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February 8th, 2012 2:56 pm
New Heritage Foundation Study: Government Dependency at an All-Time High
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The Heritage Foundation is out today with its 2012 Index of Dependence on Government, and the results aren’t pretty. The study finds that Americans are more in thrall to the state than ever before. Amongst the report’s findings:

  • One in five Americans—the highest in the nation’s history—relies on the federal government for everything from housing, health care, and food stamps to college tuition and retirement assistance. That’s more than 67.3 million Americans who receive subsidies from Washington.
  • Government dependency jumped 8.1 percent in the past year, with the most assistance going toward housing, health and welfare, and retirement.
  • The federal government spent more taxpayer dollars than ever before in 2011 to subsidize Americans. The average individual who relies on Washington could receive benefits valued at $32,748, more than the nation’s average disposable personal income ($32,446).
  • At the same time, nearly half of the U.S. population (49.5 percent) does not pay any federal income taxes.

There are three tragedies at work here. The first is that the federal government — through relentless taxation, regulation, and legislation — has kept the economy in such miserable condition as to necessitate so many people looking for assistance. The second is that so many sectors that enjoy public subsidies — such as higher education and health care — are actually made more expensive by the federal largesse. And the third is the broader social trend of Americans coming unmoored from the independent, self-made spirit of our forebears, content instead to live in a gilded cage to which Washington holds the key.

Changing that mindset will be just as important as changing public policy if the American people are to rediscover their trademark sense of rugged individualism.

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