Friday, June 26, 2015

Another Day, Another Entitlement

The Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare and gay marriage are interesting and controversial on many levels.  But what many are missing is the fact that these rulings are essentially about the same thing: entitlements.  And once that is understood, it helps predict future court rulings and the direction of our country.

Entitlements are like the universe - always expanding.  There's physics behind this.  The beneficiaries of entitlements have an acute interest in them, while the benefactors (those paying) have a diffuse interest.  The math is simple.  For a beneficiary to get $1, each benefactor (every inhabitant) must provide only $.00000000033.    

The Obamacare case was obviously about entitlements.  The issue was should the federal government provide entitlement subsidies to people who purchased insurance on a federal exchange, despite the law explicitly stating the opposite.  The court ruled in favor of those getting $1.  

The gay marriage case was not as obvious. Gay marriage is usually thought of as a cultural or human rights issue.  But there is not a single state or city in the US in which it is not possible for gay couples to legally and openly live together. Moreover, turn on a TV or watch a movie and gay characters are everywhere attesting to their complete acceptance in our culture.  

Yet there is still a huge issue separating gay and straight couples, and it boils down to entitlements.  Here is a partial list of the financial and legal entitlements which currently are not available to gay couples:

  • Social Security survivor benefits
  • Estate tax exemptions
  • Inheritance exemptions
  • Tax free transfers to spouses
  • Joint filing (which can lower taxes)
  • Health insurance rates for spouses
  • Government employee spousal benefits
  • Workman's compensation
  • Preferential standing in wrongful death
  • Miscellaneous federal and state benefits
  • Approx. 1,138 legal rights (according to GLAD) which mostly boil down to money

We didn't start out as an entitlement state. But we are one now, and the financial fate of gay and straight couples alike relies on government redistribution largess.   Despite losing consistently at the polls, big money was at stake in the gay marriage debate.  It is for this reason that a federal law endorsing gay marriage was inevitable.  It was not about love.  It was about money.  

And so it will go in the future with SCOTUS rulings and presidential elections.  Mitt Romney got into trouble when he said 47% were automatic votes for the Democrat party because they are dependent on entitlements.  I'd say we are now closer to 57%.       

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