Notes from Norm Thursday February 9th 2012: Government as Mom and Dad
At the end of August 2011 as Hurricane Irene approached our nation’s shorelines, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) made much of the efforts of the government to prepare for what was assumed to be a major disaster.
As Irene lurched towards landfall, FEMA issued a news release with the following quote:
“Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal and territorial partners along the East Coast.”
To be sure, the phrase “federal family” wasn’t invented by this Administration. But, the policies of this Administration have created an expectation that whether we want to be or not, every American citizen is now expected to be a part of the big, happy menagerie that’s become known as the “Federal Family”.
The Obama Administration has taken a literal interpretation of the old adage that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.
So literal have they interpreted this that it should as no surprise that, according to a study by the Heritage Foundation, that the American citizen’s dependence on the federal government has increased by 23% under the Obama Administration.
Furthermore, according to the study, 67 million Americans now rely on some form of federal program in their lives.
According to Investor’s Business Daily, “The conservative think tank's annual Index of Dependence on Government tracks money spent on housing, health, welfare, education subsidies and other federal programs that were "traditionally provided to needy people by local organizations and families."
So much has our dependency on government grown that we haven’t seen this kind of increase since the days of Jimmy Carter. Given the similarities in governing style and philosophy, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re experiencing more than our share of Jimmy Carter déjà vu when it comes to the Obama Administration.
Where have the increases of dependency occurred?
According to Heritage, it was mainly the result of increases in housing subsidies, an expansion in Medicaid and changes to the welfare system, along with a sharp rise in food stamps.
Given the economic malaise that has been the trademark of this Administration’s economic agenda, the sharp rise in food stamps shouldn’t be a surprise.
As Investor’s Business Daily shows, “This year, more than 46 million (15% of all Americans) will get food stamps. That's 45% higher than when Obama took office, and twice as high as the average for the previous 40 years. This surge was driven in part by the recession, but also because Obama boosted the benefit amount as part of his stimulus plan.”
The American people are, as nearly every poll will show, mostly conservative in their views of the role of the federal government.
In fact, President Reagan had it exactly right when he said, “Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”
Ronald Reagan wasn’t opposed to government – he was opposed to government being seen as Mother and Father to the American people.
During the Carter Era the misery index was a true measure of the pain and suffering the American people had suffered as a result of his policies and his fundamental failure to lead the nation.
Over the course of the Obama Administration’s term of office the true depth of the misery that has faced our nation has yet to be fully measured or experienced. Despite a couple of months of positive economic news, the steep climb we need to make to get out of the hole that’s been dug will take years.
Unfortunately, that climb gets steeper every year as the misery index of the past is coupled with the dependency index of the present. The idea that we can find economic freedom and liberty while we are burdening ourselves with government dependency is completely foreign to what built this nation.
The American people have suffered mightily the past few years. For those Americans who have benefitted from the brief uptick in jobs there should be nothing but celebration.
But for the millions more who remain without jobs, those who are underemployed and those who have simply given up looking for work, this much is certain: Policies like ObamaCare and election year promises to spend more money to win re-election will do nothing to reduce the upward trajectory of the American people’s dependency on government spending.
Without stopping that dependency, there’s little that can be done to stop the downward trajectory of the promise of economic opportunity for future generations of Americans.