Readers Weigh In (January 25, 2007)
Taxes, entitlements and military spending have generated a wide variety of interesting commentary. Herewith is a selection (slightly edited for length) of reader feedback.
Strawgold makes an excellent point about government employees' retirement plans and Social Security:
I read your column about Social Security and “who gets hurt” if it goes under. But here’s what makes even more interesting reading: GOVERNMENT WORKERS DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT Social Security GOING UNDER. They are not covered under it like the rest of us ( yes, us - the ones who are paying for everything) are. THEIR retirement plan, through the good old Federal Govt has our meager Social Security beat all to the devil and is in no danger of being phased out, or going broke in the same way.Those familiar with the philosopher John Rawls will find resonance in David M.'s observations on morality and taxation:
I again have had to suppress my disbelief at the world when reading your reader’s comments in your latest blog posting. His assertions that he has a “right” to all his earnings have at least two main problems: he has undoubtedly benefited from a peaceful society, education, and transportation; and society as a whole is likely to suffer from his expenditures (pollution, scarcity of resources).Frequent contributor Michael Goodfellow comments on the correlation between low tax-rate nations and high GDP, and on my DoD spending entry:
I also wondered what would happen if you listed those same countries in your international comparison sorted by GDP per person. I'm pretty sure the U.S. and Japan would be number 1 and 2, just as they are last in taxes on your graph. Not sure the correlation would hold up, but it still should make you think.Another astute reader (Michael) was kind enough to send in a link on Affluenza and the consequences of our cultural obsession with material wealth:
Earn more, spend more, want moreNext up is David A., who comments on the unsustainability of the Social Security model, and on governmental waste:
Charles, all this vastly huge Medicaid/Medicare and social security spending is in the future so THAT DEBT DOESNT COUNT!!! future debt isn't important as we will be able to pay for it in some miraculous, painless way!Frequent contributor Harun I. notes that morality isn't the only metric for taxation, nor is the cost of maintaining a military the only consideration--losing is expensive, too:
I didn’t take your view about taxation from a moral standpoint but from a correlative perspective. I also take issue with some of your readers linear thinking in regards to complex non-linear social issues. There may not be a moral basis for taxes to support social welfare but what will we do when the poor and disaffected are rising up in revolt. I have no answers, I merely raise the question of whether morality is the only benchmark by which social policy is formed. The poorest members of any society will burden that society to some extent and possibly in ways that are very undesirable.Correspondent Mark D. shares some history on the weapons development process, and comments on "over-teching":
I really enjoyed your comments on the defense industry. Both my parents worked for Lockheed, as well as several family friends during the days of the Tristar days, as well as the older, I forget the name of the passenger plane with the funny tail. they always complained about management sticking with Rolls Royce, and that, at the time, the strength of Lockheed was efficiency of design, efficiency of aircraft, though not in vogue at the time, turned out to be inconsequential, then, but not now. My Dad worked on the Aquila, something that actually got cancelled! I had a neighbor that worked for Ampex and helped minaturize the VCR for flight recording for bombers and was PISSED they sold it to the Japanese. now he makes 1/8 scale WWII RC fighters with EVERYTHING to scale including flaps, twisting landing gear etc.Since I'd discussed the relative merits of Boeing vs. Lockheed on the C-5a aircraft, I asked Mark for the views of the Lockheed retirees he knows. His answer sheds considerable light on another source of "waste": the over-spec'ing of every component:
To a man, er woman, they all said Boeing would have done a good job, too. Most said cost overruns are underestimated based on waiting for security clearance while doing nothing, (average of 6 mos?), requirements on procurements, such as complying with the wood source of hammers, making sure the hammer can hammer (labor, etc). Based on some of this, wood source is known, but i don't think anyone would buy a hammer made out of teak or mahogony, but someone still has to run around wasting time making sure the hammer was purchased conforming to requirements. That list is not infinite, but not measurable.Kevin K. has some doubts that reforming Medicare to emphasize prevention would work:
I was talking about your BLOG with a co-worker and even though it is sad to say, we both agree that most spending on "prevention" will do nothing.Kevin also recommended the recent film on the dumbing-down of America: Idiocracy
James C. raises the issue of what therapies are being ignored in favor of profitable pharmaceuticals and surgery:
Health care is the one topic that I get more up in arms about than economics and investments. Have you read Politics in Healing by Daniel Haley? Do you know about IV Chelation Therapy? The medical establishment in America has become one of the most shameful aspects of our society. Worthwhile treatments and preventative methods are cast aside because they do not generate enought profit. I know about Chelation because I have studied the subject for close to four years and have been using the treatment for over a year. It works and is, in my opinion and the opinion of many other patients that I have met at the clinic, a much more effective treatment than bypass surgery, drugs et. al.And this just in, from frequent contributor Aaron K., on Medicare waste:
I'd like to add to the mix that base health care costs are anomalously high even without poor medical spending decisions, due to the employer-based tax structure of the system. I wrote an extensive essay on the matter here, titled as above:What an extraordinary range of commentary! Thank you readers, for your contributions and thoughtful contributions.
For more on this subject and a wide array of other topics, please visit my weblog.
copyright © 2007 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.
I would be honored if you linked this wEssay to your site, or printed a copy for your own use.