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If you’re unhappy about the growth of government entitlement programs, perhaps it’s time you stop harping on the New Deal. According to this week’s EconTalk guest, John Cogan, you’ll need to look back a lot further…a lot further.

What can the history of the federal governments role in transfer payments teach us about tax reform today? How much of a safety net should the government provide for its citizens? These are complicated questions. So take a trip back in time with us this week, and examine your own thoughts about transfer payment programs then and now.

Please share your thoughts with us…Respond to our prompts in the Comments below, or consider using these questions with your class or your friends. Let’s continue the conversation.

1. How did the veterans’ benefit program instituted after the American Revolution come to set the pattern for all US entitlement programs to follow? How does Cogan distinguish this entitlement trend from the one begun in the wake of the Great Depression?

2. Roberts and Cogan spend a lot of time on Social Security. (Who’s planning their next trip to Parkersburg, West Virginia?) How has the Social Security program changed since its inception? What do you think should be done to shore up the system?

3. What does Cogan mean when he says, “Entitlements have profoundly changed the priorities of our government?”

4. Why is Roberts so incensed by the payroll tax? To what extent would you favor Roberts’s suggested plan of rolling the payroll tax into income tax?

P.S. I took this week’s title from Russ on twitter…If you’re not following him yet, make sure you do!

P.P.S. You do know who Irene Triplett is now, right???