The image above of the title page of a paper written by Barak Hussein Obama is both complete and accurate. It is offered here as a test for prejudice.
Minds are like parachutes. They both work best when open.
As always, I am grateful to those who originally expressed an interest in this series. I doubt that I am living up to anyone’s expectations. I know that I am not meeting my own. It was unwise to have obligated myself in this way.
My claim will always be that I did not come to OS to change minds. If that is the applied metric to determine my success here, then I am clearly an abject failure. However, it is always my intention to improve the quality of political discourse in this country.
Hence, it is with great appreciation that I read the responses and participate in the discussions that have occurred since the first installment was written. To this end, this second installment is also designed to solicit your thoughts.
THUS FAR . . .
American Socialists are Stupid
As we learned last time, in the foggy land of American Socialist philosophy, those with common sense need not worry much about whether they will eventually be able to change Progressive minds. This is because checkbook arithmetic is infinitely more powerful than the most ardent or persuasive American Socialist/Progressive. The only substantive question is whether advocates for the American model of social welfare will stop supporting our current entitlement programs before or after our country is financially broken. That question, in fact, may already be moot.
The total annual collection by our national government in each of the previous three fiscal years has equaled what our national government outlaid solely on such social entitlements. For each of these years, this amount has been approximately $2.2 trillion dollars.
From this perspective, every dollar our government in Washington DC spent outside of funding this welfare state was borrowed. The average amount of such annual borrowing for the last three fiscal years has been approximately $1.4 trillion. In other words, America borrows about $0.39 of every dollar it spends at the national level.
These facts alone make spending 61% of a $3.6 trillion total annual budget on social entitlements unsustainable. This is the conclusion of even the most casual observers who are not blinded by socialist ideology; and this was the point made by the first installment in this series.
While the Senate has not passed a budget for 1,046 days (as this is being written), the budgets passed by the House for the past three fiscal years have all allotted, and we have spent, approximately, $800 billion annually for the Department of Defense. This is the largest sub-budget after our entitlement program spending.
That’s correct. We spend $3 on entitlement welfare in America for every $1 we spend on defending our country. To many, this represents an unacceptable order of priorities.
Don’t misread the implied meaning of the previous paragraph. We haven’t fought a justified war since WWII. However, the stupidity of our nation building, combat diplomacy, foreign policies is exceeded only by the stupidity of the policies underlying our homegrown brand of social welfare.
As an example of how dim-witted our entitlement programs are, consider the social contract invoked when a single mother in America receives welfare benefits in order to care for her children. In most cases, she will lose those benefits if she becomes employed, or if she marries a man who is employed. Further, her benefits often increase if she has more children.
We might applaud the opportunity our brand of social entitlement welfare gives this mother to stay home with her children. On the other hand, little additional thought is required to horrify most taxpayers when they realize that the incentives being provided by public expenditures under these social programs are for single, unemployed mothers to remain single and unemployed, and to become baby factories.
American Socialists are Stupider
American entitlement welfare programs are rife with such notorious contracts. Take the case of entitlements offered if one is involuntarily terminated from employment within most jurisdictions in this country. Unemployment benefits paid by the national government and by most State governments in America are acquired if the applicant generally can simply show three things:
- He became unemployed involuntarily.
- He was not terminated “for cause”.
- He remains unemployed.
That’s it. In most American jurisdictions, your unemployment benefits are acquired, and continue within the allowed benefit period, so long as one remains unemployed under these conditions.
We may argue about whether such benefits are “sufficient”. However, I find it amazing how many in this condition are able to dump their cars and attendant gas, insurance, maintenance, registration, and license costs, along with installment purchase or lease payments, to make ends meet.
They move back into the homes of their parents or in-laws. They don’t have to pay for childcare. Their incomes may become so low, and their assets so depleted, that they qualify for food stamps, subsidized housing, Medicaid, WIC, and host of other programs that leave many recipients wondering if they aren’t better off not working.
Again, a bargain is struck between government as welfare-provider and citizen as welfare-receiver in these cases under which the beneficiary is practically discouraged from seeking employment, while receiving benefits simply intended to tide him over between jobs. In fact, while unemployment benefits may end, subsidized housing, food stamps, Medicaid, and a host of other social welfare benefits eventually attendant to his unemployment seldom have a date certain under which an unemployed beneficiary can no longer qualify to receive them – unless, of course, he dies.
American Socialists are the Stupidest
It is well beyond most American Socialist minds to contemplate that there may be a different manner by which to render government aid in such circumstances. To them, the only solution, ever, is to cry for more government, more taxes, and more benefits for those who find themselves among the unfortunate. To them, these terrible social contracts, made between governments and the beneficiaries of such entitlement programs, are simply an unfortunate, unavoidable, byproduct of the Socialist imperative for government to take care of those who seem unable to provide for themselves.
Bullshit . . . .
“I, a Socialist, think we should strive toward a Socialist society, all the way to Communism.”
“If you understood what Communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that one day we would become Communist.”
Nordic Socialists are Smart
One result of the discussion after the first installment in this series was the disclosure that Swedish Socialists are smarter than American Socialists are. For example, in Sweden, before one can receive the first Kroner of unemployment benefits, an applicant must prove that they are working at least three hours per day.
That’s correct. One must be working in order to collect unemployment benefits in Sweden.
Now, I don’t know what this “work” entails. Since every third job in Sweden is a government job, it may be that it’s easy to obtain part-time public work to satisfy this requirement. Alternatively, simply claiming you work three hours per day looking for work may also be work, so to speak. Perhaps, working on your Uncle Swen’s farm milking cows for room and board is work that qualifies. Who knows?
What’s important here is that one must be gainfully employed in order to collect unemployment benefits in Sweden. Let’s pause here for a second to understand exactly what this does to motivate the Nordic unemployed to quickly find other work after being involuntarily terminated from their previous job.
Nordic Socialists are Smarter
However, it gets even better under the Nordic unemployment benefit model. Beyond this, a potential Swedish unemployment beneficiary is practically obligated to accept work that is offered; and he must be registered as a job seeker for public work. He must also promise, in writing, to be:
• actively seeking additional work,
• prepared to travel long distances to work at a job that is offered, and
• able to relocate, and willing to be retrained, to work at a job that is offered.
In addition, the unemployment benefit associated with these conditions is reduced in the event the job from which the beneficiary was terminated was less than full-time.
These conditions almost make it worthwhile to honor a job instead of taking a risk that one would have to shovel out Uncle Swen’s cow stalls for the rest of one’s working career or risk being installed in a boring, part-time, government job just to keep collecting the unemployment checks.
Nordic Socialists are the Smartest
The foregoing describes the ‘basic’ unemployment benefit in Sweden. In addition, a supplementary benefit exists.
This supplementary benefit is funded as an insurance policy by private enterprises approved by the Swedish national government. Generally, a new worker will not even be able to join an unemployment benefit group that offers this supplementary benefit until he has worked for at least four weeks, for at least 17 hours per week. At that point, his application may be submitted and may be evaluated for five additional weeks before it is granted. Once granted, the employee will still not qualify for unemployment benefits under this supplementary part until he:
• qualifies under the ‘basic’ conditions mentioned above,
• has been a member of the unemployment insurance group for at least 12 months,
• has worked at least six continuous months, for at least 80 hours per month, prior to making the supplementary unemployment claim.
This implies that most new workers won’t be able to even obtain a supplementary unemployment for more than 14 or 15 months after they initially begin to work and, even then, not unless their work is more than half-time, approximately. Further, this supplementary unemployment benefit is something for which the beneficiary pays directly into his own insurance account. It is not the Ponzi scheme derived benefit from general tax revenues for which everyone (who is employed) in America pays. Moreover, in Sweden, but not in America, this supplementary component of unemployment benefits is also based on the beneficiary’s past employment record as well as his compensation therefor.
I Wrote All of That to Write This . . . .
Entitlement welfare doesn’t have to be as stupid as it is in America. The better debate to have would be one that centers on how to provide such welfare without the multiple and significant disincentives within it. The better debate to have would be the one that centers on how to provide such welfare in more cost-effective ways. The better debate to have would be the one that centers on what welfare our national government should supply, what welfare our State governments should supply, what welfare our County and City governments should supply, and, most importantly, what welfare should not be supplied by governments, at any level.
Within the context of our current national fiscal condition, today’s entitlement debate, to the extent it exists, is tantamount to fiddling while Rome burns. We argue about how we are going to tinker with existing programs, when the underlying policies promoted by the foundational statutes incorporate the problems that insure that no rule, nor regulation, reform will work.
Further, within the context of the financial crisis of our national government, for those of you who care about the environment or technology, the EPA’s FY12 budgeted amount of $9 billion and NASA’s FY12 budgeted amount of $18 billion are, effectively, rounding errors. As mentioned above, the most specific and highest constitutional duty of our national government is funded only a third as much as the possibly unconstitutional duty our governments have assumed to redistribute wealth from the fortunate few to the unfortunate few.
To maintain the social welfare state, in whatever form, is expensive. It’s the most expensive thing our national government currently funds and is ever likely to fund, bar none and by far.
We try to maintain this welfare state with an overall tax burden of 23.6% of GDP. In Sweden, they maintain their ‘universalist’ welfare state with an overall tax burden of 51.1% of GDP.
In America, governmental spending at all levels exceeds 25% of GDP. Approximately 14.1% of our workforce is employed in the public sector. In Sweden, public spending is about 56.6% of GDP. More than a third of Sweden’s work force is employed in the public sector.
The big difference between America and Sweden is that America is in serious financial trouble. Sweden isn’t.
“A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.”
The first graphic in this post is an image of the front cover of a paper written by Barak Hussein Obama, senior, regarding Kenyan socialism, after he was separated from junior’s mother.