• Subscribe to Crisis

  • We Proud Sons of Onan

    by Jason Jones

    As we all learned in grammar school, we’re coming up on the day when we show our gratitude for all the blessings God has showered upon our country. If we had good teachers, we learned to think of more than just the natural resources and easily conquered lands, and more than a blandly defined “democracy.” If we had the right mentors and read the right books (such as Russell Kirk’s The Roots of American Order), we learned to think more deeply, to treasure the “ordered liberty” which America’s founders constructed out of the best elements of Anglo-Saxon political history—a liberty whose roots lay deep in the medieval, Catholic common law.

    Since this is a harvest festival like Bavaria’s Feast of St. Martin, marked by the hearty consumption of “comfort” foods, our thoughts also turn to abundance. As the Puritans were grateful that they could scrape a living out of their chilly New England settlements, the immigrants who came later were thankful for the vast farms full of rich black earth which they could own outright (unlike their peasant parents in teeming, feudal Europe), for the new industries exploding with productivity and the bold new cities like Chicago and Detroit that emerged to dwarf the settlements in the Old Country. We have longer lives and better health than even our parents, and the leisure to wring our hands about how to fund 15-20 years of healthy retirement. (When Social Security was set up, the average life expectancy was right around 65—in other words, it existed to support the Methusalehs among us. Now most of us live long enough to collect for many years—a very good problem to have.)

    Which leads to ask, why exactly:

    • Are our public parks full of angry, scraggly young people, pounding bongos and complaining that our “system” has cheated them, that we’ve bargained away their future, and allowed a tiny fragment of society to soak up an unprecedented percentage of the wealth?
    • Do Tea Party activists in odd, tricornered hats warn that the government is becoming the enemy of its people?
    • Was was Patrick Buchanan able to make a solid case that we are engaged in (as his new book’s title says) “the suicide of a superpower”?
    • Is our Congress—faced with spiraling deficits that threaten our nation with debt default—completely unable to impose modest tax raises and deep cuts in unsustainable social and military spending?

    While Americans once laughed up our sleeves at the squabbling, socialist Europeans with their cheese mountains and their general strikes, their oily corruption and Communist trade unions, we now face a very similar fiscal crisis. The Europeans aren’t even bothering to ask our help, but are going hat in hand to our largest creditors—the Chinese, whom we are busy provoking by placing U.S. Marines in Australia. (Who is else is that aimed at containing—head-hunters from New Guinea?)

    Where did the West go wrong? The tragic flaw we share with our cousins over in Europe is not so much political or economic as cultural. You see, Marx was wrong: Economic reality is not the DNA that forms the social organism, dictating which poems will be written and which constitutions amended. Marx’s vulgar materialism, predicated on an a priori rejection of God, refuted itself over seven blood-soaked decades from Königsberg to Cambodia, as the world re-learned this truth: It is culture that drives politics, and the dance between the two that produces the kind of economy which emerges from a country. Leave aside “black swan” events like the Potato Famine or the Black Death, and you can trace a people’s economic fortunes to the social values that motivate them, and the institutions these values have built. The hyperinflation that ravished Germany in the 20s and paved the way for Hitler was caused by the debt and reparations incurred during World War I—which the Germans launched after some 90 years of post-Napoleonic romantic nationalism and militarism. The stagnation and instability that pervades the Islamic world can be traced straight to their credal rejection of reason and even causality in understanding nature. (A rock falls not because of gravity, but because God happens to will it—and it’s perfectly possible that any given rock might hang in mid-air forever, should He wish it.) I could multiply instances all day—but like you, I’ve got some turkey sitting here that’s not going to eat itself.

    What shared cultural illness, then, explains the current crisis all across the Western world? Is it, as those who occupy Wall Street would have us believe, a failure of the free market system? Is it the fault of government gone wild, printing money to fuel “irrational exuberance” and fund folks on food stamps buying investment properties in Nevada? Is it the flight of American factories to former Third World countries, where people are willing to hazard long hours and harsh conditions, sacrificing their present for the sake of their families’ futures? Yes, yes, and yes, but these are all symptoms, like that extra pants size you gain after six months of sedentary snacking. There is a common cause underlying the national bankruptcy that faces our nation—and the nations where most of our ancestors came from. Crony capitalism, nanny-state socialism, fat welfare states where postal clerks retire at 58, colleges full of whiny, indebted students majoring in sociology and women’s studies—these aren’t an unconnected grab-bag of “leftist” and “rightist” ills, but the symptoms of a fundamental Western illness:

    We live now for ourselves, and for pleasures in present or future. Our culture, and hence our economy and politics, now stand for absolutely nothing else. To cite the old Seinfeld line, we are now a “civilization about nothing.”

    Our forefathers may have lapsed from time to time into foolish, self-destructive acts of hedonism, but the culture in which they lived and the faith they followed called things what they were: They knew sin as sin, and knew the need for repentance and reparation. These people knew that we live not only for ourselves, but at the very least for the sake of our children. Italians planted olive trees which their children would some day profit from; now they have ceased even to plant the children, attaining one of the lowest birth rates now on earth. (They compete with the Spaniards and the Quebecois for that honor.) Even American big-government, free-spending Democrats like Franklin Roosevelt built their policies on the assumption that the basic unit of society was not the individual but the family. As Allan Carlson documents in his classic The American Way, for all the flaws of the New Deal (it centralized power in Washington, wasted money, starved the private sector, was largely unconstitutional and probably prolonged the Depression), at least its policies were driven by a deeply wholesome agenda: to let men be the breadwinners for their families, so women could raise healthier, smarter, more productive citizens. That common-sense, instinctual principle is now considered so radically retrograde and offensive, simply stating it is enough to drive a politician out of public life. (A fine book Sen. Rick Santorum published asserting such things, It Takes a Family, probably helped him lose his seat in the Senate; a recent Republican governor’s candidate had to disavow an academic thesis he’d written long before along these lines.)

    Since the Sexual Revolution and its ugly stepsister, feminism, overturned our assumptions about what sex means and what it’s for, we have almost forgotten how to form families, or what they are. Divorce laws have made the contract of marriage laughably easy to escape from, even as we have tightened up bankruptcy laws and canonized student loans as sacramental covenants. Voters—not just judges, real live American voters—have redefined marriage in several states to include homosexual unions. Single people can adopt children, and couples can cook them up in petri dishes, discarding the “surplus” embryos or sending them up to Harvard to be cannibalized for parts. What agenda is served by all these bizarre acts of rebellion against the plain nature of things and the immemorial structure of human society? Nothing so elevated or insane as Marxist-Leninism. Nothing so cool and mathematical as capitalism. The philosophy underpinning our current crisis, which explains our Keynesian politics and addiction to credit card debt, Europe’s falling and our own flat birth rates, our willingness to tax our children (via deficits) instead of ourselves, is a simple creed known to every teenager: “We want the world and we want it now,” in the words of Dionysian rock-god Jim Morrison, who died a bloated shell of a man at age 28, leaving behind no acknowledged children, but at least 20 paternity suits filed by women he had abandoned.

    Repulsed by the gray “organizational men” who toiled without credit or creativity inside massive corporations, the young (who are now middle-aged) took as their creed a vulgar hedonism, papered over for some by New Left politics. Even when hippies cut their hair and got “real” jobs, the creeds they had popularized changed our economy and politics, all across the Western world. Gone was the stern frugality of the Depression generation, the optimistic fecundity of those who birthed the Baby Boom. In its place came a cleverly calculating Epicureanism, a breed of men who lived for pleasure but knew how to avoid overdoses and V.D., who relied on now-legal abortion to clean up the unintended consequences of pleasure, who looked to vacant New Age spirituality, or endless acquisition for its own sake, with endorphin rushes from risk buffered by the certainty that their banks were “too big to fail.” When the focus of life becomes not pursuing the Good, or even transmitting life so someone else has the chance to, and descends instead to the accumulation of diverse, amusing experiences, man as an organism ceases to function as he was built to. His machines, lazily tended, break down and fall apart. His governments, overburdened and underfunded, welsh on their debts. His countries are either depopulated or colonized by fertile foreigners. He looks around, and he shrugs. If he majored in English, he might use the line, as he shuffles offstage: “Not with a bang, but a wanker.”

    If we are to restore effective government and prosperous economies throughout the West, the first step will have to be averting our gaze from the funhouse mirror into which most of us have been staring for much of our lives. We must start to think as members of families first, and individuals second. We need to see our fertility not as a toxic waste that sometimes spills, but a primary purpose in most of our lives (celibates excepted). Leave God out for the moment; our parents made the sacrifice to put us on this earth. The least we can do is to pay it forward, and replace ourselves. (Those of us whom faith has taught to see life as a gift will surely wish to do more, where it’s prudent.)

    But there is the rub. Having children is ipso facto proof that each of us is replaceable—for here are the little ones ready to replace us. That means we are mortal. And who wants to admit something like that?

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

    Subscribe to Crisis

    (It's Free)

    Go to Crisis homepage

    • http://jakubczykonlife.blogspot.com John Jakubczyk

      It really is very simple. When we die to self, we find our true selves. When we pour out our very being to another, we become complete in that relationship. But when we are selfish, only focused on our own satisfaction, we end up empty, alone and frustrated.

      The problem today is that many people do not want to think about any of this. They simply want to find their smart phones and text about banal trivialities. The fact is that the results are articles in The Atlantic written by self centered women who cannot find a joy in life and therefore claim that marriage is a thing of the past.

      fortunately there is a way, a truth an a life that will lead to true joy. And He has shown us the way to find it and our true selves.

    • Michael PS

      Sir Boyle Roche springs to mind.

      “When a debate arose in the Irish House of Commons on the vote of a grant which was recommended by Sir John Parnell, Chancellor of the Exchequer, as one not likely to be felt burdensome for many years to come – it was observed in reply, that the House had no just right to load posterity with a weighty debt for what could in no degree operate to their advantage. Sir Boyle, eager to defend the measure of Government, immediately rose, and in a very few words, put forward the most unanswerable argument which human ingenuity could possibly devise. “What, Mr. Speaker!” said he, “and so we are to beggar ourselves for fear of vexing posterity! Now, I would ask the honourable gentleman, and still more honourable House, why we should put ourselves out of our way to do anything for posterity; for what has posterity done for us?”"

    • MMC

      Well written article. Yes, the symptoms distract us from the true problem: self-absorption/putting ourselves as God. The only answer is Christ…in His infinite mercy and patience with us…as we toddle, fall and get back up in our journey to maturity.

    • Cord Hamrick

      There’s one line in this piece, almost a “throwaway” line, which I hope everyone will take the time to define precisely for themselves:

      …modest tax raises and deep cuts in unsustainable social and military spending…

      Over the last century, the American Federal Internal Revenue code has changed many times. Top-bracket rates on income have been as high as 70% and as low as 25%. But something has remained quite consistent throughout all the alterations: The percent of GDP we could convert into revenue, under any clever combination of taxes.

      That rate has remained about 18.3% for the last hundred years. Sometimes it spikes upward during booms (e.g. the tech boom) or due to emergency war spending (e.g. World War II). Sometimes it drops during recessions. It gets as high as 25% and as low as 14%. But if you use a 10-year moving average to smooth out the peaks and troughs, you find that the long-term ability of the government to collect revenue maxes out at 18.3% of GDP.

      Of course, as GDP increases, the amount of actual dollars increases: 18.3% of a bigger pie is a bigger slice of pie. But it’s still 18.3% of GDP.

      I raise this fact because I want people to understand: Depending on whom you ask (CBO, economists for various think-tanks), entitlement spending alone, when combined with the interest on that portion of the national debt which represented by entitlement spending, is expected to rise to anywhere between 20% and 30% of GDP over the next 50 years.

      That’s by itself. That’s with no Congressional salaries, no FBI. That’s with the military holding bake sales to buy bombers.

      And what if we continue to give Congressmen salaries, pay for Federal law enforcement and the judiciary, and don’t leave soldiers to buy their own bullets? What if we don’t allow those categories of spending to increase at all, but freeze them at their current levels?

      Why then, when we add them to the entitlement spending at 20-30% of GDP, we get a Federal budget of roughly 30-40% of GDP by 2060.

      Being paid for, I remind you, by a revenue code which over the last century has never been able consistently to convert more that 18-and-change percent of GDP into revenue.

      Think about that for a moment if you will. Consider what it means.

      Right now, because we’re in a bad recession, we’re naturally converting less of GDP into revenue. We’re at about 16%. (Yes, it’s a recession: The Wall Street indicators that look at Main Street show that it is a Main Street recession even while Wall Street is able to compensate by trading on economic activity other than the small and medium-sized businesses that employ most U.S. workers, and thereby produce overall numbers which land ever-so-gently outside the realm of negative growth. I don’t begrudge them that: Good for them for finding a silver lining. But on Main Street, it’s a recession with no bounce-back. It’s not a V-shaped recession or a U-shaped recession, it’s an L shaped recession with no uptick in sight.)

      So, we’re a bit below historic norms in GDP-to-revenue conversion. Can we do anything to get that 16% to turn into 18.3% again? Possibly. The normal advice is not to raise taxes in a recession because it merely prompts further capital flight. But maybe we’ll turn out to be really really lucky and find out that right now is the exception to the rule.

      Keep in mind that we know, for certain, that it can’t be done by merely raising taxes on “the rich.” Even if you define “the rich” with quite a low threshold (say, any income of more than $100,000 per year), there simply aren’t enough rich people to make a dent in our budgetary shortfalls. If you’re unclear about that, I recommend the YouTube video by Bill Whittle titled “Eat The Rich” which lays out how small the impact would be of taxing only the wealthy. (URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=661pi6K-8WQ)

      So when we’re talking about raising taxes, it’s on everyone. But let’s say we do it. And let’s suppose that even as we sock-it to rich and poor alike, we somehow manage not to make the recession worse but actually (illogically!) trigger a recovery. Let’s say that our revenues bounce back to 18.3% of GDP. Or even 19%. Or even, improbably, 20%, and we’re somehow able to sustain a 20% conversion over many years instead of collapsing back to 18.3% like we have for the last century.

      Suppose all of that unlikely stuff is true.

      In that case, to not be Greece, to not be Weimar Germany, not, in short, to collapse into chaos, anarchy, famine, and war, we’ll still need to cut spending by enough to drop that 30-40% of GDP down to the 20% represented by our revenues.

      That’s a 10-20% reduction. Not a 10-20% reduction in spending, mind you, but a 10-20% reduction as a percentage of GDP.

      Let’s look on the optimistic side and suppose that entitlement spending growth is on the low end of the range: Only 20%. That means that entitlements are 20% of GDP and other spending (military, judiciary, all that) is another 10%, for 30% total. But we can only (optimistically!) get 20% of GDP converted to revenue.

      So we need to drop our spending by (optimistically!) 10% of GDP. And in order to be equitable, we’ll spread the cuts evenly throughout the budget, proportional to how much of the budget each spending category represents. Since entitlements are (optimistically!) 2/3rds of the budget and other stuff is only 1/3rd, we’ll require a reduction in entitlement spending equal to 6.66% of GDP, and a reduction in all other spending equal to 3.33% of GDP.

      But remember: Entitlement spending is 20% of GDP. Cutting 6.66% of GDP away out of that represents a 33.33% cut in entitlement spending.

      Let me say that again: To not collapse our economy and destroy the country by 2050, we are looking at cutting all entitlement spending BY ONE THIRD.

      That’s if we choose the most optimistic scenarios, folks.

      Are you clear about that?

      About now you’re saying, “But surely there are alternatives.” Well, yes: You could take more cuts out of the “other” category if you like. But to leave entitlements untouched you’d have to cut the “other” category down to zero percent, wouldn’t you? And we’re back to the military holding a bake sale to buy a bomber.

      If you’re more clever, you’re thinking, “We’ll inflate our way out of it. We’ll print money until we can pay for whatever we need to pay for.” That’s all very well, but have you considered what that means, when our shortfall is (at minimum! optimistically!) 10% of GDP?

      That’s a lot of money printing, folks. It’s not Weimar Republic stuff, but it’ll revive the phrase “not worth a Continental” in a hurry. Think about the elderly on a really decent fixed-income: $1000 a month, say. That $1000 a month works just fine if you own your house and don’t pay too much in utilities and groceries.

      But devalue the currency by enough to cover our projected shortfalls, and suddenly the price of everything jumps up by 5-25%, depending on the item. A person who’s breaking-even on $1000 a month is going into the poorhouse if his needs suddenly cost between $1,050 and $1,250 a month.

      What will we do?

      Well, assuming that we actually do anything and don’t just commit economic suicide, I expect we’ll probably mix cuts and inflation.

      And we’ll probably also raise tax rates on someone, not because it’s likely to cause any detectable increase in revenue (it isn’t; revenue will probably remain unchanged as GDP shrinks) but merely in order to give political cover to the Democrats who won’t otherwise be able to sell the cuts and the inflation to their constituencies.

      Anyhow, ALL OF THAT is the background behind Jason Jones’ phrase “…modest tax raises and deep cuts in unsustainable social and military spending.”

      I hope everybody appreciates that phrase a bit better now. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

      • sarto

        Sorry, Cord, but nobody wants to read your assignment for economics class 202. Too long, too complicated. As an old journalist, this would be my best advice: Cut it down by 2/3 and people might foillow it to the end.

        • Micha Elyi

          Some people need the remedial economics lesson. Obama voters/enablers, for example.

        • Cord Hamrick

          Well, sure, Sarto.

          I suppose I can cut it down:

          ——–

          The original quote was: “…modest tax raises and deep cuts in unsustainable social and military spending….”

          1. Why “modest” tax raises? Because under the current circumstances, we know that tax rate increases won’t increase revenue, and thus won’t actually help reduce our budget deficit; thus, the only purpose for them is to give Democrats political cover to do the things which will actually help.

          2. What kind of “deep” cuts are we talking about? Cutting every Federal spending category by roughly ONE THIRD, that’s how deep. 33% cuts, folks. Much less than a third, and the problem isn’t solved, even under a VERY optimistic scenario.

          3. “Are there alternatives?” Yes. They are (a.) national collapse and (b.) voluntarily causing some really severe inflation, thereby reducing our need to numerically cut spending by instead spending dollars that don’t buy as much. The downside to this is that we thereby impoverish those living off savings and fixed incomes.

          4. “Is it really necessary to cut by a THIRD? Isn’t that far more than we need?” Yes, it’s necessary; no, it’s not more than we need. The details which made my original post so long explain why.

          5. “Doesn’t it make sense, for bipartisanship’s sake, to trade 1%-for-1% tax increases and spending cuts?” It makes no sense at all. The tax increases won’t, in a recession, appreciably increase revenue. Therefore we still need the 33% spending cuts. If we did “1 for 1″ that’d mean a 33% tax increase on everyone. Which is just a faster way to destroy the economy, which is what we’re trying to avoid here.

          ———–

          There ya’ go. Much shorter.

          Of course, I had to refer to the longer post, in order to back up the critical part.

          But I guess that’s okay. Some folks read books; others read Cliff’s Notes.

    • Nick Palmer

      Challenging article — and timely.

      I was sitting around this morning, and had an interesting thought. At the time my mind was in one of those, “I hope that…” loops. As I stopped myself, I thought, “So what SHOULD I be wishing for?”

      So, here’s the test I propose for any of us. Write down the top five things you “hope” for, we do say in AA that “hope” is important. Now, take that list and categorize the “hopes” as:

      1. Hope for things that I will get. For example, “I hope to get a new job,” or “I hope to win the lottery,” or “I hope to be happy.”

      2. Hope for good things for others. For example, “I hope my friend stays sober,” or “I hope my sister gets well.”

      3. Hope that I do the right things. For example, “I hope to have the strength today to do God’s will.”

      Now, which of these “hopes” is the clearest sign of spiritual and emotional maturity? I’m afraid that my answers weren’t that “mature.”

    • Carl

      Sarto,

      You’re not really critiquing Cord’s written thoughts as you are unwittingly describing the general populace and their proclivities towards simpleton-sound bite-brain washing.

      You’re right that the average “nobody” would not read Cord’s 202 class, neither would they read through Jason’s Onan piece, and neither would crisismagazine be a bookmark on their internet browser.

      What is it? 25% of Catholics attend Mass regularly. Beyond High School, CCD, or RCIA how many Catholics expand their understanding of Church teachings? Read faith inspired material regularly? 5-15%

      I am no where near as verbose as Cord in either written or verbal communication. I do when discussing these issues try to keep it simple. But most people I talk to don’t want to listen or have a legitimate discussion even then.

      It takes work and commitment to do the right thing. It’s too easy to hold out your hands for government entitlements and not worry how and who pays for it.

      Cord Hamrick Eco class 202 student

    • JudiC

      Let’s please be clear about one thing. My expectation to receive a return at least equivalent to bank interest rates on money the government has appropriated (confiscated) from my earnings since 1968 should never be referred to as an entitlement.

      • Cord Hamrick

        JudiC:

        I entirely understand your perspective, here.

        I agree with you, in principle.

        The difficulty, however, is that while Social Security is sold to the public as a sort of privately held savings account, that is not what it actually is.

        With Social Security, money taken in today is spent on benefits for persons needing benefits today. There is no delay while the money goes into some nebulous investment vehicle where it could earn interest. The dollar comes in; a millisecond later, it goes out.

        It is functionally identical to a Ponzi scheme, except for the fact that the government is doing it, which is the only thing that makes it legal.

        (“It’s good to be the king.”)

        So while I agree with you that you ought to get exactly what you put in, with interest, the reality is that that money isn’t there any more.

        Now, for awhile, there was actually more money flowing in than was needed to pay the benefits of the day. A surplus built up. Unfortunately that temptation was too great for Congress to resist: They used that surplus to fund greater social spending and pet projects.

        Now, however, the first contraceptive-oriented, small-family-size generation is retiring. They didn’t have nearly as many children to fund their retirement as their parents’ generation did. There are now far too many retirees per working stiff. As a result the daily “inflow” into Social Security is now less than the “outflow.”

        That wouldn’t be a problem had Congress not spent the surplus built up during the baby-boomers’ working years. But Congress did spend it. It’s gone. And now the Social Security system has insufficient inflow to cover the baby-boomers’ current need for benefits. Right now we’re just borrowing from the Chinese in a mad effort to cover the shortfall.

        So, to reiterate: The money isn’t there any more. That means that someone isn’t going to get their promised benefits.

        The alternative is that we merely “print money” (actually electronic ledger entries, no ink required) to cover the need.

        That “works” in the sense that it gives you enough dollars to pay everyone’s promised benefits. But it so drastically devalues the currency that even if everybody still gets their promised benefit numerically, that amount of dollars may not buy a quart of milk. Everyone gets the number they were promised; but that number doesn’t have the buying power they expected it to have.

        Now, JudiC, if you’ve been earning since 1968 (nearly 44 years), chances are you’re 50 or older. You’re much more likely to get benefits than I am; I’m only 40.

        I say this because I think (even though it hurts my own finances pretty substantially) that the sanest way to reform the benefits is to increase the eligibility age not at all for those already eligible, only a little for those nearly eligible, and a lot for those decades away from eligibility.

        One example of such a reform would go this way: Take the number of years away from eligibility you are, multiply by 1.5, and round down, with your maximum age of eligibility being equal to 110% of the median life expectancy for people born in the year you were born.

        For people born after 1959, full eligibility is at age 67. For me, that’s 27 years away. Under my example reform, that would change to 40 years, which puts me retiring at age 80. But the median life expectancy for folks born when I was is about 71 years. 110% of that is 78, so I don’t have to wait until I’m 80; I can get full benefits at 78.

        But for a person who’s already 55, their full eligibility under the current system is at 65 (I think; the SSA website isn’t perfectly clear). They’re 10 years away. Under the proposed reform they’d now be 15 years away, retiring at 70. 110% of their median life expectancy is about 75; 70 is the lower of the two, so they become eligible at 70.

        Anyhow, this is one cost-cutting proposal. There are others.

        But the critical thing is to not yank benefits away from those already dependent on them. The folks further from retirement are the ones who have more time to adapt their plans to the new reality. All the reform proposals have this feature. That’s why I say that you, Judi, are far more likely to see something approaching your expected benefits, than I am.

        But don’t expect to see them all, naturally. The money isn’t there any more. All that’s there is a big IOU from the government, and it’s a government that’s doing a bad job paying its debts right now.

        They are, frankly, hoping you’ll die before you collect. That’s why the original Social Security System when first enacted had a retirement age so much higher than the (then) median life-expectancy: The system only works if (a.) folks have 4 or more children per family and (b.) most folks die before being eligible to collect.

        And that’s why reform proposals change the new eligibility age to something slightly higher than your mean life expectancy.

      • Elisa

        JudiC, social security is an entitlement because you are ENTITLED to receive it. You pay in, you get social security payments. There are no income limits, you don’t have to qualify for the program. It’s an entitlement. Now I realize that the word has come to have a different connotation, because we talk about irresponsible people having a “sense of entitlement”, but that is because they THINK they’re entitled when they’re not. To actually be “entitled” is to “have title” to something. So when people say they want to cut entitlements, they’re actually saying they want to cut programs that people “hold title to”. Not social welfare programs like WIC, food stamps, etc.

    • Michael PS

      As Spengler said in Asia Times

      “I don’t think there’s too much government debt. There isn’t enough government debt. How do I know that? People keep buying it. The 10-year Treasury’s at 2.4% and the 2-year is at 27 basis points.
      The private sector should be taking down credit, generating wages and profits, and paying taxes, so that the government doesn’t have to borrow.

      Why don’t private companies want to borrow? A lot of them are sitting on cash, or returning it to investors. And why don’t investors want to own corporate stocks at a forward earnings yield of 8%? Why not buy the S&P for a dividend yield of 2.2%? Taxed at a max 15% rate, that’s 1.87%, against a 10-year Treasury yielding 2.4% but taxed at 30%, for 1.68% after-tax yield. And that’s just the dividends — doesn’t count the rest of the earnings.”