Why Dependency Is Chronic
The article, by Neil Downing, takes the tack of describing people who find their Social Security checks indispensable, but the recipient numbers are the important part, to my mind:
Now, 200,202 Rhode Islanders are collecting Social Security benefits, according to newly issued figures from the Social Security Administration’s Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics. …
Nationwide, Social Security beneficiaries now number more than 52.5 million, up from 50.9 million as of December 2008, and 49.9 million as of December 2007.
Drawing on U.S. Census data, 19% —almost one-fifth — of Rhode Islanders receive some sort of Social Security benefit (which compares with 17% nationwide). The ratio is going to grow, given retiring Baby Boomers, shrinking generations, and longer lives, bringing the feasibility of the program into question.
The larger lesson (which one can see national politicians, especially Democrats, have learned) is that it’s possible to buy constituencies. The trap of European quasisocialism (or the real thing) is that the political parties begin striving to prove that they can better manage benefits, not to admit that they are far less competent than the citizenry to manage individual lives.