s address the problem and develop the plans to solve it. Finally, let’s tighten our belts, swallow the bitter medicine and get on the road to recovery – now, not later. We can’t go on living in a fantasy world!

  1. Federal Spending by the Numbers - 2012, Alison Acosta Fraser, The Heritage Foundation: Special Report #121, 16 October 2013.
  2. Are Entitlements Corrupting Us? Yes, American Character Is at Stake, Nicholas Eberstadt, The Wall Street Journal, 31 August 2012.
  3. A Majority of Americans Have Received Benefits from Federal Entitlement Programs, Pew Research Center,
    8 May 2013.
  4. Ten Truths About America's Entitlement Programs, R. Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 19 June 2013.
  5. Great: More Americans on Welfare Than Working Full Time, Christine Rousselle,,
    15 October 2013.
  6. Regaining America's Balance, Glenn Hubbard and Tim Kane, National Affairs: Issue Number 14, Winter 2013.
  7. Personal responsibility lacking in U.S., Joe Trovato, The Badger Herald, 9 May 2007.
  8. Demand Personal Responsibility Over Entitlement, David L. Goetsch,, 11 January 2013.
  9. Illusions of Opportunity: The American Dream in Question, John E. Schwarz, W. W. Norton & Company, 1997.
  10. ’VoodooQueen’ gets culture, Michael Graham, Boston Herald, Page 23, 9 August 2013.


  14 November 2013 {Article 184; Govt_49}    
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