A record-high 49% of the population lived in a household receiving some type of government benefit in the second quarter of 2010, according to Census data reported by the Wall Street Journal. Most of this group received so-called "means tested" benefits like food stamps, subsidized housing or Medicaid. Many are also benefiting from unemployment insurance spending, which has quadrupled since the downturn.This is the sort of figure I call a Rorschach Statistic, because (a) it's guaranteed to provoke a passionate reaction and (b) that reaction will say a lot about your politics. Liberals are more likely to see this as a symptom of a very sick labor force begging for help. Conservatives are more likely to see it as a symptom of a very sick government that is drowning in bloat and addicted to redistribution.Both sides have a case. The labor force is indeed quite sick, with a dismal share of working-age adults participating in the economy. But even most liberals would agree that the projected growth of Medicare and Medicaid scream out for a major reform, or at least a tax hike, in the next few years.
Read more: Half of U.S. Households Took Government Benefits in 2010 - Derek Thompson - Business - The Atlantic