Nicholas Eberstadt, the American Enterprise Institute scholar, has shown the degree to which the United States has become “a nation of takers, not makers.”

As you recall, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has taken a beating for speaking “some home truths” about this staggering problem. It is, in truth, the most important issue confronting us.

AEI’s James Pethokoukis has distilled some shocking facts from Eberstadt and presents them in the myth/reality format. The myth, for example, is that few non-seniors receive government benefits. Here is the reality:

Although almost all families with seniors use government benefits, over a third of families without any seniors were on at least one government benefit program—even before the Great Recession.

This is only the first of five myths that are debunked in this post. It will leave you wondering how our nation can survive fiscally and morally if so many citizens have become takers. That Romney’s remarks created such a furor shows that this is an issue a lot of people don’t want stated.

It was the British columnist Melanie Phillips, no fan of Romney’s, who praised the governor for uttering “some home truths:”

Almost half the American people receive government hand-outs and pay no income tax? That’s truly shocking. For sure, Romney should not have lumped the truly vulnerable and deserving with the increasing number of those who could work but are somehow not participating in the growing jobs market.

Dependency culture is a complex phenomenon and needs a sensitive tuning fork rather than a tin ear. But even so, the general point that too much of America is being sucked into state dependency – and that by increasing their number Obama is effectively gerrymandering the election – remains a powerful one.

The crisis of dependency is as bad as Romney said, even if you agree that he should not have lumped all people who pay no federal income taxes together.

Voters will decide come November on where they want to go from here on the issue of dependency.