“No The Government CAN’T”
By Allen Herman
I’ve come to realize that today, the REAL question is what CAN government do?
Forgive me, I know I’ve said this repeatedly, but this month’s commentary forces me to say it yet again. As a small child growing up in a row home in Feltonville we frequently had people come to our door. Some were beggers that my mother, regardless of our own finances, always seemed to find money for in her little “pishka.” And when my brother or I would question her about her charity she always responded by saying, “Thank the Lord we are on this side of the door!”
This memory is stuck in my head today as I write this article. In many ways it has always impacted my life … reminding me how fortunate we have been as a family and how fortunate we are as a nation. Even as a student at Clara Barton Elementary School I can remember having had an interest in social causes. How we help the poor, the handicapped and those less fortunate has always been a concern. And I have never lost it.
I still see myself as socially responsible for my fellow man. I’ve shared my thoughts about those on the brink of losing their homes and those with illnesses, disabilities and those just plain down on their luck. And I can thank my mother for instilling those values of being my brother’s keeper and thanking the Lord for being on “this side of the door!”
But recently I was hit by a bolt of lightning. I had, as people would say, an epiphany! As I was driving along one day I suddenly realized that I was completely wrong in wondering what government SHOULD do to help those “on the other side of the door.” Perhaps the REAL question is what CAN government do to help those in need.
Even more surprising is my response …. NOTHING! It’s my opinion, but I don’t think the government can do anything. Government seldom really helps those in need. It is incapable. It often tries, but rarely succeeds. Congress’ track record is no better than a broken clock that is right twice a day. Sad to say, the inept and sometimes less-than-honest legislative bodies in most cities and states, and certainly in the Federal Government have screwed up just about every social problem they have attempted to correct … using solutions as vehicles for favors, featherbedding, patronage, pork barreling and just plain old theft. In some cases stupidity is an even greater factor than greed or patronage.
And while some of their efforts have been admirable, the results are more often than not, failures. Remember “Uncle Sam” gave the airlines billions of dollars after 9/11 to purchase new aircraft? They forgot to tell the airlines to “buy American.” So they didn’t! Then the guys and gals on The Hill provided huge sums for security equipment and a new group of federal employees. They also allowed the airlines to charge for luggage brought on board. The result … passengers are taking so many items through security that it’s almost impossible for this new group of “Federals” to do their jobs.
Congress gave our nation’s banks over seven hundred BILLION dollars to help the economy and troubled homeowners specifically. But they FORGOT to tell the banks they had to tell the lender… us, the taxpayer … what they’re doing with the money. There appears to be no accountability for the loan WE made. And when “Uncle Sam” finally questioned the recipients of the big bucks, they informed Congress that it was none of their business!!
So what did Congress do? They gave the banks the remaining funds not already thrown away!! Nice. And while some homeowners have been saved, a hell of a lot of bankers and brokers ended up with fabulous year-end bonuses for the great jobs they did playing a major roll in destroying the economy.
After listening to the “auto bail-out” I decided that a majority of Congress wanted to go to the “Swearing in Ceremony” in a Mercedes. Some forgot that over the years, at election times, many of the members of these two Chambers had urged the Big Three to give in to the unions to avoid possible damage at the voting booth. Ergo, large losses. And we now are only the Big Two with Chrysler now owned by an Italian corporation.
Some Southern Senators forgot that their states had given free land, low or no-cost loans and large funds for the free training of employees of the import car manufacturers that set up shop in their states. Small wonder Detroit had trouble competing. Senators from Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama were defending the imports at the expense of Detroit with the same vigor that their ancestors defended slavery some hundred and fifty years ago.
But this is not the first time I have seen the people on The Hill omit common sense or true patriotism from their agenda. One look at our Social Security System will reveal the ultimate Ponzi Scheme. We are literally, as the cartoon states, taking money from someone today to pay someone who gave money yesterday. And tomorrow, until the scheme folds, we will take money from new victims, excuse me Mr. or Ms. taxpayer, to pay today’s Social Security contributors.
When President Roosevelt proposed Social Security it was meant to allow people to retire. In time, the idea changed from allow-you-to-retire, to assist you, to help-you-to-retire, to supplementing-your-retirement to the idea that our children better-forget-it because the System will not exist in another twenty years. No welfare program, monies given to the poor etc., has ever been so threatened with elimination … just Social Security which is certainly not a “freebee.” I remind our Government that the checks our seniors receive is a “return on investment” and not an “entitlement.”
If you are surprised, I dare say, Congress is not. They have continually borrowed from the fund that was set up to cover the program to cover up their unbalanced budgets. They never, to the best of my knowledge, returned one dime. They have added all types of non-paying – in some cases not even legal non-paying people to the program. They also have passed their OWN retirement package that is totally separate from the program set up for you and me. They know what is happening.
Believe me, their package… for which they are eligible after just two years of “employment”… is very well funded and very “all inclusive.” Their fund is not subject to taxes nor do they have to contribute to their medical portion out of their monthly benefits. Only you and I have to pay and pay and pay to get very little at the end.
And now our retirement benefits are taxed and there are substantial deductions for Medicare and Lord knows what else. Many find that their Social Security will not even cover their Blue Cross and Blue Shield. If you require any medications that are either not covered or you are in the “donut,” you will discover that, as a private citizen, you can purchase the very same medications from Canada or Israel for less than one fourth of what our “Uncle Sam,” who buys billions of dollars worth, pays. And the response of the Government has not been to correct the situation, instead they have made it questionable to buy drugs from outside the USA.
To be honest, I don’t have all the answers. However, I am certain we would be better off hiring private firms to do just about everything that needs to be done. Even President Obama went outside of government to fix the programing mess in his signature piece of legislation called The Affordable Healthcare Act. The Veterans Administration now urges Vets to seek medical attention outside of their very own hospitals.
Need I provide more illustrations? Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, the Ebola crisis? Heck, Congress can’t even run its own lunchroom at a profit.
If we really want to help those in need, find a worthwhile charity and help them directly. There are many. Better yet, become a volunteer in one of the programs already in place to assist in so many ways. My mother would be proud.
Your opinions are always welcomed.