Half of the Country Now Receives Government Aid

Posted by - Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Americans are more dependent than ever on government assistance programs. According to the 2010 Census data, 48.5 percent of the entire population relies on government benefits for survival.

This number is 4.1 percent higher than it was in the middle of the recession when 44.4 percent of America resided in a home receiving government aid in the third quarter of 2008.

Currently, 1 in 7 Americans rely on food stamps to put food on the table. And 34.2 percent of people receive some form of benefits towards the following: cash welfare of Medicaid, food stamps, or subsidized housing. About 16 percent of homes received Social Security benefits and 14.5 percent of homes included an individual on Medicare.

These statistics show some serious shifts in terms of how people support their livelihoods. The number of people surviving on government assistance have reached historic records – both because of the recession as well as an increase and expansion in government programs over the past few years.

Take a look for yourself:

Image courtsey of The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, this increase in government-reliance combined with high unemployment rates means that there are far less people paying taxes. An estimated 46.4 percent of American households will pay NO federal income tax this year. That's 6.5 percent more households – not paying – than it was in 2007 when the recession began.

This is bad news on many levels. First, it shows that this recession may be far greater than the Great Depression when you compare the number of Americans surviving off of food stamps with the number of people who relied on soup kitchens back in the 1930s.

Secondly, it echoes many of the woes of those engaged (and enraged) in the “class warfare” debates. Republicans argue that too many Americans are not paying their fair share.

Benefits programs have come under closer scrutiny as policymakers attempt to tame the federal government’s budget deficit. President Barack Obama and members of Congress considered changes to Social Security and Medicare as part of a grand bargain (that ultimately fell apart) to raise the debt ceiling earlier this year. Cuts to such programs could emerge again from the so-called “super committee,” tasked with releasing a plan to rein in the deficit.

Although we're in extremely tough times, dependency only breeds more dependency. For the hard-working middle class who labor to put food on their table (instead of getting the government to do provide it for them), the dramatic extent of some of the benefit programs hardly seems fair.

The incentive to work hard and earn your living instead of feeling forever entitled to benefit programs will be an important factor in getting this economy back up and running...competition is the fuel to any functioning capitalist economy. It's easy to get apathetic when things are so dismal, but being pro-active is essential.

*Indented excerpt from The Wall Street Journal.


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