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Ripping off the Band-Aid
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Essay by:Melinda Self
Emporia State University
Fixing the Federal national debt is a lot like pulling off a well stuck band-aid; sure it will initially sting but once it has been removed the healing process can continue. Although our debt began with good intentions as it became necessary to fund the war effort during World War II, the government did a poor job at making any effort to re-pay any of these debts as the economy began to prosper in the decades to come. Instead we added new debts when we chose to institute Social Security and Medicare. These programs were intended and designed to help those in need of assistance in their golden years but now are subject to great abuses by many. I am angered by the fact that I will have contributed to these funds my entire working career beginning at age 16 and when I need to use these funds they may not exist. There are those, mainly upper class workers, which are opposed to contributing more to these funds and would rather invest privately for their retirement. Good for you! You had the opportunity to earn an education that will serve you well in your lifetime. You had the great fortune to learn about retirement early enough to act and save accordingly. Social Security was not largely intended for you. Yes, everyone that contributes is entitled to their share, but think of your parents or grandparents who may not have had the opportunities that you did.
Fixing this mess will not be easy and not everyone will be happy but changes need to be made now. First off, Washington needs to cut the Federal budget in half. If you cannot find an area to cut try the military budget. I know that after September 11th a lot of people were hurt and angered by these events and I cannot blame you one bit. I apologize now if I offend anyone that is not my intent. I simply want to say that in WWII funding the war effort was voluntary while the war in Iraq was taxpayer funded. How many of the war supporters thought that it would have lasted this long and at such a great expense to us? As of January 2008 we have already spent $500 billion to fund the Iraqi war and counting. We need put an end to the loss of our troops and pull them out of a country that doesn’t want us there anymore.
Second, illegal immigrants need to be accountable for their existence in our country. They use our resources and infrastructure daily and do not help pay for the extensive upkeep. Either work towards gaining citizenship or go home. Stop abusing our state and federal programs limited funding so you can have free healthcare, food stamps, and disability unless you plan to pay US taxes. I believe that if the government would consent change the law stating that if a child is born in the U.S. automatically becomes a citizen this would drastically cut the number of illegals trying to stay. They do not want their families torn apart but at the same time they want to live the “American Dream” without paying for it.
Lastly there needs to be a serious Social Security and Medicare reform in order to cover the growing cost of the baby boomer’s retirement and medical needs. Sadly taxes need to be raised and the $94,000 income cap should be raised to a minimum of $150,000. This approach will outrage mainly upper class but at the current standards we are hurting the middle and lower class workers who may be relying solely upon these funds when they stop working. Also, the minimum age of 62 at which you can begin to collect your benefits needs to be raised to account for the longer life expectancies of workers. The age raise may not be much but it will help create more funding for future use. Even a simple change of a few years could save millions in payments disbursed that if invested wisely could accumulate interest. Medicare itself is practically a joke. There is no way to cap medical expenses and there is not enough funding or doctors to go around to take care of these mounting expenses. If we are going to provide healthcare for the elderly and many state programs provide for children then why are we not trying to find ways to keep the working class healthy and provide them with benefits too? Socialized healthcare seems like a better alternative than leaving the millions of hard-working U.S. citizens uninsured or you can try to normalize medical costs across the nation and see how well that works.
I’m sure that my opinions will anger some but it’s time for our generation to open our eyes and see what exactly we are dealing with. I do not want to leave my children cleaning up after our messes. It’s time we own up to our mistakes and rip off that band-aid so that once the scab has fallen off we will be able to see the changes that need to be made for the greater good of our country.
»A new report finds the main problem in getting the public to deal with our fiscal problems isn't opposition to tax increases or spending cuts -- it's their lack of trust in the government to spend their money wisely.