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Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Which Is the Biggest Moocher State of All?

Which state gets the biggest share of its budget from the federal government? Is it California, the left’s bizarre alternative universe? Is it Illinois, the poster child for big-government excess? Nope, not even close. As a matter of fact, those two jurisdictions are among the 10-least dependent states. And if you’re guessing that the answer […]

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The Foreign Aid Paradox

At the start of the year, I argued that capitalism was the way to get more growth in poor nations. Foreign aid, by contrast, hasn’t worked very well. …there’s a big difference between good intentions and good results. If you examine the evidence, it turns out that redistribution from rich nations to poor nations is […]

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Thomas Sowell on the Economics of Redistribution: Quicksand at One End and Beatings at the other End

Over the years, I’ve shared some clever images, jokes, and cartoons to expose the flawed mindset of those who hope to achieve coerced equality of outcomes with redistribution and high tax rates. The size of a pizza vs the share of a slice. The modern version of the Little Red Hen. Washington’s Byzantine welfare state. […]

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The Entitlement Disaster that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Are Ignoring

I’m like a broken record when it comes to entitlement spending. I’ve explained, ad nauseam, that programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and Social Security must be reformed. In part, genuine entitlement reform is a good idea because you get better economic performance when you replace tax-and-transfer schemes with private savings and competitive markets. But […]

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Happy Dependence Day for my Leftist Friends and Happy Independence Day for Normal People

Exactly five years, I created a Declaration of Dependence for my statist readers. It was supposed to be satire, but after looking at some new estimates of dependency, I now wonder whether I accidentally foretold America’s future. Anyhow, here’s how my attempt to be funny began. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all […]

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Since They Finance the Welfare State, Leftists Should Be Nice to Rich People

As I’ve pointed out before, the big difference between the United States and Europe is not taxes on the rich. We both impose similar tax burden on high-income taxpayers, though Europeans are more likely to collect revenue from the rich with higher income tax rates and the U.S. gets a greater share of revenue from […]

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GOP Anti-Poverty Plan: Good Information, Decent Ideas, Weak Implementation

Led by Speaker Paul Ryan, House Republicans have put forth an anti-poverty agenda. It’s definitely worth reading just for the indictment of the current welfare state. There are some excellent charts, including versions of ones that I’ve already shared on the $1 trillion-plus fiscal burden of current welfare programs, as well as the “bloated, jumbled, […]

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A Government-Provided “Basic Income” Would Be a Recipe for Bigger Government and More Dependency

One of the more interesting policy debates, both in America and around the world, is whether convoluted and counterproductive welfare states should be scrapped and replaced with a “basic income” payment from the government. Finland is experimenting with the concept. Authorities in Finland are considering giving every citizen a tax-free payout of €800 (£576) each […]

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A Laffer-Curve Relationship between Welfare Spending and Poverty

The welfare state is bad news. It’s bad for taxpayers and it’s bad for recipients. It’s also bad for the economy since prosperity is in part a function of the quantity of labor that is productively employed. As such, government programs that lure people into dependency obviously reduce national economic output. We can get a […]

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Maine and Wisconsin Show How to Reduce Food Stamp Dependency

For a wide range of reasons, the federal government should get out of the redistribution racket. Welfare programs are costly, but they’re also not among the enumerated powers granted to the federal government by the Constitution. But for those who don’t care whether the nation abides by its legal rule book, there’s also a very […]

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Obama, Redistribution, and Jobs: Always Wrong, Never in Doubt

Let’s dig into the issue of whether the United States should become more like France. In a 2014 study for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Stanford University’s Robert Hall wrote about America’s sub-par economic performance. His opening line was basically a preemptive refutation of Obama’s claim – made during the State-of-the-Union Address – that […]

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More Odious Examples of Welfare-Subsidized Terrorism

When I wrote earlier this year about “Europe’s suicidal welfare state,” it wasn’t so that I could make points about excessive spending and demographic decline. Yes, those are very important issues. But I was focusing instead on the fact that Europe’s welfare states have a masochistic habit of giving handouts to terrorists. So I wasn’t […]

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In One Image, Everything You Need to Know about the Washington-Created Welfare State

Three years ago, I shared a chart about the fiscal burden of the welfare state, calling it the picture that says a thousand word. It’s astounding, after all, that taxpayers spend so much money on means-tested programs and get such miserable results. Indeed, if we took all the money spent on various welfare programs and […]

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The Fiscal Nightmare of Changing Demographics Combined with Poorly Designed Entitlement Programs

In my speeches, I routinely argue that an aging population is one of the reasons why we need genuine entitlement reform. A modest-sized welfare state may be feasible if a country has a “population pyramid,” I explain, but it’s a recipe for fiscal chaos when changing demographics result in fewer and fewer people pulling the […]

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What Lessons Can America Learn from Europe?

Some issues never seem to get resolved. One would think, for instance, that leftists would be more cautious about pushing for a bigger welfare state given the fiscal crisis in Europe. But we have folks like Bernie Sanders openly arguing we should be more like nations such as Denmark and Sweden. To give some credit […]

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The EITC: Washington’s Fastest-Growing Form of Income Redistribution

Federal government redistribution programs don’t work. We’ve ignored the lessons of history about the dangers of government intervention, so is it any mystery that we now have millions of people mired in dependency. Yet some people in Washington want to double down on failure. Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute, joined by Veronique de Rugy […]

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Should Welfare Dependency Be Shameful or Discomforting?

It’s no exaggeration to say that a nation’s long-run vitality and prosperity are correlated with the spirit of independence and self-reliance among its people. Simply stated, if too many people thinks it’s okay to ride in the wagon of government dependency, that a troubling sign that social or cultural capital has eroded. Government policy obviously […]

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Poverty, the Welfare State, and the Failure of Centralized Government

As we get deeper into an election season, many politicians feel compelled to discuss how to deal with poverty.  And some of them may even be serious about trying to improve the system. This hopefully will lead to big-picture discussions of key issues, such as why the poverty rate stopped falling in the mid-1960s. If […]

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Which European Nations Have the Biggest Subsidies that Trap People in Poverty?

Back in 2013, my colleagues at the Cato Institute, Michael Tanner and Charles Hughes, released a study looking at the value of welfare programs in various states. The most shocking finding was that the overall package of welfare benefits was greater than the median salary in eight states! And more than 80 percent of the […]

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Message for John Kasich and other Politicians: Growth and Opportunity Are Compassionate, not Welfare Dependency

At the risk of oversimplifying, there are two types of statists. The first type is generally insincere and simply views bigger government and increased dependency as a strategy to obtain and preserve political power. Most inside-the-beltway leftists in Washington are in this category. The second type genuinely cares about the less fortunate but makes the […]

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