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Words from Winterbilt

Poor people are taking us brokeÖ.

Shannon Bohrer

(Oct, 2011) I read with interest a recent article published in a local paper about cutting entitlements, written by a local elected official. The article stated that cutting entitlements will have "a great impact on the few people whose entitlement benefits are cut. But it will have only a negligible impact on local tax payers." When I finished the article I had the impression that the writer believed that it was the entitlements that are making us broke and that the recipients of the entitlements were poor people. I also had the impression that the writer believed it was the Republicans that will make the tough choices and the Democrats that will not. I think he believes what he says; however there were a few facts that I believed were omitted. Personally, I donít believe either party is without problems and/or faults, nor do I believe that either party has the answers to the problems we face. This is an easy conclusion since both parties make promises and then when they are in power- they develop "promise amnesia."

As to poor people, they do receive entitlements in various forms and I do understand that there is a cost to tax payers. The purpose is generally agreed upon that poor people are in need and a civilized society takes care of the poor. When talking about entitlements for poor people it is a logical assumption that poor people donít have any money, so they donít pay taxes and everyone else (the non poor) do pay taxes. However, this is where the article is lacking a few facts. It is well known and documented that entitlements go to many individuals, businesses and corporations Ė many of which are not poor - at least I donít think they are poor.

"If we just eliminate the entitlements to poor people our budget problems will be solved Ė and - the solution will not affect the rest of us."

It has been reported that less than 50 percent of the people pay taxes. If the people not paying taxes are poor, then cutting the entitlements will affect a lot of people (over 50 percent). Of course if the people not paying taxes are not poor, then why are they not paying taxes? This is where the facts can be is a little confusing. You see, entitlements do not just go to the poor - they also go to significant numbers of non-poor individuals, businesses, industries and even rich people. I wonder if the local elected official (who wrote the article) believes that eliminating the entitlements that go to the poor people will solve our economic problems! Maybe he means we should also eliminate the entitlements that also go to non poor and businesses. Of course if the non poor and business entitlements are eliminated the elected officialís prediction that only a few people would be affected - would be wrong.

If we take a moment to step back, we often hear the word "entitlement" as if itís a bad word! An Entitlement is money that people, and also businesses, receive from the government, like poor people receiving assistance. An entitlement is also unemployment insurance, which is normally paid for from funds that employers pay. Since there are so many unemployed I think the funds are all gone. An entitlement can also be tax breaks for oil companies and reduced tax breaks for hedge fund managers. A very large entitlement is social security, which is reportedly going broke. Of course social security has 2.6 billion in IOUs from the government and if the government pays then social security would be solvent for another 25 years. Have you ever noticed that when a politician talks about the deficit and debt problems and reform of entitlements, one of the first thing mentioned is social security? Since social security is a government program that works and would be solvent if Congress had not borrowed the surplus funds, I wonder why it is used so often as a program in trouble.

In one government survey of businesses, 40 percent of the business examined did not pay any taxes. (Remember GE). Are these businesses poor? In another recent examination of businesses that received stimulus funds, it was discovered that a significant number did not pay any income taxes. The report went on to say that the problem could be larger than what was reported, because they only examined business that had previously paid taxes. Which means that some businesses that received stimulus funds may not have been paying taxes before the stimulus package. Are these businesses poor? Maybe the stimulus package was for the purpose of stimulating the business that received the funds, not unlike the banking bailouts. Even with the constant talk of deregulation I believe it would be nice to have a law that prohibits individuals, groups and or businesses from receiving any federal, state and/or local funds if the individual and/or business are delinquent in current and/or former taxes.

If this sometimes sounds confusing it could be because both political parties are trying to sell you something. Both major political parties want to be in office and just like any advertising they are always trying to sell their product by telling you how bad the other side is. Of course after telling you how bad the other side is, they tell you how they will solve the problem. As in the case of the article I mentioned at the beginning. If we just eliminate the entitlements to poor people our budget problems will be solved Ė and Ė the solution will not affect the rest of us. Sounds good, except that entitlements seem to go to everyone. Of course if we eliminate all entitlements, our budget problems will be solved but it will also affect all of us, and not in a pleasant way. Remember Social Security?

The economic problems we face are significant and it is easy for one side to claim that the problems relate to the policy of the other side, and in fact they are both right. The poor are taking us broke, the poor people, the poor businesses, the poor hedge fund managers and even the poor solutions created by our elected officials. As Will Rogers said "The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one thatís out always looks the best"

Maybe we could add another line on voting ballets NONE OF THE ABOVE. If "none of the above" was elected we could save a lot of money. Of course we would have to create a law that says that if a person running for office changes their name to none of the above, their former name would be required to appear on the ballet.

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer