Nicholas Eberstadt: Yes, Mr. President, We Are a Nation of Takers 1


Reader WayneP sent me a link to the item Nicholas Eberstadt: Yes, Mr. President, We Are a Nation of Takers.

A growing body of empirical evidence points to increasing dependency on state largess. The evidence documents as well a number of perverse and disturbing changes that this entitlement state is imposing on society.

I decided to do a little research on this item.  So far I have found The Big Lie About the “Entitlement State” .

Is the view that “entitlements”—government programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—“will bankrupt the country” a “sensible conclusion”? No. It’s scare-mongering of the “OH MYGOD WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” variety, completely unjustified by a sober look at data on government transfer payments between 1960 and 2010.

This second article is not a direct refutation of everything in the first article, far from it.  However it does delve a little deeper into the interpretation of raw numbers that might seem very scary if you leave out certain relevant context.

Obviously more research needs to be done to figure out which story is closer to reality, if in fact either story is anywhere near reality.

Do you ever wonder with the share of wealth and income migrating to the upper few percent in this country over the last 30 or more years, who are the real takers?  Well, at least who are the more successful takers?

How about the above for some undefined data taken out of context? Make of this what you will.


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One thought on “Nicholas Eberstadt: Yes, Mr. President, We Are a Nation of Takers

  • SteveG Post author

    I found some data referenced by Eberstadt.

    BEA table

    Table 3.2. Federal Government Current Receipts and Expenditures

    [Billions of dollars] Seasonally adjusted at annual rates

    Last Revised on: December 20, 2012 – Next Release Date January 30, 2013

    Line   2010 2011 2012
    I II III IV I II III IV I II III
    20      Current expenditures 3,641.8 3,685.3 3,730.2 3,756.3 3,737.1 3,830.6 3,743.3 3,716.8 3,723.6 3,774.8 3,760.6
    21 Consumption expenditures 1,034.2 1,057.0 1,068.3 1,063.6 1,054.2 1,071.0 1,069.0 1,052.0 1,055.6 1,054.8 1,086.3
    22 Current transfer payments 2,289.1 2,287.8 2,325.8 2,340.6 2,314.8 2,341.8 2,292.3 2,288.6 2,301.0 2,310.8 2,326.1
    23  Government social benefits 1,716.1 1,718.8 1,728.4 1,737.0 1,741.0 1,748.9 1,756.2 1,765.5 1,786.0 1,785.6 1,796.2
    24   To persons 1,699.8 1,702.3 1,711.8 1,720.3 1,724.0 1,731.8 1,739.0 1,748.2 1,768.4 1,767.9 1,778.1
    25   To the rest of the world 6 16.2 16.4 16.6 16.7 16.9 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.7 17.7 18.1
    26  Other current transfer payments 573.0 569.1 597.4 603.6 573.9 592.9 536.0 523.0 515.0 525.2 529.9
    27   Grants-in-aid to state and local governments 514.2 519.4 543.1 547.7 517.9 527.6 480.1 465.6 455.3 466.9 470.6
    28   To the rest of the world (net) 6 58.9 49.7 54.3 55.9 55.9 65.3 56.0 57.5 59.7 58.4 59.3

    From A Primer on BEA’s Government Accounts comes the following definition:

    Current transfer payments. These consist of social benefits and other current transfer payments to the rest of the world. Social benefits are payments from social insurance funds, such as social security and Medicare, and payments providing other income support, such as Medicaid and food stamp benefits. Other current transfers to the rest of the world consists of federal aid to foreign countries and payments to international organizations such as the United Nations. Federal “other current transfer payments” also includes grants-in-aid to state and local governments.