Letter: No economy can feed on itself

Historic firsts are usually deemed newsworthy, but one particularly egregious plateau seems to have escaped the attention of the mainstream media and Washington pundits. For the first time in history, the number of people receiving federally subsidized food assistance in the U.S. exceeds the number of full-time employees in the private sector. Whereas there are 103.4 million people currently enrolled in any one of 15 subsidized federal food assistance programs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 97.18 million full-time workers in the private sector.

Approximately one-third of our nation is now receiving subsidized food assistance. Who is paying the bills? The program is extremely expensive, and the costs are probably underestimated because of the government’s sloppy management and errant bookkeeping. In 2012, the bill to taxpayers was $114 billion. The food stamp program alone has increased 70 percent since 2008.

The merits of feeding underprivileged citizens are not the issue here. Those of us who follow the nightly news are being told persistently that the economy is getting better.

The above facts do not signal a healthy economy. The strong likelihood that Obamacare will further reduce the ranks of the full-time employed is a harbinger that the situation will probably get worse before it gets better. An economy that feeds on itself eventually implodes. Sooner or later, to quote Lady Margaret Thatcher, eventually a socialist state runs out of other people’s money.

Robert Hebert

economist

Baton Rouge