Davidson: Benefits vs. needs and the politicians who want to keep voters depending on the government

I used to think the most important thing we needed to do for arriving immigrants was to teach them English, which I still think is very important. I have now moved that to second behind teaching them capitalism and how free enterprise works. It is clear from the crazy programs being bandied about by the Democrats that those who have come here from socialist countries have never learned the difference between a system that has worked in this country for many years vs. the one that failed them and caused them to seek asylum here.

When I hear candidates say they are going to end corporate welfare in favor of people welfare my blood curdles. What they are calling corporate welfare is money to pay for the government services such as roads and sewer and electric access, which is the government’s responsibility. In exchange the government gets good, high-paying jobs for its citizens who then pay taxes on their wages. What they get with human welfare is large ineffective government agencies that are so tied up in red tape and regulations they are unable to function. They also get huge budget deficits.


The career politicians fighting for these programs get themselves entrenched in a position of power over their people and a life of elitism. The people receiving the government handouts get lazy and unwilling to work as long as the government is willing to keep paying them to not work. Nothing gets done and the quality of life goes down for everyone. I held for response a letter to the editor defending democratic socialism that rattled off a litany of social programs from past Democratic leaders. Space doesn’t allow for me to address all of those programs so I will stick with the one I know best, which is social security.

I worked at social security headquarters for 30 years. Most citizens have no idea what this program is and when asked the wrong answer given is “it’s a pension program.” When passed it actually was a basket of 16 social programs, the most popular being the retirement income supplement, which is different from a pension. Most people never have to use it but those who have become disabled and unable to work will tell you Disability Insurance is the most important part. If you ever had a disabled child you would think Aid to Families with dependent Children (SSI) is most important. Then there are those unemployment checks you get while you look for a new job. This was designed to be a fantastic safety net package. It was a benefits program which means you pay a premium (FICA) like an insurance policy premium and are entitled to the benefits.

When I had my brief stint answering phone inquiries from the public the biggest thing I noted was people didn’t understand the difference between a “benefits” and a “needs” program. A benefits program describes the benefits up front and the amount you need to pay to be eligible for them. A needs program is welfare. Thus when a caller told me they needed more money I explained to them what benefits they were entitled to.

If the Republicans were to have their way they would convert the program to a needs program using premiums paid by those who don’t need the program to pay the welfare to those that do need the program. FICA would then go from a premium to a huge tax from the party that hates taxes.

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. The more people collecting the benefits the more people are needed to be working to pay for those benefits. It was designed to collapse under its own weight. Since it didn’t have to pay a cent in retirement supplements for the first 10 years, it gave the schemers plenty of time to die before people figured it out. As with most Ponzi plans the level 1 people make out like bandits. The level 2 people may break even and all subsequent levels get stuck with the bill. Bernie Madoff goes to jail … your elected representative is hailed as a savior.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both have a laundry list of social security-like programs that will cost more than they profess they will, create bigger government and more red tape, make more people dependent upon their elected officials to keep finding even more new taxes to keep them alive as the national debt continues to spin out of control.

The Democrats are reeling against big-money influence in our government — all the while using a big-money system to determine which of the 20 candidates can spend the most to win the nomination. I can’t help but wonder what schemes the Koch brothers are using to funnel money to Bernie and Elizabeth. The few candidates in the field that can best move the party to the middle will be eliminated because people living paycheck to paycheck can’t spare any money to influence government. Thus we will continue to have elections forcing us to choose between candidates representing both of the extremes. We need to find a fair system that takes money out of politics as the only government that will ever get anything done is one that rules from the middle.

Steven Davidson writes from New Windsor.