Over Dependency Dwarfs Independence
April 30, 2006
From our perspective, this is a sobering fact: our nation has become more government-dependent than ever before. The national debt is looming and over dependence is becoming a way of life. A sizable population of our people is becoming more government-dependent now than ever before in our history. Shocking but true, this places the economies of our younger generation at incalculable risk.
Forty-four percent of the nations economy now depends upon government spending; plus, another 13% of the economy is spent on unfunded federal and state government mandates. When this happens, there is a serious shrinkage of the productive private sector's share. This is most disturbing particularly when the economic growth and financial soundness of a nation is built upon the health and vibrancy of the free enterprise system. Noted economist and Nobel Prize winner F. A. Hayek describes that when too much government dominates, expanded economies can become compressed; and thus, the free-market sector and thus individual freedoms and initiatives are also seriously compressed. Is this what Thomas Jefferson meant when he said that "least government is best?"
Complying with government regulations consumes 1.4 trillion dollars in state and local government mandates. In other words, the government is spending nearly five thousand dollars per man, woman and child on just meeting mandated regulatory costs in addition to a startling $14,000 per person on government operations. Thus, 44 percent of the nations total economy is controlled by government at a time when we have reached a point where nearly 50 percent of the population pay no income tax whatsoever. And in fact, the top 50% pay 96.54 percent of all income taxes. We see no downsizing as far as the growth of government is concerned and we see no decline in the growth of over dependency of a people on government.
There is a thief and it is called over dependency. For over two centuries, the United States has been a beacon of hope for the rest of the world. That hope is based on what was once an untested idea: that citizens can successfully govern themselves through representative democracy. Democracy, as seen by our Founding Fathers' was a unique experiment. They believed not only that individuals can be responsible for governing themselves through representation ...but also that individuals have a responsibility to provide for their own needs and, when possible, for that of their family.
As viewed by our Founding Fathers, government has certain responsibilities. Among these are to provide an environment that enables individuals to achieve their highest potential, to protect the property rights of individuals and to provide a stable currency with which to conduct business.
In recent decades, there have been shades where government has failed to meet its obligation to provide a solid economic environment in which individuals can achieve independence and assume responsibility. High tax rates, the seemingly unconstrained growth in government, interference with the markets, and a withering away of property rights, such as has contributed toward individual restrictions and placed barriers in the way of individual independence. The unfair force of eminent domain is such an example.
US Senator Jim DeMint, a Republican, of South Carolina had it just about right when he said, " America is at an eleventh hour crisis." As he sees it, American democracy has reached a point where a majority is "dependent on the federal government for their health care, education, income and retirement. Today, the majority of Americans, through the election process, can vote themselves more generous government benefits at little or no cost to themselves. This should be a matter of serious concern. Senator DeMint asked: "How can any free nation survive when a majority of its own citizens no longer have little incentive to restrain the growth of government?"
As we see it, over dependency produces "produces helplessness," and that echoes Tocqueville's warning about government keeping people "fixed irrevocably in childhood," thus rendering "the employment of free will less useful and more rare." It is, as Tocqueville said, "difficult to conceive how men who have entirely renounced the habit of directing themselves could succeed at choosing well those who will lead them."
In the context of a welfare state devoted to assuaging the insecurities and augmenting the competencies of its citizens, it appears clear by contrast, that it is our challenge to use government to promote individualism. Government policies that promote dependency seriously undermine values and incentives. The more needs government attempts to fulfill the higher the costs. Since individuals are the ones who pay for government programs, they are inevitably left with fewer resources to fulfill their own needs. We believe that dependency can be countered by policies that foster attitudes and aptitudes requisite for independence.
A nation of dependents can be neither great nor prosperous. To reverse the deterioration in today's society, some changes are fundamentally required. The contrast has been made that there are two visions of government: a government that encourages ownership and opportunity and responsibility or a government that takes your money and makes your choices. A good place to start is at the heart of an attitude: to reinforce the idea that it is the responsibility of each individual to shape his or her own life as independent contributing citizens. That is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.