Thursday, September 12, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

We all know what a tipping point is- that point where momentum or direction begins to change and move in the opposite manner. We are close to a tipping point with regards to taxes in that just over 47% of Americans do not pay taxes. Here is another tipping point that we should closely monitor: nearly half of all babies born in 2010  were covered under Medicaid. According to an analysis of government records by researchers from the George Washington University School of Public Health, 48% of the 3.8 million babies born in 2010 were paid for by the American taxpayer. "As states have expanded coverage in partnership with the federal government, low income women will be able to obtain more continuous coverage before and between pregnancies," said Anne Markus, associate professor of Health Policy at the University. Medicaid coverage varies between the states and that affects the number of babies being born and paid for by government programs. The low is 25% of all births paid by Medicaid in Hawaii to nearly 70% in Louisiana. Now please don't misunderstand- I am 100% for taking care of expectant mothers and their unborn children. That is what a compassionate and humane society does. However, that compassion and care cannot occur in a vacuum. More specifically, it cannot occur with no economic consequences. Understand that with nearly half of all babies being born into government dependency, this creates enormous challenges for those children and gargantuan financial strain on an already overburdened taxpayer. The expansion of socialized medicine has accelerated the number of children being born under Medicaid. Did we expect anything less since we made the program more rewarding for this type of behavior? It is time that we have an honest dialogue about the unsustainability of the massive entitlement programs in this country and the horrific unintended consequences that they create.

So exactly how much of this "No More Tears" shampoo do I have to give a baby before they stop crying?

Some disturbing news was released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS released jobs numbers, and we all know that job creation and the quality of jobs is bad, but that is not the number that I am focused upon. No, the scary numbers are these: in June, the number of U.S. households receiving foodstamps rose to 23.117 million, an all time high. That month saw 45,900 new households begin to receive assistance, the largest monthly increase in history. Individually, 125,059 Americans were added to the program in June. These horrifying numbers are indicative of a still very weak economy that is not creating the number and quality of jobs that Americans need. To put it into perspective, there are now more Americans living in poverty and receiving government aid than the entire population of Spain.. Our economy needs to add 2.2 million jobs to get back to 2007 levels, when the recession started (forget for a moment that most of the jobs we are currently adding are low wage and part time jobs) which we are no where close to doing. Over that same period of time food stamp and disability income recipients has risen by 22 million people. The lack of quality job creation has created economic hardship for many people, which has caused the ranks of those receiving government assistance to grow dramatically. As I said in the paragraph above, we are reaching- quickly- a tipping point where these programs will no longer be financially viable without drastic cuts, massive tax increases, or both. Again, honesty and communication are essential first steps toward crafting workable solutions to these financial problems. The current method of blame and burying heads in the sand exhibited by our leaders will not suffice.

94% of people have below average intelligence. I am glad I am in the other 17%.

The Gallup Organization performs some very accurate economic polls, and their results paint a bleak economic picture of where our country finds itself. Gallup has created a Basic Access Index, which measures Americans ability to afford food, housing, and healthcare. Gallup has been tracking this index for years, and the all time recorded low was October 2011 when it was measured at 81.2 (on a 100 scale). This meant that nearly 20% of Americans were lacking in access to the basics mentioned. In August 2013, the BAI as measured by Gallup was 81.4. So after years of printing money by the Federal Reserve and government job programs, our country is faced with nearly 1/5th of the population worried about access to the basic necessities of life. Years of wasteful spending and inept leadership have brought us to this point, and at a time where a surprisingly large number of people are needing assistance, the government is lacking the resources to help. This situation is going to get worse and lots more painful. Foodstamp benefits are set to be reduced in November as a provision expanding the program as part of the 2009 stimulus program expires. Friends, the evidence should be clear to all of us that central planning like those in Washington adore doesn't work. It creates a nation of dependents (see: tipping points above) and rarely is effective. It is time for us to restore the power and responsibility to the local levels of government and to individuals and limit Washington's power and the damage they can do.

Vegetarians eat vegetables. So what do humanitarians eat?

And that, my friends, is my view. 

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