The expanding welfare state

The era of big government didn’t end with Ronald Reagan, and it didn’t end with Bill Clinton.

Over half of all Americans receive government handouts of some sort, according to an economic analysis published this week.

Worse, about one in five Americans hold a government job or a government-funded job, according to the analysis.

Slightly over half of all Americans — 52.6 percent — now receive significant income from government programs, according to an analysis by Gary Shilling, an economist in Springfield, N.J. That’s up from 49.4 percent in 2000 and far above the 28.3 percent of Americans in 1950. If the trend continues, the percentage could rise within ten years to pass 55 percent, where it stood in 1980 on the eve of President’s Reagan’s move to scale back the size of government.

That two-decade shrink-the-government trend now appears over, if for no other reason than demographics. The aging baby-boomer generation is poised to receive big payments from Social Security and government healthcare programs. . . .

Mr. Shilling’s analysis found that about 1 in 5 Americans hold a government job or a job reliant on federal spending. A similar number receive Social Security or a government pension. About 19 million others get food stamps, 2 million get subsidized housing, and 5 million get education grants. For all these categories, Mr. Shilling counted dependents as well as the direct recipients of government income. — Christian Science Monitor

Shilling also predicts that the number of government beneficiaries will grow to 60 percent by 2040. This seems like an underestimation to me.

The Government Accountability Office, an arm of Congress which audits government agencies’ books, has been warning for years that spending on welfare and other government entitlement programs is “unsustainable.” Even Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke warned Congress last month that the “expansion of debt would spark a fiscal crisis . . . sort of like a snowball rolling down the hill.”

An editorial in Monday’s Investor’s Business Daily sums up the problem and the likely consequences:

Atlas Shrugged

The left delights in shrieking about how the rich beat down the poor, about how the wealthy benefit from the tax cuts at the expense of those at the bottom. But as we pointed out on this page Monday, the top 5% of income earners pay 57.1% of all federal income taxes. At the same time, 45 million Americans, many of them in the lower-income grouping, pay no taxes at all. Instead of the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer, the rich are paying a growing share of the tax burden while the poor’s share shrinks.

How long before the richest and most productive Americans decide that they will no longer prop up the poorest and least productive? With their political influence waning as that of the untaxed and low-taxed Americans and those who live off the government grows, they can either seek a tax-haven nation where government isn’t a growth industry, or they can choose to be less productive.

Neither choice is good for America’s future. A dependent nation is a nation that cannot last long. — Investor’s Business Daily

How long before they outlaw quitting your job and phase in the Soviet-style program of dictating what work everyone will do? This is the natural next step.

Galt’s Gulch, anyone?

One thought on “The expanding welfare state

  • October 13, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    I noticed that there is no national INBOX for the Tea Party; no national BLOG to exchange ideas, nada. By default, then, they’re lead by whoever gets the most press: Sarah Palin. That’s untenable, gang — See: Couric interview disaster, even FOX on Sarah not knowing that Africa was a continent. What a shame, because a 3rd party might fly right now. Oh, well, maybe in a decade or so.

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