Robert J. Samuelson: Stop pretending U.S. welfare state doesn't exist

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  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2012 1:33 p.m.

    When society has many 3rd and 4th generation welfare families, the system is broken. Obama does not have the moral courage to give a hand up rather than a hand out. Why lose your voter base?

  • Mike in Cedar City Cedar City, Utah
    Nov. 15, 2012 1:12 p.m.

    For the Umpteenth thousandth time, Social Security and Medicare are not welfare. The are prepaid insurance benefits administered by the Federal Government. They are not doles predicated upon no payments. I paid for my Medicare as did my employer, (and continue to do so even in retirement), and I paid into social security during nearly 50 years of gainful employment. So quick with the right wing trashing of these programs.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Nov. 14, 2012 8:26 p.m.

    Dems will NEVER agree to end the welfare system, it's their number one hold on power. Maintaining a dependent under-class is their top priority.

    Liberal Larry,
    I defy you to show me anyone poor paying as much as 5% in income tax.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Nov. 14, 2012 8:00 p.m.

    Keep in mind. Business "game" the system also.

    Business is way smarter than government. Look at all the commercials on TV for various medical devices that just happen to be covered my Medicare/Medicaid.

    Yes, people game the system and hurt it's viability. But so does business.

  • Shawnm750 West Jordan, UT
    Nov. 14, 2012 3:25 p.m.

    I have to agree with this columnist on this subject. Programs like Social Security were established to take care of those who couldn't take care of themselves, not to take care of those who simply don't want to. There are those who will go and work just long enough to get laid off or fired so they can qualify for unemployment or other government benefits.

    Another problem with some of these programs is that they require no form of restitution from the recipient. One could argue that these people have earned the right to that assistance by paying taxes, but the reality is that many of them don't pay taxes, or haven't paid them in years (and in some cases never have.)

    With regard to taxes, this country's tax code is ridiculous! We need to adopt a federal sales tax or a flat tax and be done with tax rebates, refunds, etc. That way everyone pays the same (proportionally) and everyone contributes. I know many CPA's and accountants would not be happy with this, but our current system is broken.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    Nov. 14, 2012 10:21 a.m.

    re: Ernest T. Bass

    Maybe, Mitt was preparing to invade Troy.

  • Pendergast Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 14, 2012 10:18 a.m.

    re: liberal larry

    "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to balance the budget, just cooperation and shared sacrifice!"

    But. But. Isn't that socialism? ROFL!?

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Nov. 14, 2012 9:17 a.m.

    Dektol: So let me get this straight, letting a rancher put his cows on a piece of government land that has lots of wild grass growing on it so he doesn't have to buy $100 worth of hay to feed them, is exactly the same thing as the government giving a check for $100 to someone receiving benefits?

    If so, then why don't we charge every tourist $10 to take a picture of the Grand Canyon? Isn't failing to do so a form of government dole? After all, that person would have to pay $10 to go watch a movie in a theator and get the same "entertainment value". Right? Allowing hikers to climb mountains without paying the government the equivalent of a gym membership must be a form of dole too.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Nov. 14, 2012 8:56 a.m.

    Speaking of gaming the system. Advocates for smaller government need to play the same games as the tax and spend crowd do.

    We need to build in automatic tax cuts every year (say 5%). Then when budgets get tight, we agree to only cut them by 2%. Then we go out and complain about a phony "tax increase" of 3% (the difference of what we thought it should be and the actual cut).

    If you look carefully at all those "spending cuts" that liberals love to talk about in proposed budgets, they really aren't cuts at all. They are simply reductions in projected increases. "Raise taxes on the rich by $500 billion next year and we will cut spending by $1 trillion over the next ten" is just a shell game. Might as well say we are cutting $100 trillion in spending to make it sound like even more of a sacrifice because it is just a made up number and the actual spending will increase anyway.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Nov. 14, 2012 7:40 a.m.

    The problem isn't entirely the so-called entitlements. The bigger problem is giving a multi-millionaire an $79,000 tax write-off for a horse. One horse. $79,000.
    That is the biggest problem in this country.

  • Dektol Powell, OH
    Nov. 13, 2012 1:33 p.m.

    It exists and is shown very well by the taxpayer subsidized grazing for private ranchers on Public Lands. If these 'ranchers' were taken off the Federal Dole they would have to pay actual market rates for their cows to graze. Most would go broke with an even playing field as the are so dependant on the welfare grazing system they couldn't make it in a free market. If you are going to cry about welfare payments, start with all those supposed money making operations who live off government welfare first.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Nov. 13, 2012 11:44 a.m.

    This statement struck me...'It encourages "gaming" the system to maximize benefits.'

    I think this is a real problem. People without ethics try to take advantage of the system, take more benefit than they deserve. I have no idea how much of the spending is on fraudulent claims and dishoesty, but I am sure it isn't minor. People claiming benedfits they have not earned or don't deserve.

    In the church wellfare system I have seen much of the same. In one case, a young family was getting church aide all the while keeping HBO, buying new toys, and ultimately even upgrading to a new home. Another young mom didn't have money for food - but had money for sports for the kids. Then you have senriors who hide assets - to qualify for more benefit.

    You can build the most perfect system in the world, and if people will "game" it, the system becomes imperfect really quick. I rather resent that I will have to work extra years into what should be my retirement because others take more then then deserve or neet.

    But that is just me....

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 13, 2012 11:20 a.m.

    The statement “over half the country receives some form of govt. assistance” is only partially true. The actual truth is that every person in America and/or who benefits from the American prosperity is the recipient of some form of assistance from the government of the USA. Even some animals.

    Some like to draw unpleasant conclusions from the fact that the government redistributes wealth and income. They conveniently forget to mention that in the past a persons labor netted a larger share of the nations prosperity. Thus many individuals have less chance to participate in the prosperity of America today as the result of technology and inovation.

    So, the question is: Who owns America?

    Who has a right to participate in the benefits and profits? Is it only those who have the knack and wit to win in the competition? Or is it all who are born in America, or even those who are in America? Should all the stockholders of America receive the dividends? Even if some dividends are distributed by merit, should some dividends go to the stockholder just because?

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Nov. 13, 2012 9:45 a.m.

    I don't know why the compassionate US government feels taking care of the well to-do in 2012 is more important than taking care of the poor in 2040? Borrowing money today to take care of people who really do not need the help will take money from benefits for the poor further down the road.

    A good question to ask a politician is, "We know that you care for the elderly and for the poor, but if push came to shove and the government was defaulting on its debt and no one was loaning money to the US, would you cut benefits for the well to-do or for the poor? We recognize that you want to take care of both, but in this scenario you can't. Which one will you help and which one will you cut?"

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    Nov. 13, 2012 9:18 a.m.

    The last sentence of the article rang true for me:
    "The need is not to dismantle the welfare state but to modernize it gradually, preserving its virtues, minimizing its vices and not doing it abruptly so as to derail the recovery. But first we need to admit it exists."

    Talking about this is the way to fix it. I've yet to see any real discussion ever on this topic, by politicians.

  • no fit in SG St.George, Utah
    Nov. 13, 2012 8:47 a.m.

    Perhaps parents, who sometimes wish to shelter their children from, what they feel are the "unpleasant" aspects of society, could accept and adapt a beneficial "policy" for their family.
    Perhaps early acceptance to those less fortunate in our society, will foster a change in thinking. Love and caring will replace much of the hateful rhetoric so often seen and heard towards the poor.There are so many opportunities available to foster a mind set of change. The prominent Church in Utah, assisted by other charitable groups, could put their heads together and work to educate families, schools, and society.
    The time has come for a new generation who can be more understanding, accept, adapt, and change the world.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Nov. 13, 2012 8:16 a.m.

    I've been thinking a lot about this topic lately relative to the election. As Mr. Samuelson and Mr. Romney pointed out over half the country receives some form of govt. assistance. The question (only partly posed by Mr. Samuelson) is why. Mr. Romney being fully enclosed in the Repbulican bubble, said it's because the takers are lazy and morally deficient.

    My second ahha moment came yestery listening to Michael Steele talking about conservative principles. He specifically mentioned small government. It occurred to me that nobody I know wants any more government than they think is necessary. Nobody wants a "big" government. So why do liberals think social security, medicare, obamacare, food stamps etc. are necessary and need to be more broadly available than conservatives do? I think the answer is the link between the two concepts and the key to any reforms going forward. The answer is that over at least the past thirty years the society and the economy have changed dramaticaly, such that society is very unstable and unforgiving. They tyranny of government has been matched by the tyranny of captial, and with capital accumulating ever more in the hands of a few it gets worse

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    Nov. 13, 2012 6:40 a.m.

    It's it odd that Samuelson talks about the poor, and the elderly, "gaming" the disability system, while retired people who make 22 million dollars a year, pay under 15% in total income taxes?

    The problem with our federal deficit is that we need to bring EVERYTHING to the table. Means test entitlements, gradually trim the military, make healthcare spending more efficient, plug corporate loop holes, penalize Cayman Island bank accounts, etc.

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to balance the budget, just cooperation and shared sacrifice!