NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Americans Increasingly Dependent on Government

June 21, 2002

A recent study by the Heritage Foundation found that Americans are 117 percent more reliant on the federal government than they were 40 years ago. Dependency grew by 38 percent over the past 20 years and has increased 9 percent just since George W. Bush took office.

  • Curiously, this burgeoning dependency occurred in the midst of events which should have led to greater self-reliance: the end of the Cold War, a booming economy, the success of welfare reforms, and an increasingly healthy and productive baby boom generation.
  • Instead, governments are postponing scheduled tax cuts, raising taxes, adding layers of costly new fees and regulatory burdens, implementing price controls -- especially in the pharmaceuticals industry -- and accelerating subsidies and deficit spending for social programs.
  • Politicians typically operate on an 18- to 24-month time horizon, which demands that results become visible to voters before the next election -- a situation which readily lends itself to quick-fix income redistribution schemes, at the expense of long-range economic growth strategies.
  • Too many politicians have adopted a policy of throwing monkey-wrenches into our capitalistic system -- and then rushing forward with policies which further destabilize markets in an attempt to correct the imbalances their earlier policies created, critics charge.

In short, critics warn, many politicians view capitalism as a rival to their cycle of pandering.

Source: David L. Littmann (Comerica Bank), "Will Capitalism Prevail Over the Politics of Dependency?" Investor's Business Daily, June 19, 2002.


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