–Why Robert J. Samuelson wants to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Monday, Mar 7 2011 

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand Monetary Sovereignty, do not understand economics. If you understand the following, simple statement, you are ahead of most economists, politicians and media writers in America: Our government, being Monetarily Sovereign, has the unlimited ability to create the dollars to pay its bills.

Robert J. Samuelson is a weekly columnist for The Washington Post, writing on political, economic and social issues. His column usually appears on Wednesdays. Add his name to the long list of economics writers who are ignorant of Monetary Sovereignty, the basis of all modern economics.

In a March 7, 2011 column titled, “Why Social Security is Welfare,” he makes the following comments:

Recall that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the main programs for the elderly, exceed 40 percent of federal spending. Exempting them from cuts – as polls indicate many Americans prefer – would ordain massive deficits, huge tax increases or draconian reductions in other programs. That’s a disastrous formula for the future.

Yes, Robert, not cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid would “ordain” (?) deficits. However, because the U.S. now is Monetarily Sovereign, there is zero connection between deficits and taxes. For your benefit, Robert, I’ll say again what you as an economics writer already should know: “Federal taxes do not pay for federal spending.”

And so far as those draconian reductions in other programs, why do you believe a nation with the unlimited ability to create dollars, needs to cut spending, when inflation is nowhere in sight?

Here is how I define a welfare program: First, it taxes one group to support another group. . .

Robert, now repeat after me until you get it: “Federal taxes do not pay for federal spending.” State taxes do pay for state spending, and city taxes do pay for city spending. The states and cities are not Monetarily Sovereign. But, federal taxes do not pay for federal spending. In fact, FICA could be eliminated, and this would not reduce by even one penny, the federal government’s ability to support this program – even were benefits doubled.

Since the 1940s, Social Security has been a pay-as-you-go program. Most benefits are paid by payroll taxes on today’s workers.

Things have changed markedly since the 1940’s, and Robert has not kept up with the changes. In August, 1971, one of the biggest economic changes in our lives occurred. We became Monetarily Sovereign. At that instant, Social Security ceased being a “pay-as-you-go” program, because FICA no longer supported benefits. In a Monetarily Sovereign nation, tax dollars are destroyed upon receipt. They do not, and cannot, support federal spending.

Think about it, Robert. Why would a government with the unlimited ability to create dollars, need to use taxes to pay for anything? It makes absolutely no sense. Sadly, Robert still lives in a gold-standard (aka “flat-earth”) world.

Annual benefits already exceed payroll taxes. The gap will grow.

Yep, the difference between FICA collections and benefits will grow. More net money will be created. This will stimulate economic growth. So what is the problem?

No doubt people would be outraged (by benefit cuts). Having been misled, they’d feel cheated. They paid their taxes, why can’t they get all their promised benefits? But the alternative is much worse: imposing all the burdens on younger taxpayers and cuts in other government programs. Shared sacrifice is meaningless if it excludes older Americans.

No, shared sacrifice is meaningless if it is purposeless. There is absolutely, positively no reason to cause widespread human misery by cutting Social Security, Medicare and/or Medicaid benefits. Causing misery out of sheer ignorance is unforgivable.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth.

–Ben Bernanke and the popular faith Thursday, Apr 8 2010 

An alternative to popular faith

According to the April 8, 2010 Wall Street Journal, “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that huge U.S. budget deficits threaten the nation’s long-term economic health and should be addressed soon.” That is the popular faith, with “faith” being defined as belief without scientific evidence.

By using the words “addressed” and “soon” Mr. Bernanke is relieved of the responsibility to provide a specific solution or a timetable.

The Journal said, “In remarks to the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Bernanke agreed […] that the economy, while improving is still too weak to bear all the new taxes and spending cuts that would come with an aggressive deficit reduction campaign.” The Journal continued, “Cutting the deficit ultimately will mean choosing between cutting (Social Security and Medicare) entitlements, raising taxes or other spending cuts.

This is exactly correct. Federal deficits never have been shown to cause inflation (See: item #8. )or to have any other negative effect on people or on the economy in general. In fact, substantial evidence indicates that reducing deficits has caused nearly every recession and depression in our history. (See: Click here, items #3 and #4. )

By contrast, increasing taxes or cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits or cutting other expenses (defense, infrastructure, health care, food stamps, education, research, etc.) absolutely will have a negative effect on people and on the economy in general.

So which does a sane person choose, something not proven to have a negative effect or something proven to have a huge negative effect?

Mr. Bernanke worries large deficits cause high interest rates. He subscribes to the popular faith that low rates stimulate the economy, despite there being no historical relationship between interest rates and economic growth (See Item #10 ), as he should have learned from his, and his predecessor’s twenty futile rate cuts leading into the recession.

Quoting the Journal, “[…] higher rates push up borrowing costs for many businesses and consumers,” ignoring the many businesses and consumers who are lenders, and who benefit from higher rates. For every borrower there is a lender. All of you who own savings accounts, NOW accounts, money market accounts, corporate bonds and T-securities profit when rates are higher. It may surprise you to learn higher rates have been economically stimulative, because they’ve forced the government to pay more interest into the economy. Finally, some economic hypotheses indicate low rates were partly at fault for the housing bubble.

In summary, Mr. Bernanke promotes a goal with no proven benefit, provides neither a plan nor a timetable for achieving his goal, admits it would require tax increases and spending cuts, both of which hurt people and the economy, and he discusses a possible problem (high interest rates) history shows is more a benefit than a problem.

At long last, will someone please stand up and say, “The popular faith doesn’t seem to work. May we try something new?”

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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