Menckens Ghost

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Latest poll: Americans clueless and unethical

Latest poll:  Americans clueless and unethical   


By Mencken’s Ghost

March 4, 2011


The findings of the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll show that most Americans are clueless and unethical. 


Let’s begin with the clueless:


When asked if it will be necessary to cut Medicare and Social Security significantly to reduce the deficit, about eight of 10 respondents either said that they didn’t know or that it will not be necessary.    


They said this in spite of thousands of news stories and exhaustive studies from hundreds of sources showing that significant cuts in Medicare and Social Security are necessary.


Eight out of 10 Americans probably know what Charlie Sheen did last night but are apparently unaware of the following:


- that 41% of federal spending goes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid;


- that an additional 17% of federal spending goes to other entitlements;


- that unfunded liabilities total $7.9 trillion for Social Security, $22.8 trillion for Medicare, and $35.3 trillion for Medicaid; and


- that spending on Medicare and Medicaid alone will consume all federal revenue by 2080 if left unchecked. 


Let’s turn to the unethical:


More than 60% of respondents support reducing Social Security and Medicare payments to the “wealthy,” a word that is not defined. 


However it is defined, the definition eventually will be expanded to include those who were foolish enough to accumulate sizable savings over a lifetime by living below their means.  Those who did the opposite and lived beyond their means will elect hoodlums to take the savings of the frugal to fund their entitlements and other stuff they get from the munificent government.  In reality, the frugal will pay for all of the big TVs, big ATVs, big SUVs, Big Gulps, Big Macs, big KFC buckets, and big lattes, er, grande lattes, consumed over a lifetime by big spenders with big butts.


Speaking of big butts, 30% of Americans are obese, and a majority of Americans are overweight.  They end up with chronic illnesses in old age and incur hundreds of billions in medical expenses from overeating.  


What political philosophy and theory of social justice can possibly justify spendthrifts and the gluttonous expropriating the money of the frugal and non-gluttonous?  Even Marxism doesn’t explain it, because much of the taking occurs within the working class and not between the working class and the capital class.  The fact is that working stiffs who live beyond their means take from fellow working stiffs who live beneath their means.


Maybe movie producer/director Michael Moore, the supposed friend of the working class, can answer the question.  He recently said that the country is not bankrupt and has plenty of cash lying around that should be taken to pay off the national debt.  He was referring to people’s lifetime savings.  Unfortunately, his thinking is not unique.  Most Democrat politicians and many Republican politicians think the same way.  


Here is the root problem:  In 1970, Americans had an average personal savings rate of 9% and received only 3% of their income in entitlements.  Thirty-five years later, the personal savings rate had plummeted to less than 1% and entitlement income had skyrocketed to 16%.  This suggests that entitlements have driven out savings.


A related problem:  Over 35% of the population now receives an entitlement.   This astonishing statistic is due to a two-fold increase over the last 40 years in the number of people receiving old-age benefits and a ten-fold increase in the number of people receiving disability benefits and benefits based on income.


According to a study of mine, over 60% of voters now live in a household where a breadwinner either works for the government, or works in a private-sector job that wouldn’t exist if it were not for government regulations, or receives an entitlement or subsidy, or is exempted from paying income taxes.  The nation is past the tipping point, in other words.  So many people are dependent on a government rice bowl that they will steal the rice of rice producers until there is no more rice.


I’m ashamed to be an American.



“Mencken’s Ghost” is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at


2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Don Duncan
Entered on:

Craig: I agree completely. I am considering leaving. Does anyone know of a better place, i.e., a more moral society? I am robbed (taxed) but I voluntarily stopped my disability checks 20 years ago.  Should I take disability payments as compensation for taxation? My wife thinks I should.  When I stopped payments it felt right, but now I am wondering if I did the right thing. I am still disabled but I can get by without the check. I am self employed at 68 and not yet financially secure but better off than most because of my fugal lifestyle and extensive reading of Austrian economics. 

Comment by David McElroy
Entered on:

Craig Cantoni, I have often appreciated your perspective, and in this article I must agree far too many Americans are "clueless and unethical".  We can thank the public schools and mainstream media for a lot of that, not to mention nefarious government officials.

HOWEVER, have you not read any of Walter Burien's extensive work archived at his website? He exposes the vast hidden assets government is shielding from public knowledge with a two-books system. One book showing a zero-sum bankrupted tax money ledger the media is given, and the unpublicized Comprehensive Annual Financial Report that shows all assets. Are you clueless about this? The government is hiding trillions in positive assets!

Government considers us as livestock to be farmed out, and wants to (and has) spend the huge sums  paid into Social Security and Medicare on other things. These programs did not just "fail"... they were robbed! Government has the assests to cover these promised benefits for the older people who paid for them over many years, but government wants to dismiss the "useless eaters" no longer part of a work force that is largely unemployed anyway. Our destruction is intended and engineered, and the "bankruptcy" is part of the political theatre filled with smoke and mirrors.

Uncle Sam is a robber baron crying poverty while hiding vast sums of loot stolen from WE THE PEOPLE who paid the freight. We should locate and seize those assets to care for the elderly and disabled as promised and paid for, and end  all PONZI schemes  & deceptive bookkeeping at all levels of government! We must prosecute, reform, even abolish corrupt government! (Would any government be left?) Stop theft & recover the loot! We must live free or die trying!




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