SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

January 28, 2013

Parker: Reliance on entitlements harms US

Journalist Bill Moyers, who worked as an assistant to President Lyndon Johnson, shared memories in a column last year about how his old boss thought about our entitlement programs.

It was under Johnson, who championed the “Great Society” in the 1960s, that a good portion of the runaway government spending we are trying to get under control today originated.

Johnson signed into law Medicare, Medicaid, the War on Poverty programs and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Moyers recounted that for Johnson, Social Security and Medicare “were about a lot more than economics.”

He recalls a time when the Johnson administration was supporting retroactive increases in Social Security payments. Moyers said he argued for the increases as economic stimulus. But Johnson called him and said:

“My inclination would be ... that it ought be retroactive as far back as you can get it ... because none of them ever get enough. That they are entitled to it. That’s an obligation of ours. It’s just like your mother writing you and saying she wants $20, and I always sent mine $100 when she did. I always did it because I thought she was entitled to it. ... We do know that it affects the economy. But that’s not the basis to go to the Hill, or the justification. We’ve got to say that by God you can’t treat grandma this way. She’s entitled to it, and we promised it to her.”

I don’t think we could have a clearer picture of Johnson’s muddled thinking about his job and the role of government, which contributed so much to the problems we have today.

He saw no difference in his relationship and responsibilities toward his own mother, and sending her his own money, and his responsibilities as president of the United States and the relationship of government to citizens.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion

AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate
Helium