According to the U.S. and World Population Clock for today, 11/8/10, the U.S. population is estimated to be about 310,663,030.
According to Obama's proposed budget for 2010 as shown at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_States_federal_budget, which, although it is wikipedia, is very easy to read, I calculated that each American might pay a little less than $1,500 PER YEAR for Medicare, a little less than $2,200 PER YEAR for Social Security, a little less than $950 per year for Medicaid. Do I have my numbers right???
My question: Is that so bad a price for caring for our elderly and vulnerable citizens? Especially if the cost of caring is shared in a fair manner according to the ability of the rest of us to share in that cost? Compared to the amazing value we get from these programs, it really doesn't see to be that much to me.
It seems natural to feel shock at the size of our budget, but the size of our population is quite high. And if we focus on the value we receive, I wonder if it will appear we are actually getting a great deal (as well as a "great deal") from our federal government.
Thinking about the kind of life I'd have to live if I did not have a society to prop me up....building a sad little shack in the hills, looking for food and water every day, covering my nakedness with whatever I can find, languishing without aid when I'm sick, heating my space with a fire I doubt I can even start, forget about building/inventing an air conditioner, TV, phone, car, watch, or much else. When you compare the hardships of life without an organized formal way for us all to work together (read: a government), the cost of living in an advanced society seems quite cheap to me. Governments are the means by which all known societies organize themselves. They may not do everything directly, but there are scores of things they do and scores more than they make it possible for the rest of us to organize and do. They are indispensible and their use to the average person is unlimited, if we only take the time and energy to care.
There are those who fantasize about "strangling" government. They believe we live in a society that is actively working against our interests as if we are not a government By the People, but rather as if the U.S. was taken over by a foreign interest, like some kind of Khan or a hostile dictator. Surely we take many wrong turns, but self-rule was hard-earned and I don't think we should give it up volutarily. Improve it so that it works better, yes, but weakening it goes against logic. History proves that a weak government only invites an actual take-over. In the U.S., we have some titans who are vying for control of our government, (corporations, China, India, Saudi Arabia). They will take over if they can, and they are not concerned with the well-being of anything or anyone but themselves.... and you simply cannot fight a great power with a weak organization. Once they've taken over, it will take generations of suffering for The People to take it back. (Just look how we can't even agree not to vote for politicians supported by foreign money. This is not a group that works together well for its own best interests.)
So I think part of the cost of caring for each other is the need to stand up against those who support weakening the government, urging them to care about people, not money, and perhaps opening their eyes to the true dangers threatening this country.