This is a great country, isn’t it? It’s a nation where libertarian, government-hating, militiamen can collect government checks that allow them the time to denounce the government! So it is with Michael Vanderboegh, an Alabama militiamen whose blog has urged health care reform critics to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic elected officials:
Vanderboegh said he once worked as a warehouse manager but now lives on government disability checks. He said he receives $1,300 a month because of his congestive heart failure, diabetes and hypertension. He has private health insurance through his wife, who works for a company that sells forklift products.
I first noticed this phenomenon back during the Timothy McVeigh era, when he and his fellow travelers denounced the government, proclamed it illegitimate and dutifully marched off to the mailbox to collect their government-issued farm subsidies.
The same thing was evident in the town hall meetings of last August, when white-haired Medicare recipients were outraged — OUTRAGED!! — over the idea of government involvement in health care. Of course, the closest thing this country has to socialized medicine is Medicare.
Apparently, denial is such a strong factor that these tea-partiers have persuaded themselves that the government and Medicare are two very separate entities. And, of course, emotion can overwhelm reason.
Ms. Reimer often wells up talking about her work. “I’m respected,” she said, her voice breaking. “I don’t know why. I don’t know what is so special. But I’m willing to do it.”
She and others who receive government benefits like Medicare and Social Security said they paid into those programs, so they are getting what they deserve.
“All I know is government was put here for certain reasons,” Ms. Reimer said. “They were not put here to run banks, insurance companies, and health care and automobile companies. They were put here to keep us safe.”
Well, “deserve” is an odd word to use if you really believe the only duty of government is to “keep us safe.” But Mrs. Reimer is also wrong on her facts about Medicare and Social Security. They are “welfare” programs; the average recipient receives much more than he put in.
Consider these numbers from the conservative American Enterprise Institute:
This typical person paid around $64,971 in Medicare payroll taxes over his lifetime. Likewise, after netting out Medicare premiums, he’ll receive around $173,886 in lifetime Medicare benefits. The net? He can expect to receive around $108,915 more in benefits than he paid in taxes over his lifetime.