How many times lately have you heard someone say, “We are becoming like Europe (meaning broke)!” Or, “we will soon be Greece.”* Writer Mona Charen says we are already there, but can’t admit it.
From Townhall (hat tip: Paul):
Following the fiscal cliff melodrama, Senator Richard Shelby appeared on television to declare that we are becoming European. “We’re always wanting to spend and promise and spend and borrow but not cut. We’ve got to get real about this. We’re headed down the road that Europe’s already on.”
There’s no “heading” about it. We’re there. Prof. John J. DiIulio, writing in “National Affairs”, outlined the true size of American government. When state and local government expenditures are added to federal outlays, government spending as a share of GDP easily competes with European nations. In fact, per-capita government spending in the U.S. is higher than in France, Germany and the United Kingdom, and our debt to GDP ratio is higher than most European states.
The Obama administration has set records for deficit spending in peacetime, but there is no question that the growth of government at all levels has been a decades-long process. In 1960, total government spending (local, state and federal) amounted to 27 percent of GDP. In 2010, it was about 42 percent. State spending has been almost as irrepressible as federal, leaving only nine states that can now boast AAA credit ratings. Many states are facing crises over unfunded pension liabilities that have the capacity to engender strikes and social unrest in the not too distant future.
We lie to ourselves about the size of government spending and hide the fact that we spend through NON-PROFIT organizations that couldn’t survive without the constant infusion of taxpayer dollars—LIKE CATHOLIC CHARITIES for example!
The difference between Americans and Europeans is that we aren’t honest about our appetite for big government. We hide it through a variety of proxies, private contractors, and public/private partnerships.
Most non-profits receive few government subsidies. But the largest ones with the biggest budgets are heavily government-dependent. One-third of all non-profit dollars come from government. Catholic Charities USA, for example, a marquee “private-sector” charity, received two-thirds of its funding in 2009 from Uncle Sam.
What galls me so much about the taxpayer cash flowing to groups like Catholic Charities (a supposed non-profit AND a government contractor) is that they use that money to import more immigrants (refugee resettlement) and also lobby on issues as diverse as amnesty, global warming and gay marriage. Then they have the audacity to scream about their religious rights when it comes to the government telling them what to do. You take Caesar’s money and you deserve to be under Caesar’s thumb!
We are Socialists now!
Americans prefer small government to big government — in the abstract. But 60 million receive Medicaid benefits, 54 million collect Social Security, 48 million participate with Medicare, 45 million receive Food Stamps, 7 million are in prison, jail, or on parole/probation, more than a million have de facto government jobs working for defense contractors, nearly a million children participate in Head Start and about 40 percent of K-12 students receive free or reduced price meals. There’s some overlap in those categories, but it still adds up.
We are, in short, a socialist-style society just like Europe.
Related? Here is a scary story I came across the other day. Germany, the country that imported tens of thousands of Turkish Muslim workers in a ridiculous scheme to bring young workers into Germany to pay into their social welfare programs, are now shipping their elderly Germans out to Eastern European countries and Asia where it’s cheaper to house the elderly pensioners in need of nursing home care.
* On Greece, readers here at PTPR might want to see that Greece is SERIOUSLY closing its borders to try to stem the tide of economic migrants many believe are helping sink that country.