Fairness

The rising cost of health care is driving more and more citizens into Medicaid, the program for the poor. Medicaid, in turn, drives up the cost of health care by under-paying doctors. HealthAffairs.org says that it doesn’t even pay half of the discount price that your insurance company would pay. A...
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$20 Trillion!

The federal debt is now larger than Twenty Trillion Dollars.  That's $124,000 per American, if you're counting just the younger half of the population. The older half of the population has benefited from the growth of the debt---we paid lower taxes and got more services, for decades---and we won't have...
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Facts and Figures

The debt-clock number you see in the upper-right-hand corner of this page is the federal debt, according to conventional accounting.  You can make it look smaller by counting only the debt that the government owes to the public, and not the debt (held by the Federal Reserve and the "trust...
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Welfare for The Middle Class

  “The U.S. program that pays elderly Americans’ hospital bills will exhaust reserves in 2028, two years sooner than last year’s estimate, trustees of the program said on Wednesday.” -- Reuters. In 2015 the federal government collected an all-time record of $3.25 trillion in taxes.  According to the White House Budget Office (see table...
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The War On Poverty

“The official poverty rate in the United States, defined as lacking resources for life's basic needs, was 19% in 1964. It had fallen to 12.1% by 1969, the year Johnson left office. Last year, it stood at 15%.” -- USA Today. ... What would a victory in the War on Poverty look like? ...
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Upward Mobility

“Switzerland will decide on June 5 whether to pay its citizens a basic income to replace welfare benefits … Economists like it because unlike welfare benefits, basic income does not phase out if people work. As a result, there is no abrupt disincentive at various income levels the way there...
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The Empire Strikes Back

By John Lumbard, CFA. We've just been reading comments by Establishment journalists---the LA Times, Slate, Paul Krugman of the NY Times---who raged against Time Magazine's excellent and well-researched cover story about the federal debt .  The truth is that the dangers described by Time were minimized;  author James Grant used the $13.9...
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The Rest of the Story

By John Lumbard, CFA. Miley Cyrus was scratched by a cat. A man tickled two girls on a playground slide, and he didn’t even know the girls.  TV newsrooms judged that these recent stories were more important than world crises, voter anxiety and rebellion, student debt, or the federal debt. Ah yes,...
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An Irresistible Force

By John Lumbard. In the upper left corner of this page you'll see a pretty little girl wearing a sign saying that she's $38,375 in debt.  That number is now $57,764, if you're willing to use the Enron accounting standards of the federal government, which don't acknowledge that she's carrying liability...
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Debt Is Rising All ‘Round The World

By John Lumbard. Populism sounds like such a friendly and democratic word.  Only the grumpiest blogger would complain about politicians doing things that make them popular ....  Unhappily, the word "populist" has come to mean a politician who promises cash, services, or benefits to voters.  He doesn't offer to pay for these things...
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