John Hood has warned us about the error of treating all government spending as an “investment.” A blurb in the latest National Review highlights some disturbing data comparing government “investments” and “entitlements.”

We have our doubts about the use of the word “investment” to describe federal spending, but the ratios pointed out by the sefl-declared moderates at the think tank Third Way bear consideration: In the 1960s, the federal government spent $3 on so-called investments (meaning infrastructure, education, research, and the like) for every $1 it spent on entitlements. Under current practices, the government will in ten years spend $5 on entitlements for every $1 on such undertakings. That is particularly sobering when one considers that spending on education and infrastructure has continued to grow at a steady pace since the 1960s. Entitlement spending, especially on health care, is the main driver of deficits going forward, and there simply is no way to stabilize our national finances without reforming entitlements. Conservatives have a great many legitimate bones to pick with that $1, but the $5 is where the action is.