Entitlements vs. Liberty

A reporter asked me about the rise in entitlement programs and the problems created with so many people suckling on the federal teet. I’ve reported that the federal government has more than 2,000 different subsidy programs.

Another way to track the growth of America’s subsidy culture is to look at the usage frequency of “entitlement” over time using a Google tool that shows word usage in books published in the United States.

The first chart shows the sharp rise in the use of “entitlement” in the 1970s (and a curious fall since 2000).

The second chart shows an antonym: liberty. It’s usage fell throughout the 20th century, and it plunged in the 1970s. However, a hopeful sign is the upward spike in “liberty” in the last year of the chart, which was 2008. Was that a sign of the beginning of the revolt that would become the tea party?