A short while back I wrote of some revealing statistics that invite the question, are we becoming “A Nation of Dependents” on government benefits of one kind or another? Now the Heritage Foundation has published their 2012 Index of Dependence on Government that raises even more questions. According to the newly released report, the average amount of federal benefits received by individuals now exceeds the average disposable personal income level in the nation, suggesting it is more profitable for many to rely on government assistance than to work. One in five Americans – 67.3 million – get some type of federal assistance, while half of the population pays no federal income tax. A summary of the findings follows:
- 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.
- In the next 25 years, more than 77 million baby boomers will retire. They will begin collecting checks from Social Security, drawing benefits from Medicare, and relying on Medicaid for long-term care.
- As of now, 70 percent of the federal government’s budget goes to individual assistance programs, up dramatically in just the past few years. However, research shows that private, community, and charitable aid helps individuals rise from their difficulties with better success than federal government handouts. Plus, local and private aid is often more effectively distributed.