entitlements Archive

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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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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The Price of Affection

By John Lumbard, CFA .... Argentina just defaulted on some of its bonds, for the very first time in 13 years. It’s their seventh default since declaring independence from Spain.  Investors kept buying Argentine bonds . . What were they thinking??? In the early 1900s the people of this bountiful land---their economy...
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How To Get The Economy Moving Again

On August 8 George Schultz, Secretary of Everything (Labor, Treasury, and State;  also OMB director) penned an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, offering ides for renewal and reform to a country that seems to be suffering from Eurosclerosis.  We'll stick to the parts that affect the economy and...
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On Medical Insurance and Personal Responsibility

By James Schaefer. Paying routine medical bills out of pocket, as our parents and grandparents did before us, is part of life. It is no different from our obligations to put food on the table, to pay the rent or mortgage, to work, and to be productive, law-abiding citizens. Insurance protects against risk, and...
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Health Insurance Is Not Health Care

By John Lumbard, CFA. In late December movie mogul Michael Moore, writing in the NY Times, described Obamacare as “awful” and said that he’d known this all along---but didn’t want to say so because it would give comfort to the President’s “enemies”.  Maybe it’s time we stopped the hyper-partisan hyperventilating, and...
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