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Every year the Heritage Foundation publishes its Federal Budget in Pictures. The latest version of the report has a picture in it I simply cannot get out of my head.
You’ll note immediately that over half of federal spending is now classified as “mandatory” entitlements, meaning it is sacrosanct. In 2014 this number was 49 percent of the budget, and in 2013 it was 45 percent according to previous reports. Clearly entitlements are taking up a greater share of federal spending every year. On the other end there is debt service, which is squeezing “discretionary” spending — also known jokingly as “legitimate functions of government” — with greater force every cycle.
More troubling is the mindset behind the programs. If you combine the mandatory social safety net spending with the mostly discretionary “Income Security” spending (mostly discretionary because federal worker benefits fall in this category as well), then you find a whopping 70 percent of federal spending going directly from individual to individual. Whether it is social security or welfare, the working subsidize the non-working in our nation. We tax the labor of the willing and able to pay for the lifestyles of the incapable and unwilling, and we do so to a greater degree every year.
Unsustainable is one word often used to describe our “entitlement” programs. I’d like to offer the word immoral as a suitable replacement.