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Unregulated Spending on Government Socialist Programs Research Paper

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Updated: Apr 22nd, 2020

Introduction

Due to the dynamic nature of contemporary lifestyles, there has been an increasing need for governments and voluntary organizations to promote socialist programs which are aimed at providing financial support and care to the less fortunate in the society. However, pressures to reduce size of government and expand the private sector coupled with the need to use national resources efficiently have necessitated governments to reconsider their expenditure on social welfare.

Increased public concerns regarding the tax burden and the ongoing debate on privatization of socialist programs has prompted the government of United States to be more careful in addressing issues of social policy by ensuring that the funded interventions meet their intended objective.

The socialist programs debate present Americans with a cruel dilemma; while some of the people acknowledge that they are likely to confront hazards such as illness or aging in the course of their lives which private personal resources will be inadequate to facilitate, a significant proportion of the population feels that the American values of hard work, individualism and self reliance should dominate every aspect of life which undermines the legitimacy of the socialist programs (Lockhart 1).

The debate on US social policy has been ongoing for years with numerous criticisms being raised on the effectiveness of these programs, its impact on those being supported, and the burden that they impose on US tax payers.

This has attracted the attention of numerous researchers and scholars some of whom argue that the social programs developed in the 60s and 70s not only serve to improve the living standards of the needy Americans, but also provides substantial incentives for recipients to work hard or otherwise act responsibly in order to improve their living condition.

However, the destructive consequences of increasing government spending on socialist programs cannot be understated. The current unregulated spending on government socialist programs poses a major threat on the free market economy and significantly restricts the rights of individuals and private sector corporations. In addition, it has created enormous national debt and negates the values of United States constitution (Lockhart 1).

Literature Review

Today, the socialist programs have been the center of most political and public debate and have attracted attention from most scholars, researchers and political analyst. According to Joseph S. Hacker, the issue of socialist policies has faced numerous challenges in the recent past due to the increasing economic shocks and political opposition. In Hacker’s views, the government further complicates the situation by apportioning a high percentage of the role to the private sector.

This is because the private sector aims at cutting cost in order to promote profitability rather that delivering social welfare to American society (Hacker 6). Consequently, coverage under workplace plans has significantly reduced and the benefits provided by the sector only serve to promote further economic inequality. In addition, benefits recipients under private sector have to incur more restrictions and risks from the benefit covers provided by these institutions (Hacker 6).

Elizabeth Segal criticizes the capitalistic nature of societies claiming that it alienates those members of the society who are unable to work due to illness, physical injury, old age etc. In addition, the writer infers that the system does not provide sufficient resources for people excluded in the market exchange of salary.

Since the US operates under a capitalist society, is seeks to maintain the social well being of its less fortunate members through adoption of socialist programs. In Segal’s views, social welfare efforts being undertaken in America are a reflection of the values of worth, desirability and usefulness being placed on the less fortunate members of the society (Segal 72). However, the writer acknowledges that these values and beliefs are subject to change which has resulted in varying perceptions on the issue of socialist programs.

William Epstein suggests that the only means through which the government can solve social issues is through actual identification of problem and implementation of the policies within the customary social arrangements.

According to him, efficient solutions to problems facing contemporary America have been rarely effective with the true outcomes of the government efforts in resolving social needs being routinely distorted by pseudoscientific claims of effectiveness. Consequently, the country is not likely to effectively handle the social needs through expansion of socialist programs.

Impact of US Socialist Programs on the Economy

A healthy free market economy is in no way compatible with strong social programs. Social expenditure in the United States includes medical care, education pensions, welfare payments, unemployment benefits and family benefits.

A study conducted on the impacts of prospective demographic trends on the level and structure of social expenditure by government of seven major economies through 2025 revealed that in the United States, the ratio of government expenditure to GDP was 18% in 1980 and was expected to decline through the year 2010 (Heller 9).

Due to the high probability of sharp increment in aging population and deteriorating health conditions in the subsequent years, the social expenditure was projected to increase in the years after 2010 consequently impacting on overall allocation of resources.

According to this study, the overall US government social expenditure was expected to slightly decline in the years preceding 2010 with much of the decline being reflected in education expenditure which was expected to drop by 20% (Heller 9). In addition, the pension expenditure ratio was expected to decline while the medical care plan was expected to increase.

The social expenditure was further expected to grow in the years between 2010 and 2025 by 20 % (3% of GDP) with much of the resources being allocated to medical care and elderly support (Heller 9).

This unregulated spending on socialist programs has had a major impact on the overall national debt which now stands over US $ 14 trillion. Approximately two thirds of the US national debt is owed to the private sector and foreign governments who purchased the country’s bonds and treasury bills while the rest is owed to the government itself.

A significant portion of the debt is owed to the social security fund which was previously in surplus and will have to be paid over the next few years in order to pay the retiring American workforce.

In addition to overburdening the American taxpayers, the government has already spent the money borrowed from the social security fund and the national debt threatens to continue accumulating.

This means that it will have to devise other means of servicing the debt. Since the government of United States discourages loans from foreign countries, the only means through which it can repay the money will be by imposing higher taxes to the American tax payers. This will in turn result in decreased per capita income of the working class hence impacting on their livelihood.

United States Socialist Programs and the Private Sector

Due to the increment in the amount of resources required to fund the socialist programmes, the government of United States have sought to outsource the program to the private sector, a move that has faced a lot of criticism especially from liberalists.

In response to this, President Obama’s has proposed the use of social impact bonds to fund the socialist programs whereby investors in the private sector fund the programs through purchase of government bonds; the government pays the private sector both return on investment and bonuses on condition that they meet the objectives of the program.

This strategy is expected to enhance discipline in the private sector hence significantly improving the effectiveness of the socialist programs. However, the policy does not adequately regulate the admission of socialist programs within these institutions which results in continuous exploitation and misappropriation of taxpayer’s money.

The private welfare state is extensive in America and no other industrialized country spends as much as United States spends on social benefits administered through the private sector. Over 80 million Americans are covered by the public health insurance while more than 170 million access health insurance through their employment. The amount of private social benefits amounted to $ 460 in the year 2000 hence the country’s population relies heavily on private fund for welfare protection (Hasenfeld 72).

The private sector contributes to the national welfare through provision of employment benefits, health insurance, and pensions which contribute to a significant proportion of the total country’s socialist programs expenditure. These benefits are employment based and consequently favor workers in the economy in terms of tax subsidies and benefits.

However, these benefits have been declining with the long term decline in worker’s unions, low wages and unemployment which has been widespread in the American economy due to occurrence of financial crisis which further threatened the security of pensions and health benefits. Consequently, the private sector is not adequately equipped to provide social welfare to the needy citizens of America and the continuing attempts by the government to outsource the role to the private sector does not add any value to tax payer’s money.

Social Policy and the Constitution

The constitution of United States does not contain any definitive statements relating to the right to work, choice of employment and protection against unemployment (Wronka 233). Further no state guarantees its occupants the right to food, housing, medical care and other social services on the event of unemployment, sickness, disability or old age.

Consequently investing heavily on socialist programs is not supported by any fundamental principles of the United States constitution. Indeed, the government’s attempt to incorporate the human rights principles of the declaration in the constitution is not possible unless public sentiments are favorable to the idea.

However, proponents of the socialist programs claim that Article 1 sec 8 of the United States constitution awards power to the congress to collect taxes, duties and other excises from the citizen in order to finance common defense and general welfare of the United States. The government of United States has used this revenue to fund social programs ranging from disability to unemployment.

They further claim that the same tax payers are qualified to social security on the virtue of their contribution during the working period. This may not be necessarily true. For instance, Medicare, a program funded through worker taxation is used to support health care among elderly aged above sixty five and individuals suffering from disabilities.

The constitution of United States further delegates the power not granted to the federal government to the states in its eleventh amendment. Consequently the role of promoting socialists programs in the country has been placed on the state government which gains financial support from the federal government

Social and Political Impacts of Socialist Programs

Provision of social support to the less fortunate in America implies that the impoverished citizens bear little if any responsibility for their predicaments which negates the American culture which emphasizes on equal opportunity and human dignity achieved through hard work and self reliance. This may serve to promote laziness among the needy population hence limiting their efforts to improve their conditions. Consequently, a huge proportion of the country’s population is less supportive of the socialist programs

In an attempt to identify the volume of support for major socialist programs in the United States, Lomax carried out an interview on a population sample of 1209 Americans and a sample of 58 members of the US House of Representatives. The researcher sought to find out the extent to which the current social welfare was supported by the public (Lomax 3). The study revealed that there exist a lot of mixed emotions regarding the policies with tax payers complaining bitterly of the burden being imposed on them.

The 112th congress is faced by a major challenge of servicing the $ 1.5 trillion budget deficit. Both democrats and republicans are concerned about the impacts of the budget deficit on the overall national economic conditions, eligibility to foreign funding, and continued financial viability. This calls for the need on the government to establish a means of cutting back on the budget without causing adverse effects on people’s welfare.

The republicans have extensively fought for the elimination of some of the social welfare programs as a strategy to cut down on expenditure including the Hope IV program and legal services aimed at helping families to avoid foreclosure. In addition, they are pushing for privatization of social security and Medicare. These cuts are argued to have a greater impact on the poor and struggling middle class who will in turn continuously deny Americans a chance to build wealth and improve their living standards.

The fiscal policies being applied by the democratic government focuses on tax cuts to the wealthy with the recently passed twenty five billion tax cut on estate taxes and income taxes of the richest Americans becoming a major area of government focus. The major question remains as to why the government fails to apply the same strategy to the two billion dollars budget being spent per week to finance troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Conclusion

The socialist programs play an important role in promoting welfare within the American society. However, the program is associated with numerous negative consequences which put its effectiveness in question. It is evident from the study that the socialist programs have negatively impacted on the social, political and economic aspects of the economy.

In addition, the move by the government to privatize the social welfare programs has only served to intensify the negative impacts. Therefore, the government should look into other ways of promoting social welfare in the society rather than investing heavily on socialist programs that do not guarantee maximum returns.

Works Cited

Cook L. Fay. Support for the American welfare state: the views of the congress and the public. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.

Hacker S. Jacob. The Divided Welfare State: The Battle Over Public And Private Social Benefits In The United States. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Hasenfeld, Yeheskel. Human Service as Complex Organizations. California: SAGE, 2009.

Heller S. Peter. Aging and Social Expenditure in the Major Industrial Countries, 1980-2025. Washington DC: International Monetary Fund, 1986.

Lockhart, Charles. Gaining Ground: Tailoring Social Programs to American Values. Berkley: University of California Press, 1989.

Wronka, Joseph. Human Rights and Social Policy in the 21st Century. Maryland: University press of America, 1998.

Segal, Elizabeth. Social welfare policy and social programs: a values perspective, NY: Cengage learning, 2009.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Unregulated Spending on Government Socialist Programs." April 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/unregulated-spending-on-government-socialist-programs/.

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