Social Programs versus Socialism

I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

Thomas Jefferson

Can 95 percent of Americans support the other 5 percent? Probably. Can 80 percent support 20? Maybe. Can 50 percent support the other half? Probably not!” So goes an interesting argument that you may have heard. The implication is that social programs are unstoppable and disasterous. The implication is that people will always take what they can get from government and some people will always be willing to give it to them.

Another implication of the argument above is that “we” are doing the supporting and “others” are being supported.

Unfortunately, the reality of government entitlement programs is a lot more complicated.

An academic paper written by Suzanne Mettler, professor of American Institutions at Cornell University, reveals that people often believe they have never benefited from a social program until you start asking them about specific programs.

Take a look at the following list of government programs:

United States Government Entitlement Programs: 529 or Coverdell Home Mortgage Interest Deduction Hope or Lifetime Learning Tax Credit Student Loans Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit Earned Income Tax Credit Social Security–Retirement & Survivors Pell Grants Unemployment Insurance Veterans Benefits G.I. Bill Medicare Head Start Social Security Disability SSI–Supplemental Security Income Medicaid Welfare/Public Assistance Government Subsidized Housing Food Stamps
If you don’t find that you have personally benefitted from a couple of these programs, you would certainly be an oddity and a rarity.

Follow the link below to read a New York Times 2011 editorial by Suzanne Mettler: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/20/opinion/our-hidden-government-benefits.html

The problem is not that people sometimes benefit from government programs. The problem is that our Representative form of Democracy leaves us feeling that we are on a run-away train and the Engineer is having a few drinks with the rest of the crew in the caboose.

The problem is that we don’t have any say in how our money gets spent.