A rule of thumb is this: If conscious efforts are not made to roll back the welfare state, it will grow at a faster rate than the economy year by year. This new article speaks of the recent growth of the US welfare state:
WASHINGTON - The welfare state is bigger than ever despite a decade of policies designed to wean poor people from public aid.
The number of families receiving cash benefits from welfare has plummeted since the government imposed time limits on the payments a decade ago. But other programs for the poor, including Medicaid, food stamps and disability benefits, are bursting with new enrollees.
The result, according to an Associated Press analysis: Nearly one in six people rely on some form of public assistance, a larger share than at any time since the government started measuring two decades ago.
What we need are welfare policies that are self-limiting. That is not easy to do, especially when Democrats are hell-bent on expanding all of these programs. Recall that John Edwards claims that wiping out poverty would cost only another $15 billion to $20 billion a year! Hew, that was easy.
It is funny how it is always just a few more billion dollars needed to make a big difference in poverty, but the poor somehow continue to remain poor.
One big downside of the growth of the welfare state is that it slows the economy since the government takes up a bigger percentage of it. If the economy slows, over time the poor are worse off. I read the other day that if the US economy had grown at one percentage point slower each year over the 20th century, we would have the same GDP per capita as Mexico. Last I checked, the poor in Mexico were not living too well.