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  • Guest Blog: The Danger of A Nation of Dependents

    As someone who grew up in inner-city Atlanta, I understand there are times when people need whatever help they can find. The social safety net—in conjunction with generosity from neighborhood groups, churches, charities, and private companies—can help lift Americans out of poverty and toward the path of self-reliance and individual prosperity. However, that “net” should never turn into a “hammock”—and that is what this President and his policies are allowing.

    What we see today with our vast social safety net is a growing and frightening dependency on the federal government, which is increasingly replacing our important local and private charitable efforts. The Heritage Foundation’s newly released 2012 Index of Dependency on Government show some stark details about a nation of reliance and how it’s devastating our nation’s fiscal future.

    This annual study by The Heritage Foundation analyzes federal assistance programs for everything from housing, health care, and food stamps to college tuition and retirement assistance. And there are some alarming numbers indeed.

    • An estimated one in five Americans now receives aid from the federal government. That translates into more than 67.3 million Americans who rely on federal dollars for their way of life.
    • Additionally, the amount the average American receives in federal benefits jumped to $32,748 in 2010; this surpassed the average working American’s disposable personal income of $32,446.
    • At the same time, the federal taxpayer base continues to shrink, with nearly half of the U.S. population not paying any federal income taxes.

    Is this a vision of President Obama’s doctrine of fairness and economic equality? Our democratic government is at risk when there are more Americans who are wedded to the federal government— either by subsistence or employment check—than federal taxpayers to pay for the rampant spending.

    What do you think will happen when producers realize they are working for the entitlement class or the state, instead of their own families and the American dream? Eventually, they will stop producing. As Margaret Thatcher said, the government will “run out of other people’s money.”

    I fear the future does not hold much hope for reversing this trend. With the impending retirement of 77 million baby boomers and the continued liberal march toward government involvement in all parts of life, the trend in the number of Americans dependent on Washington seems to have only one direction: up.

    But I have hope. The essence of the American spirit does not want to be obliged to government for our daily routine. Americans want to fight for their independence and be successful providers for themselves and their families.

    We in Congress need to do our part to aid the struggle for more personal responsibility. We need to reduce government spending levels so we are taking less from America’s producers of economic growth. We need to take a long, hard look at these assistance programs, eliminating duplicative efforts and directing aid first to the neediest of our population.

    We also have to embolden charities, local groups, and private-sector initiatives to empower individuals through programs that require more “skin in the game.” Far too often, these good Samaritans are pushed aside by government zeal to provide inferior and bureaucratized services. And finally, we need to reform entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security so that they are viable for future generations without bankrupting our country.

    Your independence is a precious gift, protected by the Constitution and enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Fight for it. I know I will.

    U.S. Representative Allen West (R – FL) represents Florida’s 22nd District in Congress.

    The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Featured, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    27 Responses to Guest Blog: The Danger of A Nation of Dependents

    1. West Texan says:

      Congressman West said,

      1) " … federal assistance programs for everything from housing, health care, and food stamps to college
      tuition and retirement assistance."

      Rule # 1: everyone of these domestic concerns is the sovereign business of the respective states, not the federal government.

      2) " … we need to reform entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security so that they are viable for
      future generations without bankrupting our country."

      Rule # 2: please refer back to rule # 1.

      Good blog.

      • Liz says:

        I believe Mr. West isn't referring to you…just the other 67.3 million Americans who rely on federal dollars for their "way of life". Retire investments and SS aren't "ways of life". You sound like a responsible adult who did what needed to be done in order to reap the rewards of hard work, discipline and individual responsiblity.

      • ThomNJ says:

        I agree with you. 100%.

    2. Lucylee says:

      Last time I checked I am paying taxes on my so-called entitlements (social security and retirement). By the way, I worked for 42 years.

      • Stirling says:

        yes, but the government has already spent your money years ago, on someone else. Think of it as a pyramid scheme, your contributions have been going to pay current retirerees. Your taxes go into a Shared fund which all current retireee's draw from (not a lock box with your name on it). This trust fund is being depleated from the "wage tax holiday" that the president has backed (which funds what is your Entitlement fund) making it less solvent as well. Lastly the current working population is at a low of 63% meaning the ratio of workers funding the fund is also at about a 3 to 1 ratio (was 10 to 1 years ago when government wasn't spending trillions more then they took in).. Mathmatically working for 42 years means nothing if the fund goes bankrupt.

      • Josh says:

        The amount you actually get back from Social Security over your lifetime far exceeds the amount you pay in, that is the problem.


    4. TNROCKYMOM says:

      We need more Allen West conservatives and kick out all of the liberals and socialists.

    5. fred says:

      When is this going to stop????????????????????????

    6. Douglas Chirico says:

      "Additionally, the amount the average American receives in federal benefits jumped to $32,748 in 2011"

      What does this include? Social Security? Section 8 subsidy? Food Stamps? Medical?

    7. Debra P says:

      You are spot on, Col West. It's gotten so bad that if anyone dares mention spending cuts, it somehow translates into throwing people out into the streets to die. And the person talking of reform is demonized and attacked by those who's way of life has become an existence on welfare or food stamps, etc..

    8. Keep up the good work Col. West!!!

    9. usafsam says:

      Think how many leeches we could rid ourselves of and how many State & Federal dollars would be saved if we simply followed the Federal Law regarding illegal alien invaders by denying them access to any public benefit save a prison bus ride to the border closest to their country of origin. We are long overdue for a Foreigner Repatriation Operation! (Formerly known as Operation Wetback) It worked in the past to put American citizens back to work! Make that Step 1 and the Overhaul of the welfare system Step 2 (If you do not work you can not collect!) Step 3, go back to using prisoners to pick crops in rural areas, no reason they can't work to earn the 3 hots & a cot. (We use them in our state to clean up trash on the highways.) Instead of importing workers how about Farmers take responsibility to provide housing (old bunk house style) and bus innercity folks to the farm for the season as a means of qualifying for any assistance they have applied for (again, no work = no public assist). This would also help get youth out of the inner cities so they can see a different way of life other than the streets and gangs.

    10. Disheartened in SF says:

      This will not stop – there is no hope. The bureaucracy is too big and self perpetuating, and the people unwilling to do what it would take to reverse course.

      I have worked my rear end off, overcoming a disability to earn my way into the top few percent, making a low six figure income. For that, nearly 40 cents of every dollar I make ends up in taxes (CA takes 10% beyond the feds), and that doesn't include all the sales, import and other taxes built into all of the goods I consume, property taxes, etc., just income taxes! By the time you add that other stuff, over 50% of my income is going to tax burden.

      Know what I plan to tell my son? Don't bother. Find a way to work the system – get on social security disability or get a union job at 18 that will allow you to retire at 40, or maybe emigrate to a country like Poland where achievement and freedom are still valued if you want to invest in a career or business. Who wants to work their ass off just to be demonized viciously every day in the newspaper and have a corrupt government take more than half and still claim you're not paying your fair share? If I had it to do over again, I would work the system, not myself, and I'm certain I'm not the only one that feels this way.

    11. Sally Thomas says:

      You will fight for it, I know, but will you lead the fight, Col. Cong. West?!

    12. Bobbie says:

      Mr. West, this part here: "We also have to embolden charities, local groups, and private-sector initiatives to empower individuals through programs that require more “skin in the game” -kinda defeats the purpose. The removal of all overreach and intrusions imposed beyond our control by government on private businesses, churches and charities, will naturally embolden all those without the government programs suggested.

    13. Hal Heistand says:

      Great piece Col West. Looking forward to the year when you are running for President!

    14. Watch all the way through.. It has a M Night Shayamalan twist ending. You can't argue with facts. Btw this made me smile.

    15. Bill Diller says:

      The base problem is the "entitlement mentality" which has become pervasive, coincidentally, with the breakdown of the family. Americans need to return to our roots ,at least the good ones, but it may be too late.We have thrown God and our founder's Judeo-Christian values out the window and it shows.

    16. ThomNJ says:

      "…stark details about a nation of reliance and how it’s devastating our nation’s fiscal future."

      And, I might add, our very culture.

    17. Rick Davis says:

      My friends and fellow Americans It is quite evident from the corruption and Bull tactics in this administration that this country is in deep trouble if the votes should make the same mistake they made in 2008. There are signs of this administration wanting to take total control, tear up our Constitution and to ban our ability to protect ourselves and our families. Everything Barack Obama stands for has the smell of Marxist intention.
      I am surely hopeing that America of all races, creeds and religions step up to the plate and oust Barack Obama from our White House. After all it isn't his White House and he isn't my President.

    18. mrgoodbaar says:

      Not to downplay the problem (I am hardly an Obama supporter)……but it's a shame the Heritage's report is skewed by including social security and medicare as "government assistance" and then comparing the income tax comparison's exclusive of the payroll taxes. They made their point, but they muddied the comparison to make it look as bad as they could. They didn't have to. It's bad enough when the perfect truth is properly reported. I would have preferred to see the income taxes compared to the pure giveaway welfare programs for a better comparison.

    19. Bobbie says:

      Mr. West, my first comment didn't post so I'll try again. You stated "We also have to embolden charities, local groups, and private-sector initiatives to empower individuals through programs that require more “skin in the game.” With all do respect, "programs" implemented through government, defeats freedom. Removing the burdens of government will regain freedom so "we" can do it for ourselves and government can focus on their rightful duties. Freedom will empower us, not "programs."

    20. Stop the unnecessary spending and bring the debt down. Stop taking loans from other countries ~ they own us. Pay our debts ASAP. Smaller government. Government cuts in salaries and pensions. Four-year terms on our Congress; only two terms. Congress is a part-time job. They are serving the country just as our military and should be paid accordingly. Congress should be offered the same benefits as our Veterans.

      Stop the madness or we are going to lose our liberty and freedom.

    21. Protect our country and start with our borders. There is more going on than just illegal immigration and drugs. Iran has friends south of our border and they are going to take advantage of our neglect. Stop the big government programs ~ it is our country — the people of this great nation. Stop giving entitlements to illegal immigrants, including social security benefits.

    22. This is the year for real "change" and we need to make this president a one-term president. The czars have to go ~ they should be prosecuted for the injustices to our country. The loans to companies that made contributions to the president's candidacy in '08, bankruptsy, million-dollar bonuses, who else is getting the taxpayer's money. The Federal Reserve needs to be audited. The Fast and Furious, as most people know started from higher up and those involved should be prosecuted by the law of the nation. It is like the administration is trying to destroy our country, our beliefs, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights. It is all about power. I would think this would be a wakeup call.

      The mainstream media acts like a tabloid and avoids the real news; they have been bought and are controlled. If anyone does speak up and speak the truth, they are ridiculed and mocked ~ even by the leader of our country; The Tea Party, Fox News, even GBTV. I have never seen a president act in such a manner. Isn't there honor or respect anymore?

    23. Old Man of the Sea says:

      I see the point, but wonder what it includes in terms of "benefits". For example, does the figure include Social Security that people actually paid for? Does it include the military who are paid by the Fed? OR the military retired who paid for their retirement through dangerous service? Or does it include Medicare that those 65 or older are FORCED to participate in? Since it does not fully inform, I don't know how to give it meaning?

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