Friday, February 24, 2012


According to David Brooks column today the American and European social support 
structure are more or less equally funded. I do not have the numbers directly at my finger
tips—and apparently gauging from the lack of them in his column he didn’t either.
( Or he did, but ignored them because they disproved his thesis)  The absurdity of which
  is to propose that “the U.S. does not have a significantly smaller welfare state than the 
European nations.” (First of all, David,  congratulations on that “welfare state” buzz word 

Some European governments “offer health care directly”, some just pay for it directly and some have a not-for-profit system  with highly regulated structure .  All of them pay a lot less for a lot better care/outcomes.  He  infers is that our health insurance   tax  structure is welfare.  If so it is primarily corporate welfare—for the insurance companies and the employers.  Much better healthcare is available without these direct subsidies to the corporations.  How do we know—because the rest of the developed world has done it!  So subtract those corporate tax breaks from your “welfare” total.

The same is true for the other areas he mentions—childcare,  subsidies to industry.  The point is rather than his  indirect, unfocused tax breaks, mature societies make mature decisions about where to invest and then invest—not “untax” individuals or corporations.

Brooks adds in the money the  government doesn’t collect and calls it spending?  Really!? What world does he live in?  If we collect it and then use it then it is spending.   If we don’t collect it, his  absurdist $10 billion dollar example notwithstanding, then we are not directing its use for the society. 

That is the theory you all want us to buy . The  middle of his column does seem to acknowledge that this is just a sham for redirecting money upward.   But, surprise, somehow he gives it all another mobius twist and ends up calling for LOWER tax rates, without, of course all those bothersome regulations.

Finally, Reagans tax cuts did not produce any benefits – except, again, for those that didn’t need it.  In fact he raised  taxes several times  primarily on the lower and middle classes to make up for the hole his cuts caused in the economy.  His raising of the FICA was  and is the largest tax raise ever foisted on the middle class.  And now they want that money, too.  So much for the right being concerned about true tax reform.

1 comment:

  1. I would believe that the US spends the same amount of money per capita on the poor, but because we have such a hodgepodge patchwork system it's not nearly as well distributed. It's not uncommon for a potentially-healthy homeless person to run up over a million dollars a year in medical debts related to getting in fights and sleeping in barf puddles. And how much does it cost to care for a single fetal-alcohol-syndrome child? More than the cost of a well-implemented program to prevent hundreds of cases of homelessness and FAS. I would bet that ten percent of the poor receive ninety percent of the money spent on all poor people, while those who can barely make it--single moms working two jobs to keep their kids clean and achieving and fed--get squat.