Don’t People “Deserve” To Get Drugs Through The Medicare Prescription Drug Program?

In the comments section of the More Than Half Of All Americans Are Suckling At The Government Teat article, RWN reader CoolCzech wrote the following,

“On the subject of the prescription insurance benefit from Medicare, I will say this:

My parents worked most of their adult lives in this country and had half their income taxed away that whole time – income they could have used to buy unsubsidized prescription insurance, if they had been allowed to save it up.

So what’s so wrong with my 64 year old widowed Mom being able to actually benefit from all those taxes they paid over those long years, by a reasonably priced Federal prescription insurance program? It’s cut her monthly prescription expenses down to a fraction of what it was.” — CoolCzech

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I’m not picking on CoolCzech here, but this sort of circular reasoning is why it’s almost impossible to get rid of any sort of entitlements.

The reasoning goes, “Hey, I paid taxes all my life. A lot of taxes! If I hadn’t been paying taxes, I could have gotten it myself anyway! Therefore, I deserve these benefits from the government!”

Of course, the problem with that is that almost everyone feels like they’re paying too much in taxes and therefore, everybody feels entitled to get things for free from the government. If the government set up a program to give you a new car every 3 years, you could make exactly the same argument that CoolCzech just made about the Medicare Prescription Drug plan to defend it — and let me tell you, once that program went into effect, you would never be able to get rid of it because everyone who was eligible to get a new car would vote against anyone who wanted to get rid of the program.

So, what this means is that the ratchet only turns one way. Plans to give away other people’s money — and yes, the Medicare Prescription Drug plan is paid for with “other people’s money” because the government has never saved a dime of what CoolCzech’s mother paid in — are popular and even the “other people” don’t get too upset about a particular program because taxes are paid on so many different things. Were your taxes used for the Medicare Prescription Drug plan or the road you drive on every day? Were they used to buy body armor for a soldier in Iraq or to give some artist a grant to make a picture of Jesus out of monkey feces? You don’t know and so while you may not be happy about how high your taxes are in general, most people don’t generally get all that upset about anything except the most egregious wastes of tax dollars.

But, by God, if they’re taking something away from you that you are already getting, you will raise holy hell because you paid taxes all your life and therefore you earned whatever the government is giving you with someone else’s tax money. That’s just human nature.

That’s likely what Alexander Tytler, or whoever the real author of this quote was thinking, when he said,

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.” — Author unknown

So, are we headed towards a dictatorship because of our fiscal policies? No, but within the next 20 years or so in the US and Europe, we are probably going to hit a wall where the governments of nations simply are not going to be able to pay out all the largesse that has been promised to their citizens and hard choices will have to be made about how to deal with it. The only thing we have going for us in that regard is that most of Europe is worse off than we are. Because European nations are more in the thrall of socialism and tend to have horrible demographic woes, some European nation will hit the wall before us and hopefully will spur our government into doing something a few years earlier than they would have otherwise.

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