Government finances

punditMy HS Physics teacher had a favorite theme: he said he was doing his students a favor by teaching, as he could make much more money working in industry. I don’t remember him as a particularly good teacher, and I doubt his claim: jobs in industry for Physicists with less than a PhD were few then as they are now. Then too, if money was important to him, and he could have found a higher paying job, then why didn’t he do so? One thing teachers could expect, which my teacher didn’t mention, was insurance benefits and pensions.

Applying for jobs, the HR person would explain the salary and benefits: insurance, pension, and possible bonuses. As a young healthy person, I undervalued promises of insurance and pension. The offered bonuses often didn’t materialize. I could live on my salary. Older now, pensions have proved valuable. I wonder what younger persons will do now that pensions have largely disappeared from all but public employment.

John Stossel warns that government may renege on pensions and other benefits; I trust he is wrong. Hopefully cities and States wouldn’t dare or be allowed to do that. Predictably, Stossel touts IRAs as an alternative to pensions; IRAs and pensions are not equivalent–workers investing in IRAs may save too much or not enough. Moreover, we should not rush to replace pensions with IRAs because we fear promises will not be kept.

Tom Reed revives his effort to promote fear of bankruptcy: “… programs that are going to bankrupt America even further.” American isn’t bankrupt; American can afford to provide health care for all without fear as other countries do. If Reed really were concerned about Federal finance, he wouldn’t have voted unneeded tax cuts for the rich and super rich.

Tom’s family struggled economically when he was a youth; he now seems to confuse individual finances with government finances. Government has both the means and obligation to fund programs and benefits as promised. The Federal Government, unlike States (possibly?), businesses, and individuals can’t escape debt by declaring bankruptcy. Representatives must act responsibly to raise needed revenue. When Tom Reed promises ever lower taxes for all as if taxation were no more than an unnecessary nuisance, he is selling snake oil. Perhaps voters won’t be so easily fooled.

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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