Walter E. Williams

When subsidies are provided for this lady, whom are we truly benefiting? It's not the lady but her heirs. Conceivably, the lady could make a deal with a financial institution to pay her property taxes, allow her to live in the house for the rest of her life and give her a lump sum cash settlement so that she can live without the handouts. Upon her death, the house becomes the property of the financial institution, not her heirs. Giving the widow handouts allows her to bequeath to her heirs her assets, a $300,000 house. If her children want to inherit the house, they, rather than taxpayers, ought to take care of their mother.

We can start getting the federal spending under control by ending subsidies to people with high net worth that can be ready turned into cash such as a home or business. While seniors might say that they support reduced government spending, they, like other handout recipients, believe they have a right, through government, to live at the expense of others. What's more, they have considerable clout -- they vote in large numbers. Only 50 percent of young people vote, but up to 70 percent of seniors vote.

Political guts have always been in short supply and politicians fear senior retaliation at the polls. Moreover, it's a practical matter for seniors and politicians. The true economic calamity won't hit the country until 2030 or 2040. By that time, both today's politicians and seniors will be dead so why should they make sacrifices now to prevent an economic calamity decades off into the future? Seniors might protest my cynicism but they can easily prove me wrong by waging an effective campaign to end handouts based on superannuation.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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