The Return of Thrift: How the Coming Collapse of the Middle Class Welfare State Will Reawaken Values in America

The Return of Thrift: How the Coming Collapse of the Middle Class Welfare State Will Reawaken Values in America

by Phillip Longman
     
 
Prize-winning journalist Phillip Longman exposes the vast and hidden middle class welfare state in this country and shows how its outrageous growth has coincided with a dramatic decline of middle-class values--simple yet important ideals such as thrift, family, work, and citizenship.

Overview

Prize-winning journalist Phillip Longman exposes the vast and hidden middle class welfare state in this country and shows how its outrageous growth has coincided with a dramatic decline of middle-class values--simple yet important ideals such as thrift, family, work, and citizenship.

Editorial Reviews

Ray Olson
Americans have all heard the bad news: Medicaid and Medicare will soon founder, and Social Security won't limp on much longer, either, unless we are prepared, by 2030, to pay every cent of our taxes to keep them going. In his history of what, sometime in the 1980s, we started calling "entitlements" and his explanation of how they are bankrupting the country, Longman powerfully bolsters those predictions. Worse yet, he reveals that the big three middle-class welfare programs have a host of little siblings (military and bureaucratic benefits, federal guarantees of company pensions, and the not-so-little mortgage interest deduction from federal taxes) that are also vacuuming the purses of generations yet unborn. But he has some good news, too: entitlements will never grow to eat up all our resources because we will come to our senses, curb consumption, and renew saving. To that end and after some of the most lucid writing ever on national macroeconomics, he suggests measures for the nation and for individuals to take to prepare for the more modest, but also more familial and communal, circumstances we will and must enter into as the twenty-first century looms.
Kirkus Reviews
An unsparing and unnerving audit of the cost of so-called entitlements, which makes the talking points of Washington's long- running debate on balancing the federal budget appear all but irrelevant.

At the outset, Longman (Born to Pay, 1987) stresses that the poor get only a small fraction of the trillion the US government disburses each year in transfer payments. He shows that most such monies flow to comparatively affluent individuals through Social Security, Medicaid, civil service or military pension, and allied benefit programs for veterans of the armed forces. The toll is appreciably greater, the author notes, when allowance is made for subsidies (e.g., to farmers) and corporate and personal loopholes in the Internal Revenue Code, such as those permitting home buyers to deduct the cost of mortgage interest on their returns. Following an informative rundown on how entitlements become fixtures of the middle-class lifestyle, Longman calculates the present and future price of these programs in some detail. Along his unrelenting way, he also concludes that America can't afford to keep making such outlays. Only a handful of agencies have funded their pension liabilities, the author points out; most (including the Social Security system) are engaged in Ponzi schemes that depend on the US Treasury to pay retirees from current revenues. With the gravy train nearing the end of the line, he predicts the spendthrift US populace will adjust in ways that could work to the advantage of the country, for example, by becoming more self-reliant and strengthening family ties. To lessen the aging's claims on the young as well as to encourage higher savings rates in the meantime. Longman proposes some modest reforms. Cases in point include calibrated givebacks, limits on special-interest tax deductions, and means tests.

An evenhanded inquiry into the wealth of a nation, whose findings the American electorate ignores at its economic peril.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684823003
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
04/03/1996
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.39(w) x 9.60(h) x 0.91(d)

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