In case you missed it, the Journal’s investigative reporter Thom Cole had an in-depth article on the Rio Grande Foundation this morning. It was a fair piece although it focused more on money and where it comes from than on ideas.
I will say that if you go online to a site like Guidestar.org which contains our financial documents as well as those from other, similar organizations in New Mexico, our donors are getting a tremendous “bang for their buck” in terms of output and influence in New Mexico’s public policy debates.
The only part of the column that made me even the slightest bit uncomfortable was Cole’s pointing out that we have argued that Medicare is “welfare.” While true, he gives no context or explanation. None other than Washington Post columnist Robert Sameulson has made the point that Social Security and Medicare are “welfare” programs.
As Samuelson notes:
Welfare is a governmental transfer from one group to another for the benefit of those receiving. The transfer involves cash or services (health care, education). We have welfare for the poor, the old, the disabled, farmers and corporations. Social Security is mainly welfare. Workers’ payroll taxes pay the benefits of today’s retirees. The taxes aren’t “saved” for the workers’ own retirement. There have been huge disparities between taxes paid and benefits received.
What federal programs are not welfare? Well, highways and defense are two that come to mind. Unfortunately, the federal government is shifting from one based on preserving basic liberties and creating infrastructure, to one that focuses on transferring wealth from one group to another. For details on that, check out this Reason article about the “war” between Baby Boomers and the young in which the young are going to face lifetimes of lower living standards than their elders for the simple fact that they’ll be stuck with the bills.