On welfare

On welfare October 20, 2019

Welfare costs are a major source of disagreement between progressives/liberals and conservatives/libertarians. Those on the left consider helping the poor to be a humanitarian action, while those on the right tend to see it as rewarding lazy people. That is a bit of an oversimplification, as there is a broad spectrum of opinions between those two extremes.

Most reasonable people in the middle think that preventing poor people from starving, or resorting to crime in order to survive, is necessary and beneficial to society. There is a broad consensus that supporting them should be temporary, when possible, and a primary goal should be helping them to achieve self-sufficiency.

I have been collecting the opinions of right-wingers on this subject for a while. Some of them are silly, some downright dangerous. The rest of this article will deal with a few of them. I’ll start with a real doozy:

  1. Public housing should be provided only for eligible people who are seniors, physically disabled, or households with at least one working member. People who don’t meet any of the above criteria should be told to leave and move to areas where their laziness and crime will not threaten the good citizens who live there, or in neighboring communities.

The areas they are commanded to move to…what happens there? Are they allowed to leave those areas, or are they confined in an enclosed area and given no financial support? Hmmm…enclosed area…what’s that called? Oh yeah, a concentration camp. Just as Himmler did with 100,000 communists back in the 1930’s in Nazi Germany. They were confined in concentration camps and systematically starved to death. Sounds like the same thing.

Keep them away from “good citizens?” Don’t allow them to “threaten” law-abiding people? A family without at least one person working is in trouble, but they are not breaking the law. The assumption seems to be that if they are not working, they are both lazy and criminals.

  1. Welfare pays people too much. Some of them are getting rich off their welfare payments. If they go to work, they would have less income, so government welfare programs cause people to be dependent on welfare.

This is usually combined with demands to lower or abolish the Minimum Wage. But if the goal is to get people off welfare, and the only jobs they can get don’t pay enough for them to live, they cannot become self-sufficient, so it reduces the incentive to go to work.  Raising the Minimum Wage encourages people to go to work. The combination of lowering both Minimum Wage and welfare payments accomplishes nothing…except to make poor people more desperate. It would almost certainly increase the incidence of crime in poor areas. Desperate people do desperate things. Some of the advocates for these things claim to be Christians. What would Jesus say to that?

  1. They have lots of kids because each one increases their welfare payments. People are getting rich on welfare.

The average payment is $447/month. Nobody is getting rich on that. Most people on welfare are still below the poverty line. Families that have more kids when they are on welfare do not get an increase in their welfare payments in some states.

There is a lot more to say about this. Here is an objective, factual summary of the six programs that make up our welfare system, how they work…and how their benefits are for a limited duration. No welfare program is open-ended. That changed under (gasp) Clinton. Read this and you will probably lose some of your misconceptions. Welfare is not what you think it is.






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