The Other Side Of Entitlements

August 20, 2011 08:00:00 AM

By CHARLES BARRETT

LYNN HAVEN

It gets a little aggravating to be constantly bombarded by the media with accusations and innuendos that the elder population is greedy and is intentionally ruining the future for the younger generations. Apparently those critics aren’t acknowledging that participation was not optional in those programs which the critics now wish to cut; it was mandated by the federal government.

As a young person (before age 23) I contributed (involuntarily) to Social Security, but only in nominal amounts. Starting at age 23 I contributed (again involuntarily) the maximum for 42 years, many of those years as a self-employed person, meaning that both sides of the FICA came out of my pocket. Now the talking heads whine about entitlements.

You bet I am entitled to Social Security, because an average of 10 percent of my life-long earnings went into the program! Had the government not squandered that money on first one social program after another for the non-working, non-paying segment of the population, but had instead invested it (as it said it would), or had allowed me to invest it, I would have had a large enough fund to not need Social Security. So seniors such as I are entitled to the benefits which we were guaranteed.

Medicare came later, and I don’t recall having much of a chance to opt out of it. I still pay for Medicare each month, as well as pay for a supplemental private health insurance policy, so don’t tell me that I am getting something for nothing there either. Medicare could/should be revised, but there are many who dropped other insurances, relying (to their detriment perhaps) on Medicare’s assurances. Again the government led the citizens down a slippery slope.

Let’s talk about some other components of the so-called “entitlements” package — Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Those are strictly welfare programs and should be recognized as such, and their recipients are NOT entitled. They did nothing to gain those benefits, contributed no funds to those programs. Medicaid is perhaps the biggest abuser of the public funds, and is fraught with fraud.

It would be helpful if the media and the politicians would recognize the differences between programs and talk and act accordingly. I don’t want the recipients of those welfare benefits to suffer, but it must be recognized as what it is — charity. There are also numerous other federal, state and some local programs that are welfare, not entitlements, and their costs are often dumped in with the cost of the true entitlements.

The News Herald had a particularly egregious cartoon in the Aug. 15 paper that was totally incorrect in what it depicted. We “greedy” seniors are not trying to take food out of the babies’ mouths. In reality, we have spent lifetimes working and saving so that the younger generations — our children and grandchildren — could even have a future.

This article, written by my father, was submitted as a Letter to the Editor at the Panama City News Herald with the title The Other Side of Entitlements. The Panama City News Herald changed the title to Social Security Not an Entitlement. The change in the title actually implies the OPPOSITE intent of the article. Nevertheless here it is…I have restored the original title.

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