Circling the drain
The NY Times has an article out saying that extended unemployment benefits are beginning to wind down. Of course that’s in the face of at least 5 million still unemployed. And while it obviously has to happen, i.e. the cut-off of extended unemployment benefits, my guess is that Democrats are less likely to want it to happen than Republicans.
In case you haven’t heard there’s an election soon.
But, that said, it does take us to a number that should concern everyone:
49.1%: Percent of the population that lives in a household where at least one member received some type of government benefit in the first quarter of 2011.
Cutting government spending is no easy task, and it’s made more complicated by recent Census Bureau data showing that nearly half of the people in the U.S. live in a household that receives at least one government benefit, and many likely received more than one.
Yes, that number. 49.1%. Why should we be concerned about it? Well if I have to explain, you most likely won’t get it anyway. Make this comparison:
The 49.1% of the population in a household that gets benefits is up from 30% in the early 1980s and 44.4% as recently as the third quarter of 2008.
That’s a very large increase from 1984. It speaks, at least to me, of dependence. Now I know the recession has somewhat skewed the numbers. Got it. And, as the unemployment benefits wind down, the number will probably drop.
But in reality it points to a trend in which more and more people depend on less and less working people to help pay their way (CBO says food stamp rolls will continue to grow through 2014). What this points too is increased government spending (no matter how you slice it – those drawing money from the government is up and that means government is spending more) in an era we can’t afford it.
With increased government spending comes the need to pay for it, and if taxes aren’t going to increase that means deficits. Nearly three-quarters of Americans blame the U.S. budget deficit on spending too much money on federal programs, according to a Gallup poll last year, but when the conversation turns to which programs to cut, the majorities are harder to find. For example, 56% of respondents oppose making significant changes to Social Security or Medicare.
Why do you suppose that is? Why would 56% oppose making significant changes to Social Security or Medicare?
Because they have a vested financial interest in the two programs. Government has, for decades, taken money out of their pay check, spent it on other things and over promised the benefits. Or to simplify it for you, they’ve grossly mismanaged the two programs to the point that anyone in the private sector would be in jail.
And yet, the number of Americans getting benefits from government continues to trend upward.
Can you not spot the big red kangaroo here?
Why is it obvious to everyone but our politicians (yeah, that’s a rhetorical question for those wondering)?