A Nation of Takers
Chilling statistics from an Interview with Nicholas Eberstadt writes in A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic.:
According to the Census Bureau, as of spring 2011 (the latest data available at this writing) nearly half — i.e., 49 percent — of Americans lived in households accepting at least one public entitlement benefit. That would have been about 150 million Americans.
We think of Social Security and Medicare — our social guarantees for senior citizens — as being the country’s main entitlement vehicles. But of the 150 million Americans who were on entitlements, only 50 million were Social Security pension recipients.
The overwhelming majority of Americans who use public benefit programs these days are getting “means tested” benefits, poverty-justified benefits: Medicaid, food stamps, WIC, TANF, and all the rest. One American in three now lives in a “means tested” home.
And remember, those benefits don’t just get sent out: You have to apply for them. Never before have so many able-bodied and (at least by any historical benchmark) relatively well-to-do Americans pled poverty for the purpose of getting a handout from Uncle Sam…
…The problem with exempting almost half of America from income taxes is first and foremost a problem of citizenship — a failure of our conception of civic duty. Our entitlement epidemic also, in my view, entails a failure in our conception of citizenship and civic duty
…Disability has “gone viral” in modern America. In 2011, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, over 12 million working-age Americans — men and women between the ages of 18 and 65 — were accepting benefits from at least one government disability program. That is a larger total than the entire paid workforce of the U.S. manufacturing sector that same year! — and claims are higher today than ever before, even though America’s working-age population, by many objective measures, has never been healthier than it is right now.
…As of last year, our government was dispensing almost $2.4 trillion a year in entitlements — over $7,400 per man, woman, and child in our country per annum; over $30,000 per year for a notional household of four. And that is just the net transfer: Those totals don’t include the administrative costs of the programs.
….The share of men today who are totally out of the work force — i.e., neither working nor looking for work — is over twice as high for Americans in their late 30s as for their counterparts . . . in Greece.