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I’m Back

Sorry I disappeared without notice. But I’m back, and there’s no lack of political-economic stories to deal with.

Invisible (and Deniable) Social Benefits from Government Programs

Suzanne Mettler’s op-ed in the Times explains how Americans often receive federal benefits they’re unaware of and then say they have never used a government program:

“Our Hidden Government Benefits,” by Suzanne Mettler, op-ed, New York Times, September 20, 2011: Don’t take at face value the claims that Americans dislike government. Sure, a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 56 percent of Americans said they wanted smaller government and fewer services. Tea Party activists, the most vocal citizens of our time, powerfully amplify those demands. Yet the reality is that the vast majority of Americans have at some point relied on government programs – and valued them – even though they often fail to recognize that government is the source of the assistance.

In a 2010 article Mettler details responses to a survey asking people about their experience with government programs. Table 3 from the article summarizes her findings (click on image to open it in another window):

The top 6 listed programs, all italicized, are part of what Mettler calls the “submerged economy.” They are also the programs whose beneficiaries are most likely to say they have never used a government program.

How many Tea Party government bashers are beneficiaries in denial?