Is fair play a thing of the past?
Graphic Source: MorgueFile
We hear a lot of talk about government’s plans for saving money. I think everybody knows this country is running at a deficit, and something has to be done. The problem is politicians want to save money on the backs of the citizens, while they are trying to get extra for themselves. There are many examples of this throughout government. Let me tell you about one of the latest that is taking place in New York State. A new pension tier has been introduced which drastically cuts the benefits for workers from 2% a year, to 1.67%. I am sure some of you will say cuts have to be made and maybe you have no sympathy for these workers. The same workers are going to have to pay between 3% and 6% of their salary every year for this benefit. Now I ask you, if you think that this is fair, what do you think about the rest of the deal where politicians have voted themselves into a pension plan that allows them to get 8% a year towards retirement, and allows them to retire with as little as one year on the job, while the rest of the workers have to work at least 10 years before they can think about retirement? Can you imagine the huge pensions these politicians are going to get while cutting the pensions of everybody else? Whether someone agrees or not with what is happening to the civil service, they should be outraged at what is happening to the money that is supposedly being saved, because a lot of it is just being shifted over to hacks and cronies.
This is only one example of what is going on. Every day citizens are being asked to make some sort of sacrifice. The sacrifice may involve increased taxes, cuts in services, or some sort of combination of both. I am sure most Americans don't mind doing this, if the same sacrifices are made by everyone, but this is certainly not the case. Let's look at federal taxes. Only about half of the citizens in the United States filed tax returns for 2010. Benefits and tax breaks for the middle class have constantly been eroded more every year. While this has been going on, the tax code seems to keep changing so that the richer people, and companies, get big tax breaks, and maybe even pay no tax. What do you think will happen to you if you are on a fixed pension, and you decided to pay no tax? It might take a while, but eventually you would land in jail. The reason for this would be because you have no tax shelters to hide behind. There are plenty of multimillionaires, who are able to bend the tax laws so that they pay little or no tax. The tax laws are purposely kept complex. The reason for this is to keep them in a state where they can be manipulated, so that many loopholes will be there for those who can afford to hire the experts who will seek out these loopholes, and apply them to rich people's taxes. There are also plenty of loopholes which apply to corporate taxes. I heard the other day that one of the big corporations submitted their taxes, and it was comprised of over 3,000 pages.
Lately there's been a lot of talk about reducing state budgets, what is really happening is the bills that had gone before the state legislatures, while taking benefits away from workers and citizens, are being used to add benefits for the politicians and rich. I don't know where this country has gone wrong, but it seems like the politicians all over the country are poised to attach benefits for themselves to any cost cutting bill, or any bill which comes their way. It is like a hive mentality. Look at what is being done with hospitalization insurance. While some of you may not agree with the way, Medicare works, I ask you to think about the people who are changing the rules. They all have a Cadillac plan that takes care of their medical needs, so what do they really care about the rest of us? I believe this is one of the problems. If the Congress is going to make rules for something that affects all of us, I think they should be covered by the same plans. Why should congressmen and senators be allowed to vote themselves into plans which are far better than the ones the rest of us have? You see this everywhere, in state legislatures, county, and city governments, and in the federal government. For some strange reason these people think they are better than the rest of us, therefore they deserve better benefits. Once we allowed them to go down this road, we created a monster. The same people found out they could increase their salaries by huge amounts, by getting on committees and even more for becoming a chairperson. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a fat expense account, like our representatives?
Money is just wasted in so many places. Below is a pie chart created by the government.
Let's look at the military for example. The budget for the military is 20% of our gross income. There is no other country in the entire world, which spends this much on national defense. When we first look at national defense we are told we really need this to protect our country. But when we check deeper, we find that many times this category is just used as an excuse for companies to sell us unneeded, or nonworking weapons systems and such. We certainly could take a big chunk out of the deficit by having an honest person eliminate the waste, and corruption. The Chinese military budget for 2015 is estimated at US $238.20 billion. The United States military budget was estimated by Jane’s Defense as being 525.40 billion in 2013. Since I had to compare 2015 and 2013, the chances are the US military budget will be even higher in 2015. This doesn’t even take into account the hidden black budget. China happens to have the second biggest military budget in the entire world. There seems to be something wrong with this picture. The first thing we have to do is stop fighting unnecessary wars, but that is hard to do, when they are really being fought so that contractors can make tons of money going into these countries. We could probably save $100 billion a year in our military budget, and not notice any difference in our capability, of course this would be denied by the military and the military industrial complex. We could do this by eliminating programs that don't work, and by not buying unnecessary equipment. If we combine this with all the money we are spending fighting wars that we shouldn't be, we should be able to reach this plateau easily.
When we talk about Social Security, which the pie chart shows as an equal output of funds to the Defense Department budget, we have to realize that the fund has been misused for many years. People paid for these benefits, they weren't free and they don't come from the general tax fund. All one has to do is to go into any big city, and they will see that most of the nonworking drug addicts receive a Social Security check. What is this all about? There are also a lot of cheats collecting disability, who should be investigated. Thirdly, the Congress has taken all the money from the fund and used it for other purposes. This is really why the fund is in trouble. Social Security was never meant to be a welfare program, it was meant to supplement retirement, and provide insurance for those who got injured. You have to wonder how many illegal aliens are collecting Social Security using phony cards. It is probably too late for Congress to replace all the money that they took, but laws should be passed protecting the fund, and not allowing any money to be taken out except for Social Security payments. Congress is very hypocritical when it comes to the Social Security Fund. They blame the lack of funds on us, rather than telling the truth about how they took the money.
If we look at Medicare, it accounts for 13% of the government outlay. Governments have allowed insurance companies to drive up medical insurance to the point, where doctors and hospitals have to charge tremendous amounts of money just to cover their insurance payments. Drug companies have been allowed to also charge outrageous prices in this country for the same drugs they sell to other countries at a much lower price. They are doing this right in front of us, and to make matters even worse, they have gone out of their way to try and prevent us from buying drugs from countries that pay less for them, such as Canada. While these companies have been thumbing their noses at us for years, their lobbyists have been taking care of the politicians, so this practice would be allowed to continue. The drug company representatives also throw lavish parties for doctors, and reward them in different ways for prescribing their drugs. This system is as corrupt as any could be. If our representatives were willing, they could fix this, but they just don't want to lose their rewards. I haven't even mentioned the fact that besides all of this, people have been beating this system out of hundreds of millions of dollars for years, and the ones that get caught, the ones you read about in the papers, probably are only the tip of the iceberg.
So what is the real problem here, why can't we balance our budget? The answer is not that complicated, our system is so totally corrupt, it will never work the way we want it to. When I took psychology in college, there was something called the herd mentality. This is where people don't act as individuals, but more like sheep following the leader. An example might be, 50 people trying to get on an elevator that only holds 20. This happens all the time, in jury selection in the courts, where prospective jurors are told to report to a different floor, and they all want to get in the same elevator as the person leading them. I think the same thing happens when we elect government officials. They all fall right into the groove, and most of them become just like those who were there before them. I am not privy to the inner workings of such institutions as the Senate and the House of Representatives, but I think all new members become indoctrinated in one way or another, and are too afraid to rock the boat, or the benefits are just too much for them to turn down.
The bottom line is we may be able to rescue this country from its huge deficit, without making the middle class suffer, unlike most of the proposals made by our leaders. Do away with the Federal Reserve Bank and you could immediately eliminate our entire deficit, or near that amount. We owe this private institution more money than we owe China, and yet no one hears about this. The Federal Reserve Bank charges us for every bill it prints, and it recently gave $14 trillion away to banks and private companies, these not only in the United States but in foreign countries, and yet this was never mentioned by any politician, why?
It is time to stop fooling around and trying to use our crisis as an excuse for politicians to featherbed themselves, and destroy the middle class, and really get into the work of saving this country.