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December 18, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Redistribution wasn’t part of the plan

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How can anyone equate Social Security and Medicare to redistribution?

Social Security was originally set up to supplement the incomes of retired people. You paid into the program along with your employer, and at a given age, you were to start receiving your contribution plus interest — enforced savings. The program was successful and accumulated so much money that the federal government changed the rules and used the money for other purposes.

Medicare is basically the same type of program. The government tells you how much you have to put in. It also tells medical professionals how much they will receive. Once again, it may have been a good plan, but the government decided to cover people who didn’t contribute to the program. It, too, is going broke.

Instead of setting up a program to help struggling families for whatever reason, the government tapped into the existing Social Security and Medicare and ran them into the ground.

I believe the American people are the most giving group of people anywhere. We all contribute to the charities of our own choice to help out others. That is the American way.

When the government takes something away from me to give to someone else against my will, that is redistribution. I don’t buy into that concept.

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  1. Letter writer is correct in theory, but not practice. Unless and until you have your name on the Social Security and Medicare accounts with your accumulated paid in amounts, it's not yours. AND there no guarantee, other than your full faith and trust in the US government, that you will receive back what you paid in, let alone the accumulated interest earned on both accounts. The real answer to redistribution is to privatize.

    CarmineD

  2. This letter is right on.I do not see where Mr. Miller is a wealthy American or that he is opposed to paying legally requried income taxes. What I hear him saying is that he is opposed to a preset policy to take his money away to give it to someone else for the pure reason of redistribution.
    That was certainly not the idea of the Founders. Paying for the common defense was a principal reason for collecting taxes.On the other hand, Obama believes in redistribution--taking form you and me and giving it to someone else. His father once wrote that he was not opposed to a 100% tax rate if it was possible to redistribute those funds in the best interests of society.Obama was under the influences of these extreme and radical socialistic and Marxist views throughout his developing years, and still believes these philosophies.The president will have the masses drinking his koolaid with his silvery and silky words--he is the pide piper of America.

  3. Redistribution could also be applied to subsidies to oil & gas, agribusiness, and others.

    Redistribution could also be applied to government paid crop insurance for agribusiness.

  4. I agree that subsidies to agriculture is clearly redistribution. I believe that as the agrarian society has dwindled that the old acreage subsidies have decreased significantly. This would take a little research. However the depletion allowances granted to natural resource producers are akin to depreciation allowances on physical assets,and should not be considered subsidies or redistribution. The president has demonized oil producers as being fat cat profit makers expressing a desire to penalize them with higher taxes. The massive risky investment by the oil producers forms a basis for the profit returns they receive. The mega oil companies are distributing dividends to millions of middle class shareholders adding to their standard of living.Further,when measured as a return on gross revenues, the average return for the mega oil companies calculates to under 10 per cent. The purported excesses of these companies is a myth .

  5. The United States is indeed the most charitable country in terms of individual giving. See https://www.cafonline.org/pdf/World_Givi...

    So far as developmental aid is concerned, however, the U.S. ranks 21st:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gov...

    As a percentage of GDP, Sweden provides 6 times more foreign assistance than the U.S.

  6. I think the letter is interesting, and there should be a seperate fund for the helping hand part. At least the goverment would have a better tally on what they are really giving away.

    Oil and crop programs from the government are there for national security purposes and the well being of the nation. No food and no oil would cause a great deal of trouble..This same line of thought applies to many other things the government spends money on, though some things have gotten out of hand and have nothing to do with National Security..

  7. The purpose of the graduated income tax system is redistribution. Those with more should pay more. It hasn't worked! Nearly all of the countries financial wealth is in the hands of a few million. The rest of the country is for all intense purposes bust.
    Europe accomplished redistribution through revolution, world war and mass murder.
    Read about the history of the Hope Diamond. Many who owned it lost their heads in redistribution efforts. Europe used to be basically be controlled by about 100 families. Not today!
    In the US crime is one of our bigger industries. Walton from Walmart fame was asked what was the biggest threat to retailing ??? Theft....people get what they need one way or another.

  8. The original vision of FDR was that we would have something like the author described. People would pay in and it would be saved and eventually they would reap the benefits of that. But in the 40s and 50s, Congress changed the plan to be more of a pay as you go thing, since some wanted higher benefits and others did not like having a large surplus building up. So, we ran like that until the 80s when they realized that we were headed for a period when the taxes coming in would no longer support the outflows. They raised the taxes, changed the retirement ages a bit and created the famed 'lock box'. That lock box helped the government deficit spend more than it might have otherwise. So, there is a trust fund but to spend it, the government has to either cut spending elsewhere or re-borrow the money from somewhere else. And the rates are now over six times what they were from 1937-1949.

    It is the same problem that a lot of state pension plans have been seeing. There are people who want to promise more benefits now and worry about the long run impacts later. People who were in the system early generally got more out than they paid in, sometimes by very large amounts. Younger people today are looking at getting very little more out than they actually pay into the program. The GAO did a paper on this back in 1999. But part of the issue is the growing insurance function of Social Security, since the late 60s we have grown from less than 2% of workers on Social Security Disability Income, to over 6%.

    In many ways it would be easier to talk about the program if the various components were better broken out. So people could see better what is going on and whether the insurance portion is broken or not. But the current projections show the trust fund running dry in a bit over 20 years and if nothing is done, benefits dropping to about three-quarters of current rates thereafter. Clearly, we have issues there and things need to be honestly discussed.

  9. What, exactly, is meant by paying your "fair share?" I've yet to see one leftist "talking head" on TV give a definitive answer to that question. They haven't a clue. Yet they continue to use the gibberish as a Dumbocratic "talking point." I define it as raising someone elses tax burden so as to meet an agenda that enriches the "parasitic" class. You know, the ones who produce nothing of value, yet consume everything they can that is paid for by the productive. And they have a lot of "enablers" who are just on the fringe, who pay little or nothing as their "fair share," and love to confiscate and spend other people's money. Just read the comments regularly made in the LV Sun and you'll easily pick them out.

  10. "parasitic" class....families making less than $200K a year. According to the medical industry the only families accumulating wealth are those making over that amount. Basically the bulk of the nation belongs to Mr. Finks parasite class.

  11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millionaire...
    There are only about 10 million people in the world that are truly self-sufficient. If you're not one of the millionaires and are part of the parasite class, don't worry about it! You've got a lot of company.

  12. Social Security was a very successful trust fund that accumulated a large amount of revenue for retired workers.The funds were tapped into by the government at different times.

    This fund should not have ever been touched by the government for any other use, other than it's intended purpose (retirement).

    Since it was used by the government for other programs.They now say it's going broke,this may be true.It's time to look at who broke it,and how to fix it. Instead of shifting the blame elsewhere.

  13. The United States has the ability to print unlimited amounts of money. That's all the country has to do to keep the benefits flowing. This may or may not be the best way to do it but it is the way every industrialized country does it. It will continue to be done this way until someone comes up with something better.
    The average Social Security recipient gets about $1000 per month. Medicare pays out about $10,000 a year per beneficiary. If Medicare went bye-bye nearly every penny that elderly people had coming in would go for medical care. It's not going to happen. The baby boomers accumulated trillions of dollars in wealth in their lifetimes and they need these programs. People under the age of 30 are accumulating nothing today. They don't have a pot to urinate in. When these folks are in their 60s these entitlement programs will be more important than they are today.

  14. All this arguing over redistribution seems oddly out of place.

    Income to government = 2.4 trillion dollars / yr.
    Expenses of government = 3.7 trillion dollars / yr.

    Deficit = 1.3 trillion dollars / yr.

    Expenses of government need to be cut by approximately 30 % in the best of circumstances to reach a balanced budget. We can't cut that much at one time or we will cause a depression, but we must start... today.

    Where are the cuts President Obama or Governor Romney will make?

    Michael

  15. If you object so much to "confiscation" in the form of taxation, and "redistribution" of wealth by the government in providing essential services to those in need -- then why don't you simply leave? This isn't North Korea. You're free to go. If you find the social compact so offensive, find a nice little island somewhere and enjoy your Ayn Randian eden to your heart's content.

    And take Grover Norquist with you.

  16. The letter writer is laboring under a misconception. Social Security was not and is not a savings plan. To pass constitutional muster (as decreed by the Supreme Court of the day), it was -- and is -- a TAX with de-coupled EXPENDITURES made by later appropriations by Congress.

    Medicare follows the Social Security pattern of TAX and SPEND for the same constitutional reasons.

    This makes both of these programs "redistributional" since they tax from one and give to others without any legal connection between what one gives and what one gets.

    If the letter writer wants Social Security and Medicare to be individual accounts, he needs to get the Constitution amended so that the federal government has an enumerated power to set up and maintain individual savings and welfare accounts.

  17. Michael, you need to check behind the numbers to find the "drivers". Here a big driver is "transfer payments". For example, we pay unemployment insurance to the unemployed, we might provide Medicaid to pay for medical expenses of the unemployed, we might provide Food Stamps to allow a basic level of nutrition for the unemployed, we might provide Temporary Assistance For Needy Families while the breadwinner is unemployed. All these expenditures go away when folks go back to work. At the same time, if you try to stimulate the economy with tax cuts -- as we have, tax revenues fall while you are waiting for economic growth, so the deficit gets LARGER, NOT SMALLER.

    Similarly, cutting expenditures cuts revenue, so if you are not selective, the RESULT CAN INCREASE THE DEFICIT RATHER THAN DECREASE IT.

    If we can get folks back to work, we decrease our expenditure rate substantially AND increase our revenues substantially. Just eyeballing it, a real cut of somewhere around 5 - 10% in expenditures or increase in revenues (or a combination of the two) if done right would get us back into budget surplus with real economic growth.

    The key is to get folks back to work. We probably aren't going to do that with a tax cut for the rich. We've reached the point of diminishing returns on tax cuts for the rich. It didn't trickle down the last time, and we have no basis for believing it will trickle down now. What we need is a real public works program FIRST while we are figuring out what we can cut and tax without injuring our economy.

  18. Another good letter. I consider SS and Medicare simply a ROI. We are entitled to coverage for paying into these programs for 40 years or more. Substantial difference between this and social welfare programs. It's always OK to deal with fraud, waste and abuse--like the illegals using identity theft to obtain benefits. Do you realize that ILLEGALS GET ALL SOCIAL WELFARE BENEFITS when they have an anchor baby that they claim is born here--but no one verifies anything. Stealing or producing a fraudulent birth certificate and they "qualify" and steal benefits endlessly. That's how they manage to send money home so all the distant relatives can jump the border and invade the United States.

  19. Leric,

    If you really do the math, it says that with even 6 % growth in the economy, driven either by tax cuts or by government stimulus and a tax increase on the wealthy, it will take a nearly 30 % cut in government spending to reach a balanced budget.

    We cannot cut that amount all at once or we'd dive into a depression, but we do need to start cutting.

    And let's be honest about the tax cuts, past and proposed. They were cuts for all income groups, not just the wealthy and that is the case with Romney's proposals as well. Yes, the wealthy get a larger tax cut because they have larger incomes but all groups would get a tax cut.

    I recognize that government stimulus (Obama) or tax cuts (Romney) 'might' stimulate economic growth, but either way, math tells us that unless the economy grows at a rate many times a traditional growth rate, government spending has to be cut and cut substantially over time.

    I am just amazed that so many Americans are satisfied with either Romney or Obama when neither man has any serious proposal to reign in government spending. I hate to break it to Americans, but the cost for our government to borrow money is not going to stay low forever and when it rises and it will, we are going to be in trouble.

    Michael

  20. The stimulus under Obama was mostly directed at tax cuts and assistance for state and local government budgets. Very little went to shovel ready projects and President Obama even laughed when admitting that.

    This is the problem with government stimulus. It never seems to go to where the money could be best used. Powerful interests with influence in Congress get the money directed to places that benefit them, instead of the general public.

    Michael

  21. I'm really just a simpleton; I find it hard to comprehend the redistribution of wealth, when we the people are the government. It is more in line with theft, pillaging, as I see it, that which corporations have committed on America.

    Years ago, say 150 years back, when large swaths of land were being stolen and granted, we the people never got paid. And still today Corporations are allowed to harvest America's resources at minimal cost; which leaves, US'A, we the people once again not getting paid. Moreover, since 1950 these individuals also reduce the amount of tax paid by sixty-six percent using loop-holes which allows them to identify their income as self-employed rather than a labor wage.

    The two systems, however, diverge in an important way. The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax is based solely on income from labor--that is, wages. The Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA) tax, in contrast, is based on net business income, which includes compensation for the owner's labor, but can also include income from capital--that is, the business' profits. (For people who are not self-employed, capital income includes interest, dividends, rents, and capital gains.) Moreover, the SECA tax base ends up excluding more than half of the labor income of self-employed people. Such differences in tax treatment among businesses providing the same goods and services may prompt people to make choices that they would not otherwise make about self-employment or the organizational form of a business, thereby reducing the efficient allocation of resources.

    America has three approaches that would modify the SECA tax base by either reducing the share of capital income or increasing the share of labor income it includes. Those options are as follows:

    Apply a material participation standard to partners and members of limited liability companies. This option would ensure consistent SECA tax treatment among owners of different types of unincorporated entities. As intended, it would subject more labor income to the SECA tax, but it would also capture more capital income. Thus, it would expand the SECA tax base slightly.

  22. Limit the SECA tax base to reasonable compensation for services performed. This option would remove capital income from the SECA tax base entirely, but would present an opportunity for many self-employed people (especially sole proprietors) to reduce their SECA tax by underreporting their reasonable compensation. If limited to partnerships, however, the option would capture more labor income than under current law. In any case, it would significantly reduce the size of the SECA tax base.

    Permit a deduction of a percentage of capital assets as a proxy for capital income. By design, this option would reduce the share of capital income that is captured by the SECA tax. However, it would cover only a small percentage of capital income, in part because it would provide no relief for the returns on intangible capital. Furthermore, the option would shelter some labor income of firms with low profit margins. Thus, it would reduce the size of the SECA tax base.

    If America would only wean corporations off their fix (welfare) of subsidies, free resources, and rework the SECA, America would be within solvency by 2025, in my guesstimate.

  23. TEA 4:23: We must return to limiting federal government activity to the ENUMERATED POWERS and exclude court-decided expansion of powers. We must return to the primary federal objective; SECURING our borders and national defense--not defense of other geographies. We must enforce the rights of American citizens to the detriment on illegal invaders. We must reinforce the significance of self reliance and the peril of not being self reliant, on an individual basis. We must start prioritizing the things that work to support self reliant people with proven performance OVER whining dependents. We can allow churches and non-profits to reinvigorate their assistance to Americans and allow impregnated teens to adopt out their unexpected children. We can allow illegals to fend for themselves but not against the rights and property of citizens. We CAN and must expel and deport 15 million illegals and their illegal anchor babies--this alone would save hundreds of billions in tax revenue nationwide.

  24. TEA, thanks for the history of tax cutting. If you just keep comparing cuts and amount of growth, you will see illustrated the Law of Diminishing Returns -- the first gets a big result, the second somewhat less, the third still less, etc. You see this most clearly in the post-WW2 tax cuts to the present day, where the last (W Bush) cut resulted in almost no economic growth.

    Theory ought to be derived from facts, not facts from theory.

  25. Michael, we have some living laboratories for austerity going on right now: Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and the UK. Let's see what the results are so far: slipping into Recession, higher unemployment, and bigger --not smaller, Budget Deficits as revenues decline and transfer payments go up. So far, these all illustrate that we cannot hope to cut our way back to full employment or balanced budgets.

  26. Casler contradicts himself:

    "The stimulus under Obama was mostly directed at tax cuts and assistance for state and local government budgets."

    Then:

    "This is the problem with government stimulus. It never seems to go to where the money could be best used. Powerful interests with influence in Congress get the money directed to places that benefit them, instead of the general public."

    Both tax cuts and assistance for state/local government directly benefited the general public.

    Stimulus tax cuts cut taxes for 95% of working families.

    FACT CHECK : http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/...

    I guess 95% of working families isn't the "general public?"

  27. And then there's Traeger, who loves to throw out cherry-picked statistics but omits some very, very pertinent details. He says that, "the top 10% of wage earners pay 65-70% of the total yearly income tax revenue taken in by IRS."

    He fails to mention: "There are 78,000 tax filers with incomes of $211,000 to $533,000 who will pay no federal income taxes this year. Even more amazingly, there are 24,000 households with incomes of $533,000 to $2.2 million with zero income tax liability, and 3,000 tax filers with incomes above $2.2 million with the same federal income tax liability as most of those with incomes barely above the poverty level."

    Meanwhile Traeger and the GOP continue to freak out about the 47% who "do not pay income taxes."

    Why is that? Why don't they have income tax liability?

    Oh, that's right... GOP tax policy!

    The GOP is largely to blame for the 47%.

    "When Ronald Reagan signed into law the Tax Reform Act of 1986, he boasted, "Millions of the working poor will be dropped from the tax rolls altogether, and families will get a long-overdue break with lower rates and an almost doubled personal exemption."

    "Both the initial Reagan tax cuts of 1981 and indexing income taxes to inflation in 1985 had a similar effect."

    "In the 1990s, the Republican-controlled Gingrich Congress passed a $500 per child tax credit that also wiped out the income tax liability of many low- to moderate-income households."

    "George W. Bush expanded the child tax credit as president and also signed into law tax cuts that reduced the bottom marginal income tax rate from 15 percent to 10 percent. Both moves increased the percentage of people not paying income tax."

    http://dailycaller.com/2012/09/17/the-re...

    And Traeger supports Mitt Romney, who's sworn (without details) to cut taxes even further, thus inviting even more Americans into the group the GOP claims to hate so much.

    GOP tax policies have only enabled more individuals to escape the income tax. And Mark Traeger is going to vote for Romney in November, while whining and crying about the number of people who don't pay taxes.

    It would be funny if it weren't so sad... these people have no idea of the reality of GOP governance.

  28. "NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN, Carmine."

    Didn't you ever learn to NEVER say NEVER.

    Looks like another story about the disappearance of the body of one of our mutual heroes: James R Hoffa. Do you know what happened to him?

    CarmineD

  29. ""A conservative is a person who sits and thinks, and sits and thinks, but mostly just sits."

    You post weak quotes by weak presidents. Wilson was incapacitated for most of his second term causing his wife to act as the de facto president, although thanks in large part to her husband, she and women were not allowed to vote at the time.

    CarmineD