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I attended a round-table presentation given by a local doctor on expanding Medicare to cover ever more Americans. A member of the group during the discussion asked everyone around that table about their personal health care coverage. Everyone said the federal government was at least in part subsidizing their coverage.
I want to use the example of Social Security to explain how we have all become addicted to government largess. With our addiction government control over us has increased to the point that today many are dependent on federal largess to maintain their health, happiness and well being.
Karl Marx said, “Religion is the opiate of the people.” I submit to you that, “Government largess is the opiate of the people.”
Government is defined as a “system of ruling or controlling”. Largesse is defined as, “the liberal giving (as of money) to or as if to an inferior.” Therefore, government largess is ruling or controlling by the liberal giving to inferiors (the governed).
Let me provide a brief historical perspective on how we got here.
We the people began to learn about government largesse 104 years ago with the founding of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society in New York City on September 12, 1905 in Peck’s Restaurant. An organizational meeting was held and Jack London was elected President with Upton Sinclair as First Vice President. The ISS was established to, “throw light [in America] on the world-wide movement of industrial democracy known as socialism.” Their motto was “production for use, not for profit.”
Production for use, not for profit is the prime goal of government largess.
So how could socialists begin distributing government largesse? First they had to gain unfettered control of production.
On February 3, 1913 Congress passed and the states ratified the Sixteenth Amendment to our Constitution. Congress grabbed control of production via the federal income tax. We taxed our productivity by tapping every American’s wages. With the millions, then billions, and now trillions of dollars that Congress collected, they could entice or even force the strongest American to take the government largesse drug.
Then on April 8, 1913 Congress passed and the states ratified the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution which transferred U.S. Senator Selection from each state’s legislature to popular election by the people of each state.
These two events made it much easier to collect and distribute government largesse as now Senators were no longer loyal to their state legislatures or primarily concerned with state sovereignty. Now U.S. Senators, along with U.S. Representatives, saw the value of spreading the government largesse drug amongst the people in return for votes.
During the Great Depression Congress created the first opiate for the masses and named it Social Security. It was to be a social insurance program run by government, in other words guaranteed government largess for life.
The Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935 by President Franklin Roosevelt. He and Congress said this new drug would keep those unemployed, retirees and the poor financially secure. He called it the New Deal. All we needed to do was just pay in and all would be well.
In 1937 the United States Supreme Court in U.S. vs. Butler validated the Social Security Act and stated that, “Congress could, in its future discretion, spend that money [collected from the income tax] for whatever Congress then judged to be the general welfare of the country. The Court held that Congress has no constitutional power to earmark or segregate certain kinds of tax proceeds for certain purposes, whether the purposes be farm-price supports, foreign aid or social security payments.” All taxes went into the general fund.
Testifying before the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives in 1952, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration said—“The present trust fund is not quite large enough to pay off the benefits of existing beneficiaries”—those already on the receiving end, in other words. In 1955 chief actuary believed that it would take $35 billion just to pay the people “now receiving benefits”.
In 1935 under the Social Security program the Congress included the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Act (AFDC).
During the late 1950s many states realized that this act, while created to help widows with children, was being used to subsidize women having children with men they were not married to. Louisiana alone took 23,000 women off the AFDC act rolls based upon their immoral behavior.
In 1960 Arthur Flemming, then head of the Department of Health and Human Services under President Dwight David Eisenhower and a key architect of Social Security, issued an administrative ruling that states could not deny eligibility for income assistance through the AFDC act on the grounds that a home was “unsuitable” because the woman’s children were illegitimate.
In 1968, the United States Supreme Court’s “Man-in-the-House” rule struck down the practice of states declaring a home unsuitable (i.e., an immoral environment) if there was a man in the house not married to the mother. Thus, out-of-wedlock births and cohabitation were legitimized. In very short order, the number of women on welfare tripled and child poverty climbed dramatically. The assault on the family was on and Congress and the Supreme Court were co-pushers of this new government largesse drug called AFDC.
In effect the federal government became the pimp, the homes of single mothers became the brothels and the fathers became the Johns. The children begotten by these women became the next generation of addicts. Just as a baby born to a mother doing crack is addicted to cocaine, so too are these children born with a life time addiction to the onerous and destructive drug – government largess.
Then Congress added a new ingredient to the powerful Social Security drug called Medicare on July 30, 1965.
Congress created Medicare as a single-payer health care system. Medicare was for those over 65 years old and was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. President Johnson called it part of his Great Society program. Congress immediately got more addicts to begin taking this drug.
At the same time Congress added a second even more powerful ingredient to this drug called Medicaid. This new ingredient brought into being an entirely new distribution system – all of the states of the union. Even though this new program violated state sovereignty it was passed anyway, in no small part because Senators were no longer accountable to the State Legislatures but rather committed to pushing government largess.
The states were now helping pay for and distribute this powerful and expensive designer drug. The drug was offered to low-income parents, children, seniors, and people with disabilities. Congress now had more people on the Social Security drug than ever before. Congress had turned a corner – addiction to government largesse was now imbedded in our society.
But Congress was not finished for it kept looking for more clients until we now know that the estimated unfunded liabilities for these four drugs are:
Social Security – $10.7 trillion
Medicare Parts A and B – $68 trillion
Medicare Part D – $17.2 trillion (created in just 3 years)
Our addiction to government largess will cost our children and grandchildren an estimated $95.9 trillion dollars. Ladies and gentlemen, the gross domestic product of the entire world in 2007 was $61 trillion.
I repeat my premise that government largess is the true opiate of the people.
I close with the following quote from a May 26, 1955 Herald-Tribune News Service article:
“Seven Amish bishops appealed to Congress today to exempt members of their church from receiving any benefits of the Social Security program. They are willing to continue paying Social Security taxes, however . . . . The bishops made it clear that no elder of the church would think, today, of applying for Social Security or any other government benefits. They want the law changed, they said, to “remove temptation” from their children and grandchildren.”
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