Margaret Thatcher

Cover of Margaret Thatcher

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, April 30, 2014:

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's famous dictum, “The only trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money” isn't factually correct, nor is it complete. Lazy thinkers assume from this that eventually the welfare state will just fade away like a bad cold or a nightmare, and that everything will be okay in the morning.

Here is what Thatcher actually said during an interview in 1976:

I think [the British Labour Party has] made the biggest financial mess that any government's ever made in this country for a very long time, and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them.

Then she answered the question about what happens next:

[The socialists] then start to nationalize everything … and they're now trying to control everything by other means. They're progressively reducing the choices available to ordinary people.

There's a name for that: total government, where everyone is dependent upon the government for everything.

The latest report from the Bureau of Labor started off awkwardly, but revealed precisely Thatcher's point: “of the nation's 80.4 million families, 80.0 percent had at least one employed member in 2013.” That means that 20 percent of families had no one working – they're totally dependent upon one or more government welfare programs to keep body and soul together. Their “choices” have been essentially reduced to zero.

A closer look at the BLS's report explains it. They define a family as “a group of two or more persons residing together who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption” while they define “employed” as anyone who:

  1. Did any work at all as a paid employee;
  2. Worked in their own business, profession or on their own farm; or
  3. Worked 15 hours or more as an unpaid worker in an enterprise operated by another member of the family.

Conclusion: in the entire year of 2013, in one out of every five households in America, not a single soul lifted a finger in any statistically measurable way to help sustain the family. They were totally dependent upon government.

Other statistics back this up. For example, 23 million households are receiving food stamps (they're now called ) along with a record number of individuals, pushing the costs of SNAP to record highs.

There are 80-plus federal government welfare programs that are eating up nearly 70 percent of the federal budget. In the last five years, some $3.7 trillion has been transferred from taxpayers to welfare recipients, while the ratio of welfare benefits to total salaries and wages has risen from 10 percent in 1960 to 21 percent in 2000 to an astounding 35 percent today.

The Heritage Foundation has an Index of Dependence upon Government, which shows that dependence upon federal welfare programs has increased by 17 percent in just the last five years, and has increased more than 20 times since they started the index back in 1962.

There's the recent report from the Census Bureau and the BLS showing that there are 62 million more welfare recipients than there are workers paying the that support them.

There's further proof that the welfare state is thriving from home ownership rates: they have been declining ever since 2004, from 70 percent to 65 percent with no end in sight. There are currently 70 million Americans covered under with that number expected to hit 100 million when ObamaCare – what some are calling the greatest wealth transfer scheme ever devised – completes its takeover of America's formerly private healthcare system.

There's more: the Census Bureau reported recently that half of all Americans now receive at least one welfare check from the government every month. There's evidence that some have turned themselves into welfare chiselers and queens, following the lead of Linda Taylor who first showed them how to do it during the Reagan administration. Said Josh Levin in Slate last December:

Linda Taylor, the haughty thief who drove her Cadillac to the public aid office, was the embodiment of a pernicious stereotype.…

She was a lazy black con artist, unashamed of cadging the money that honest folks worked so hard to earn.

Naturally, all of this is just fine with the welfare state president who has, since his first inauguration, proposed more than 440 tax increases on those who still have to help pay for the benefits going to those who don't.

How much longer can this go on? It will, if Thatcher was right, continue until everyone in the country is dependent upon the government for everything. And then it will be called by its correct name: total government.



BLS News release

BLS:    The Employment Characteristics of Families – 2013

CNS News:      BLS: In 20% of American Families, No One Works

USDA: Record 20 percent of American households used food stamps in 2013

Census Bureau: Homeownership in the third quarter of 2013

18 Stats That Prove That Government Dependence Has Reached Epidemic Levels

The New American: Census Bureau Reports 62 Million More Takers Than Payers


Margaret Thatcher's actual quote on the welfare state

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