Guest Editorial

Bookmark and Share

don bitlerBY DONALD BITLER | JUNE 13, 2012


We are constantly hearing many politicians talk about reducing entitlements.  And understandably so, the problem with what they are saying is they do not distinguish between those entitlements which are “earned” and those that are not.  What, may I ask, is the reason for that?  Are they afraid to be specific?  Only by being specific can the overspending for entitlements be explained and therefore a solution be presented and applied properly.  The tax paying public is not responsible for the problems within social security, the government is.  The lack of ability by the government to manage the programs properly is the real problem.  However, any solution the government decides on is surely going to cost the tax payers “again.” 

Social Security is an earned entitlement.  Medicare and veteran pensions and disability also are earned entitlement, and are paid for by the tax paying citizens.  Food stamps are NOT an earned entitlement, neither is welfare although they also are paid for by the taxpayer. 
Making those who are on unearned entitlements comfortable seems to have a tendency for them to desire to stay on those entitlements.   Compassion is all well and good – however, giveaway programs have a way of diminishing self respect, esteem and self-reliance and always seems to create more reliance on government which, in the final analysis, is a form of slavery.  All unearned entitlement programs should be on a diminishing value program.  In other words the amount of entitlement should be decreasing over time as an incentive to become self-reliant.   Of course unemployment should also be approached the same way. 

Furthermore, all permanent welfare programs should be labeled exactly that and reevaluated at least annually.  Many of the tax  paying citizens have suggested over and over unearned entitlements should be subjected to unscheduled drug screening, at least,  annually.  We all know there is considerable abuse within the unearned entitlement programs which must be eliminated as a part of reaching a reasonable solution to a severe problem. 

Since we can all agree there is a difference between earned entitlements and unearned entitlements or at least there should be no argument about that fact.  Why should it not be reasonable to find a solution separately?  For instance earned entitlements like social security were originally designed to be only drawn by less than 50 percent of those who paid into it.  The maximum average age when social security was first designed was in the mid 60s and the retirement age was set at that level.  Now however, the average is well beyond 20 more years consequently that places a larger burden on the system. Obviously, the government once again dropped the ball.   Any changes to the drawing age should be increased gradually however, so there is not an extreme change to any age group.  For example those presently at or above 50 would see no change in their retirement age.
Those 45 to 50 may see a one year increase in retirement age. Those 35 to 45 may see a 2 year increase and so on.  With the final goal of 72 (or more) being the final retirement age for both men and women.  Like anything else however there could be exceptions, like pilots and fire fighters.  The government in the final analysis is the biggest problem when it comes to earned entitlements like social security.  How you ask?  The government has for some time now under both Democrats and Republicans presented social security as a retirement program, it is not a retirement program and was never meant to be a retirement program, it is a social “security” program.  A program to keep someone in their old age from starving to death.  Retirement should still be planned for over and above social security. 

Furthermore, although they do pay into the program, those who have a net worth of more than ten million, should not be allowed to draw maximum benefits.  This is not a punishment for becoming wealthy, but it is reasonable.  Those folks pay other taxes they personally do not benefit from, social security should be no different.