Nicholas Eberstadt runs the numbers, and they aren't pretty:
“At this writing, about 35% of Americans (well over 100 million people) are accepting money, goods or services from "means-tested" government programs. This percentage is twice as high as in the early 1980s.
"Today, the overwhelming majority of Americans on entitlement programs are taking "means-tested" benefits. Only a third of all Americans receiving government entitlement transfers are seniors on Social Security and Medicare. As entitlement outlays have risen, there has been flight of men from the work force. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the proportion of adult men 20 and older working or seeking work dropped by 13 percentage points between 1948 and 2008.
"The American male flight from work is so acute that more than 7% of men in their late 30s (the prime working age-group) had totally checked out of the workforce, even before the recent recession. This workforce opt-out, incidentally, was more than twice that of contemporary Greece, the poster child for modern welfare-state dysfunction. The share of 30-somethings neither working nor looking for work appears to be higher in America than in practically any Western European economy…
"The Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 12.4 million working-age Americans obtained disability income support from all government programs in 2011. That's more than the total number of employees in the manufacturing sector of the economy.”