Tuesday, March 14, 2006

All hail the welfare state

Ten years after Bill Clinton pronounced "The era of big government is over" and House Speaker Newt Gingrich worked to "end welfare as we know it," The big-government welfare state is as healthy as ever.

The report today is "A sweeping expansion of social programs since 2000 has sparked a record increase in the number of Americans receiving federal government benefits such as college aid, food stamps and health care.

A USA TODAY analysis of 25 major government programs found that enrollment increased an average of 17% in the programs from 2000 to 2005. The nation's population grew 5% during that time. (Related: Federal entitlements have changed)

It was the largest five-year expansion of the federal safety net since the Great Society created programs such as Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s.

The difference between the Republican and Democratic parties seems to be that Republicans expand the size of government astronomically while Democrats complain that it isn't expanding fast enough.

The remarkable thing is that everyone pretends this is a substantive difference. Many millions of dollars are spent in a heated struggle between these two organizations that may as well be the Doublemint twins.

I've spent much of the last six years arguing against friends who say going to the polls to vote is giving tacit approval to the sham. Until someone offers a real alternative, I very likely will start joining them on the sidelines.


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