Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. $12 for 12 weeks.
News Opinion Readers Respond

Understanding the deep roots of entitlement woes

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s Sunday columns are usually thought-provoking, but not always in the way he intended. His latest opinion piece laments the vastly expanded entitlement economy — what he calls "a European-style welfare state" ("How the welfare state has grown," April 7). Although few objective observers would describe the U.S. social safety net that way, most people recognize that our current spending on these programs is not sustainable in the long term.

However, like Mitt Romney before him, Mr. Ehrlich seems uninterested in how this state of affairs came to be, other than blaming "big government." We cannot deal with the issues he raises until we come to that understanding.

It is not news that in the past several decades, the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" in America has increased. Labor force participation is now the lowest in many years, yet the stock market is through the roof. There are a lot more people now who are either poor or are just scraping by. They are unemployed, under-employed or simply making too little money to uphold a decent standard of living. Apparently, corporate America either doesn't need them or knows they can be easily replaced. These people need help and they're getting it wherever they can.

The reasons for their situation are many and complex. Some are beyond our control: the globalization of trade, the vast increase in health-care (and health insurance) costs, the change from a manufacturing to an information-based economy, and the modern corporate obsession with quarterly profits which values stockholders over workers.

Some of the causes are the result of policies supported by both political parties, in particular, a corporate tax and regulatory system that fails to discourage the outsourcing of American jobs or protect our retail sector from cheap foreign goods made in abhorrent conditions.

But some of the reasons can be laid right at the door of Mr. Ehrlich's own political party: their opposition to raising the minimum wage, their systematic war against organized labor, their refusal to consider structural changes in our health-care delivery system, their resistance to investing public money in job-creating infrastructure improvements and their objection to meaningful financial-sector regulation, a major factor in the housing market crash of several years ago.

As long as Mr. Ehrlich and people of similar persuasion fail to look beyond the safety net expenditures to the underlying economic issues, the root causes of the problems they claim to care about will remain unaddressed.

George Kaplan, Colora

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts
  • Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
    Related Content
    • Ehrlich too negative, too partisan
      Ehrlich too negative, too partisan

      Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s cocky and aggressive partisanship make it evident why he couldn't govern effectively in Annapolis and was not re-elected for a second term ("Why Obama is viewed as weak," Nov. 30).

    • Hillary all over again
      Hillary all over again

      With the exception of President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton is the most recognized American politician of this era. Today, she is far and away the Democratic front runner for president. Many believe she is the odds on favorite to win it all — a view supported by a variety of public...

    • What Obama should have said
      What Obama should have said

      Here is what President Barack Obama should have said when he addressed the American people after his party's massive losses in Tuesday's election:

    • Ehrlich mistaken on tax burden
      Ehrlich mistaken on tax burden

      Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. does not look at the big picture. Is this because he is not interested in giving a fair presentation? In his most recent column (tax bill for government at all levels.

    • Obamacare is a 'varsity stinker'
      Obamacare is a 'varsity stinker'

      OK, I can't help myself. Over the past three years, I have written at least a dozen columns critical of Obamacare (a.k.a. The "Affordable Care Act") in this space and devoted an entire chapter to the topic in my book "America: Hope for Change."

    • Send a message to D.C. on Election Day
      Send a message to D.C. on Election Day

      For those of you inclined to send a message to Washington on Election Day, herewith a list of grievances that should get you plenty revved up:

    • American values under Obama
      American values under Obama

      Two columns ago, I passed on a series of political observations from the heartland. Today, a snapshot of American values and viewpoints a decade and a half into the "new" millennium.

    • Ehrlich rants an embarrassment
      Ehrlich rants an embarrassment

      Not quite 10 years ago when I moved to Baltimore from a D.C. suburb, I made the decision to switch from The Washington Post to The Baltimore Sun for my daily news read. Ever since, I have had the paper delivered to my home on a daily basis. Even as it has gone down hill in content over that...

    Comments
    Loading