U.S. Economics: Who is Really “Gaming the System”?

Muncie, Indiana – If you listen to Indiana conservatives: Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence, Luke Messer, Dan Coats, and all the free market pundits allowed to write in Muncie’s Gannett owned newspaper, like Larry Riley, the Indiana Policy Review and Michael Hicks, you’d think our country was full of lazy people who are “gaming the system” or dependent on the government. They all sing the same tune, “Our only hope for saving this country is cutting runaway entitlement spending.”

They go on to define entitlement programs as: Medicaid, Food Stamps, Medicare, and Social Security.

The problem with just pointing to these four social safety net programs, or social insurances, it excludes eight other government entitlement programs which are: child nutrition; college loans; unemployment insurance; supplemental security income; veterans compensation; civil service retirement; military retirement; and farm subsidies.

It was reported yesterday, the national food stamp program was cut $45 billion due to the expiration of benefits from the 2009 Federal Stimulus bill. Food stamps help our most vulnerable segments of the population by providing money for nutrition.

What’s missing as a backdrop, is while our country cannot afford $45 billion to provide for the most impoverished, the Federal Reserve has given private financial institutions $85 billion a MONTH since the Federal Stimulus bill was passed in 2009.

That’s not a typo.

We’ve written about it before on Muncie Voice, and if you haven’t been reading the business pages, JP Morgan Chase has admitted they were at fault for the 2008-09 financial crisis which caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and nearly toppled entire countries like Greece.

The poor, disabled, and elderly populations did NOT cause the financial ruin of this country.

Just to clarify, the financial sector received $13 trillion in a lump sum bailout, and then collected $2.3 trillion over the last 4+ years. What did American taxpayers get in exchange for providing $15 trillion to the financial sector?

Nothing. Not one share of stock, only modest regulations which lobbyists and paid academic shills are fighting overtime to scale back, and not one banker went to jail. JP Morgan Chase might pay a $15 billion fine for committing fraud, but not one banker will be imprisoned, and the CEO keeps his job making $23 million a year. Talk about “gaming the system!”

Want some salt for those wounds? Do you know what the financial institutions have done with the $2.3 trillion they’ve received from us since 2008? They’ve put 82% away in reserves – or nothing.

In case you forgot, the financial sector collected junk mortgages from the likes of Countrywide mortgage, bundled them, then went out and sold them to innocent investors around the globe (many pension fund investors). Once they sold them, they went to Wall Street and placed bets they would fail.

Once the junk securities imploded, they made money while the entire global economy collapsed causing millions of jobs to be lost and now four years later, our economy has gone nowhere.

Yet despite of these facts, our Hoosier republicans, and those in Washington, have no problem blaming our elderly, our poor, our unemployed, and our disabled for what ails this country. Not only do we push them in the ditch, we also blame them for being in the ditch. Gov. Pence even refuses to expand Medicaid in Indiana to help the poorest in Indiana even though the federal government will pay for it. Expanding Medicaid would bring jobs, bring in revenue to local hospitals and help small medical related companies. Why? Ideology. They’ll hurt the poor just to make points with their mean-spirited financial contributors.

It’s become a game of “Who can inflict the most pain on the poor gets the money.”

Americans deserve to be angry. However, let’s look at who is really “gaming the system”. In fact, while conservatives are blaming defenseless Americans, progressives are stepping forward with plans to increase Social Security benefits by looking at who benefits from the system and why. Progressives like Bernie Sanders have put forth a bill calling for a single payer health system.

In other words, there are alternatives, so don’t let our politicians take the easy path by cutting benefits to our poor and working poor when they need help the most. Let’s start looking at who has “gamed the system” for nearly three decades now.

It doesn’t take a Harvard education in economics to see who has benefited from policies – it’s time to shift the conversation in a direction the Tea Party refuses to even look, which should be a huge hint to every individual and small business owner in America. Let’s look at the “gamers of the system” who say ,”Cut our taxes, give us loopholes and tax credits – what’s good for us will be good for America.”

There is no trickle down. We’ve trampled the downtrodden enough, let us change direction and look at progressive solutions. We can change the conversation and change those willing to serve the people. Let the monies interests spend their money on candidates who want to inflict pain on our neighbors, but just don’t vote for them.

Americans deserve better…it’s time we demand better.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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