Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It

NYTimes | Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government.

“I don't demand that the government does this for me. I don't feel like I need the government,” said KI GULBRANSON, who counts on an earned-income tax credit and has signed up his children for free meals at school.

He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region’s long-serving Democratic congressman.

Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.

There is little poverty here in Chisago County, northeast of Minneapolis, where cheap housing for commuters is gradually replacing farmland. But Mr. Gulbranson and many other residents who describe themselves as self-sufficient members of the American middle class and as opponents of government largess are drawing more deeply on that government with each passing year.

Dozens of benefits programs provided an average of $6,583 for each man, woman and child in the county in 2009, a 69 percent increase from 2000 after adjusting for inflation. In Chisago, and across the nation, the government now provides almost $1 in benefits for every $4 in other income.

Older people get most of the benefits, primarily through Social Security and Medicare, but aid for the rest of the population has increased about as quickly through programs for the disabled, the unemployed, veterans and children.

The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement. The share of benefits flowing to the least affluent households, the bottom fifth, has declined from 54 percent in 1979 to 36 percent in 2007, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis published last year.


nomad said...

ATSS (Ain't that some shit).

CNu said...

 Watch the PIGS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PIGS_%28economics%29

Tom said...

Uh oh!  I mean I can see Ireland and Portugal and whatnot, bunch of deadbeats we all know, but the UK is starting to look a lil pink there ... can BD explain this??

Temple3 said...

Off the PIIGS. I find the historical irony of southern "european" nations facing economic distress to be acutely comical in many respects. Of course, in the real world, ain't nuthin' funny. The same cats who deep throat on the mythical graeco-roman inheritance seem more deeply embedded in that other narrative: the one about swarthy southerners with nigra bluhd lynez. No more "Mother Greece and Father Rome." No more, "Where would we be without Spain and Portugal opening up Africa and the Americas." No more, "How the Irish Saved Civilization" ...not even "How the Irish Became White." It's all about the old Germanics loq-in' up and lockin' up and lockin' out. Insular doesn't even begin to describe what the "Alley-mans", the ab"Normans" and Perfidious Albion have in store for your-rope. What a mess. 

Big Don said...

Fuzzlims moving in corrupting the system.  Here's their agenda for America in gory detail (awesome video)...