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The Lake News Online
  • Lake view: What are old age entitlements?

  • Is anyone out there as tired as I am to hear our Federal Government representatives refer to the term “old age entitlements”?
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  • Is anyone out there as tired as I am to hear our Federal Government representatives refer to the term “old age entitlements”?
    I have about reached my limits so I set out to check into this. First of all, I went to Webster to find out his definition of the term “entitlement.” I thought that was as good a place to start as any. Mr. Webster defines the term as “to give one a right to do or have something”.
    Does anyone think this defines Social Security or Medicare? Does anyone think these are a gift? Let’s take a moment to review the bidding on both programs.
     
    Social Security
    Social Security was enacted in 1939. From that point on, almost all people working for a salary contributed money into the fund.
    In addition, their employer matched every dollar contributed with another dollar. This continued as long as the individual continued working. According to the Social Security Commission, there should be $2.6 trillion in the fund right now. This figures money collected and paid out since 1939.
    This varies slightly with what Congress and the President are telling us. According to them, there are only approximately 20 years until the system cannot provide full benefits.
    What went wrong?
    According to the internet, in 1939 the fund was allowed to invest in securities such as Treasury bills, notes and bonds as well as special issue bonds.
    From day one, Congress invested in them thusly, then borrowed the money back to spend as they chose to. During Lyndon Johnson’s regime, all pretense of “investing” was discontinued and contributions were considered part of the Federal Budget.
    Given that this information from the internet is close to accurate, I think it is safe to say Congress spent the money as fast as it came in with no plan to replenish it.
    This covers both of our major political parties, so politics is not an issue. Now our elected representatives tell us we can’t afford “old age entitlements”? My message to Congress would be “you spent it, find the money”.
     
    Medicare
    Once again we have a situation where another earned benefit is being termed an “old age entitlement”. As you all know, we pay for our Medicare if you are 65 or older. Money is withheld from your social Security check each month. Everyone eligible is paying for this insurance.
    It is NOT, repeat NOT a gift from our Government nor does it meet Webster’s definition of an entitlement. I do understand that what we pay does not fully cover our medical expenses. Medical costs over the last 30 years have far exceeded the inflation rate.
    Page 2 of 2 - This is not the doing of those of us in retirement. Some of you might have read the piece I did last month regarding profits of non-profit hospitals in this country and remember what their profits look like. Adding all four hospitals I examined indicates that the profits totaled 2.214 billion dollars. Perhaps Congress should examine their tax exempt status and use some of that as a source of income to increase Medicare funding.
    Social Security and Medicare are not entitlements as I interpret Webster. They are benefits that we have paid for and continue to pay for.
    Although I retired in 1997, I have a part time job. From every paycheck I earn, both Medicare and Social Security are withheld.
     
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