The New York Times has an expose that suggests government programs need to be expanded to meet the needs of the middle class even while the middle class recipients say they hate these programs. Written a different way, one could say that this story shows the damage of creating dependence on the government.
It begins with the story of Ki Gulbranson, who owns a logo apparel shop and deals jewelry on the side. He makes $39,000 and supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. And yet, he takes the earned-income tax credit, signed his children up for taxpayer-funded meals at school and saw his mother's hip replaced via Medicare!
"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."
Note the chart that accompanies the story, above. It shows that the proportion of entitlement programs going to the poor has dropped as it's increased to other sectors. In other words, taxpayers are giving money to the federal government, which then takes a huge chunk out for waste, inefficiency, fraud and overhead, and then returns some of it back to the middle classes.
And the New York Times can't figure out why some average Joes would have a problem with this?