Do entitlement programs unfairly favor the old over the young?

An Intelligence Squared debate airing on Midday today focuses on whether benefits paid to current retirees are saddling young people with too much future debt. Today’s Question: Do entitlement programs unfairly favor the old over the young?

  • GaryF

    Sure, look at the huge amount of people that were born during the “baby boom”.

    This generation has lived during the most prosperity our nation has ever seen. With that prosperity, they have increased the size of government so large that it has become unsustainable while teaching our kids that self esteem is given and not earned, were everyone gets a trophy. That doesn’t build the character that future generations will need to support this baby boom.

    I don’t see it changing, the vast amount of people that are in the baby boom will be such a large voting block their interests will over ride the newer generations.

    Born in 1964, right a the end of the baby boom. .

  • Hiram

    Entitlement programs benefit everyone including young people who lose their parents or whose parents are disabled.

  • Chris Oinonen Ehren

    I don’t think so. They do favor the old over the young, but not unfairly so. They favor the vulnerable, the disabled, the widowed, people who might otherwise be left to simply fail. Probably social security would benefit from a needs test, or a bump up in age of eligibility to compensate for increasing life expectancies and better health in late life, but with continued support for those who are disabled early by disease. We don’t want to go back to the days where old people were commonly starving and poor, and don’t forget the ability of relatively healthy people to retire opens up opportunities for the young.

    I’d like to see the same commitment that we have shown to the old shown to the young, in education, maternity leave, in nutrition programs like school breakfast and lunch and in public health. Just because one is good doesn’t mean that should be downgraded. Better to bring both up to the right level, eh?

    Born in 1965

  • Rich

    We’ll be seeing a lot of this in years to come. The social spending which is growing fast is almost all transfers from the working young to the idle old. The Democrats had better watch out. They’re already the party of the public sector unions. If they allow themselves to become the party of the recipients of federal spending, and allow the Republicans to represent taxpayers, the taxpayers will win in the end. You can’t be a responsible party of government while claiming that Medicare will never change.

  • Rich

    Countries that invest the surpluses of their workers in the old are in decline. Those that invest those surpluses in the young will thrive. When we sacrifice education and infrastructure to pay old age pensions and medical bills, we place ourselves inexorably on a downward spiral. Capable young people will not raise their children in a society that sacrifices the future children for the comforts of the aged. The good ones will leave, and the poor ones will refuse to work hard.

    Does this mean we abandon the aged, put them out on an ice-flow to die out of our sight? No. It means that we must make difficult choices to treat maladies with public dollars when those treatments result in additional healthy, productive years of life, rather than a few months of painfully delayed decline towards death. It means that the elderly should be expected to work, albeit with fewer hours in less demanding positions, until death is fairly close at hand. Retirement cannot be a state-subsidized 20 year vacation in the sun if we are to progress as a society. If the baby boomers want to break with their established pattern of self-absorption and actually do something worthy, they’ll embrace limiting the transfers of wealth to the elderly, focusing on the children instead. I’ll not be holding my breath waiting for this to happen.

  • Hugo

    I like the truth and reality of Hiram’s comment. But at the same time, Rich makes a couple of salient points about the transfers going from one generation to another and the fact that folks are living longer.

    My hope is that the election of 2012 will be about issues like this and the size and purpose of government.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Getting rid of Social Security is ecologically unsustainable. Without collective support for the frail elderly, people will, as they did for most of human history, feel they need to have as many children as possible, to make sure there’s someone to take care of them in their old age. Get rid of Social Security, and there will be another baby boom, at a time when human overpopulation is already a major threat to the ecosystem.

  • Rich in Duluth
  • Peter

    Of course they do. At least stop lying to the youth who are paying in now by telling them there will be any entitlements left for them. The youth will be left with nothing but trillions of dollars of debt.

  • kevins

    Remember that when Social Security was enacted, most did not live long enough to collect. Obviously, times have changed. I hear that raising the ceiling on income liable for tax would enhance solvency, which seems like an apt adaptation given changes in our demographics. In short, the entitlements help people and make us humane in our relationships with our countrymen, but the system for helping must evolve.

  • Steve the Cynic

    But, Rich, who gets to define “healthy, productive years of life”? I hope you’re not saying that those who can’t work don’t deserve to live? That sounds disturbingly close to the Nazi idea of Lebensunwertes Leben.

  • Mark G

    Entitlement programs (and, like Rich in Duluth, I dislike the term too) provide a necessary safety-net for those in our society that are elderly, disabled, or otherwise proven needy…..and those programs need to stay in place! To what extent those programs exist, and how to pay for them, is a difficult question. It does make sense to me that ratcheting up the retirement age gradually is necessary, and probably overdue, and making a thorough analysis of the need, keeping in mind future needs that may develop, is imperative. But as for paying for such programs, it seems to me that certain programs in our Federal government, specifically defense programs, could stand some budgetary adjustments. The Cold War is long-since over, so why does the US need to continue to INCREASE defense spending, while slashing domestic spending? Meanwhile, why do health care and insurance costs continue to escalate? I believe it’s because members of Congress, lobbyists, and others in government profit greatly from protecting defense contractors, health-care concerns, and insurance companies (not to mention the banking, mortgage, and Wall Street sellouts….) So-called “entitlement programs” have been given that name, simply because the wealthy, powerful, and connected want working Americans to believe that there is something wrong or evil about protecting the most vulnerable among us!

  • Alex

    Born 1987.

    I think my age group are going to be left in the dust. The government is going to realize that it is not working but not in time to help my age bracket.

    Think about it. We have huge debt from college, many of us not able to find a “job”(What our parents would consider a full time “real” job). Those of us who did find jobs are paid at lower rates than was expected. Many of us participated in a government program like AmeriCorps after we graduated. Making $1.41 per hour and getting taxed on our $5,000 education award. (Believe me I am actually thankful for being able to work for AmeriCorps)

    We are paying off our loans, but we are unable to buy housing. Keeping the housing market in the dumps. Our savings accounts are low.

    We pay into social security which will not be around when we age.

    I am not whining, but pointing out what trouble lies ahead for those of us who are not living off of “old money”. Those of us, who have to pay our own way need to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead which means saving more money for retirement and saving money for everyday things instead of a house. I will always be living within my means which will not be upper middle class or even middle class. I will be okay because of good planning and knowledge. But, there will be many in my age group not able to make it by. Therefore, even more help will be needed.

    I like these programs who help out those in need. I would like for them to continue and even grow to help more people.

    Therefore, we need more money coming in and less money going out. It is simple math. I just wish someone would do the work it would require to figure out a solution. Instead of campaigning on social issues.

  • Chuck

    I don’t think that this is a young vs old argument. Those retired and drawing social security and medicare benefits are getting the benefits that they bought and paid for over the course of many years.

    They and their employers contributed to social security and medicare. Those who are now contributing can expect to recieve benefits in the future.

    As demographics change, the programs should change as well.

  • Alley

    Like many others I don’t like the term “Entitlement”. These programs are going to become even more crucial in the next decades as more of the population slips out of the middle class into the working poor and below the poverty line.

    In the future as a result of changing demographics we may have to means test the programs to ensure the finite resources are directed to those who truly need them.

    I don’t believe the young are being unfairly targeted as I hope by the time the young need these programs the problems with them will have been worked out.

  • Of course the entitlements unfairly favor the old over the young. When these systems started they were intended to help out those in need and only required a small % of income from the highest income brackets and most people died before receiving SS benefits. Now it has turned into a way to save for retirement and yet we have no personal control over our contributions. A “fair” system would simply put all of your contributions into an account and allow you to use the money during retirement or allow you to give the money to family members if you die before using it. We all know it’s not a “fair” system, it’s about distributing wealth and making people believe that they’ve “earned” their entitlement. Many comments seem to have bought into that idea that the older generation “earned” their benefits…in reality they did not contribute enough since the SS fund will be bankrupt in 2037 (a decade before I retire). It’s not going to be politically viable to cut current benefits; most likely the SS age will slowly rise and the way inflation is calculated will be adjusted…just doing those two things can push back the SS bankruptcy back another 50 years. Let’s hope that politicians can do the right thing and make those simple adjustments and allow people to have personal control over their SS contributions.

  • suzie

    Entitled? Yes, in a way – since I started paying into Social Security since I was 16 and now I am in my 60’s and retired. What gets me is that politicians have started this “entitlement” scare. Those that have really benefited from these programs are the politicians and those through fraud, have stolen billions from Social Security. Congress has taken money from Social Security to fund many useless programs and doctors and medical suppliers have blatantly stolen from Social Security – put that money back.

    Take programs out of Social Security that belong in other agencies – leave Social Security for what it was originally intended. Insist that congressmen/women put the outlandish retirement benefits they have into Social Security.

  • kennedy

    An average wage earner retiring today with an average life expectancy will have paid $360,000 and will receive $460,000 in benefits (social security and medicare). By my math this is a $100,000 subsidy for those retiring.

    Source is the Urban Institute here

  • Ron

    “Earned Benefits” is a better term than entitlements when talking about Social Security, Medicare, etc.

    Social Security is not in as much trouble as believed. Go back to the September Midday show with Gary Eichten to hear a thoughtful analysis. Does it needs tweaks? Sure.

    As for programs favoring the old … I guess. Not because they are designed to favor any age group but rather because there are more “old” people who fall into categories needing the assistance, directly earned (such as Social Security) or otherwise. But the system also takes care of the young who also fall into need. As it should.

    We are a community, not a business. Forget what Shakespeare wrote … start with the MBAs.

  • Brian D

    The young become old.

    The question has been generated by Republicans in order to increase inter-generational conflict. Divide and conquer. Pit the young against the old. The Republican Party has to do something to get the votes of the young. Republicans cannot win elections without a divide and conquer strategy.

    What would really help the young is if state and federal governments would make public universities free. How would we pay for it? Well, the number one problem in this country is the concentration of wealth. We need to increase taxes on the wealthy. Oh, but Republicans will say, you can’t tax the job creators. Not if you want jobs. But the job creators are not the wealthy; they’re the middle class and the workers who together create the demand that creates the jobs. We need to educate our young and support job initiatives to grow the middle class and generate demand.

  • This is NOT lucy

    “while teaching our kids that self esteem is given and not earned”,

    Gary F- I hope you do not have any children.

    I do not like the term ‘entitlement’ as it is perceived in this economy as it implies that the one on the receiving end is not doing enough to ‘earn’.

    I believe everyone on this planet deserves the right to food, clothing, shelter and dignity. As our planet is right now it is not and we have lots of work and changes to make in the way we think about each other.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

    you have to google that one yourself as Mr/Mrs Question of the Day won’t post my linK

  • Kim

    I agree with everyone that objected to the use of the word “entitlement”. It’s off topic, but I can’t help but wonder where that came from and what the motive was of the people who started using it.

    Having said that, I’d say the answer to the question is “NO”. There are lots of government programs designed to help families and children. There are programs to help students. At the moment, we are going through an era where times are tough and most people (except the “1%” I guess) are struggling. We aren’t going to solve any problems by pitting one group against another. We should think of this like we are all in the same lifeboat and need to make it through this together.

    Some perspective here. Social Security hasn’t been around that long. I was born in 1955 (squarely in the middle of the infamous “baby boomers”, I guess). My parents paid in to Social Security and are drawing on it. They would be the tail end of the so called “greatest generation.” Their parents had paid in a little, because Social Security started during their working lives, and were able to draw a little. Before that, we had things like the county poor farm. Yes, people are living longer and yes, the retirement age should rise along with it. It has. If I remember right, for me, 67 is the new 65. But, I’m not going to be able to afford to quit working and “sit on the beach for 20 years”. Not because I’ve handled my money foolishly, but because times have been tough fairly often during my working life and it’s been hard to keep your head above water. I seem to remember hearing a statistic that said real wages, for regular people, haven’t increased since 1973. That would be the year I graduated from high school.

    So, my answer to the question is “NO”. But, I think this whole topic does more harm than good. The fact is, times are tough. “This too shall pass” and, as Ben Franklin supposedly said, “We’d better all hang together or we shall assuredly hang separately” I think the real problem stems from a concentration of power in an elite, who keep voting themselves bigger pay raises and more control over society. If we all were able to earn more money working, none of this would be a problem. ” “The people” had better step and take control of things while we still have a chance.

  • Clark

    Yes, of course. There is no age limit to freeloaders. Old people can be greedy like any other age group. Where do you think most health care dollars are spent? Last years of a persons life.

    I disagree with most of these posts. Half the coumtry is now on some form of gov welfare program. We are doomed to follow Europe down the economic drain ifthis doesn’t change.

  • Sue de Nim

    What gets me is that the party that’s trying hardest to appeal to conservative Christians thinks disparaging Social Security is a winning strategy. In the Sunday School I went to, they taught me that God said, “Honor your father and your mother,” and that this applies to elders in general. It seems to me that caring for the elderly is at least as much a “social issue” as traditional marriage and abortion. Same goes for other parts of the social safety net. If we’re not taking care of the vulnerable and the disadvantaged, we have no business pretending we’re a Christian country.

  • suestuben

    What’s up with the ‘entitlement’ word? If you give a bank your money, is it an entitlement to take it out?

    I agree that this is just another devisive question as used by the GOP to cause infighting amongst the peons while they steal the country. Let’s examine, instead, the reverse: there being no monies set aside for the elderly, disabled, children, etc. As a boomer, I would absolutely expect my children to care for me. ( I can see my daughter’s face when I show up on her doorstep!) And if she had to pay my medical bills, she would no doubt have to give up the very expensive house she and her husband own. Oh, and that would probably mean that his parents would be moving in too, so they would need a room of that smaller house. Of course, we all could take care of childcare and cleaning and cooking, which would save money for the family, but their kids have been in costly preschools so that would end. As the children grow up, they would have plenty of adult attention and opinions as to their growth and care and education. Then, when our children were paying for college, at least one of the grandparents would be bedridden and need constant, professional care–where is that money to come from?

    While I appreciate the extended family model, I wonder if our children would embrace it. It may, in fact, prove to be a necessity in the future, but ask yourself if you’d like to stop the SSA payments and open your doors today to the people who have loved you more than anyone else ever has (?); I’ll bet most of us would want to continue to support Social Security.

  • Lance H. Hegland

    I agree, with suestuben, Kim, and “This is NOT lucy”.

    First, I dislike the use of the phrase “entitlement programs”, “unfairly favor”, and “saddling… people with too much future debt”. I think the use of these phrases fuels an “us versus them” mentality in a time when our society desperately needs unification. When viewing problems with an “us versus them” perspective, the answer seems clear: simply get rid of “them”. But, aren’t they a part of our society as well? Aren’t they our parents, neighbors, teachers, colleagues, and community members?

    Do we say that people serving in World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, other skirmishes, or the armed forces in general are often “unfairly saddled” with death, trauma, time, and energy spent defending our American values both here and abroad? Do we say their selfless sacrifices are because all Americans, even those not serving in the armed forces, feel “entitled” to freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, and other constitutional rights? I haven’t ever heard anyone make that claim. So, why are we making such statements with reference to our aging population, individuals with disability, and those experiencing chronic illness?

    Isn’t our society founded on the belief that “all [individuals] are created equal, that [each individual has] certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”? Don’t our religions teach compassion for our family, friends, and neighbors? Don’t we promote the idea that each life is sacred, simply because it exists? Or, are we suddenly changing our values because, well, we might not get what *we* want? We might not be able to achieve the lifestyle *we* desire? We may need to allocate some of our time, energy, and resources to support our society? The society we were born into, which has offered us a lifestyle much better than the lives of countless others in many other countries?

    I also agree with several points made by Rich, specifically that we need to invest in education, economic growth, and our infrastructure. If we don’t invest in those critical aspects, we will be unable to sustain our society and the lifestyle it has offered us. If we attempt to “temporarily coast along” by diverting resources from these activities to pay for the benefits we’ve received historically from these activities, it is a downward spiral. If I remember history correctly, America became great because of education, economic growth, and the infrastructure we developed. These items in turn allowed our society to offer us the ability to experience more healthy and comfortable lifestyles. Yes, times have been tough over the past decade. But, I think we need to come together, hunker down, and collectively power through to a better tomorrow. Will there be tough choices? Absolutely. Will there be challenging times? Certainly. But, I believe if we work together, the choices will be *less* difficult and times will be *less* challenging than if we “divide and conquer” or cannibalize each other.

    We need to come together to address the challenges facing our community, not problems facing just one particular segment of our society. We need to come together, to work together, to pool our resources, to come up with creative solutions, so that we are a stronger and more sustainable society. Not just stronger and more sustainable for today, tomorrow, or the next decade, but for generations to come. One of the steps toward coming together is avoiding the use of divisive language. Instead, let’s use language that promotes, encourages, and empowers unification. Let’s foster dialogue that brings us together and nurtures our collaboration.

  • GregX

    Unfarily ?… No….is the favoritism for the elderly “Biased” .. .yes. I would be more concerned with knowing if we are adequately meeting the obligations of entitlement efficiently. I think there are way toooooo many programs delivering the same service or serving the same population-cohort. do we really need a federal-state-county workers doing the same work. I’m not arguing about how many people in total are working on the process of delivering, checking, and managing the programs – but … do we need three levels of management for all aspects of every program. the first two layers should be simply applying distribution rules and getting the most cash to the counties – where the work of social support are actually performed.

  • Wally

    “Entitlement” programs unfairly favor those who are lazy and/or irresponsible; mainly those who won’t work, or whose who, due to bad personal choices, can’t. The latter includes those who have disabled themselves through excess, be it misuse of food (the obese), booze (alcoholics), drugs (meth, pot, heroin and coke-heads), or sex (AIDS carriers and “single parents”).

    But the most lazy and irresponsible are the aging Baby Boomers, who kept electing pandering politicians who have run the debt into unpayable trillions, while funding all their favorite programs. (And they let power-hungry presidents get us into one costly illegal war after another.) Now the debt-based economy chickens are coming home to roost and the Boomers are panicked that the very time they are “entitled” to hundreds of thousands of dollars of care for so many self-caused conditions, there won’t be the money to fix their problems.

    The whole thing is a Ponzi scam, and the Boomers knew it.

  • Steve the Cynic

    So, Wally, if you ever become disabled, for whatever reason, you want us to leave you to die?

  • Wally

    Well, Steve, if I do something really stupid, like eat myself into diabetes, smoke myself into cancer, drink myself into cirrhosis, pour gas into a hot lawnmower and fry myself, or crash my motorcycle without a helmet and crack my skull, I really don’t think I ought to be “entitled” to loot your bank account to fix my problem. But if you do the same, do you think you should loot mine? The very fact that so many think themselves “entitled” to care they don’t deserve, is one factor that has pushed insurance and healthcare costs so insanely high that many can’t afford either. I had a kidney stone a few years back, and two hours in an ER, and two hours in another clinic cost nearly $4,000, out of pocket. That’s $1,000 per hour, with plenty of CYA tort-driven duplicated medical effort. We could have just run on the bill, and left it for others to pay, but we took out a loan and paid it. I drink more liquids to try and avoid another. The only thing I got out of that $4,000 that really helped was a pain med. So if the same symptoms present, I’ll have to take my chances, use some of the pain pills left over from the first episode, and wait for the pain, and the stone, to pass. Because I am sure that if it occurs again, the cost will probably be doubled, and we can’t afford that any more than the first.

    And by the way, without Socialistic Insecurity, there wouldn’t be a new baby boom. Large families were to do the work in a human-powered agrarian culture. Besides, many Americans are too self-absorbed to care for children, and can’t afford to have that many, except for the taxpayer-subsized husband-free breeders.

    Am I cynical? No, just realistic, and responsible.

  • This is NOT lucy

    I disagree with most of these posts. Half the coumtry is now on some form of gov welfare program.

    Posted by Clark | January 4, 2012 11:23 AM

    Well duh, Clark, and why is that?

  • Rich

    Re: Steve the Cynic @ 7:59 AM

    The American system of universal benefits and progressive taxation is badly broken. Benefits must be means-tested, i.e. directed at the poorest, or the sight of young lower middle class workers subsidizing upper middle class retirees will result in the loss of all popular support for what should be poverty-relief programs. The income tax code, in an effort to be progressive, has grown to be monstrously complex, repleat with incentives to cheat and to not work. America needs to do away with the current income tax code and replace it with a consumption tax, a carbon tax, and an income tax which is a simple, deduction-free tax on the wealthy only which treats all sources of income equally.

  • David

    The framing of this question accepts the Republican/right wing assertion that social programs such as social security, medicaid and medicare are THE cause of budget deficits. It is the acceptance of this assertion that sets up the generational warfare argument. This framing is, however, a red herring.

    This generational warfare framing is designed to distract us from more fundamental issues, of which I will touch on two. First, we need to focus on our gargantuan defense-related and military spending and we need to ask why our populace, young and old, is being burdened with military and defense-related spending that is as great as that of the rest of the world combined. Second, we need to consider the revenue side of the equation. For example, the wealthy, who benefit disproportionately from their position in society, should see their taxes rise up to levels that represent a greater proportion of their income and wealth than working people, not less.

  • Rich

    Social Security is in theory quite healthy, but in practice excess Social Security taxes have reduced our outstanding debt by $2.5 trillion dollars over the past three decades. If we have to actually pay back what we owe the trust fund, taxes will have to rise substantially, or Medicaid will have to stop paying for retirement homes for the poor, or something else drastic. So Social Security would be in pretty good shape if we could afford to pay it what we owe it, but we can’t, because of health care.

    Medicare and Medicaid are the only problems that really count. Either the US comes up with a way to reduce the growth in costs, or we start defaulting on debt. As the saying goes, if something can’t continue forever, then it won’t. We will stop the growth of Medicare and Medicaid, because we must. I suspect that the federal government will, in a burst of federalism, make both programs into a block grant, hand them off to the states, then limit the growth of the block grant. The states, forced to balance their budgets, will make the painful cuts that the federal government won’t. There are, in fact, lots of ways to cut medical spending. They all are painful to someone. But this has to happen, so I believe it will.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Wally, let me clarify: I disagree with your apparent assumption that being disabled and/or in need of medical care is always entirely one’s own fault. Tell my two friends who have ALS that that they’re to blame for their illness, and you’ll get a talking to. How can you blame someone for not preventing a disease the cause of which is unknown? Or tell someone who got hooked on cigarettes when they were young and dumb and suggestible that the tobacco companies who manipulated nicotine levels, and societal attitudes that smoking was a “grown-up” thing to do, have no share of the responsibility.

    Rich, I don’t disagree that Social Security and the tax system need to be fixed, though I don’t entirely agree with your proposed fix. But I take it from your reply that you, too, reject the Nazi idea that people who can’t be “productive” don’t deserve to live.

  • Rich


    Try RIF

    Reading Is Fundamental.

    Comprehension also.

    You seem not to have comprehended any of my comments..

  • Steve the Cynic

    What did I not understand, Rich? The first of your posts I replied to made mention of “healthy, productive years of life” as a criterion for spending public money on health care. I pointed out that there was a disturbing similarity in that phraseology to the Nazi’s idea of Lebensunwertes Leben and surmised that that’s not what you intended. Statements in your subsequent posts appeared to confirm that I had surmised correctly, which I indicated in my reply to your reply. Was I wrong about that? Do you in fact not reject the idea that those who can’t be “productive” don’t deserve to live?

  • Rich

    Just pointing out Steve’s version of Plato’s Cave.

    “Look at what I want you to look at.”

    We all make misteaks.

    My unwritten rule is that I don’t point out others – unless it changes the meaning – and hope they don’t point out mine – unless it changes the meaning.

  • Wally

    Rich, you’re much closer to understanding the problem. The Income Tax was originally sold to the American people as a tax only on INCOME, which was money making money, i.e. earnings from investments; but the Rockefellers, et al, who had an inside track on the tax laws, evaded it from the start, and soon, it was taken from wages. And now we consider everything wages, subject to the confiscatory income tax, even the money from a child’s lemonade stand. Put the Income Tax back only on money earning money, and the rich would squeal, but we who do the real work wouldn’t be holding multiple jobs just to cover living expenses. The “consumption tax,” which is mainly a sales tax, is constitutional. But a “carbon tax”? I think that would end up being just as “monstrously complex” as the current income tax.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Wally, those “confiscatory” taxes would bother you a lot less if you would let go of the illusion that you actually own anything, or that money as any value besides what we collectively agree to pretend it does.

  • Steve the Scenic

    All pretty sensible if somewhat overdue IMO. Top level messages:

    The USA needs to spend less on military stuffs

    Our allies (EU et al), need to spend more

    Now lets sit back and wait for the “Money is no object when it comes to the defense crowd to swarm in and offer flimsy rationalizations as to why spending money on tanks and guns and planes is so much better than infrastructure investment or cutting the budget deficit 😉