Friday, May 13, 2011

Medicare Funds Dining

This short article will change how you perceive Medicare. You will realize how vital Medicare is to our economy, but you will view this in a new light. (maybe, like me, it will seem ironic and a bit troublesome.)
Walk into your favorite family restaurant. In Minnesota, I mean Perkins, but this will be true at Denny’s. Huddle House, even McDonalds. The best time is between 9:00 AM and 2 PM. Look around for people who appear to be 65 or older.
My bet is that “seasoned citizens” far outnumber the others. It is safe to assume that almost all of those older folks are Medicare enrollees. The fact is, without Medicare, some of them would be “pushing up grass” (to quote Rush Limbaugh).
Instead, there they are, some of them every day, or several times a week, eating a price-discounted breakfast or lunch, sipping on a “senior coffee,” and having a great time. At 63, I think I can say this openly: I love old people, especially when they’re having a great time.
The idea struck me, as it will strike you now, that without Medicare and Social Security, most older Americans would have barely enough money for necessities – like home-cooked food, and shelter (and health care).
Think of it. Without Medicare and Social Security, many older folks might have to rely on younger people, maybe even live with them. Our society decided decades ago to ensure that grandparents remained independent from their adult children. About this, I make no value judgment, but it has created an irony, and a very expensive one that at. Every American aged 30 or younger today owes $289,000 just to pay the unfunded Medicare debt.
You might be thinking that I have this all wrong. After all, don’t we pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on income to prepay our own cost of government retirement benefits? Well, no. The taxes we pay today pay the cost of benefits for today’s retirees. It won’t be long when two income earners will be required to pay the Social Security cost of one retiree. Today’s young people will receive Social Security and Medicare from children not yet born.
But thanks to Medicare, since it protects older folks from financial catastrophe due to illness, there is money for a daily trip to Perkins. There is also money for Branson, time shares, golf, a winter home, Starbucks, shopping malls, travel, symphonies, and most church donations. Without Medicare, young working Perkins’ servers, paying income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes, would have no job at all. (Or, wait a minute. Maybe they would have a better job. We can’t know that.)
A Boston actuary calculated that each Medicare recipient will spend about $250,000 more in health benefits that they paid into the system. By my calculations that will buy 41,650 Perkins lunches at the senior discounted price of $6.00.
To add a little fun to your next trip to Huddle House, see if the older fellow at the next booth orders off the senior discount menu. Thank you President Lyndon Johnson for Medicare.


  1. Sorry, but this argument suffers from the broken window fallacy. Those 41650 Perkins lunches came at the expense of consumption by tax payers. Medicare not only distorts incentives but systematically alters the market (toward investment in Perkins and away from investment in new technology).

  2. Rick, I think that Mr. Racer's article is "tongue-in-cheek". Socialists love to point at their "accomplishments" neglecting the destruction of potentialities that they have rendered. I used to work as a doctor in Canada. We had one major hospital and one imaging center in a large region the size of France.
    If the government didn't hold a monopoly on hospitals and imaging centers maybe there would be 10 or 15 of them competing for customers dropping costs and seeing who gives the best service. Likewise, it is easy to point at American Medicare and forget about the destruction of the unfunded liabilities that will have to be paid somehow thereby eliminating wealth creation and goods and services that otherwise would have existed.