Right wing follies


Rodger Mitchell’s blog:

–Monetary Sovereignty: The key to understanding economics

Right-wingers are so absurd that they often provide us with comic relief. Consider Nicholas Eberstadt’s book “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic.”


1. Eberstadt says that in 1960, “entitlement” payments (i.e. Social Security and Medicare) accounted for well under a third of the federal government’s total outlays, whereas today it accounts for a full two-thirds of the federal budget.

I’m skeptical of Eberstadt’s claims regarding 1960, but yes, today Social Security and Medicare account for 60% of federal spending (not “a full two thirds”). Social Security alone accounts for 33 percent. So what? I wish the Social Security percentage was much higher. And don’t forget that countless billions of federal dollars are spent “off budget” on the “intelligence community” plus the endless wars (which are called “Overseas Contingency Operations”) plus who knows what else.


2. Eberstadt claims that “entitlement” spending is “unsustainable” because it “drains our federal coffers.”

In reality the federal government has no “coffers,” and federal spending is no more “unsustainable” than is the changing of points on an electronic scoreboard. Isn’t it strange that no matter how much the US government spends, there is always more money? Oh that’s right. The U.S. government “borrows” its dollars from China, or from UFOs, or whatever. That’s why we have a (fake) “national debt crisis.”

The U.S. government spends trillions on Wall Street bailouts, corporate subsidies, and the “war on terror” but for Mr. Eberstadt this doesn’t “drain our federal coffers,” nor is it “unsustainable.”


3. Austerity causes average Americans to fall into poverty, making them desperate for government help. Eberstadt says this means that average Americans are lazy bums who drive around in Cadillacs at government expense. He says that social programs to help the disabled, for example, cause “A very real, long-lasting, negative impact on the character of our citizens.” He says that social programs make people “dependent” (when people should instead be dependent on part time minimum-wage jobs with no benefits).

The reality, of course, is that the higher you are on the social ladder, the more you are a “taker” who enjoys a “free lunch” at the expense of the lower classes. The richer you are, the more you tend to be a parasite on society, and the more you tend to call those below you “parasites.”

Incidentally, the U.S. military is utterly dependent on government spending. So are the too-big-to-jail bankers when they need government bailouts. For Eberstadt, these are not lazy bums.


4. I like Eberstadt’s wording here… “In 2010 alone, government at all levels oversaw a transfer of over $2.2 trillion in money, goods, and services to recipient men, women and children in the United States.”

Oversaw a transfer from what? Eberstadt doesn’t say, but he implies that it was from those poor rich people. (Pass me a tissue. I think I’m going to cry.)


5. Eberstadt says that “entitlements” are a time bomb that must be drastically “modified” (i.e. privatized) before the bomb “blows up” America.

This is like saying, “The points on the electronic scoreboard must be modified before they blow up the stadium!”


6. Some people might object to Eberstadt’s book by saying, “They’re called entitlements because we paid FICA taxes, whereas the military, for example, gets billions without having paid into anything.”

This argument is erroneous and dangerous. It seduces average Americans into falsely believing that they will get Social Security benefits because the government “owes” it to them. People forget that politicians can simply say:

a. Sorry, but it was all spent on…whatever.
b. Sorry, but it was all consumed by the national debt crisis.
c. Sorry, but the amount of people paying into the (non-existent) trust fund is far smaller than the number of people who are mooching off it. Don’t complain to me. Talk to the senior citizens who robbed you.

These lies work every time, because the average American insists on believing the lie that the U.S. government runs on tax revenue. (Or does the government run on loans from China? I can never decide.)


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