Changing the Entitlement Mindset

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”  Bob Dylan – Subterranean Home Sick Blues
 

But apparently you need to be something other than a career politician to understand that the country continues in a severe economic crisis. While economists agree that the recession technically ended in the summer of 2010, the effects of the recession have continued virtually unabated to today and may, in fact, be worsening with the prospect of a double-dip recession increasing everyday.

During the first year of the Obama administration 4,282,000 jobs were lost according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since that time 1,762,000 jobs have been added back. However, in a recent report by CNN, economists estimated that the United States would have to add 150,000 jobs per month just to keep pace with population growth. That would suggest that in the seventeen months since the job numbers began to increase, they have failed to keep pace with population growth by 788,000.

 

Unemployment has risen to 9.1% based on unemployment claims being paid. However, virtually every economist acknowledges that these numbers fail to account for those who have given up looking or who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. Most of these economists agree that unemployment claims understate unemployment and underemployment by about fifty percent. Thus the country’s real unemployment rate is somewhere in the 14% range.

But, again, most working men and women do not need the Bureau of Labor Statistics or Wall Street, or the professional politicians to tell them of the depth of the economic problems. They see their friends and relatives out of work for extended periods. They see their own wages and hours diminished. They see business after business closing and the parade of empty storefronts throughout their communities. They see the price of gas at $4.00 per gallon and moving steadily toward $5.00. They see food prices increasing dramatically and home values falling. Many are underwater on their mortgages with no relief in sight. The largest single asset for most working families – the equity in their homes – has disappeared.

But what the American people see most is a government either incapable of or unwilling to solve the problem. And most people understand what the problem is today. It isn’t a cyclical recession superheated by an artificially inflated housing market and accompanying debt. It is a government that continues to spend far in excess of its means with no serious intention to reform.

We are a country that is technically broke. Our government spending exceeds our tax revenues by over $1 Trillion annually. The Social Security that seniors thought they had has been spent – all of it – every penny, and in its place are a bunch of notes from a government that can’t pay its current debts let alone its Social Security obligations.

But the career politicians, safe in their comfortable environs – fueled by taxpayer dollars and lavished by sycophant lobbyists – are immunized from the problems caused by their own indifference. To paraphrase a pervious president – “It’s the spending, stupid.”

It’s the spending right now – not ten years from now, not the cumulative effect over a dozen years, not a projection from some faceless bureaucrat. It is the spending now. Unless Pres. Obama and Congress stop spending in excess of revenues this year, we will continue to add to a debt that is already unmanageable and probably unpayable.

And the fact of the matter is that you cannot reduce spending now or in the future without attacking the entitlement culture. Contrary to the Democrats, reform of the entitlement programs does not mean elimination of them. It does not mean throwing the sick, the hungry and the elderly out into the streets. It means reform and reform means changing the programs so that only those actually in need benefit.

Here are a number of programs that can be reformed with minimal difficulty and maximum savings.

  1. Change the requirement that emergency rooms have to provide medical services to all by restricting that requirement to American citizens and those legally here. No other country in the Western Hemisphere requires free medical services to those illegally in their country.
  2. Eliminate Obamacare and all of its attendant new bureaucracies and programs.
  3. Restrict all welfare programs to American citizens and those legally here. Again, no other country in the Western Hemisphere provides welfare to those illegally in their country.
  4. Restrict unemployment benefits to those actually seeking work. Recipients should be able to pursue jobs equivalent to their previous employment during the first twenty-six weeks but thereafter should be required to accept any job offered. (There was a recent story out of Washington state bemoaning the fact that they had to import workers from Jamaica to pick apples because the local unemployed would not accept the work – and why would they when a combination of unemployment and welfare resulted in income equivalent to the pay offered to pickers.) Work or starve is a significant incentive.
  5. Eliminate the entire Department of Energy and every one of its programs that suck up tax dollars without addressing rationally the very purpose for which it was created – energy independence. (Pie in the sky dreams of a landscape crowded with windmills and solar panels is foolish and deceives the public into thinking that it is a realistic and achievable solution. The nation’s energy producers will do a better and more efficient job of achieving energy independence.)

And finally, I would suggest that we end our troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan immediately. Pres. Obama has no desire to win; in fact, he cannot succinctly identify a goal in either Iraq or Afghanistan. He is fighting not to lose – a posture reminiscent of Pres. Johnson and Nixon during the Vietnam War in which thousand of the nation’s young men and women were sacrificed for nothing.

Pres. George H.W. Bush rebuffed those who called for “nation building” in the aftermath of the Gulf War. His son should have listened to his advice. The invasion of Iraq should have ended when Saddam Hussein’s war machine was destroyed and he was captured. It should have ended with a stern warning and a firm resolve to periodically destroy any evidence of a rebuilding of an offensive armed forces or support for terrorists. The same applies to Afghanistan. For nearly forty years this country was able to avert nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union through the concept of mutual assured destruction deterrent (MADD). A new policy of a unilateral assured destruction deterrent (U-ADD) should be used to hold the terrorist of Islamic fundamentalism at bay. And for those who cannot ADD, say hello to the next Middle East parking lot.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal indicates that political observers agree that the first trillion in spending reductions is easy but unpopular among Democrats, the second trillion is doable but painful, and all of the rest requires systemic change. These suggestions can be a part of the systemic change.

But don’t hold your breath, the professional politicians have proven that they are incapable of retreating from any program once implemented.

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  • Art

    But I AM entitiled. I worked hard at my art history adjunct professor job at PSU. It was not my fault that my position got cut. Now I am unemployed and believe you me, there are not too many positions out there for someone with my skill set. In fact, I can’t find anything that pays as well as PSU did for the three classes I taught.
    So, what am I supposed to do – starve? I need unemployment (glad they extended it) and I need foodstamps and health care and housing and transportation (I got a free bus pass at the unemployment office) and all such like.

    So, cut some expenses if you will, but don’t take from those of us who have worked hard and were cut loose through no fault of our own.

    Someday I am hoping things will rebound and PSU will ask me back. Until then, I have really cut back on my expenses.

    • Anonymous

      So, what am I supposed to do – starve?
      yes if you not going to do anything but suit on your butt and wait for PSU or you can find teaching position and hundreds of schools and colleges in the us or even thousands if you look abroad.
      While it is not you fault but still this in no excuse not to look elsewhere, you have 50 states and hundreds of schools world wide to teach at.

  • Bob Clark

    I would also restrict emergency hospital services for repeat druggies and those with a history of verbally or physically abusing hospital staff.  These are both currently epidemic problems in healthcare services.

    I would also change up priorites freezing environmental policy in favoring of allowing for instance oil companies to go after new oil supplies in Alaska and other states on federal land holdings.  This would bring significant new royalty income for the federal government plus income tax revenue (even after the supposed subsidies of accelerated depreciation the Dems like to use in their populist war on big oil).

    I would also allow states to be permanently exempted from obamacare if they so choose and these states would get reduced federal taxation for going off medicaid.  Make virtue a local cause and freedom a national cause.  It is healthy to have states competing for a diversity of approaches to quality of life issues.

    I think like it or not the U.S still is a big part of world “policing” and we can’t go isolationist.  It will just come back to get us.  I would pull out of Afghanistan, and declare victory having knocked off Osama bin laden.  I don’t get Libya…it’s for the Europeans mostly we are involved.  I would consolidate U.S forces somewhere in the Persian gulf to act as a counter weight to Iran.  I might also start a gradual transition out of Germany, replacing our forces with Germany’s only military forces.  The French probably wouldn’t care for this but it would free our resources to check two emerging trouble spots, namely, Iran and Asian Pacific issues.  Need to form a counter weight block of nations to China’s growing military power.

    There.  What’s for lunch?

    P.S  The National Bureau of Economic Research, which is the nationally recognized arbiter of economic recessions, says the last economic recession ended in June 2009, and not 2010.

  • Bob Clark

    I would also restrict emergency hospital services for repeat druggies and those with a history of verbally or physically abusing hospital staff.  These are both currently epidemic problems in healthcare services.

    I would also change up priorites freezing environmental policy in favoring of allowing for instance oil companies to go after new oil supplies in Alaska and other states on federal land holdings.  This would bring significant new royalty income for the federal government plus income tax revenue (even after the supposed subsidies of accelerated depreciation the Dems like to use in their populist war on big oil).

    I would also allow states to be permanently exempted from obamacare if they so choose and these states would get reduced federal taxation for going off medicaid.  Make virtue a local cause and freedom a national cause.  It is healthy to have states competing for a diversity of approaches to quality of life issues.

    I think like it or not the U.S still is a big part of world “policing” and we can’t go isolationist.  It will just come back to get us.  I would pull out of Afghanistan, and declare victory having knocked off Osama bin laden.  I don’t get Libya…it’s for the Europeans mostly we are involved.  I would consolidate U.S forces somewhere in the Persian gulf to act as a counter weight to Iran.  I might also start a gradual transition out of Germany, replacing our forces with Germany’s only military forces.  The French probably wouldn’t care for this but it would free our resources to check two emerging trouble spots, namely, Iran and Asian Pacific issues.  Need to form a counter weight block of nations to China’s growing military power.

    There.  What’s for lunch?

    P.S  The National Bureau of Economic Research, which is the nationally recognized arbiter of economic recessions, says the last economic recession ended in June 2009, and not 2010.

  • Bob Clark

    I would also restrict emergency hospital services for repeat druggies and those with a history of verbally or physically abusing hospital staff.  These are both currently epidemic problems in healthcare services.

    I would also change up priorites freezing environmental policy in favoring of allowing for instance oil companies to go after new oil supplies in Alaska and other states on federal land holdings.  This would bring significant new royalty income for the federal government plus income tax revenue (even after the supposed subsidies of accelerated depreciation the Dems like to use in their populist war on big oil).

    I would also allow states to be permanently exempted from obamacare if they so choose and these states would get reduced federal taxation for going off medicaid.  Make virtue a local cause and freedom a national cause.  It is healthy to have states competing for a diversity of approaches to quality of life issues.

    I think like it or not the U.S still is a big part of world “policing” and we can’t go isolationist.  It will just come back to get us.  I would pull out of Afghanistan, and declare victory having knocked off Osama bin laden.  I don’t get Libya…it’s for the Europeans mostly we are involved.  I would consolidate U.S forces somewhere in the Persian gulf to act as a counter weight to Iran.  I might also start a gradual transition out of Germany, replacing our forces with Germany’s only military forces.  The French probably wouldn’t care for this but it would free our resources to check two emerging trouble spots, namely, Iran and Asian Pacific issues.  Need to form a counter weight block of nations to China’s growing military power.

    There.  What’s for lunch?

    P.S  The National Bureau of Economic Research, which is the nationally recognized arbiter of economic recessions, says the last economic recession ended in June 2009, and not 2010.

  • Bob Clark

    I would also restrict emergency hospital services for repeat druggies and those with a history of verbally or physically abusing hospital staff.  These are both currently epidemic problems in healthcare services.

    I would also change up priorites freezing environmental policy in favoring of allowing for instance oil companies to go after new oil supplies in Alaska and other states on federal land holdings.  This would bring significant new royalty income for the federal government plus income tax revenue (even after the supposed subsidies of accelerated depreciation the Dems like to use in their populist war on big oil).

    I would also allow states to be permanently exempted from obamacare if they so choose and these states would get reduced federal taxation for going off medicaid.  Make virtue a local cause and freedom a national cause.  It is healthy to have states competing for a diversity of approaches to quality of life issues.

    I think like it or not the U.S still is a big part of world “policing” and we can’t go isolationist.  It will just come back to get us.  I would pull out of Afghanistan, and declare victory having knocked off Osama bin laden.  I don’t get Libya…it’s for the Europeans mostly we are involved.  I would consolidate U.S forces somewhere in the Persian gulf to act as a counter weight to Iran.  I might also start a gradual transition out of Germany, replacing our forces with Germany’s only military forces.  The French probably wouldn’t care for this but it would free our resources to check two emerging trouble spots, namely, Iran and Asian Pacific issues.  Need to form a counter weight block of nations to China’s growing military power.

    There.  What’s for lunch?

    P.S  The National Bureau of Economic Research, which is the nationally recognized arbiter of economic recessions, says the last economic recession ended in June 2009, and not 2010.

  • Bob Clark

    I would also restrict emergency hospital services for repeat druggies and those with a history of verbally or physically abusing hospital staff.  These are both currently epidemic problems in healthcare services.

    I would also change up priorites freezing environmental policy in favoring of allowing for instance oil companies to go after new oil supplies in Alaska and other states on federal land holdings.  This would bring significant new royalty income for the federal government plus income tax revenue (even after the supposed subsidies of accelerated depreciation the Dems like to use in their populist war on big oil).

    I would also allow states to be permanently exempted from obamacare if they so choose and these states would get reduced federal taxation for going off medicaid.  Make virtue a local cause and freedom a national cause.  It is healthy to have states competing for a diversity of approaches to quality of life issues.

    I think like it or not the U.S still is a big part of world “policing” and we can’t go isolationist.  It will just come back to get us.  I would pull out of Afghanistan, and declare victory having knocked off Osama bin laden.  I don’t get Libya…it’s for the Europeans mostly we are involved.  I would consolidate U.S forces somewhere in the Persian gulf to act as a counter weight to Iran.  I might also start a gradual transition out of Germany, replacing our forces with Germany’s only military forces.  The French probably wouldn’t care for this but it would free our resources to check two emerging trouble spots, namely, Iran and Asian Pacific issues.  Need to form a counter weight block of nations to China’s growing military power.

    There.  What’s for lunch?

    P.S  The National Bureau of Economic Research, which is the nationally recognized arbiter of economic recessions, says the last economic recession ended in June 2009, and not 2010.

  • just doing the math

    I just love reading these opinions from people, who feel smug enough to provide suggestions they themselves would not consider. I seriously doubt the above
    columnist would go out to the fields to pick produce.
     
    So you are suggesting that highly educated people that have spent a small
    fortune on their education, continued spending on their education, have made
    good money AND paid huge taxes, took the responsibility maintaining their own
    health plans (and spent a small fortune doing so), lost their job thru no fault
    of their own, to now go out and pick produce in the fields?
     
    Why is it that those Northern European countries, Canada and Australia that
    continue to rate high on the happiness index (just read an article on the top
    ten happiest countries) seem to be able to provide their citizens with affordable
    healthcare, high employment, and a good quality of life?

    Because those countries have learned that the bottom line philosophy to
    their citizens eventually does not work.

    Mr. Huss, you go pick in the fields!

    • Joe

      Better study world history. Work to eat may visit you soon. or not, your choice.

      • just doing the math

        Sure, lets go back to the middle ages. This is why I will never fully
        embrace the conservative view. It’s like you folks wish for the worst
        for anybody but yourselves. But, be very careful what you wish for;
        work to eat may visit you also, and you may not have choice.

  • Volunteer Economic Genious

    No E.R. for illegals? Would never happen as this is too cruel BUT at least have Hospital ask for I.D. so when illegal is better I.C.E. is notified for proper deportation procedures and corrupt Employer is investigated as well.

    No Bene’s for illegals? YES! Including no more 10-12 years of 85% Failure ESL classes @ $200 million p/yr.

    Larry, what about mandatory E-Verify for all companies here public and private? US Supreme court just OK’d this and many other states, not just AZ., have made this law and even far left Media are admitting that thousands of illegals are leaving and going to where they can still steal a job – Oregon.

    Fact on E-Verify per US Gov’t USCIS…over 10 million new hires checked in 2010, accuracy over 97%, free and results in 3-5 seconds. Could result in at least 75-100,000 jobs opened up for us here in OR. and significant reduction in benefits for illegals as they flee the state automatically.

  • conservatively speaking

    Suggest jdtm pique his knows with (IA US Rep) Steven King’s recipe for mitigating illegal immigration root causes.
     https://www.house.gov/list/press/ia05_king/King_New_IDEA_Introduction.html   

    • just doing the math

      Actually, I was responding to point 4 in the article above. And I did read your
      link. What in the link has to do with a “root cause”? The article has to do
      with e-verify. If you really think the government is going to track companies
      to verify if they are in compliance with e-verify, I have some property on the
      moon I would like to sell to you.

      • conservatively speaking

        IMO, Steve King is right and you, jdtm, manifest what’s left of U.S.
        Selah.

        • just doing the math

          The article you linked was dated August 2008! And, apparently you cant’t read.
          I am not disagreeing with you, I am merely pointing out that it does not
          discuss the root cause of illegal immigration. And I am right when I say the
          government does not have the resources or incentative to track non-compliant employers OR track illegal immigrants. Haven’t you asked yourself why there
          are millions and millions of illegal immigrants already here? No past enforcement
          of immigration laws by “the government”. E-verify is to little to late.  

          • conservatively speaking

            2008 is simply a reference date.  Today, thankfully, there is increased stirring despite certain ‘economic’ interests bent on culling ‘commoner’ sense upstanding for U.S. and our sovereign Republic.  

            Arizona and other states are taking strides to cull the tide of illegal immigration –   repeat ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION, not ‘lawful’ immigration. 

            On another front, take seriously the aims of La Raza, MEChA and even Latino Kings before any more patronizing of these organizations.  They’re as bad for our Constitution as al-Qa’ida insurgents such as the Islamic Brotherhood and other jihad bods intent on culling U.S. figuratively or literally.  Too bad, so sad that Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg aren’t readily available for testimony, eh?

  • American as Apple Pie

    How about drug testing prior to and during welfare?

  • Mjsilcox

    Other than the constant indoctrination pounding , that ‘American’s are to good to work in the fields”, why, we don’t require the unemployed/welfare recipents, barring major disabilities , to work in this capacity.  When we were young teens, that is how we made our summer money, picking strawberries, and other crops.  Happy to do so.  When I was five months pregnant , I picked cheeries, peaches, grapes instead of choosing to go on welfare. So I don’t understand the moochers of the world.  But, I think if you decrease the time allowed, eliminate parts of the welfare program, we wouldn’t cultivate generation after generation of mental entitlements.  As far as those living in our cities, there are parks, streets, snow removal…etc cleaning, that can be done within those urban areas.
    By the way Mr. Huss, love your reduction plan!

    • just doing the math

      So, go pick in the fields. And please, quit calling people who have lost
      their jobs thru no fault of their own “moochers”. It is difficult enough
      for the unemployed to now be labeled “moochers”

      And writing about what you used to do as a teen picking in the fields
      LONG AGO, yes there use to be bus service that provided transportation
      to the fields for teens in the summer. It was a great way to make some
      money and get some food. But, lets get real here, this is now, and the
      farming industry no longer relies on the teen labor force, if you know
      what I mean.

      This is the 21st century; jobs have been shipped overseas and continue
      to be shipped overseas to maximize the bottom line. This has resulted
      in few well paying AND few full time jobs being created here. Even within
      the urban areas.

      So, you want a nation of field pickers and low wage earners, you are probably
      going to get your wish.

       

    • just doing the math

      So, go pick in the fields. And please, quit calling people who have lost
      their jobs thru no fault of their own “moochers”. It is difficult enough
      for the unemployed to now be labeled “moochers”

      And writing about what you used to do as a teen picking in the fields
      LONG AGO, yes there use to be bus service that provided transportation
      to the fields for teens in the summer. It was a great way to make some
      money and get some food. But, lets get real here, this is now, and the
      farming industry no longer relies on the teen labor force, if you know
      what I mean.

      This is the 21st century; jobs have been shipped overseas and continue
      to be shipped overseas to maximize the bottom line. This has resulted
      in few well paying AND few full time jobs being created here. Even within
      the urban areas.

      So, you want a nation of field pickers and low wage earners, you are probably
      going to get your wish.

       

  • Founding Fathers

    For the Christians who may be here:

    “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you,
    Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my
    brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.”
         –Matthew 25:40

    • Founding MFer

      I just love it when atheists misrepresent scripture to support their arguments.

      • Anonymous

        In what way has that quote been misrepresented or taken out of context?

      • Founding Fathers

        You falsely assume that I’m an atheist.

        And tell me, how is a direct quotation “misrepresent(ing) scripture”?

        I guess you’re from the Newt school, where quoting someone is “lying”.

    • Founding MFer

      I just love it when atheists misrepresent scripture to support their arguments.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Look, most of the solutions to our problems are fairly simple.

    Want jobs and less drain on services? A good first step would be eliminating detectability for illegal aliens. This is a simple measure, simple to implement and very simple for the IRS to check. If your employees SS number comes up non existant or fraudulent, you dont get to deduct the wages. Anyone who thinks this would be hard to implement probably hasn’t filed corporate taxes.

    Mr. Huss’s ides for 26 weeks of UI and then you have to take any job offered is a good one. It’s a job, not a marriage. The fact that you live in my community does not mean I should support you in the lifestyle you have become accustomed to in perpetuity. You may have to move, you may have to realize that your job is never coming back because your department was eliminated or the mill closed. Sorry, that’s life.

    Eliminating the DOE would be great. It’s mission – energy independence, is no closer to reality than when it was established. It has failed, call it good and move on.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      detectability, kind of an ironic auto correction. Deductability.

    • valley person

      By all means eliminate the DOE. Of course then you still have to find someone to manage nuclear waste. I suppose it could be privatized.  

  • 3H

    I’m somewhat puzzled by #1.  What happens if you end up in the emergency room and you don’t have ID?   How would you prove, in an emergency room situation, that you are either a citizen or in the country legally?

    • just doing the math

      Actually, hospitals cannot refuse care to patients who have life threatening
      injuries, or women in labor. Individuals without insurance do get this care
      and it is paid for in the cost of premiums of the insured. I believe I have
      seen the signs posted in the emergency room (though to be honest I only
      remember the women in active labor part). Another example of an idea
      that looks good on paper, but really how do you enforce. And just think
      of all the potential lawsuits that are sure to follow if point #1 was to be
      enacted.
         

    • valley person

      You failed to read the fine print. All US citizens would have a permanent tattoo on our tushies at birth. This would also help prevent future Presidents having been secretly born in Kenya.  

      • 3H

        I knew it!   Hoover denied it, but I’ve always been positive that he was born in Kenya and was a territorial governor before he became President!

    • valley person

      You failed to read the fine print. All US citizens would have a permanent tattoo on our tushies at birth. This would also help prevent future Presidents having been secretly born in Kenya.  

    • valley person

      You failed to read the fine print. All US citizens would have a permanent tattoo on our tushies at birth. This would also help prevent future Presidents having been secretly born in Kenya.  

  • just doing the math

    In reference to point #1, does the above columnist really expect that in an
    emergency room situation that is extremely chaotic and intense, (because
    after all doctors are focused on saving a life) that the medical personnel
    has the time to ask for citizenship id? I can just see it now, “Excuse me
    sir/maam license and registration, please”? Unbelievable!

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