The federal government offers numerous entitlement programs to assist the needy and the aged. The principal ones include Social Security (which is self-funded for the most part), Medicare, and Welfare. These programs have been installed by acts of Congress motivated by our nation’s altruistic principles, which have been fine-tuned over time and expanded in times of prosperity.
The legitimacy of the programs should not be based upon emotional responses to poverty -- by Congress, society, and/or the media. If our government has the economic wherewithal, the effective transfer of money to those less fortunate should be law. However, the financial stability of our country is paramount even if this has become harder to achieve in recent years. And so, Congress and the president may have to rescind entitlements in response to bad times even if the beneficiaries will suffer greater hardships.
Regardless of political persuasion, most agree that strong action is necessary as our country can’t continue to fund entitlements at the current rate. And so, entitlements will have to be streamlined further and/or curtailed to satisfy budgetary concerns.
Abrogation of existing entitlements is an arduous process as the roar of liberal lawmakers and civic leaders is much louder than the proponents of the fiscal conservatism side. Often, a sense of entitlement can overwhelm such debates. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is that an entitlement is only valid so long as it earns the approval of the people. Changing economic prospects could increase or decrease our nation’s propensity to be altruistic. In essence, entitlements are “people-given,” not “God-given”.
The global economic crisis has dramatically impacted the financial stability of our nation. In response to the challenges of the past few years, our government has greatly increased the national debt creating many to question the long-term financial stability of the U.S. In response to this phenomenon, lawmakers have proposed ways to decrease the national debt. Liberals prefer to raise taxes while fiscal conservatives want to cut spending to achieve this goal. The Republican House majority dominates the political arena and has forced large cuts through Congress while putting all tax increases in abeyance. The aforementioned cuts will, no doubt, be difficult for the less fortunate.
As trillions of dollars in tax revenues flow into the U.S Treasury each year, our elected officials must decide which programs to fund. For far too long, they have been anything but frugal in their choices as unproductive programs continue unabated in the form of pork barrel projects. And finally, the “sacred cows,” Social Security and Medicare must be reformed before they bankrupt America.
Over the years, many poor people have grown to rely on federal support, and sadly, entitlements have become a substitute for hard work for some. Many critics are publicly flayed when they suggest that welfare is like a drug, a dependency that encourages people to remain idle. If our federal and state governments guaranteed a job to every able-bodied person, we would effectively unshackle many who currently depend upon others to survive.
It is disturbing that avid supporters of the downtrodden in Congress believe altruistic government support programs are entitlements, something people have a right to receive. It is not true. To this point, our nation has been so successful that we have been able to support many who cannot work and some who do not want to work. Welfare will change in the coming months, and many lucrative, yet unproductive, programs for the poor may be slashed.
America can no longer be as altruistic as it has been historically. Bad habits and waste must be rooted out and eliminated for our government to provide a high level of support services to the needy.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons