As this entry is being typed, Congress is overriding King Bush II’s veto of the $300 billion farm subsidy bill. All of the money is going to be collected from working Americans and (a little bit) handed out to the poor via food stamps and (a lot) handed out to millionaire farmers. This made me wonder how hard the average American is going to have to work for the next five years. Let’s look at some major items that primarily benefit those who don’t work…
- $300 billion farm handouts
- $1.4 trillion($250 billion per year and growing) for Medicare (health care for those over 65)
- $1.6 trillion ($300 billion per year and growing) for Medicaid (health care for poor Americans)
- $500 billion, estimated remaining cost of our effort to make Iraq safe for Iraqis (some estimates and comparisons to previous wars)
- 13 percent of wages for Social Security, includes employer-paid portion (Social Security is billed as a savings program, but it is really pay as we go and depends substantially on taxes from current workers)
- about 1 percent of wages to pay for all the people in prison (roughly 2 percent of the working age population)
We have approximately 150 million workers in this country. Running the numbers, over the next five years, each of those workers will have to generate more than $25,000 plus 13 percent of wages. An employer of American workers would therefore have to pay at least $5,000 per year per person just to enable that person to pay enough taxes to cover farm subsidies, health care for the old and the poor, and our misadventures in Iraq. Then the employer would have to pay another 14 percent on top of whatever else was being paid to cover Social Security and prisons.
Given that a fairly well educated worker in China can be employed for $5,000 per year, it is tough to understand how the American economy is sustainable unless we believe that our workers are vastly better educated than Chinese workers.
Let’s not forget that the working slobs are soon to be taxed another $1 trillion to bail out real estate and mortgage speculators (higher end of Standard and Poor’s estimate of the ultimate cost to the taxpayer).
The prevailing wisdom at the New York Times (editorial) seems to be that our economic future will be assured if we start selling houses to each other at ever-higher prices. All we need to do to grow our economy is build more and larger houses and sit inside them watching big-screen TVs that we import from Asia, occasionally getting up to drive our imported car to the supermarket to buy more chips and beer, stopping on the way home to fill up with imported oil.
Given all of the burdens that the American worker has to shoulder compared to his counterparts in younger countries, could the truth be a lot more frightening? Might we have to work harder? Study at night instead of watching TV?