Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.
—John F. Kennedy
In twenty-one years of government employment, I contributed less than $10,000 to my pension. Starting last October, I began collecting that pension. Twenty thousand smackeroonies a year until Mrs. Groovy dies (Mrs. G decided she’s exiting first but I don’t see that happening).
Now, assuming for the moment that Mrs. Groovy will live into her 90s—and that’s entirely plausible given her great health and family history—my pension will last for 35 years. Multiply 35 by $20K and you get $700,000. So for contributing less than $10,000, I get a benefit worth at least $700,000 (I didn’t bother trying to calculate the value of my COLA benefit which begins at age 62). What a great freakin’ deal!
Yes, it’s a great freakin’ deal. But on what economic planet is this kind of a pension formula sustainable?
Unfortunately, my pension isn’t the only goody that’s unsustainable. Mrs. Groovy and I are currently receiving an Obamacare subsidy worth over $23K a year. It’s insanity. But we’re entitled to that overly generous subsidy because we’re income poor.
Again, Obamacare is great for Mrs. Groovy and me. But on what economic planet is such generosity to the well-off sustainable?
We’re All to Blame
I readily admit that I’m a teat-sucking layabout. There’s no way I should be getting a gold-plated pension and practically free healthcare. But here’s a dirty little secret. The United States isn’t $20 trillion in debt because of me, and every state in the union doesn’t have screwed up finances because of me either. The United States is a fiscal mess because 320 million Americans are getting goodies from the government. You might think that’s an exaggeration, but it isn’t. Just take a good hard look at your life. Do you claim the mortgage interest deduction on your taxes? Do you have employer-provided healthcare? Do you have a kid in the public school system? Do you work for Tesla? Are you a college professor? Are you an avid listener of NPR? Are you receiving Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, or Section 8 housing? The amount of tax loopholes, subsidies, and gifts being handed out by all levels of government is truly mind-boggling.
The sad truth is that 1) we’re all getting multiple goodies from the government, and 2) we’re all convinced that our particular goodies are in the national or regional interest.
My aim here is not to point the steely finger of indignation at anyone. There are no villains here. We’re all victims of the system, so to speak. We’ve all been conditioned to believe that it’s perfectly acceptable to exchange our votes for free stuff and turbocharged benefits. But in order to save our children from a Venezuela-like collapse, we have to stop acting like the government is Santa Claus.
So, groovy freedomists, what government goody of yours are you willing to give up or scale back?
Talking Trash with Mr. Groovy
Okay, groovy freedomists, let’s not end this week on a sour note. No sense brooding over our country’s fiscal woes. We’re certainly not going to solve things this weekend. So let’s look on the brighter side of life. And nothing says the brighter-side-of-life like another episode of Talking Trash with Mr. Groovy. In this episode I shout out Vanguard, VOO, My Sons Father, Emily over at John Jane Doe, and Matt over at Optimize Your Life. Enjoy.