Menckens Ghost

More About: Healthcare Industry

What has increased 1,377% since 1960?

Do you know what has increased 1,377% since 1960?

No, it wasn’t per-capita personal income.  That increased 159% in constant dollars between 1960 and 2012.  (All dollars hereafter are expressed in 2012 dollars.)  

Of course this fact about the rise in per-capita income is not known to the brainwashed masses, because the left-spinning media do not want them to know what capitalism has accomplished in spite of the free-market version of capitalism being severely crippled over the years by government cronyism, mercantilism, corporatism, socialism, dependency, debt, and regulatory overkill.

Spending on national defense also didn’t increase 1,377%.    In 1960, the cost of national defense was $2,321 per person, versus $2,874 per person in 2012, for an increase of 24%.  But as a percent of gross domestic product, national defense is about 14% of GDP today, versus 35% in 1960, when, ironically, Dwight Eisenhower, the president who had warned about the military-industrial complex, was completing his second term in office.  (Obviously, defense spending has increased in absolute dollars but decreased as a percent of GDP because GDP has increased so much over the intervening years.)  

So what has increased 1,377%?  Answer: healthcare spending by all levels of government (federal, state, local).   It has increased from $228 per capita in 1960 to $3,369 per capita in 2012.

The following table shows spending changes for other categories from 1960 to 2012.  (It took hours to construct the table from published statistics, because most statistics are incomplete, ideologically biased, or not adjusted for inflation.)

Federal, State and Local Spending

Per-Capita and Percent of GDP

For 1960 and 2012

In Constant 2012 Dollars


Top Spending



   $            % GDP


     $          % GDP

Change in Per-Capita Spending


  228              3

3,369           17



  376              6

2,519           12



  564              9

3,296           16

+ 484%


  845             13

2,890           14



 2,321           35

2,874           14






All Spending





Why pick 1960 as a base year?  Because numerous government programs, laws, initiatives, and military conflicts took place or came into being after that year.  Below is a sampling of the ones that arose in just the two decades after 1960, along with the president who was in office at the time.

§         The executive order allowing collective bargaining for federal workers, thus setting the stage for the massive pension and retiree medical costs for public-sector workers of today.   (Democrat John F. Kennedy)

§         The Vietnam War.  (Democrats JFK and Lyndon Baines Johnson)

§         Medicare, Medicaid, the Great Society, the War on Poverty, the Voting Rights Act, and the Civil Rights Act.  (LBJ)

§         Closing the gold window, thus completely severing the dollar from the anchor of a precious metal.  (Republican Richard Nixon)

§         Wage and price controls.  (Nixon)

§         The Health Maintenance Organization Act.  (Nixon)

§         The Environmental Protection Agency.  (Nixon)

§         Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the establishment of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  (Nixon)

§         The Employee Retirement Income Security Act.  (Republican Gerald Ford)

§         Department of Education.  (Democrat Jimmy Carter)

§         Department of Energy.  (Carter)

§         The abolishment of the Civil Aeronautics Board and the deregulation of much of the transportation industry.  (Carter)


Without debating the pros and cons of the foregoing events, it’s not ideological or partisan to say that most of them resulted in an increase in government spending and significant cultural and social changes, including a marked increase in unmarried births and single-parent families, which in turn have caused even more social-welfare spending, in an un-virtuous vicious circle.  During the same period, social mores changed about women working, a change that resulted in higher GDP growth as women entered the workforce. 

Government spending had increased so much since 1960 that the deficit this year is $4,224 per person, versus a surplus in 1960 of $109 per person.  Far worse, the accumulated federal debt per capita has gone from $12,642 in 1960 to $61,433 today.  According to some trusted sources, the real debt is over $600,000 per person when federal, state and local unfunded liabilities are included. 

Well, the good news is that healthcare spending won’t increase another 1,377% as a result of ObamaCare.  That’s because the nation is already broke and will default on its debts and obligations long before spending on healthcare or anything else increases another 1,377%.
Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at

2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Ed Jucevic
Entered on:


I'm sorry but the chart does not make sense to me. Taking the 2012 numbers and the GDP column, you imply that the governments (F, S & L) spend a total of about 73% of GDP on just these categories. From what I know governments (in the US) on all levels currently spend less than half of GDP. Am I wrong or just ignorant?
Comment by Doug Nusbaum
Entered on:

228 * 15 = 3420 .9 * 35 = 31

The first pair of numbers represents the increase in medical costs by a factor of 15 as stated. The second pair represents the increase in the price of silver by a factor of 31, or almost twice the increase in cost of medicine. Except now a dime is still a dime, but a new knee, a new heart, all these wonderous things could not be purchased in 1960 So I am not sure what the point is, other than maybe the author thinks that we are all idiots 

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