Friday, March 5, 2010


The Heritage Foundation has a terrific piece on the true state of our unemployment:

Are Americans More Dependent On the Government?
by Amanda Reinecker, March 5, 2010

One of the pernicious consequences of ever-larger government is the increasing dependence of the population on the government for their well-being and livelihood. To drive this point home, experts in The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis set out to answer the question, "are Americans more dependent on their government?" Their answer: Yes.

Dependency on government has spiked 31 percent since 2001, according to the 2009 Index of Dependence on Government. Heritage experts found that the total Americans dependent on the government for their daily housing, food, and health care is a staggering 60.8 million. (Download the full report in PDF.)

The problem isn't a partisan one. In fact, our experts have identified a steady increase in dependency on government programs for each of the last seven years. The report's authors, including CDA director Bill Beach, clearly note that "the rapid expansion of dependency-creating programs did not begin with Barack Obama's inauguration."

But what sets this year apart from the others, writes Beach, is that "all of the evidence points to even more rapid increases in dependency ahead, which well could threaten democratic government." This is particularly true because America faces the pending mass retirement of the Baby Boom generation, as well as an increase in the number of people who pay no taxes whatsoever.

Since his inauguration, President Obama has worked to expand the size and scope of the federal government, rapidly deepening and expanding the reliance of the American people on federal programs. Perhaps the most prominent example of this is the President's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — a.k.a. the "stimulus" — which essentially reversed welfare reform and reestablished dependency. The Left's health care "reform" would only make the problem worse.

"Americans should be concerned" about this year's Index, writes Beach. "Dependence on the federal government for life's many challenges strips civil society of its historical and necessary role in providing aid and renewal through the intimate relationships of family, community, and local institutions and governments."

Some fear that America is nearing a tipping point in the relationship between government and the private civic associations that have for so long defined our nation. But Beach believes this year's index score shows, "we've reached that point."

A brighter unemployment forecast? Not yet

According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy shed another 36,000 jobs in February, leaving the unemployment rate steady at 9.7 percent. According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the fact that "only 36,000 people lost their jobs today … is really good." Now, The Heritage Foundation strongly believes in looking on the bright side of things. But only when there is a bright side.

The President's jobs deficit stands at 8.3 million. What does this mean? Heritage economic policy expert J.D. Foster explains:

Obama promised that if elected he would create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010 through new economic policies, beginning with the enactment of a massive economic stimulus package. Accompanying his jobs promise, the President also emphasized accountability and measuring his presidency by results. The result of the President's jobs promise means total employment which in February stood at 129.5 million should be at least 137.8 million by the end of 2010, leaving the Obama jobs deficit at almost 8.3 million jobs.

This deficit, coupled with a forecast for 10 percent unemployment rates over the next two years, illustrates the failure of President Obama's "stimulus" package and underscores the need to explore economic policies that aren't dependent on increased spending and borrowing. (The bill for such policies, of course, is paid ultimately by the taxpayer.) Instead, Washington should truly "jump-start job creation," as the President has stated, by providing businesses with incentives to invest and take risks in pursuit of opportunity.

Individuals and businesses aren't starting new endeavors, investing, hiring new workers, or expanding into new markets because of their economic concerns and fears about intrusive new federal controls.

If lawmakers are really interested in getting the economy back on track, writes Foster, "the first step is to fire Washington's job destruction machine" and adopt pro-growth polices. Then maybe we'd see a brighter turn of events.