Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Government benefits

At a discussion board I go to,, a conservative posted the following query:

Liberals, have you ever been helped by Gov't?
This question is for all those who consider themselves liberals who support Big Government: Have you ever received government assistance? Which programs?

My spouse and I have been poor most of our lives, but not ONCE have either of us ever qualified for a single government assistance program. We didn't have kids, we ALWAYS took whatever job was available (even the military, when we graduated in the middle of yet another major Recession), and even today we live like paupers--except for the house, which we wrongly thought was better than losing savings to no-interest and currency devaluation.

We also cannot save nearly enough for our retirement because our tax burden is insanely high. Two professional jobs, in the peak income years--aka Cash Cow for Government. After taxes and cost of living, we just about break even. When our health prevents continuing these 80-hour workweeks, we're up the creek without a paddle. And guaranteed, the governments that have been bleeding us dry will then say we're on our own.

Knowing the finances of Social Security and Medicare, and as part of the generation that is denied Social Security until age 67, I have no doubts that neither I nor my spouse will ever get a penny back from that program either.

I probably would be more supportive of the idea of Government stepping in and providing a "safety net," if I didn't know that there is NO safety net for responsible people like me.

There are a lot of responses to it. Here's mine:

I won't go all the way back to the day of my birth, but just a few highlights of government benefits that have helped me include:

I went to Catholic grammar school and high school, but my grammar school was located on a road paid for and maintained by the government. When I went to high school I traveled into New York City every day over government-built roads, crossed the Hudson River by means of the George Washington Bridge or the Lincoln Tunnel, both of which were built by the government, and then took public transit to get to my school. I regularly spent time in the government-operated Central Park while at school, and during the indoor track season I would have practice and meets at the 103rd Engineers Battalion Armory, now known as the Armory Track Center. Sometimes during the outdoor track season I would run in meets at Randalls Island, a stadium built with public funds; to get there I would travel across the Triborough Bridge.

I went to a public college and a public law school. Both universities were funded in large part by tax dollars, and my law school student loan was subsidized by the federal government. On occasion, while I was away at school, I traveled by airplane back and forth to my parents' house. Those airplanes would land at publicly built and financed airports, and they were enabled to land safely by the publicly operated air traffic control system. While in law school I lived in married student housing, which was also built and operated in part by the use of public funds. I also worked at Little Caesar's Pizza both as an undergraduate and a law student; the stores depended on public roads to get supplies and ingredients and to make deliveries, and the owners were able to deduct my pay from their taxes.

I have worked in employment that is in part funded by public funds. I have raised two sons, both of whom went to public schools and public universities, although one son graduated from a private college. When I want to communicate with them I might send them an e-mail or visit them on Facebook, made possible by the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, or I might telephone them over wires put in place by operation of eminent domain.

I have owned three houses, one of which I still own. I am able to afford it in part because I can deduct the mortgage interest and property taxes that I pay. I can get to and from my house and to work on roads funded by the government. I don't worry about crime or fires because I am able to rely on my publicly funded police and fire departments. I also know that I can accumulate savings because the federally financed Securities and Exchange Commission is able to maintain a reliable, market for private and public securities.

When my parents were sick and dying I never had to worry about whether we could afford their care because they had medical coverage supported in part by the Veterans Administration and Medicare. They were able to receive treatment from professionals whose training was subsidized by the federal government, and who were licensed and regulated by their state government. That's how other members of my family and I get medical care, too.

I could go on, but I think I'll stop at saying that anyone who doubts that the receive benefits from the government is a fool.

I do know one other thing: if I were in the top 1% instead of in the bottom 99%, the list of benefits I get from government would be a lot longer, and the value and price of those benefits would be a lot higher.

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