by Paul Buchheit for Buzzflash at Truthout, mirrored from Truthout
Americans constantly hear about the threat of “entitlements,” which in the case of Social Security and Medicare are more properly defined as “earned benefits.” The real threat is the array of entitlements demanded by the very rich. The following annual numbers may help to put our country’s expenses and benefits in perspective.
$220 Billion: Teacher Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are just over four million preschool, primary, secondary, and special education school teachers in the U.S., earning an average of $54,740.
$246 Billion: State and Local Pensions
Census data shows a total annual (2012) payout of about $246 billion. Only about $100 billion of this came from state and local governments, with the remainder funded by employee contributions and investment earnings. A recent Pew study showed a little over $100 billion in annual state contributions to pensions, health care, and non-pension benefits.
$398 Billion: Safety Net
The 2013 safety net (non-medical) included the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), WIC (Women, Infants, Children), Child Nutrition, Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Education & Training, and Housing.