We long ago passed the bar of a strong socialist element in our government. When we have a strong growing economy it becomes hard to say no to the less fortunate without feeling greedy or selfish. But financial setbacks cause us to question our systems more rigorously, and real limits to what we can afford in spite of their moral justifications become apparent.
Even conservatives have accepted that government should be used to help the less fortunate. This is a relatively new phenomenon. But the real question has become how much should we help and how many should receive government assistance. At what point does our help become a shackle? Or as Paul Ryan so eloquently stated it, “when does our safety net become a hammock?”
Overly generous benefits attract more citizens to be less productive and the escalating taxes causes those who fund this scheme to become less productive. Someone has to may for these generous benefits.
The Greek economy has become the poster child for irresponsible social spending and California has become its American clone.
In the Wall Street Journal Michael J. Boskin and John F. Cogan wrote California’s Greek Tragedy, 3/13/12.
But then something went radically wrong as California legislatures and governors built a welfare state on high tax rates, liberal entitlement benefits, and excessive regulation. The results, though predictable, are nonetheless striking. From the mid-1980s to 2005, California’s population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000.
California’s economy, which used to outperform the rest of the country, now substantially underperforms. The unemployment rate, at 10.9%, is higher than every other state except Nevada and Rhode Island. With 12% of America’s population, California has one third of the nation’s welfare recipients.
These numbers are chilling. Yet the substantial cuts required almost threaten the social stability. In order to preserve the safety net for those who need it, benefits must be cut dramatically. Those who contend otherwise are on the wrong side of reality.