Welfare vs Social Insurance in the USA
Among experts, there is a widespread view that people in the USA support social insurance an oppose welfare. It is a fact that they support social security old age and disability pensions and hated AFDC. It is suspected that describing social security as a pension plan with mandatory participation is part of the explanation of this. Therefore, some (including the Clinton treasuries first assistant secretary for policy analysis Alicia Munnell) argue that it is important to preserve some link between contributions and benefits in the social security system.
I think that we have performed and experiment which refutes this hypothesis.
It is called Medicare. Medicare part A is a social insurance program like social security old age and disability pensions. Medicare part D sure isn’t – it’s an unfunded entitlement. I don’t know about parts B and C (I think they are basically funded from general revenues).
That’s the point. Compared to many angrybears I am very ignorant about Medicare, but I suspect that I know about as much as the median voter. If the form of financing had such an important impact on public opinion, why doesn’t the public know more about the form of financing ?
My reading of the evidence is that Medicare A through D is very popular, that different approaches to financing have so little effect on public opinion that it can’t be detected.
Frankly, I think this is proof that the social insurance hypothesis is false. At least I don’t see how the evidence could possibly conceivably be any stronger.
Unless of course due to people like Robert Sameulson always talking about “socialsecurityandmedicare” in order to kill social security people think they are funded from the same place.
Well both of them are headed for bankruptcy, so what will the Lefties do then? I will be amused to watch and see. We should have listened to Bush when we could have.
Among experts, there is a widespread view that people in the USA support social insurance an oppose welfare.
One would hope welfare would only exist as social insurance rather than an enabler of an alternative life style.
As I explained in my post, the distinction in the literature is that in social insurance there is a link between contributions and benefits. The idea is that the more you contribute the more you get. Certainly not one for one (bend points and all that) but something for something not something for nothing or nothing for something.
This is the way that social security pensions work. Medicare plan A does not really work this way — higher payroll income means higher contributions but the same insurance after 65. Medicare parts B, C and D don’t work this way at all. They are funded (if at all) by general revenues, that is mostly the income tax. People who pay zero income tax still get the benefits.
This is welfare not in the sense of supporting an alternative live style but in the sence of getting something for nothing. In the discussion to which I contribute, there is a strong fear that such plans will be unpopular and politically weak.
The facts show that this fear (or hope) is totally groundless.
You are the same guest in prior comments making drive by shots…if you cannot be named and also make conversation, continue driving on and shoot somewhere else.
Robert and Company–
Medicare Part A is supported by a payroll tax on earned income. It is not, therefore, “welfare”. We pay for it the same way we for Social Security. Part B is supplemented by general revenues. But, still derives its basic funding from payroll and self-employment taxes. Parts C and D were designed differently to be government subsidized private insurance plans available to all Part A and B (some special needs based subsidies for lower income enrollees.) Their funding is entirely derived from general revenues. Medicare and Social Security are not in the same category of funding at all. SS is not as a matter of law included in the budget. Period. Medicare A-D is partly tax based and partly gen revenue based. They do have some effect on the deficit. But, the killer in building deficits in recent years is DOD spending and income tax reductions. Our wars were supported entirely with borrowed money and not even budgeted during the Bush admin. SS had nothing to do with it.
The specific purpose of the Part C and D provisions of the SS Act was to privatize Medicare. These provisions were enacted during the Bush Administration. Please note that the existence of Part C plans has accellerated the draw on the HI Trust Fund, thus further advancing the goal of privatizing Medicare. Please note that Bruce Webb who knows more than I about the specific funding mechanisms in Parts A-D is not here to add all the important details, like exactly who is covered by the HI tax, etc. Geihnert, it turns out, should have paid FICA and HI tax, and didn’t. So much for program knowledge among the GS crowd.
To address Robert’s concern, during my 32 years career in Social Security, I never once heard a single beneficiary or Medicare enrollee complain about being forced to participate. People complained that the checks weren’t enough to live on, that Medicare didn’t cover enough, or that you couldn’t get long term care or prescription drug coverage. But they loved these programs and wanted them expanded. Still do. The most commonly offered reason was that they had earned their benefits, paid for them, and had a right to them. In contrast, people who received welfare had no right to the money they received and were the object of frequently voiced criticism.
Samuelson and the “entitlements will bankrupt us” crowd concentrate on SS and Medicare because their arguments are designed to convince you that ONLY SS/HI spending is the cause of deficits. Uncle Milty said the SS was “immoral”. Says it all. No one who believes the Samuelson theory of deficits=SS/Medicare=bankruptcy will ever buy the argument that SS is a self-supporting pay-as-you-go system. So, draw your own conclusions. I can only tell you the facts. Nancy Ortiz
I suppose the same argument can be made for inherited wealth and alternative life styles. There also is a non-contributory class of characters living off someone else’s dime…hidden cost to others as well.
SE tax rate. The self-employment tax rate is 15.3%. The rate consists of two parts: 12.4% for social security (old-age, survivors, and disability insurance) and 2.9% for Medicare (hospital insurance).
Maximum earnings subject to SE tax. Only the first $102,000 of your combined wages, tips, and net earnings in 2008 is subject to any combination of the 12.4% social security part of SE tax, social security tax, or railroad retirement (tier 1) tax.
All your combined wages, tips, and net earnings in 2008 are subject to any combination of the 2.9% Medicare part of SE tax, social security tax, or railroad retirement (tier 1) tax
I think you’re really making the argument that social security is not insurance but rather a forced saving plan. Its not an insurance plan because it does not require the even “has become old and has no money”. Social security still pays out to a trust fund coupon clipping fat cat so its certainly not based on need.
On the other hand medicare is insurance. The size of the payout is driven by the sickness of the recipients which may not have been known all the years the person was contributing to the system prior to turning 65.
I believe welfare in the form of food stamps was what was being given to an able body woman I saw at the grocery store last week. Also, I know of at least 2 women receiving section 8 housing along with other cash benefits based on their lifestyle choices. Both of them had mothers that were receiving public assistence. They’re not evil people but a life on public assistance it just another way to go through life — although this path seems more open to women then to men.
Thanks, Cantab and Rdan
See, I knew somebody would know something about the tax structure! Me, I just administered the program and talked to thousands of people in the process. Yep, thousands. 32 years is a LONG time. One thing you can be sure, Medicare ain’t somethin’ for nothin’, not even close. Very American idea, working for what you get. Rdan’s point is well worth noting. Exactly who is it in the USA who gets something for nothing? Hmmmm. Nobody I know, that’s for sure. NO
I have to say your logic makes me grind my teeth. You are a worthy debate partner to Cantab. Ignorance that concludes “therefore any other opinion is totally groundless.”
Fortunately Nancy is here to explain it to you. Not that it will do much good.
For what it’s worth, my own opinion is that Medicare should have a payroll cap just like Social Security. And that people need to pay for their “expected” costs, with the proviso that the expected cost includes the expected cost of not being able to pay the full share, so the premium needs to be high enough to cover both the expected cost of the medical care, and the expected cost of not having enough money to pay the full premium.
Of course the only way to make this work in the long run is to raise wages so people can afford health care, and to cut health care costs.
Pretending that you have discoverd that people really prefer welfare doesn’t help any of this. Of course the people prefer welfare. As long as they don’t think they are paying for it.
You are a worthy debate partner to Cantab
And you’re not.
don’t make the mistake of thinking that everyone you see on food stamps is making a life of living on welfare. i don’t know the numbers, but from what i have seen up close, food stamps is a very temporary experience in some people’s lives and they don’t like it much.
if anyone is still making a living on welfare, we need to look at ways to find jobs for them. just cutting them off and saying the market will provide doesn’t work.
social security is “forced savings”, but it is also insurance, because if your forced savings turn out to be not enough to live on you get an “insurance benefit” in the form of effectively very high interest. this very high interest is paid for by “low interest” on the savings of those who do have enough to live on after a lifetime of savings. what those people get is the “insurance” that they would have gotten that supplement if their luck had gone bad. no one, not even you, can tell in advance how they will end up.
letting the “rich” get a check… one that equals the amount they “saved” plus enough interest to cover at least inflation… is just a detail. it makes the social security “bite” so small it is not worth thining about. remember these high earners are not necessarily rich. they could have lost all their money in bad investments… except what was saved in social security for them out of their high earnings when they had them.
this is not really hard, but you have to work to think honestly about it.
Nancy I am never far away. I do sleep sometimes.
Okay point one. As far as I know Part B does not draw on payroll tax. Instead it draws 25% on premiums and 75% on general fund transfers. Part D mirrors Part B. Part C is I believe synonymous with Medicare Advantage and so from a financing standpoint is a blend of Part A, B, and D.
When people talk about Medicare going ‘bankrupt’ in 2017 or whenever they are only talking about the depletion point for the HI (Hospital Insurance) Trust Fund which is to say Part A. This is the only component of Medicare that is truly Social Insurance and is the part most invulnerable to cuts. Hence the current cynical and hypocritical defense being made by the Republicans over proposed savings/cuts in Medicare via HCR almost all of which are directed at Part A and designed in part to extend the life of the HI Trust Fund by five years. Part A/HI is to that degree to date close to bullet proof and being seen as directly providing services to retirees.
Part B on the other hand has been subject to assault with rules that would cut payment to Physicians on an automatic basis starting with legislation put in in 1996, legislation which has required annual intervention by Congress to counteract and which the current HCR bills seek to abolish altogether. This legislation is linked in a kind of mysterious way to a similar provision introduced with Part D legislation in 2003 that included the ‘45% rule’ which mandates that anytime that general fund funding of Parts B and D exceed 45% of combined Medicare that automatic cuts are triggered. http://www.centeronbudget.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1143
Neither the 1996 or 2003 cuts to Part B generated riots in the streets, to the degree that the public understood the issue at all they seemed to realize that proposing cuts in a general fund welfare program (which is what Part B/Physicians largely is) is a prerogative of Congress in ways that cuts to a purely social insurance program (Part A/Hospital) are not.
Given the general low level of signal to noise of basic understanding of Medicare finance it is reckless to make definitive conclusions here. But what signal we actually have directly countervenes Robert’s conclusion, proposals to attack Part B have not raised opposition to the same degree as proposals to attack Part A, even if most people couldn’t distinguish the two on a bet.
If I had to bet I would put my money on retirees believing that all four parts of Medicare are funded by payroll tax via their lifetime earnings plus their current premium and so are purely social insurance and don’t understand that close to 45% of it is funded from the general fund, and so generating calls to ‘keep your government off of my Medicare’. But to the extent they understand that 45% that more knowledgeable sector has been seemingly willing to entertain direct cuts to that sector.
There is no nice way to say this, particularly to someone I consider a friend, but starting an argument with “but I suspect that I know about as much as the median voter” given an environment with such a small signal to noise ratio and concluding “I think this is proof that the social insurance hypothesis is false.” is itself a hell of a deductive reach. And adding the following is just kind of foolish “At least I don’t see how the evidence could possibly conceivably be any stronger”
(I regularly get arguments that Social Security is doomed because nobody the objectors know believe that it will be there for them, not understanding that obfuscation of the reality was a deliberate strategy by opponents of that form of social insurance. Unfortunately Robert seems here to have fallen into the same argument via low information trap.)
A caveat here.
Enrollment in Medicare is not automatic for all residents. It is directly linked to Social Security eligibility which is in turn subject to work requirements including 40 quarters of participation. Now certainly there are some people who will have met those work requirements who never actually paid net income taxes and may even been via EITC net drawers on the general fund, but the number of Medicare beneficiaries who paid zero income tax over their lives would be very small indeed. And if they actually chose to sign up for Part B and/or D (because that is not mandated) the premiums would gobble up a very large percentage of their Social Security check. Medicare Part B and D are not at all pure welfare in the sense Robert’s argument would require.
You don’t know of anyone living off government assistance that could probably manage without it but not necessarily have a much better life off it then on it? I find this hard to believe. Is there anyone on this web site that has gone through life and don’t know of a single person collecting serious public assistance bacause they made choices leading to this put could probably do about as well off it.
You don’t know of anyone living off government assistance that could probably manage without it but not necessarily have a much better life off it then on it? I find this hard to believe. Is there anyone on this web site that has gone through life and don’t know of a single person collecting serious public assistance bacause they made choices leading to this but could probably do about as well off it.
Chuckle, Keep your hands off my Social Security.
I have been going through some interesting exercises since my husband retired at the end of August and we have been assessing the feasibility of my retiring in December 2010. We both have employer subsidized insurance. When he was working my husband’s insurance was free. Now we pay 25%. We pay about 35% for my policy which is twice as expensive. The policies are different when Medicare kicks in. His becomes individual and cheaper (a supplemental). My policy remains the same in coverage and premium. His plan has an option of choosing Medicare D or his employer’s prescription plan. His health care insurance premiums are lower if he opts for Medicare D. I can buy Medicare D but it won’t change my coverage or premium so it would add to it but Medicare D would pay first. Medicare B is interesting. His employer requires enrollment in Medicare B if they want to keep their insurance. My plan urges enrollment in Medicare B but doesn’t require it. Enrollment in Medicare B immediately makes Medicare B the first payer so, for the price of my current policy I end up with a supplemental relationship to Medicare B without a lower premium. Additionally, for people over 65, both plans will not cover the normal charges they covered before you turned 65 but, instead, use the 115% of Medicare allowed charges. With my policy we can get services from PPO vendors that do not participate in Medicare but, when they charge more than the Medicare allowed amount plus 15%, I pay the difference. I can’t figure out if the policies supplement the insurers, the younger employees or vice versa. For example, my plan pays 90% of most things before I turn 65. If I buy Medicare B, it will pay a maximum of my 10% coinsurance plus, presumably, up to 15% of the Medicare allowable. Or as they put it – you “usually” pay nothing. So for the same premium that paid 90% of the insurance allowed amount, it will pay, after I turn 65, a maximum of 35% of the Medicare allowed amount for the same price. It’s not the same price for me since I would have to purchase Medicare B and, perhaps D if I need special drugs. It looks to me like the Medicare Supplemental policies that Obama is against might actually be a better buy than the employer paid plans that give a not-so-“free-lunch” when retirees turn 65 if most plans work the same way as my plan does. Everywhere I look Medicare is lowering the cost to insurance companies and it makes me wonder just how much private insurance would cost without Medicare.
Bruce–Thanks. Once of these days I’ll remember all your good lessons and be better informed. NO
Exactly who is it in the USA who gets something for nothing? Hmmmm. Nobody I know, that’s for sure. NO
I know a Russian woman who had a russian doctor friend say she was emotionally disabled. She shopped for the doctor and through word of mouth found what she was looking for. Prior to getting assistance she was working as a freelance graphic artists, now she does not work, at least over the table.
The other person that I know of mother’s been on and off public assitance. I watched the daughter growing up. She seems nice and capable but now she’s a young mother on public assistance. She’s no born again Christian — so do the math.
And Nancy, 32 years and you don’t know different but similar version of the same story! How could have be – do you live on Lake Wobegon?
Dear Cantab–Never been to Lake Woebegone. I worked in California, my friend, where poor people are merely in a temporary cash flow crunch. I also knew people who lied to get their benefits and participated in numerous internal and external fraud investigations. Anyone who works in California can spot a counterfeit document at 30 yards and confiscate it before you can blink an eye. My experience is that you can straigten out quite a few of the ordinary “not-quite-fraud” type of understatement of income or assets stuff by just cutting the benefit and sending the person a letter to warn them the cut is coming. Perfectly legal and quite routine. As a result, quite a few people would just love to catch me alone in a dark ally. You betcha.
Just wondering, though–how long did it take your Russian friend to start receiving benefits? “Emotionally disabled” is very vague. That’s not a diagnosis and you’re sure not going to get approved on that basis. In fact, people with a variety of emotional disorders have a very, very hard time getting approved. That must be some doctor. These cases normally go to the hearing level and hearings take four or five years.
So, if you think she committed fraud, turn her in. Or if you don’t want to do that, turn the doctor in. There is a hotline number you can call. No joke. Cases like this are easy to prosecute and usually result in convictions. One way or the other, she will experience, as the medical professionals say, “a little discomfort.” NO
Thanks for the information. I didn’t know about the 40 quarters of participation.
As you note people who have contributed less than nothing via income taxes can receive them. Many people get more from the EITC than they pay in income tax, this is by no means a marginal issue. It is unusual for people to have such low incomes *and* large families (large numbers of dependants) all the way up to age 65.
Since they have to pay premiums (which don’t cover the costs) they are not pure welfare just as food stamps are welfare for the vast majority of people who get food stamps. Except for the very poorest, food stamps are purchased for a price lower than their face value but positive.
Anna Lee–Good analysis. I don’t see why employer insurance is such a good deal, especially in the very common situation you find yourself in. Thanks for explaining. NO
Cantab. How long has that Russian woman been in America? Did she contribute enough quarters to Social Security to be eligible for SS Disability Insurance? Or just enough to qualify for some state medicaid plan plus maybe welfare? Because if the latter your argument is totally irrelevant.
Maybe Nancy hasn’t heard a version of this because she doesn’t listen to Talk Radio.
And your “born again Christian” reference is incoherent, what the hell does that have to do with anything?
No one could be a worthy debate partner to Cantab. Except maybe a Mafia lawyer equally uninterested in any concept of justice or truth and willing to use any kind of bogus talking point to attempt to prove an argument and get his client off.
FA was a sociopath. Cantab what is your excuse?
My point exactly is that financing of medicare parts A and D are completely different but public attitudes are similar to identical. I think this proves that the claim that a program is considered more legitimate if it has a dedicated tax is false. My point was that funding for A B and D are different and yet this does *not* affect the political debate.
You strongly confirm my claim, noting that the financing of A is not at all like the financing of D. Note that it is clear that the House health care reform bill restrains spending increases on A and expands D. If they hypothesis about financing and perceived ligitimacy were correct, the opposite would have happened in the House. The restraint on A is separate from and in addition to cuts in the absurd medicare advantage subsidies.
The House is restraining A specifically. Their claim is that they will restrict compensation schedules for hospitals nursing homes and home care agencies (that is not for physicians in private practice) by requiring that productivity growth be as large at those institutional care providers as in the general economy. I am, as I admit, quite ignorant, but my understanding is that the House proposes the restraints ascribed to productivity growth specifically for Medicare A not B or D.
By the logic that social insurance is preferred to something on a “welfare basis” (not my words I am quoting someone) the opposite should occur.
It is true that people who benefit from medicare plan D consider it completely different from “welfare.” I suspect that many of them consider food stamps to be welfare. I do not believe that there is any logic to their position. Most food stamp recipients pay cash for the stamps (less than their face value).
In any case, it has nothing to do with funding sources as the funding for Medicare plan D, food stamps and TANF are identical — the general fund.
Medicare plan D is an experiment which has tested the hypothesis that fuinding sources affect perceived legitimacy. I assert that the subsequent debate has finally proven beyond all doubt that they hypothesis is false. This was the claim in my post. The facts (I knew of the A and D facts) noted in your comment confirm my claims.
Conservatives not welcome, eh?
Careful, or you’ll be slapped down for saying unpopular things.
Opinions vary. I think Cantab is one of the most intelligent people posting here.
Was on the QE2 years ago when it regularly crossed from New York to Southampton. Sat at a dinner table with a woman who had been a checker in a supermarket chain (Safeway or something like that, I don’t recall). She said she was disabled. Since she didn’t seem disabled in the least I asked in what way. She said he had gotten “too nervous” to continue in her job and so she got disability and was cruising around the world on ships to pass her time. She said the supermarket chain “has been very good to me.” LOL.
She was probably in country for 15 years. Her mother less before she got assistance.
Maybe Nancy hasn’t heard a version of this because she doesn’t listen to Talk Radio.
The only talk radio that I listen to on my commute is NPR and I can’t remember any such story. If you looked backed at all the episodes of this This American Life maybe they had something on it. It seems like a topic that could make it into one of their shows. Since this really is about someone’s personal version of This American Live I have a hard time believing that one could go through life and not know anyone doing similar types of behavior. I have a hard time believing that you don’t know of anyone. Well, do you? You do have a history of acts of omission.
And your “born again Christian” reference is incoherent, what the hell does that have to do with anything?
This means that she went out had a baby and did not put it up for adoption or have an abortion because the baby was the ticket. She did not have the child out of moral obligation — like a a born again Christian might have (this should have been obvioius to you and not required an explanation).
Use a unique screen name and you can say pretty much want you want. Using ‘Guest’ on a one time basis is okay. Repeatedly making non-substantive drive-by’s under the cover of ‘Guest’ is not.
Establish an ID and stick by it and you can be here forever. Try to disguise your identify under Guest or by using multiple screen names and you get bounced once the pattern is recognized. A lesson ultimately learned by at least one of our regular contrarians who ended up with a couple of dozen IP addresses blocked before he decided to get a little less abusive.
Your observation “Neither the 1996 or 2003 cuts to Part B generated riots in the streets, to the degree that the public understood the issue at all they seemed to realize that proposing cuts in a general fund welfare program (which is what Part B/Physicians largely is) is a prerogative of Congress in ways that cuts to a purely social insurance program (Part A/Hospital) are not. ” is certainly relevant to our discussion.
However, I am quite sure you are quite wrong about the extent to which the public realized that financing of parts A and B are different. The fact is that the part B cuts haven’t happened yet. It is fairly clear that they never will. If there actually ever were such cuts and people accepted them, I would agree that you have a point.
I admit again that I am very ignorant. I only now learn from you that the never imposed limits which are fixed once a year with doc fixes applied to part B and not to part A. I would be part of the public which doesn’t understand the issue at all. I am also a part of the public which decided to write about the fact that medicare parts A,B,C and D are financed differently. I admit my ignorance, but I think I am less ignorant about the differences between A and B than most Americans. Your argument entirely relies on the assumption that people who know much more than I do are numerous enough to cause riots in the streets. Do you really think that ?
As I note above, the House proposed cutting (really restraining) A and not B. I think it is safe to say that no one noticed this (the A vs B part lots of people noticed that the growth of the medicare budget was reduced of course). Certainly, the comments on my post about that aspect of the House bill http://tinyurl.com/ylnuwje revealed that *none* of the commenters *here at AngryBear* distinguished between Medicare payments to hospitals and Medicare payments to practiciing physicians.
I confidently assert that the people who know the difference between Medicare A and B are few enough that their votes don’t decide elections. Now the amounts of money involved are huge enough that the programs and the differences between them have an important effect on campaign contributions.
I mean do you really seriously think that people consider cuts to B more legitimate than cuts to A because of the way they are funded ? Why hasn’t that issue been raised at all during the current debate ? Or has someone said it is OK to but B but not A ? Anyone ? A whole lot has been written and said about health care reform. I’ve read a lot myself. I absolutely haven’t read that argument.
The people who drafted the House Bill are operating on a different information level than the public at large. The cuts to Part A in the House Bill are not directed at Part A across the board, instead they are targeted at providers who have a history of direct fraud or of trying to charge services not covered by medicare (e.g. long term custodial care) as being hospitalization. It is only Republicans catering to low-information voters that are characterizing this as some cut-back to social insurance.
And I don’t know that people’s attitudes to Part A and Part D are identical, certainly people accepted even if they didn’t like the donut hole, whether they would accept a similar change to Part A is a question. I don’t accept the fact that people would have accepted that as a tradeoff even if the score was an actuarial benefit to seniors.
The separation of drugs from overall medical coverage was artificial to begin with and stemmed from a totally different state of medicine in the 1960s. Drug treatment for serious conditions was not a regular part of medicare, still less treatments that cost thousands of dollars a year. Examined from the social insurance point of view we see that health care as a whole is conceived to be an equal right, if you get sick or injured you should have an equal opportunity to get well, but that does not extend to getting a private room or the same quality of food as they serve to the VIPs. Similarly ‘food stamps’ are set up in a way that does not allow recipients to use them for restaurant meals (leading to absurdities that say you can buy a frozen burrito in a convenience store with your food card but can’t heat it up in the store).
So I don’t see this as a question of funding sources at all. In a social democratic system if you get sick you get health coverage that will get you well. If you are chronically hungry you will get assistance that gets you fed. The difference being that a triple-bypass is pretty much a triple-bypass, there are not significant differences in cost to accomplish the same end, while you can get just as well fed and more nutrionally so on a balanced mix of relatively inexpensive vegetables, grains and protein sources than you would from a sixteen ounce Porterhouse at Morton’s.
Social insurance is aimed at goals: shelter, heat, subsistence, health, education and ideally aims for equality in outcome, while not aiming for equality in the experience of reaching those outcomes. To the degree that Medicare recipients regard drugs as simply a component of an overall right to health I don’t see it surprising that they see it differently than food stamps.
So I don’t agree that the hypothesis was EVER about funding sources to start with, but instead of what goals are appropriately covered socially and what are not. As an example most of the Great Society programs were largely targeted at children and mothers and not at poor families as such, which in itself led to maybe better child health and nutrition but diminished family stability, having a working father at home could well mean that aggregate family consumption of health and food had to drop as the family lost eligibility for medicaid and AFDC. A somewhat puritanical impulse that it was okay to feed children but not okay to feed ‘shiftless’ adults led to some fairly poor outcomes that were penny wise and pound foolish.
What KIND of assistance? If it wasn’t DI then your point is irrelevant.
And you have to be pretty twisted to think that the only reason a non-fundamentalist didn’t have an abortion or gave up a baby was because she wanted a ‘ticket’. You seem to have drank stories of Reagan’s Cadillac welfare queen in with your own baby’s milk, the income gained would only very rarely match the potential income lost for a single woman no matter how young or how depressed the economic outlook. Girls and women have babies for any number of reasons, but getting rich on Uncle Sam’s nickel only exist in the brains of people like Rush. The cash and cash equivalents just aren’t that good.
Well there are some missing pieces to that story. First of all nobody cruises around the world on a Social Security disability check. And while Safeway is mostly a union shop I can’t imagine the contract is THAT good. So I am thinking there has to be some sort of legal settlement involved that required some admission of guilt by the employer. “too nervous” could mean a multiple of things. As we are learning this week there were hundreds of young boys who were “too nervous” to continue serving as alter boys in Ireland.
So I am not buying that story in its unadorned state. These things happen, in my last job but one I collaborated in an effort to drive out a sub-standard employee who had all kinds of mainly bogus medical conditions. The end result is that she got a big fat legal settlement and I ended up having to resign without my sick leave or unemployment. But there was a lot of back story, it wasn’t as simple as her walking in one day and saying “I’ve got a migraine, give me a couple hundred thousand dollars”.
Another “pink Cadillac” story.
Don’t get me started on AFDC. Now there is nothing like the temple people in the poverty business built on the notion that the Great Society programs couldn’t be improved. Caused the death of AFDC and now, Surpirse!, the number of poor mothers and kids has increased dramatically.
You have to think about social legislation to get good results. Not a lot of thinking going on now. We’ll see what happens.
Nobody ever gets a check for being Too Nervous. Certainly not one big enough to circle the globe on a cruise ship. UNLESS–the person is the beneficiary of a special needs trust as described under Title XVI of the SS Act. Any amount of money can be deposited in an irrevocable trust under the complete control of a trustee which provides for the “education and travel” of the trustor. Rich parents often use this provision so that us ordinary taxpayers can pay SSI/Medicaid for the disabled individual. Not all disablilites are visible, of course. And people are very inventive in explaining what’s wrong with them to make it possible to be on a cruise. Can this happen? Yep. Bruce’s story features the successful plaintiff in a wrongful discharge suit. Works. Not often, but it works. NO
What KIND of assistance? If it wasn’t DI then your point is irrelevant
You don’t get to decide what is relevant or not for anyone other then you.
There has been a serious attempt in the comments to convolute welfare programs with entitlements. I think Robert’s first paragraph point is made for the general population who do not fully appreciate the nuances of the systems, especially Medicare, if visitors at AB need to explain these nuances to each other.
Robert, I think/observe that the remaining paragraphs of your post, which are based on the assumption that the general population is aware of the nuances, does not appear to be the case. All of the posters here are better mathematicians and researchers than the general population. I imagine that people on Medicare think that they paid for it all and that the amount they pay into Medicare B-D is a means test because of the way it is priced and the way it is usually discussed. So they probably think that their premiums are helping to cover those who can’t afford to pay premiums.
If “welfare” is defined as subsidies coming from the general fund without a “trust fund” transfer and “entitlement” is defined as coming from a payroll tax or a “trust fund” savings account, would the general population receiving SS and Medicare rise up and refuse to participate in the “welfare” portions?
My own take on the “keep your government hands off my Medicare” is that it arises from fear that a single payer system (or health care reform) would raise the cost to the retirees or reduce the benefits (or both). The attempt to reform Medicare along with the rest or health care which translated into Medicare savings that offset costs, combined with ignorance, makes this fear completely understandable. People who distrust government are not likely to be pacified by assurances and I don’t see an easy way to substitute education.
In your dreams Jim.
All in all an instructive thread.
I am glad Jim was vigilant…if all he found was one possible gamester of the system, it makes a wonderful testament for how it works well. We all work off stories in our heads until we take the time to actually know something real.
conservatives appear to be welcome here. they put up with me. even if they don’t like me sometimes.
the trouble is the brain-damaged section of the population that thinks “conservative” means “completely ignorant and proud” give conservative a bad name.
one would hope. see, i AM a conservative.
the sequencing of these comments makes it hard to tell i am responding to Cantab’s hope that social insurance would not become a way to fund an alternate lifestyle.
of course I know “single persons who…” milk the system. that is not the same as saying everyone milks the system, or even “a significant minority” milks the system. this is a thought error. you need to get someone to teach you the difference between “all members of the set…” “there exists at least one member of the set such that…”
its not that you say unpopular things. it’s that you say stupid things. even Cantab gets it right sometimes. you, not so much.
actually Bruce is right about the relevance of your point to your claim. “relevance” that only means “free association” has a very low standing in logic, or any argument except on talk radio. but i will give you that npr’s standard is very low these days too.
of course “the people” don’t know the difference. that’s why there are “interest groups” who have to go out and explain it to them over and over. but nancy is right. when forced to think about it, the people who paid their social security tax know damn well it’s not welfare, and they have a different attitude about it.
people would take welfare if they had to. but the visits to the government proctologist (to look for hidden assets) would be very trying to them, and expensive to the country.
one thing the enemies of social security can’t get through their fat heads is that with social security the people pay in advance for their “welfare.” with welfare, the “rich” would have to pay the whole benefit themselves. of course they would soon cut the benefit below survival level. then “the poor” would have to start gaming the system.
there oughta be a law against stupidity.
US people support social insurance more than welfare, its due to get best rate of money in back of making a insurance policy…. Immediate Annuity Rate
if you are still around, i need to apologize for my bad manners. not that it matters.
i just get a little crazy when “liberals” start handing talking points to the insane right.
The main distinction I have seen drawn is between programs that are universal, i.e., for “us”, as opposed to targetted, i.e., for “them.” Theda Skocpol and William J Wilson argue that this is the main dividing line between programs that have political support and those that don’t. They argue the best way to help those in need is to help everyone, even though helping those who are better off seems a less efficient way to spend money, and arguably a less just way.
Some, probably even them, also say that people think benefits they paid for have more support. If your claim that all parts of Medicare have comparable support is true (I suspect it is, but it would be good to have evidence not intuition), it supports the claim in the first paragraph (universal = popular).
I don’t really think it bears very much on the second claim, that things people have paid for have political support. You and some commenters are very concerned about the details of financing and the actuarial fairness of the benefits. But most people don’t know. What they do know is “I paid for it;” i.e., stuff went out of my paychecks for this program (Social Security and Medicare). (How many people know that is also an empirical question; clearly some don’t even know medicare is a government program). The first social security recipients got vastly more than they put in; I don’t really think the relation between payouts and payins is that politically important.
Finally, note that the political support for AFDC fell as it shifted from being seen as a program for stereotypically white widows and orphans to stereotypically black unwed mothers.