By Joey Walter
Over the past century, generation after generation has steadily experienced a change in which facets of Americans’ lives the government is responsible for protecting. While the majority of our current society views programs such as Medicare and Social Security as indispensible prerogatives of the government’s personal entitlement suite, recent federal decisions have seemed to maintain security as its fundamental goal. According to the 2010 Social Security Trustees Report, between 1984 and 2009 the American people contributed $2 trillion more to Social Security and Medicare in payroll taxes than was paid out in benefits. Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury for economic policy assesses that this surplus was used to finance the War on Terror. The report continues, “Neither the redemption of trust fund bonds, nor interest paid on those bonds, provides any new net income to the Treasury, which must finance redemptions and interest payments through increased taxation, reductions in other government spending, or additional borrowing from the public.” This supposed administrative deceit has not gone unnoticed among the omnipresent muckraking community, as Eastern Illinois Professor Allen Smith concludes, “the most reprehensible fraud is the systematic and total ransacking of the Social Security trust fund…in the upcoming years the American people will wake up to the reality that those IOUs in the trust fund vault are [nonexistent].” Of course, most Americans would not consider this borrowing of their tax money for urgent national crises to be an appalling crime or conspiracy, but our military’s justification for its recent security measures is another issue altogether. At the point where revenue fails to reach the causes specifically chosen by the taxpayer and is instead allocated to endeavors based solely on the government’s agenda, a failure of the democratic social contract as well as outright financial fraud have occurred. If the reality illustrated by these analyses is correct, it would unfortunately paint a picture that our government has lost a modicum of respect for citizen’s votes and earnings. Looking through the more relevant lens of our society’s economic struggles, citizens’ deprivation of the services thought to be entitled to them by the government and by their own payments will most likely lead to negative consequences for all parties involved down the road.
The chief goal of our federal government, as decided by empirical Supreme Court Cases regarding new entitlement programs, must maintain the priority of benefiting the American populous, and intentionally sacrificing a modicum of citizens’ freedom for the purpose of increasing their overall wellbeing may not be inherently bad or unconstitutional. Thus, the deeper question, perhaps, must be whether the administration choosing to tap into the citizens’ trust fund was covertly vying to support their own unwarranted goals or acting on honest risk calculations regarding the American people. Of course, no one ten years ago would have guessed that the very nature of borrowing, or increasing the present-day deficit by a sliver, could yield permanent consequences to the welfare of the United States.