In its awkward but astonishing revelation, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Friday that “of the nation’s 80.4 million families, 80.0 percent had at least one employed member in 2013.” Translation: 20 percent of those families had no one working in 2013!
How is that possible? The BLS defines a family as “a group of two or more persons residing together who are related by birth, marriage or adoption.” It further defines “employed” as anyone who:
1. Did any work at all as a paid employee;
2. Worked in their own business, profession or on their own farm; or
3. Worked 15 hours or more as an unpaid worker in an enterprise operated by another member of the family.
In one out of five households in America, then, according to the BLS, not one single soul lifted one single finger in any measurable way during the entire year of 2013 to help sustain his family.
The fading away into oblivion of the American family has recently been measured in other ways, but none in so obvious a fashion. For instance, just last month the Census Bureau and the BLS joined together to report that there are 60 million more Americans taking welfare benefits than American workers providing them.
There’s the revelation from the BLS that out of 10 Americans of working age, fewer than six of them are actually working. There’s the further confirmation that the 80-plus welfare programs operated by the federal government are eating up nearly 70 percent of the federal budget. There’s the confirmation provided by the Heritage Foundation — called its Index of Dependence on Government — which showed that dependence upon federal largesse increased by one-sixth just since 2009, and has increased more than 20 times since the index was first published in 1962.
There’s the evidence provided by SNAP — the renamed Food Stamp program administered by the Department of Agriculture — that 23 million American households (along with a record number of individuals) are receiving food welfare, pushing its budget to an all-time high.
There’s further evidence from the Census Bureau that home ownership rates are continuing to slide as fewer and fewer people can afford to buy them, dropping from nearly 70 percent in 2004 to 65 percent last year, with little expectation of a reversal in that trend.
Just in the last five years the federal government has transferred $3.7 trillion from taxpayers to welfare recipients, resulting in another remarkable statistical milestone: The ratio of welfare benefits to the total salaries and wages paid has risen from 10 percent in 1960 to 21 percent in 2000 to an amazing 35 percent today.
Today more than 70 million Americans are covered under Medicaid, with that number expected to approach 100 million as ObamaCare — what some are calling the greatest welfare transfer program ever devised — completes its takeover of America’s formerly private healthcare system.
The Census Bureau also provided evidence that nearly half of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program every month.
There’s the evidence that some welfare recipients have been turning into welfare chiselers and queens ever since Linda Taylor first showed them how during the Reagan administration. Josh Levin noted in Slate last December:
Linda Taylor, the haughty thief who drove her Cadillac to the public aid office, was the embodiment of a pernicious stereotype.…
She was a lazy black con artist, unashamed of cadging the money that honest folks worked so hard to earn.
The transformation from a self-reliant country of independent citizens into one populated by welfare takers continues to be helped along by the president. To fund the monstrous and growing welfare state, Obama, since his first inauguration, has proposed more than 440 tax increases on those who still have jobs to help pay for benefits going to those who don’t.
This is the change the president promised. This raises the rhetorical question: As more and more people want to ride in the welfare wagon, who will be left to pull it?
In what many consider to be the ultimate statement on the welfare state, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher actually said this about the matter in an interview in 1976:
I think [the British Labour Party has] made the biggest financial mess that any government's ever made in this country for a very long time, and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them.
But then she goes on accurately to answer the question posed about what ultimately happens when everyone wants to ride in the welfare wagon and no one is left to pull it:
[The socialists] then start to nationalize everything … and they're now trying to control everything by other means. They're progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people.
The welfare state doesn’t fade away. It morphs into a society where everyone is dependent upon the government for everything.
A graduate of Cornell University and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at