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Discussion: (70 comments)

  1. Andrew Bryk

    Do figure for ratios of private workers to gov’t workers/welfare recipients include contractors & medical personnel serving medicare/medicaid recipients? May be even more shocking if you account for jobs created by gov’t spending.

    Also “explosion” in safetey-net expenditures can probably be mostly accounted for by recession and persistent unemployment rather than a growing welfare state.

    1. Valerie

      The ‘explosion’ in safety-net expenditures IS a growing welfare state! While some effects are no doubt due to the recession, one must ask WHY the recession is so bad and/or long-lasting. Government policies that spend more money, incurring more debt, are unsustainable in light of the worker to recipient ratio. Unless that is reversed, SOON, this nation is on a downward spiral.

  2. Not one of these offers a comparison to projected funding, or factors in expected changes in GDP, shifts in health insurance enrollment patterns under Obamacare or otherwise, or any other standard of comparison that would indicate the actual financial basis for the program now or in the future. Most of them are just absolute-number scare statistics: “It’s so BIG!” The use of a totalized figure for “the economy” over a 33-year period ending in a depression (Chart 4) simply screams of manipulated statistics. The few ratios you use are suggestive but weird (“disabled workers to non-disabled workers”), and provide no information on the finaincial stability of SSI other than by way of unstated, stereotyped assumptions. In no case do you note actual benefit levels, total funding, funding as a percentage of GDP, or any other real numbers that would allow for a factual evaluation of the program.

    In short, this is a classic example of lying with statistics: throwing out big absolute numbers or growth rates without a basis of comparison, while deliberately obscuring the details. I don’t actually know what an honest analysis would show – it’s just obvious to appearance that this isn’t one.

    1. Jeff S.

      Yup, that about sums it up.

    2. TampaGator

      Take a deep breath, KTK – it doesn’t bill itself as the definitive tome on the topic, it’s essentially a blog post. Pethokoukis identifies them as factoids, not scientific proofs. To suggest that he is “lying with statistics” while acknowledging, in essence, that you don’t know whether the assertions that are suggested by the factoids seems a bit extreme. And, acknowledging that they are not definitive proof, at least some of them seem pretty illustrative of one of the primary points – our welfare state is on an unsustainable track (assuming no significant changes).

    3. Daniel Skidmore

      If you can’t argue the facts then go after the viability of the statistics, right? I would caution you to examine the title of the article and the actual data represented in each graph. I can see no obvious flaw in the math nor mechanics of the statistical data. You may argue that the data show results that can be interpreted differently but you cannot dismiss them out of hand as if they are without regard.

    4. In other words, Kevin, because Pethokoukis didn’t work to explain every conceivable trend that might have caused the stats be what they are, it’s a dishonest presentation? This is typical, stats that liberals find politically inconvenient are to include about 50 different caveats so as to cause the reader to conclude he should pay no attention to them in the first place.

      If you’re not disputing their accuracy, I don’t know what this added context would tell us that we don’t already know, anyway. Does anyone seriously dispute that a nation that’s gone from 20% to 25% of federal spending as a share of GDP and is running trillion dollar deficits has some pretty serious “funding” problems? Especially if the programs in question are growing faster than population?

      The charts do show a recession-related spike in the past few years, but in none of them do you see where the overall TREND is ambigous. They were all undergoing secular movements in the wrong direction: fewer workers paying in, greater numbers filing to receive benefits. Are you aware of any rosy GDP, employment or federal revenue scenarios that are going to bail us out from this being a big problem??

      If you want us to conclude this shouldn’t concern anyone, you’re highly unpersuasive.

      1. The charts show nothing at all except “Oooh! Big numbers!”. It’s not my responsibility to first do your work for you and then develop the counterargument. If you can’t show actual data proving the implicit claims you both can’t prove and can’t even state clearly, then the obvious conclusion is you have no case. It’s up to you to prove otherwise.

        Is a shift from 20% to 25% of GDP as federal spending a disaster? I don’t know – nothing in those charts says it will be. Why is that last 5% the tipping point? Why not 30%? Why not 22.5%? There is no argument given, so no reason to accept that conclusion.

        A trend is not a conclusion. Yes, all these trends are going up. Are any of them at the danger point? The charts say nothing about that, and no argument is given. It’s just “Oooh! A trend! With some big numbers!” Make an argument for what you think is the maximum value of that trend, and whether you think the trend is going to reach that value, and whether you think it will stay there, and then the discussion can begin. If you plot 6 trends and have nothing to say about any of them, I can only conclude you have nothing to say.j

        It’s not my job to make a persuasive argument against the argument the writer can’t even manage to make in the first place. It’s the writer’s job to prove their claims. Since they didn’t try, I can only assume there’s no proof to be given.

        1. furytrader

          “It’s not my job to make a persuasive argument against the argument the writer can’t even manage to make in the first place.”

          Okay, so you’re admitting that your arguments aren’t persuasive. At least we can agree on that.

        2. The argument is – welfare state run amok. The author is not obligated to pick a date that it all crashes down. The charts make the case that the welfare state has run amok very well.

          I would add the statistic that the federal government is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar spent.

        3. MDBritt

          @Kevin – you can spin it any way you want but you are still whistling past the grave yard. The point isn’t whether Gov’t spending equal to 20% of GDP versus 25% (or some other nit-pic) is a disaster. The point is that a nation in which government dependence is nearly as common as gainful, wealth-producing employment is a nation in serious trouble.

        4. Keith – if you can’t understand that Federal spending of 25% of GDP while only bringing in taxes to pay for 17%, such that the government has to borrow 42% of the money it borrows – and doing this year after year after year …if you don’t understand that it is unsustainable, then you need to go back and take a High School course in Basic Economics. Or read Thomas Sowell’s book “Basic Economics” before you make any more embarrassing statements! When the government prints money to cover the debt (when we have run out of lenders who will loan us the money) – then we monetize the debt, leading to inflation and devaluing the currency. It leads to wide spread economic failures and collapse!

          When you have too many people sucking at the government teat, they are not productive, paying taxes, etc., instead, become PARASITES on the country. Then, some of the remaining persons who work/contribute, seeing half of their wealth STOLEN to be given to parasites decide to join them and stop being creaters and also become parasites. The spiral continues until collapse. Look at Greece. If that isn’t sufficient proof of the unsustainability of the real problems that we are facing, then you are beyond hope. The charts and statistics are proof that we are seeing symptoms of the big problem – a too big government that is unsustainable, and too many takers and not enough workers.

          1. Your comment may define the difference in how conservatives view our economic times and the cause/result and the view of a liberal (at least this one). Bottom line. It is the availability of jobs and jobs that pay a decent living wage. If we can admit that these facts are true. The wealthier are accumulating more wealth at unprecedented levels. The middle class is shrinking into the near poor status as their wages have remained stagnant.The poor are getting poorer with their wages decreasing. Conservatives blame it on out-of control spending of our government and too many “sucking at the government’s teat”. Yet seem to have no problem with corporations receiving more tax breaks, lowering of corporate and capital gains taxes to favor the suckling of the job creators. Where are these jobs? Here is what I have witnessed in the past several decades: Less rights accorded to the working class to bargain for those decent wages, corporations hiring temps and part-time to avoid paying benefits, fewer jobs available, lay-offs, lock-outs, out-sourcing, a decrease in a starting wage/fewer raises and pensions devalued if offered at all. As one article I read stated, It became a “buyers market”; people so desperate for jobs they gladly accepted the crumbs thrown at them. In the interim, health care costs increased along with rent, groceries, gasoline etc. Is it any wonder the numbers of those on disability rose. Unable to afford private health insurance and delaying seeing a physician is not conducive to good health. Working at two jobs and worrying about paying the bill are stressful mentally and physically.I see it in my own family as my sons, daughter and grandchildren (and their spouses) struggle to keep afloat financially. I do not even pretend to have the knowledge to debate about the charts..but I don’t need them. As far as the GDP…not too sure what that is but will take a it seems to be a talking point. If it is our monetary worth..that too has decreased as the assets of homes declined dramatically, pension value decreased and unemployment increased. So of course the percentage of how much we spend in ratio to how much we are worth is going to increase. Feel free to correct my analysis on that point. It is convenient (for conservatives/Republicans) to minimize this country is paying for two wars (never funded in the prior administration) and tax cuts legislated while we were waging them. Factor in the recession and the fraud of Wall Street..and it brings us to today. Any one of those four things would be cause for financial woes for the country. Now there is a ineffective Congress to assist with any solutions. To expect a healthy financial outcome in three years is unrealistic. Unless conservatives are completely callous (and I don’t believe that), be thankful for the safety net as it helps you indirectly. You don’t have to support the parent or adult child..or at least not as much.

    5. richard40

      You might have a point that most charts like this are better if they show the spending as a % of GDP, so any GDP increase, which reflects our economies carrying capacity, is also factored in. But even by that measure, which you now say you endorse, todays fed spending is at a horribly bloated 25% of GDP, the highest since WW2, as compared to 20% for Bush 2, or 18% for Clinton. So do you now admit that by your own criteria, spending as % of GDP, fed gov spending should now be cut by at least 25%, to bring it down to 20% of GDP, and preferably cut by even more, to bring it down to the 18% clinton level.

  3. Peter H

    There are 2 policy choices which have caused this:

    1. CHIP, which vastly expanded the number of medicaid recipients to include children in poor families not otherwise qualified for medicaid; and

    2. The 1995 welfare reform, which changed welfare to a much less generous program, and resulted in more people moving to the SSDI program as a welfare program when they couldn’t find work. For an excellent summary of the latter, see this econtalk podcast:

    1. Ray Chandler

      The only real and sensible solution is to eliminate all of these programs.

  4. At least someone has the sense to see through the regime’s lies. Thanks for this, came in very helpful.

  5. Gartrell B.

    Do the government employee numbers include most of the employees in Hospitals and Colleges and Universities, most of whom survive on government grants, loans and direct payments?

  6. You list 66 million welfare recipients. This chart

    shows there are actually about 5M. Why is your number off by an order of magnitude?

    1. Conrad B

      The NYT chart shows only cash payments to recipients. It doesn’t include food stamps and other non-cash welfare.

      1. Sure it does. It’s in the penultimate column on the right. And there’s a large overlap between welfare recipients and food stamp recipients. Where are you coming up with a factor of 10 difference

    2. NYTimes #’s from 2008. These #’s from 2011.

      1. They got worse by a factor of 10? Where are the numbers?

        1. Bob,

          From the source, just PA has “2,766,182 unique individuals receive a service from a DPW program. This means that for every 2.1 employed persons in PA there is one person receiving a DPW benefit”

          That would be 1/2 of the 5M NYT claims… check the website….

  7. Haiku GUy

    People remember the old photographs from the Great Depression of huge bread lines stretching out of sight. Well, if you took the 46 Million Americans on Food Stamps and forced them to stand in line, the line would be six people wide, and would start in New York, and end in Los Angeles, California.

    But there are no photographs, so people are not shocked that so many people are on Food Stamps.

    1. RealityBites

      The only problem with your statement here is that you couldn’t use what you got in a food line to buy a tattoo, pornography, and the like. In many places, food stamps are not exactly used to get a bowl of soup and chunk of bread. The average “poor” person in America actually has a higher standard of living than the average European. Not poor European, just average European.

      To compare today’s freeloaders to those who truly had nothing and inched by in the 40s is pretty insulting. Not too many people in those old pictures have their cars parked nearby to get into after they get their food nor are they talking on cell phones. But that’s exactly what you’d see at a “benefits” office these days.

  8. StL Resident

    Welfare has ceased being about helping the temporarily disadvantaged and the disabled.
    This has moved beyond even robbing Peter to pay Paul.
    This is robbing Peter to pay for reliable democratic votes.

  9. Darth Chocolate

    You realize you are all racist for pointing this out.

  10. Big numbers matter. Quit running away from the plain facts. Some here don’t get the simple point namely, how we gonna pay for all that? All the whining about why is bs. We have some choices to make – continue to extort money from the producers to buy the votes of the moochers, or do something different. Incentives matter. Econ 101 (and I’ve had a graduate level economics) is that when you subsidize a thing you get more of it.

  11. Harold Koenig

    Mr. Keith,
    While much of your complaint strikes me as valid, there is one overlooked issue, as I see it:

    When the programs are ‘sold’ to the electorate, their expansion seems never to be mentioned. So there is, in your bringing up ‘tipping point’ and ‘danger point’, a kind of moving of the goal posts.

    Initially the assertion is made that the programs will be only so big, involve only so many people, and cost only so much. Once they are enacted and implemented, they are bigger than projected, involve more people than projected, and cost far more than projected.

    When that is pointed out, the same people who made the initial under-projections say, “Well, okay, you were wrong to trust us last time, but trust us this time. Who says this is so bad anyway?”

    You say the burden of proof rests with the person who raised the figures. The figures, however defective, demonstrate that the initial figures should nothave been believed. And since the initial figures were made to give politicians and bureaucrats access to my wallet, I think the burden of proof rests on them. It is, after all, my wallet, not theirs.

  12. This report documents without and question, the forthcoming implosion of Medicade in a relatively short period of time. The drastic changes that will take place will be hard on all, but required change for this great country to turn around and focus on what you can do for our nation and what the nation can do for you.

  13. OK here you go try this on for size.There is not freaking way this country can support what it is doing and trying to do in the future. If now 40% of each dollar spent is borrowed this chit, simply put isn’t going to work. Please excuse me I tried to clean it up but there isn’t any way it can work ..wake up America

  14. Bonnie Alba

    The Disability Growth Soaring Chart absolutely intrigued me. Look at Reagan’s time vs. any other president. Workers on Disability actually decreased or, is it that there were many more active workers?

    All the other presidents, there’s continual increase in the ratio of workers on disability to active workers culminating in the steady increase we see today. Less workers and more people-inactive workers applying for disability.

    To go forward, how do we regain the American Spirit along with a leader who believes America is able to do what was done in the 1950s and 1980s? Or, is it too late?

    1. Brent Carleston

      The major policy actions of a president usually aren’t seen or felt till the next term. So you actually have Jimmy Carter to thank for that.

      1. Dan Kurtz


    2. Brent’s correct. Even in the chart itself Carter’s term also has a net decrease which goes unnoticed by Bonnie.

      So, actually, maybe it was Nixon that set the correction in motion for Carter and Reagan?

      Yeah, now let’s quote Dan — RIIIIGHHTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!

  15. Paul Meyer

    Kevin, let me see if i can be of some assistance…imagine that the weather forecast says it’s going to get very windy soon, and that you may want to take some precautions since you live on the water. Also imagine that yesterday evening the high water was just topping over your pier, and this morning it’s within inches of your foundation, and it’s gotten very, very windy since yesterday. You may ignore the weatherman who says a hurricane is coming, and you may ignore his exact prediction of when it makes landfall, but you can’t ignore the fact that if it continues at its current rate your house will be under water and you and your family may die. Now perhaps you can persuade your wife and kids that the storm will take a 90 degree turn just before it gets to your beach, but they would be wise to take some precautions in case you were just using wishfull thinking. Yes, the numbers are “BIG”, and that’s sort of the point: you can’t move big numbers very easily. It will take many, many years, even if we started ten years ago!

    The charts are designed to assist people in drawing a reasonable conclusion about the near future based upon what has actually happened in recent history. Argue all you want about the exact speed of the wind when it turns your house into splinters, but it wont change the fact that you have now own a pile of lumber and have no place to live.

  16. Benefits, once started, become a Compassion Trap. How can we deny unemployment benefits, or food stamps, or medical care to those who have lost their jobs or are unemployable? Then, as the burden on the workers grows, increasing numbers of those who are on the edge decide to cross the line into dependency, or are pushed over it because of the rising burdens on employers.

    In the short run, no good responses exist. Which is why the system is likely to spiral down into utter unsustainability, at which point compassion will end because there are not enough payers left.

  17. I would like to note – that while a federal employee is paid by the federal government for work done for, or on behalf of, the federal government – they do pay all level of taxes as any other private sector citizen. So, according to these particular statistics – are federal employees being counted on both sides of the chart – as takers as well as givers?

    1. Recall President Obama’s advice to graduating seniors, “Do not go to work for business. Do not work for money. Work for your community.” Perhaps he sees “community organizer” as the pinnacle of achievement? (Other than POTUS, of course.)

      Now picture 100% of Americans following the president’s advice. They would all pay taxes, so all would be well?

      I suppose the need for regulations would be diminished, as government does not wish to regulate itself. That, in and of itself, would be an improvement! But who would provide us with the goods and services we would all still want? China? Why would they do that?!

      1. Polly — do you have a link containing Obama’s advice to graduating seniors, as noted in your post? I looked but can’t find anything. Thanks.

        1. I do not have a link but I watched a clip of it on t.v. Obviously, I found it memorable. But I will look for it, too, and provide a link if I can find it.

        2. I thought I could do it, but I was wrong. I read a few of 0’s early commencement speeches–all the way thru–and didn’t find that exact quote (or close to it). I thought I would rest and read more but I found I would rather chew glass than read another.

          But in the speeches I read, the same theme if not the exact terminology, ran through each. On May 13, 2009, he told the students at AZ State Univ. of our higher mission, higher than getting material things: “That other stuff — that other stuff, the trappings of success may be a byproduct of this larger mission, but it can’t be the central thing. Just ask Bernie Madoff. That’s the first problem with the old attitude.” Not mentioning rich people who made their fortunes through hard work and great ideas, like Bill Gates; no, Bernie Madoff, Typical Rich Guy.

          He told the kids at Notre Dame: “My heart and mind were touched by [Cardinal Joseph Bernardin]. They were touched by the words and deeds of the men and women I worked alongside in parishes across Chicago. And I’d like to think that we touched the hearts and minds of the neighborhood families whose lives we helped change. For this, I believe, is our highest calling.” Yes, what he did in his community organizing days was “our highest calling.”

          Earlier, at the Pritzker School of Medicine Commencement, June 10, 2005, he hoped that the students would do great things but most importantly that they would be sure that EVERYONE had access to their discoveries, inventions and achievements.

          It’s obvious that his philosophy is a challenge to move from the “me first” materialism/success mode to a community valuing service mode in building “one body of work.” Which really does sound good, at least until you’re hunting for a butcher who’s not in it for the money, he just wants to help The Community.

          From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

      2. richard40

        Since government workers taxes are only a fraction of their salaries, obvious they are net takers, a form of overhead. But not all overhead is bad. Even private companies have overhead workers, like R&D, security, quality control, and corporate admin, that do not add directly to the bottom line, like sales and production, but are necesary to keep the company going. The key is whether the level of overhead compared to the profit center workers is at an acceptable level, which indcates whether those overhead workers are a help or a drain. You also want to make sure the oevehead you do have goes to workers that really help, and dont just get in the way with paperwork and waste.

        My bottom line is if fed spending is less than 18% of GDP (the clinton level, when we last had balanced budgets), and total gov less than 30%, that is probably a reasonable level of overhead for our country. Unfortunately fed spending is now at 25% of GDP, horribly bloated. And from the various state and local bankruptcies state and local gov has gotten out of control as well, at least in dem states. And too much of our national overhead is now total waste, rather than necessary gov workers, or vital safety net expenses.

        Any time a private companies overhead % get out of hand, they must be cut quickly to keep the company solvent. Our countries overhead must similarly be cut, to keep our country solvent. We know for certain the dems will not make the necessary cuts. In fact with programs like Obamacare, stimulus, green energy waste, and the huge growth in handouts the charts in this article describe, the dems want to increase our national overhead even more. The repubs might make the necessary cuts, so they deserve a chance to try.


      Federal employees consume other peoples wealth and paying taxes is not returning that wealth, it is merely recycling the funds.

    3. Goverment workers are net takers.

    4. I believe the point of bucketing government workers in with non-producing portion of the population is due to the fact that the government does not produce anything that adds to GDP and thus are not contributors when comparing cost as a percentage of GDP.

  18. Keith must be looking at different charts because not one mentions GDP or the %GDP size of government.

  19. “No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive.”

    Abraham Lincoln (Address at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 30, 1859; Collected Works, Volume III, p. 479)

    1. Doug Pearson

      I agree of course, but old Abe was actually talking about the idle educated wealthy.

      “The old general rule was that educated people did not perform manual labor. They managed to eat their bread, leaving the toil of producing it to the uneducated. This was not an insupportable evil to the working bees, so long as the class of drones remained very small. But now, especially in these free States, nearly all are educated–quite too nearly all, to leave the labor of the uneducated, in any wise adequate to the support of the whole. It follows from this that henceforth educated people must labor. Otherwise, education itself would become a positive and intolerable evil. No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive.”

      1. The good news is that “production” no longer necessarily means manual labor. The bad news is that in truth, most people don’t really need a college education to earn a decent living (Barack forbid!!). If high schools did their jobs, people would be trained to do a job the day they graduated (recent example on Stossel report, a welder hired right out of high school because there’s such a high demand for welders). Sadly, colleges will cease to be money trees and a few college professors might have to go on food stamps. But all those kids working–without $100,000 of college loans to repay–will pay taxes enough to cover the unemployed professors. Win-win, right?

  20. Let’s make this super simple Keith. Let’s just say you are correct and this chart is garbage. There is only one fact that is the key to all of this and Mike hit it. At least in my opinion. We, as in the United States, borrow money to cover our expenses. We have a deficit of almost 16 trillion. That says, simply enough, that we spend more than we earn. I’m pretty sure you will not debate this fact.

    Now let’s say Keith that you are a man with a perfect credit score. You have this huge house and nice cars and whatever else you want. Now let’s say your Mother gets sick and your are now forced to provide for her. That’s ok because that is your mother. But wait, now your Uncle and Brother are ill and you are forced to care for them as well. Then your cousins get sick and your are forced to provide for them as well. Eventually you are spending more than you are making. You have a perfect credit score and use it to get a loan. You know you won’t be able to pay it back because you already earn less than you spend. You get the loan anyway. And before long that money is gone, as well now, you owe interest and still need money. So, you get another Loan. Same thing is going to happen. However, being as smart as you are, this has already been thought of. As all this is going on other people you care for are also getting sick and adding still more to the burden. How many more loans can you get before your credit score is garbage and you are broke without a way to pay? What becomes the only option left? You declare bankruptcy. You are in financial ruins. This is the way we run our country.

    If you only take one fact from any of these charts, please let it be this. Obama Care is adding more spending for a government program. Where are we going to get the money? How much further are we going to go into debt? And like from my story, when will lenders stop lending? And then what? The U.S. has to declare bankruptcy. I’m sorry, I like my country, that is not an option. However, if we continue down this path, we will have no options.

    And maybe all those programs are a good thing Keith. That seems to be how you feel, or at least that is what I perceive. I strongly disagree, but for sake of argument I will take your stance and agree. If you believe so strongly that we should have programs, then we need to find a way to pay for them. If we can’t afford them, then no matter how good a government program is becomes irrelevant. If this one program is so much more important than another, the other program needs to be cancelled to balance things out. We can’t have it all. Econ 101: Unlimited desires with limited resources. There is only so much we can afford. I mean, come on people. This should be common sense.

    Although, I do have an objection to make Keith. You said, “Is a shift from 20% to 25% of GDP as federal spending a disaster?” Money aside I have to ask if you are serious? This country was founded on the premise of limited government control. That shift simply shows how much more of an influence they will have. If you really feel that way, I would ask you and any others that agree with you, to move out of the U.S. You are the problem and offer nothing of a solution. I hear Russia is right up your alley you communists. I know it sounds harsh but that is exactly what you are.

    Communism, as defined by Webster, is a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless, and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order.

    1. richard40

      I already know his answer you will get on how we pay for them, hike taxes on the rich. That is how dems propose to pay for everything. Of course we know from economics that once a tax rate gets high enough you get diminishing returns and less revenue, and if we taxed the rich at 90%, and actually got 90% from them (highly unlikely) it still would not pay the bills for all these programs, but that wont stop a committed leftist Obama supporter.

      1. Bill Whittle giving an interesting argument against this ‘tax the rich’ idea.

        Plus, as you say, revenues often go down when the rates are put up high

  21. Can we have the similar figures for the defense industry? I recently did some research on Temporary Assistance to Needy Familes (Welfare) and found that the number of families on TANF was reduced by about a million over the past 3 years. Having worked with persons with disabilities for the past 35 years, I know that a lot of people on SSI would like to work, but no one will hire them. The unemployment rate for persons with disabilities is approximately 85%. So some of you job creators should look to the disability community for some willing workers. We would all be better off.

    1. Don’t blame the job creators blame the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). It has created so many rules for businesses most refuse to hire disabled people because they are a massive legal liability. Trial lawyers exploit the ADA to sue businesses for aisles that are an inch to narrow or a door nob that is not the right shape. Prior to the ADA being passed a higher percentage of disabled people were employed than today. Just another example of how government intervention harms those it is intended to help.

      1. Funny thing about those thousands of government bureaucrats. They get real skittish when they can’t make new regulations. Read this:

        Since there hasn’t been a major airline crash in over a decade, it’s really hard to do a cost-benefit analysis of new regulations. Kinda makes me want to cry. For the poor regulators, of course; they need MORE DEATHS so they can do their jobs.

      2. richard40

        Good point. Typical of most gov programs, good intentions, that actually make things worse when implimented. The ADA has been great for fat cat trial lawyers, but for disabled people it has just turned them from a potentialy valuable worker, into a lawsuit waiting to happen, and thus nobody will hire them.

        A similar thing happened with the endangered species act. Before it, a land owner might value discovery of a new species, and might nurture it. Now they know its discovery will lead to their land being stolen, in a regulatory taking by radical environmentalists, so the smartest thing to do is to make sure the endangered species is driven off or killed, and the habitat destroyed, before anybody finds out it is there.

    2. richard40

      Defense as a % of GDP has generally declined after Reagan won the cold war. At its height, during the peak of the cold war under Reagan, defense was about 6% of GDP. Now it is around 3%. Of course now that we no longer have to worry about fighting off a huge Soviet army, defense should decline some, so a level of 2-3% is reasonable. But defense is not what is eating up our substance, entitlement growth, as laid out in the charts in this article is.

  22. The real eye opener is that making “0” nets a welfare recipient w/ 2 children around 46,000.00.

    AND, the charts do not not apprear to account for the other tax burdens necessary to net 46,000.00 WITH A JOB. It does not appear to include the state, local taxes on income, nor other fed tax burdens like SS.

    A very rough estimate accounting for ALL taxes, a person would need to gross around 70,000.00 a year to net 46,000.00

    So, why work at all.

    1. lindenen

      Where are you reading that 0 nets 46k?

      1. Lisa Wilson

        Hi! Please tell me where it says this as I have always thought this with all the different agencies people can get help through.

  23. Reva-lution

    This was all foreseen (politicians may seem stupid but they can hire people to do math). It has been deliberately created to take America down, Cloward & Piven style. Americans need to realize it is not an accident.

  24. James, here as elsewhere, I’m in general agreement with you, and I admire your work. Nonetheless, I cannot imagine that the Americans will solve the problem with “the welfare state” until they admit that the welfare state includes most everything that delays adult responsibility, discourages it, dilutes it, and brings it to a premature end. The regime as a whole is severely deformed, so much so that nearly all young people are warehoused in schools until 18, regardless of ability; they are lured into prolonged adolescence and deep debt by student loans; they are lured into bureaucratic makework by the promise of a return to idleness in their 40s or 50s, ultimately at public expense, with public guarantees; otherwise, they are allowed to return to idleness at 62, 65, or 67, as the case may be, once again at public expense and with public guarantees. It is doubtful that Medicaid is at all the worst piece of this. The worst is probably the inducements to idle youth and idle late life offered in general. Prolonged, lazy, half-a**ed education, “federal” and municipal bureaucratic “jobs,” “federal” and municipal pensions in mid-life, and ten to fifteen years of paid idleness for the rest are destroying the Americans, along with Medicaid, WIC, and what-not. Really, James, I think you can do better for yourself than to be merely a few shades less “blue model” than the rest. Among all public commentators, is Mark Steyn the only one capable of really laying down the law? I think you can manage it, too, if you exert yourself.

  25. Thanks for the “wealth” of information!
    Let’s say the Democrats are correct that the vast majority of the 47% on the gov’t dime can’t survive without it. What do we do? The country can not sustain these numbers regardless of how real the need is. (which is probably a small fraction of those able bodied people on assistance.)Just like the human body that is starving. It first feeds first off the fat. (we did that), then it starts to feed off the least essential organs and muscles(we’re doing that now by borrowing Trillions). The brain saves itself but finally it dies too. That is what we are facing. Our country is starving itself. We can’t pay for these entitlements… Period! Whether you agree that many are gaming the system or not, the “body” is dying. We have to ration what we dole out to save the brain from dying too. Which in my opinion is what Obama wants.

  26. I do consider all of the concepts you have offered to your post. They’re really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very brief for beginners. May just you please lengthen them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  27. You people make me sick….we all worked & paid into things….all our lives like medicare & social security…yet some of you call them entitlements…& dont belive people should get them…when will the right wing wake up….probably never !!

    1. Watch closely. Eventually Social Security will be “means tested,” which means the rich will get none of the dollars that they have contributed over the years. Medicare already charges more for the Part B policy if the recipient makes more than… well, more than he/she NEEDS, as determined by… the politicians. Both will become welfare, which is okay as long as the politicians admit that.

      And I promise it will be the LEFT wingers pushing hardest to punish the rich by denying them Social Security. The Lefty politicians are more than happy to take campaign money from The Rich, and they’re likely to reward those rich people with taxpayer dollars for their projects in return. But they just have to demonize The Rich, loudly and proudly. It’s called “class warfare.”

      Yet I’m hard-pressed to recall the last time a poor person gave me a job. How ’bout you?

    2. Sick of Liberals & Democrats

      @Jekk…you make me sick you uninformed idiot! Do some research independent of what CNN tells you to think!

    3. JEKK …You communist!.. I bet you are only 22 years old and think you deserve everything i have put into the system. I will never see a fraction of what I have paid the government. Meanwhile I dole out free healthcare to the ignorant and unwashed on a daily basis.

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