Guy W. Farmer: Coddled Americans cry for federal bandage for every bump
A recent column by Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post got me to thinking about our conflicted and sometimes hypocritical attitudes toward our bloated federal government. I’m as guilty of hypocrisy as anyone because I don’t want President Obama and/or Congress to mess with my federal retirement, my Medicare or my Social Security.
After all, I depend on the monthly annuity check I receive from the State Department and couldn’t have survived prostate cancer earlier this year without Medicare and my secondary insurance, which I buy through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Be that as it may, however, I’m still troubled by the president’s free-spending, Big Government agenda.
“Americans – with their lawsuit culture, their safety obsession and, above all, their addiction to government spending programs – demand more from their government than just about anyone else in the world,” Applebaum wrote. “They don’t simply want the government to keep the peace and create a level playing field. They want the government to ensure that every accident and every piece of bad luck is prevented, or that they are fully compensated in the event that something goes wrong.” That’s a proposition we can’t afford.
All we need to do is to look at the massive Gulf oil spill and the unemployment crisis to verify that what Applebaum wrote is true. Oil spill victims want the feds and/or BP to reimburse all economic losses – direct or indirect, real or imagined – and Congress just passed an indefinite extension of unemployment benefits without figuring out how to pay for that very expensive open-ended entitlement.
Entitlements like Medicare and Social Security, along with profligate defense and national security spending, account for most of our out-of-control budget binge. That’s the main reason for a huge and rapidly growing federal deficit, which has doubled since President Obama took office 18 months ago.
Some of those who rail against the government are military retirees who enjoy their well-deserved retirement checks and the generous low-cost medical benefits that they receive from Uncle Sam. As Applebaum wrote, “Middle class Americans of the right, left and center have come to expect a level of personal financial security that most people around the world … would never demand from their governments.” Not even in Socialist Europe.
If you buy a home that you can’t afford, or build a house in a tinder-dry pine forest, you shouldn’t expect the federal government – your fellow taxpayers, that is – to bail you out when disaster strikes. That isn’t fair to the 5 percent of taxpayers who pay 50 percent of federal income taxes. Think about it.
• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, has been a taxpayer for his entire adult life.