The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology.

Today (8/11/10), the Chicago Tribune editors asked, “How soon will Medicare run out of money?” The Tribune editors asked that question because payroll taxes, specifically collected for Medicare, are projected to be less than Medicare spending.

The Tribune editors did not ask, “How soon will the Pentagon run out of money?” Presumably, the Pentagon faces a worse “crisis” than does Medicare. After all, the Pentagon spends billions, with zero payroll taxes specifically collected for the Pentagon.

The editors also did not ask, “How soon will the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House run out of money?” Here again, zero taxes are collected for these three federal institutions, though they spend quite a bit.

The editors did not ask, “How soon will the following agencies run out of money money?”:

The Bureau of Prisons
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Coast Guard
The Department of Justice
The Department of State
The Department of Labor
The Department of Transportation
The Department of the Treasury
The Department of Health and Human Services

All of these federal agencies, and many more, have huge budgets, but none collects a singe penny in taxes. Surely, they must be teetering on the brink of bankruptcy! But the Tribune editors seem unconcerned.

Why do the Tribune editors focus on Medicare, and often on Social Security, both of which supposedly do collect taxes, when no other Federal agency collects any taxes at all?

I’ve never seen the editors ask, “When will the National Weather Service run out of money?” Nor have I seen any graphs purporting to show the exact year when OSHA will go broke. Nor have I heard dire predictions of imminent bankruptcy for the Army Corps of Engineers.

Have you?

I’ve asked the Tribune editors this question numerous times, and never have received an answer. Perhaps you’ll have better luck. You can contact the Tribune editors at: Let me know what they tell you.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity