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Monday, February 13, 2012

A Nation of Takers

Government policy is making welfare more profitable than work

Americans pride themselves on being a self-reliant people. We know that the freedom to make our own fortune sets us apart from the people of many other nations. It’s what has drawn to our shores generations of immigrants - men and women risking their lives to live a life in which they, not the government, are in charge.

But with each passing year, that portrait flies more and more in the face of reality. The numbers plainly show that we are becoming a people dependent not on ourselves, but on government. We are evolving into a nation of takers, not givers.

The numbers in question come in the form of a new Heritage Foundation report, the 2012 Index of Dependence on Government. You don’t have to read far before you realize that the days of Horatio Alger stories are behind us.

Start with the most basic facts: More than 67.3 million Americans rely on assistance from Washington for everything from food, shelter and clothing to college tuition and health care. These benefits cost federal taxpayers roughly $2.5 trillion annually.

About those taxpayers: Even as the number of Americans receiving federal aid rises, the number of federal taxpayers continues to drop: Nearly half of all Americans - 49.5 percent - don’t pay any federal income taxes. If that strikes you as an equation that will spell trouble down the road, you have a better grasp of the problem than many politicians have right now.

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