In 1962, the first year measured in the Index, the percentage of people who didn’t pay federal income taxes themselves, and who were not claimed as dependents by someone who paid federal income taxes, stood at 23.7 percent. By 2000, the percentage was 34.1 percent. By 2008, 43.6 percent.
“In short,” the Index notes, “the country may be rapidly approaching a point where one-half of ‘taxpayers’ do not pay taxes, while receiving generous federal benefits.”
Talk about a perfect fiscal storm. On the one hand, more and more spending on dependence-creating programs. On the other, an ever-shrinking number of taxpayers to pay for these programs.
It’s worth recalling what Thomas Jefferson called “the sum of good government” in his first Inaugural Address: “a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”
The 2010 Index of Dependency shows that we’re drifting further and further from this ideal. Let’s hope that Americans wake up before we go too far down this dangerous path.