I think Social Security is one of those currently unfunded or underfunded government obligations.
Social Security is funded. Anybody who has social security tax withheld from their paycheck funds it, and this includes most of us. Legal immigrants fund it the retirement portion, but do not benefit from it until they become citizens. Illegal immigrants fund the retirement portion but do not benefit at all. Their funds are nevertheless factored in to the income the government counts on the system generating every year. I don't think many people actually complain about this, including the legal and illegal immigrants involved.
Whether they actually have grounds for complaint would be an interesting but probably fruitless discussion.
The notion that Illegal immigrants do not contribute to health care costs in this country, however, seems to me to be somewhat different. The illegal immigrants do pay a fair amount of money in social security taxes and in income taxes and in sales taxes, many of which are designed to go to payment of health care costs. Much as we complain about our various sin-taxes on tobacco and alcohol, for example, much of this money is supposed to be ear-marked for care of people with health problems due to consumption of these products. Illegals pay their share of these taxes. They may be said to pay a disproportionate share of social security taxes, because they will frequently not apply for refunds due to them. And a substantial part of these social security taxes are paid out to hospitals.
I would be interested to see if there was a good way of figuring out what the actual distribution of costs actually was. The figures that Mike quotes above are figures that Grinch has already addressed earlier, and it would be interesting to see what an actual breakdown of the real figures would be, no simply a rehash of the figures for unrecovered costs from hospitals. Not all those figures are due to undocumented immigrants. Having worked in hospitals, I've known a fair number of indigent patients, as well as people who've gone into bankruptcy because of health care costs. Only a few of them have been illegals. Many have been simply too rich for government assistance and too poor to pay food, rent and medical bills all at the same time.
Many of us may never see a penny of all that we have been paying into it.
Yeah, my Grandfather — my mother's dad, — said that. He had a catastrophic illness at the end of his life, and if it hadn't been for social security and medicare, he'd have had to go into a nursing home. None of us had the dough to take care of him.
Have you every figured out what the actual total was that you put in? They give you a regular accounting, you know. If all that you were going to get was limited to what you'd already put in, how long do you think that would last, prices for things being what they are? About two good months of hospital care would use it all up, wouldn't it?
One big operation and two months of hospital care would just about wipe all that out and then some, if all that was being talked about was what you could do for yourself. Even then it would leave you in debt, and that's not counting on the cost of medication or extended care afterward.
The government, whatever its flaws, has been keeping ahead of that curve for about 75 years. That's not perfect, but it's not terrible, either. It's managed to keep up with people's lives getting longer and their quality getting better overall the whole time. If it was making a profit off the whole business, it would never have been able to keep up.
Making a profit is great for some things.
It's simply not the best solution for everything all the time and everywhere.
For health care right now, profit seems to be getting progressively greater for the insurance companies and coverage seems to be getting progressively more limited for the folks who need it. If you think of this in terms of the market, you might consider that the people who are selling insurance have too much of a monopoly on the market because they've got a lock on the people who set the ground rules. It's not a free market.
If the government sets up a single payer system that works and returns good service for a fair price, then the private companies are going to have to figure out some way of competing for their market share. So far their method has been mostly cheating by stacking the deck. That's what they're trying very hard to do again now. If they fail, they may have to rethink their services and pricing structures. That would be novel.
If the illegals using phony or stolen SS#'s in order to work here illegally can't collect on it in the future, that's their own fault for breaking the law by being here illegally in the first place and by committing fraud on top of that. It doesn't entitle them to anything. I did hear something a while back though about Congress considering or passing legislation granting SS to illegals. I don't remember the details though. Too much has happened recently to keep up with it all, or to even retain some of it in the memory banks.
Illegals don't collect on pensions.
They do collect on emergency services because it's in your interest (and mine) to have vaccinated people walking around rather than carriers of polio and smallpox. Would that more of our citizens understood that. It's in your interest (and mine) that people with Flu get treated before they spread it, and that they get vaccinated for that before that catch it. The largest strides made in terms of length of life and in health of the population at large has been in terms of infectious diseases and in public health (such as in treatment and prevention of cholera and VD) and in provision of sewage and clean water.
When we don't extend this care to every human being in the environment around us, it is the same as cutting our own throats. That is a matter of pragmatics.
I believe the notions of actually finding a workable program to accomplish the exclusion of one group from the midst of another have tended to become less and less ethical the more explicitly the actual details of their execution — and I use the word advisedly — are made known. I am perfectly willing to be proven wrong by being shown any half dozen or so successful and ethical programs for winnowing illegal aliens from the midst of a national population. Any three, for that matter.
I'd settle for a clear picture of any single program universally acclaimed as successful and ethical as a way of beginning discussions, however. It would at least show that there is something we know we can work towards.
If there is no such universally acclaimed success story, I would suggest that demands that we hold out for a situation in which illegal aliens can be excluded successfully, ethically and pragmatically from our society are simply ways in which we are able to stop thinking realistically about what our country actually needs and what we actually need to do to make the best real country out of what we have to work with. We're simply sticking our heads in the sand. And saying, "So there!"