I think this quotation is a piece of the puzzle (but not the whole thing):
[...] In a relatively peaceful, relatively prosperous era, there's no excuse for these budget trends [escalating deficit]. There's also no likelyhood that they'll change. The problem isn't a Congress that won't cut spending or a president who won't raise taxes. The problem is an American public with a bottomless sense of entitlement to federal money.
If just two of our federal programs - Social Security and Medicare - continue to expand at their present rate, they will cost the nation $1.4 trillion in 2010, more than the whole current budget.
Maybe our future economy will survive this expense. But is it wise in any case to put the awesome power of such spending in the hands of our silly government? This is not a matter of being conservative or liberal. Do you want Teddy Kennedy or Newt Gingrich to run your life? Yet everybody is asking for a federally mandated comprehensive national-health-care program.
Selfishness consumes our body politic. The eighteenth-century Scottish historian Alexander Tytler said:"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury."
Our modern federal government is spending $4,900 a year on every person in America. The average American household of 2.64 people receives almost $13,000 worth of federal benefits, services and protection per annum. These people would have to have a family income of $53,700 to pay as much in taxes as they get in goodies. Only 18.5 percent of the population has that kind of money. And only 4.8 percent of the population - 12,228,000 - file income tax returns showing more than $50,000 in adjusted gross income. Ninety-five percent of Americans are on the mooch.
From Parliament of Whores, chapter entitled "Would you kill your Mother to pave I-95? (The Federal Budget)", pp. 104-105, by P. J. O'Rourke, 1991. Hyperlinks are my own.