Walter E. Williams
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National debt is over $14 trillion, the federal budget deficit is $1.4 trillion and, depending on whose estimates are used, the unfunded liability or indebtedness of the federal government (mostly in the form of obligations for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and prescription drugs) is estimated to be between $60 and $100 trillion.

Those entitlements along with others account for nearly 60 percent of federal spending. They are what Congress calls mandatory or non-discretionary spending. Then there's discretionary spending, half of which is for national defense. Each year, non-discretionary spending consumes a higher and higher percent of the federal budget.

The spending path that Congress has chosen for the last half-century is unsustainable and will end up with economic collapse but little or nothing can be done about it unless I'm grossly wrong about the American people. Americans who detest our country and those who love our country are hell-bent, wittingly or unwittingly, on destroying it.

You say, "Williams, that's not only insulting but shows little trust as well. Explain yourself!"

For the past 30 years, federal tax revenues have averaged 18 percent of the GDP. Federal spending, nearing 30 percent of our GDP, is the problem. To get our economic house in order, there must be large spending cuts, not only in so-called discretionary spending but in non-discretionary spending as well.

To put this in perspective: Defense spending is called discretionary and totals $685 billion. Our deficit is $1.4 trillion. Defense spending could be entirely eliminated and we'd still have a massive deficit. Any congressman unwilling to make cuts in entitlement spending is not to be taken seriously about sparing our nation from economic collapse.

Millions of Americans don't want their entitlement touched, many of whom are senior citizens. Seniors will tell you that they were forced into Social Security and Medicare, and any congressman talking about cutting those and other entitlements will face their wrath at the ballot box. By the way, according to one study, "Until recent years, Social Security recipients received more, often far more, than the value of the Social Security taxes they paid. For workers who earned average wages and retired in 1980 at age 65, it took 2.8 years to recover the value of the retirement portion of the combined employee and employer shares of their Social Security taxes plus interest."

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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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