By: Monteen A. Mulcahy
The hottest topic and longest ongoing debate I’ve seen on Facebook, YouTube, Newspapers and Talk Shows has now been eyed by the Federal Government who agree drastic cuts are needed to entitlements. I’m sure many are quite pleased although when the government agrees, it usually means ‘look the other way cause we’re up to something no good.’
America is now in the worst shape, financially, ever seen in this great nation. Not even during the depression was our AAA credit rating reduced to AA. The current administration has been on a spending spree unlike any previous White House occupants and is neither ashamed nor embarrassed regarding their outrageous spending. This comes during a time of the highest unemployment since The Great Depression. American families are hurting due to job losses, home foreclosures and loss of medical insurance just to name a few So many have been unemployed for over two years finding there are not enough jobs to meet the demand. Some have taken risks by accepting contract jobs in Afghanistan and other war zone areas because it pays and they need money. Many young men and women have joined the Military in order to make a living. There are, of course, those who are too old, physically unable or simply not willing to sign onto something so dangerous. They continue to look for employment and in some cases have given up.
It has amazed me at the criticism toward these men and women who’ve always worked but now draw unemployment and many out of desperation - food stamps. Like everyone else they have families to feed, and while I understand the cost to the tax payer, not one person has answered my question, “What are they supposed to do”? The question was met with, ”What did people do before food stamps”? “the people on food stamps aren’t the ones who lost their jobs but the ones too lazy to work” etc. The link from February below says otherwise: “The food stamp program ballooned during the recession as workers lost their jobs or saw their hours and income reduced. The rise in recipients has begun to flatten in recent months, which may mean that as the economy is improving fewer Americans are seeking to join the program. Enrollment in the program is still high though, with 11.6% more people tapping benefits in February than the same month a year earlier.” This information cam from blogs at the WSJ.
There have been even more jobs lost since then.
The continuous call to cut Social Security and pensions, neither of which belongs in the same category as food stamps, government housing or any other kind of government assistance paid strictly by taxpayer funds. Yes, Social Security and some pensions are paid by taxpayer funds but then the ones receiving said funds paid into some of these programs for the sole purpose of retirement. They are in fact receiving back what they paid, out of requirment to pay. Many of these pensions are for our retired Military, and some are saying this should end, as well. To be eligible for Military pension one must serve 20 years. They go where they’re told, fight in whatever war the U.S. is engaged, are sometimes seriously disabled and many are killed in action. Yes, we the taxpayers pay for this, our protection against tyranny and invasion by our enemies. How can anyone expect a young man/woman of say 20 yrs. old to give the best yrs. of his/her life to their country and then start over at age 40 with nothing? Very few in the civilian sector do this, but in fact, many have built nice portfolios while raising their children and living the good life. The civilian does not miss the birth of a child, birthday parties, deaths in the family and if their marriages fail it is not because they are stationed on the other side of the world. But yet we’ve some wanting to stop the career soldiers’ pensions. It is not sustainable, I’ve read, but yet these people have the audacity to expect men/women to continue to serve and protect!!
My stance on this is simple, and next is what I find the most disgusting. The BIG money starts at the top NOT at the bottom. Why do so many go after the ones who have the least insisting these people are leaches living on taxpayer money? How can anyone in good conscience insist these payments stop because there are those who possess the knowledge and know how to cheat the system and are, in fact leaches? How hard would it be for the government agencies to go through those receiving food stamps and remove the ones who’ve been on them for ten yrs.? What about the illegal aliens who receive not only food stamps but housing and a subsidy to pay their bills while working and earning money but do not pay taxes? Not hard to check this out but I suppose it is easier to take from all because some have cheated the system. We see this in our schools, the good students being punished because of the bad.
Let’s look at some cuts that could be made and should be made ~ a large reason behind the deficit that is destroying our country. Please note they are all fully vested after 5 years except the President, of course.
(1) President’s Salary
Effective January 1, 2001, the annual salary of the president of the United States was increased to $400,000 per year, including a $50,000 expense allowance. (Please note the year, 2001)
The increase was approved as part of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act (Public Law 106-58), passed in the closing days of the 106th Congress.
Vice President’s Salary
The salary of the vice president is currently (for 2011) $230,700
Majority Party Leader – $193,400
Minority Party Leader – $193,400
Speaker of the House – $223,500
Majority Leader – $193,400
Minority Leader – $193,400
“A cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase takes effect annually unless Congress votes to not accept it.
According to the Congressional Research Service, 413 retired Members of Congress were receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of Oct. 1, 2006. Of this number, 290 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $60,972. A total of 123 Members had retired with service under both CSRS and FERS or with service under FERS only. Their average annual pension was $35,952 in 2006.” (This amounts to approx. $22,103,976.00) In addition to these pensions there are perks which go w/this, as well. Please note the annual COLA increase. These numbers were taken from 2006. To read more click on this link.
The aide we send to over 100 countries most of whom hate us, but I was told it’s not as easy to stop as I think. So it’s easy to take from the ones who have already lost everything, have spent 30 to 40 yrs. paying into what they believed to be part or in some cases all of their retirement? Those elected officials listed above have a ‘transition period’ in which they receive a little more money to set up their offices at home along with staff whose salaries are paid with taxpayer money. (See link above.) Some are eligible for Secret Service protection for the remainder of their lives. So yes, we have the ineffective Jimmy Carter who has Secret Service protection unless he’s turned it down; same is true for Clinton and both Bush’s and let’s not forget their pensions. So why are people NOT demanding a cut in high places? Why is it always the same people, the ones on the bottom? These are our elected officials who are supposed to serve us, the people! Our forefathers did not get rich.
I’m bothered by this, because the attack on Social Security, Pensions and food stamps is coming from many who claim to be Christians. The words I read are hateful, cruel and cut to the hearts of the ones who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The food banks are empty folks. One person told me “we’re tapped out” when speaking about donations as aide to those unemployed but yet believes food stamps should end.
My Bible says in Romans 12, Behave Like a Christian,
verse 10) Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11) not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12) rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13) distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Verse 15) Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16) Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. It is The Law of Liberty we must all pay close attention to for it is commanded in Luke 14:10) But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ; 11) For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me. And every tongue shall give account of himself to God.” 13) Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
This is not a suggestion folks, it’s not a threat. When you bow before God will He find you compassionate toward those who deserve compassion or will He find you hard and cold of heart? Yes, America has to make cuts and must get her house in order. But can’t we pressure those at the top, the ones making six figure salaries? Can’t we pressure them to take care of America’s citizens first above all else, instead of illegal aliens, and the rest of the world? Should we not be our brother’s keeper? We are a generous nation and people donate to catastrophes all over the world and this is good. But yet, when our own need housing and food we let them down, degrade them and sadly enough this includes our Veterans. Is this what God intended, does He approve of the things that are said by so many? I do believe Congressman Allen West said it best: “America is upside down”. Is this the quote we want to remain in our history?
NOTE by the Editor: First, I don’t believe that Social Security is an entitlement. Social Security was not created to be an entitlement. Workers and Employers pay Social Security on wages to a certain dollar cap. Social Security has been pillaged since the time of Lyndon B. Johnson, and now the liability owed back to we the people is astounding. It advantages the government to call it an entitlement. If they can get the people behind closing it down, their liability goes away.
The real problem that I see in all this historically is around the time that GOD was beginning to be forced out of the public square, social programs began. God’s people and others had less money to contribute to help their fellow man….Both things contribute to the lessening of monies coming from the citizenry to help the citizenry of their own charitable accord. Greed has played its role. While I don’t believe in the social safety net system, because I believe it was the start of the socialism in our nation, I do understand that the system is in place and that our citizens use it. I do agree with most of the points made here to a large extent. Those people who use entitlements do so because they are there. They are a safety net meant to help those who are down and out. In some cases they do work this way. In other cases, they have become a way of life for some, and that is problematic. I don’t know that ending this system in the current economic environment would be a good idea. I believe it should be used only in emergency and as a step up, a helping hand, when all else is hopeless.
We encourage laziness when we don’t encourage growth and effort. This entire fiasco of unemployment problems we have experienced over the last couple of years, has truly placed a heavy burden on those at the bottom, and Monteen brilliantly pointed out that many of these who are hurting have nowhere else to go. While I don’t believe that entitlements where what our Founders intended, I think our Founders believed that we all would help each other, as people of morals, virtue and integrity do. Society is so far removed from that time long past, when neighbors cared for neighbors, et al. While I totally see that the solution for our nation is the three letter word no one likes to hear, GOD….with things what they are, Monteen does make good points above with the Bible verses she shares. I have one though, as well, that I will share that makes a great point to the fact that those who can help themselves, should. It follows a quote by James Madison.
“The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.” James Madison, Speech, House of Representatives, (1794-01-10)
In this I would call to the church to step up, to give, to revive Charity and love for our fellow man…in the hearts and minds of the people. Greed, success and materialism have replaced a “help each other” society. The church is the individual Christian (en total the Christ body, all Christians)…seeing the problems for what they are and expressing through actions and words their sentiment. Do what Christians do….help others. While you may not have money, food, clothing, or anything to really give, you do have your time, which might fill a need. God knows our hearts. While works do not earn us faith, what we must remember is Faith without works is dead.
1 Timothy 5:8 “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
A thanks to Monteen A. Mulcahy for this awesome, thought provoking, opinion piece.