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A Short History of Takers

Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute is one of the unsung heroes of the recent election. His work claiming that we have become a nation of takers, reliant on the government to take care of us, helped define the tone and language with which Republicans talk to each other, especially when they don’t think anyone else is listening; hence Romney’s 47 percent remarks, and President Obama’s road to reelection. Thanks! Now, many people have pointed out that Eberstadt’s alleged evidence for the taker hypothesis is really mainly just saying that Medicare and Medicaid have gotten a lot more expensive. So I’m doing prep work for classes next semester, and I thought I’d just graph government transfer payments other than Medicare/Medicaid as a share of GDP. Here’s what it looks like: (see link for graph) So, as I read it, this number shoots up in recessions and their aftermath, then declines again, hitting a low during the later Clinton years; but there’s really no trend since the early 70s.


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