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Local opinion columnists

Election latest in trend to entitlement

By From page A11 | November 08, 2012

Tuesday’s election was not the beginning, but rather an acceleration of a trend that started decades ago under Franklin Roosevelt.

The original intent of social programs was to take care of the very poor who, literally, might be eating grain and not having a roof over their heads. Now, of course, any retiree is eligible for medical care, unless he or she is covered by another plan.

Don’t even think about the crop subsidies that provide hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars to wealthy Midwest farmers. Of course, we just had an example of the government’s – actually taxpayers’ – largess, when they poured a totally useless a half-billion dollars into Solyndra, a solar panel company that wouldn’t even work as a bathroom mirror. And Solyndra was just one of many government-funded failures that poured probably another half-billion dollars down the solar toilet.

These are just small examples compared to the tens, no, hundreds of billions of dollars spent on entitlement programs. An entitlement program is one in which the participant is not required to make any contributions but may collect indefinitely. The numbers, when you total Women, Infants and Children; Medicaid; Medicare; MediCal; Earned Income Tax Credit; and who knows what additional cost the Affordable Care Act will run up, are astronomical.

There is, or course, Section 8 housing, which provides support for those who couldn’t otherwise afford to remain in the apartments or homes in which they live.

Speaking of homes, one of the greatest financial messes took place when impecunious homebuyers were encouraged to sign mortgage applications even if they were in the infamous NINJA category. NINJA stands loosely for no income, no job, no assets. The result of all the help given to homeowners, or foreclosed homeowners, in Detroit was that the thousands of homes still standing had an average value of $16,000. That’s less than one-third of the fee that a builder or owner pays to get a permit to build a house in Fairfield.

OK, so we passed Measure P, which will allegedly keep us out of a financial situation resembling Vallejo, or even worse, Stockton. But Tuesday’s election, sadly, taught us one thing: More people voted out of fear that they might lose their entitlements than those who paid tax on income they actually earned. To use author Malcolm Gladwell’s point, we’ve reached the tipping point.

You can probably figure out what the tipping point is, at least when it applies to elections. Voters seemed to ignore the dangers we face in the world around us and instead proudly waved the flags that said, “What’s in it for me?”

This is a situation that feeds on itself, like a snowball turning into an avalanche. The more there are of those who are getting something for nothing, more or less, from the government – specifically one party – the more support their candidates will get. And if some Republicans, who themselves may be supporting ethanol and other wastes of taxpayers’ money, try to cut back on entitlements for the 47 percent, to use Mitt Romney’s malaprop, there is a steep price to pay.

In short, it’s almost impossible to do anything about it, even with a $17 trillion debt hanging over us.

Bud Stevenson, a stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at [email protected]

Bud Stevenson

Bud Stevenson


Discussion | 9 comments

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  • George Guynn, JrNovember 08, 2012 - 12:58 am

    Great article, Bud. You are right on the money about this trend. Many people will pay dear in the future for this political mistake.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 08, 2012 - 6:24 am

    Birds of a feather. There was more information available during this entire election process that people could see and hear than ever before. The majority had to somehow sift through it all and they chose tax increases and the sitting president. They listened to folks like you and didn't like or agree with your premise. It is time to move forward with greater consideration in your offerings for future articles.

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  • VallejoanNovember 08, 2012 - 5:38 am

    "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." Benjamin Franklin

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  • Danny BuntinNovember 08, 2012 - 6:07 am

    More like a sour grapes article. All your party has to sell is fear. It is another case of, who you going to believe, your lying eyes or a party that has done everything to keep this country moving backwards. This time the majority of Americans chose not to buy the same old rhetoric, and saw through the corporate sponsored fake grassroots propaganda. The party of "NO" is losing 1 million voters a year, and they will not be made up with new "white" blooded Americans. There only hope is to start moving away from "Guns, God, and G a y s" as a platform. Freedom for all, not just freedom for the select few. So now you are stuck with a moderate president for four more years, and yet you are still complaining about the sky falling.

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  • jorgNovember 09, 2012 - 7:51 am

    I can see you're part of the problem and not the solution.

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  • Steven MaravillasNovember 08, 2012 - 6:10 am

    The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines entitlement to include a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group as well as belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges. Rich or poor, we all feel entitled to something. Some feel entitled to tax breaks for mortgage deductions, pot hole free roads, parks, clean water or inexpensive food or energy. There are a lot of entitlements that everyone takes for granted whether they are rich or poor.

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  • JagNovember 08, 2012 - 7:14 am

    Two thumbs up Bud, I wish we could divide the country in half, those of us who conserve go to one side and those of us who are stuck on freebies go to the other and let’s see what side succeeds and what side goes BORKE,

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  • CD BrooksNovember 08, 2012 - 7:33 am

    Jag, yeah because the existing division has shown to be so effective.

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  • Mike KirchubelNovember 11, 2012 - 4:01 pm

    Jag, I think you meant Bork, as in Robert Bork, and that would be the "conservative" side.

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