We launched the War on Poverty in the 1960’s. That’s more than half a century ago. The goal back then was to eliminate poverty in America. There have been several welfare programs. We have spent about $25 trillion on all the good intentions. Today the welfare system it is generally acknowledged to have utterly failed the poor.
The poverty rate remains mostly unchanged. Why is that? We continue to spend money and get no results, why? We continue to do the same things and keep expecting a different result, why? Einstein said that is the definition of insanity.
Shouldn’t we be expecting our tax dollars to accomplish the goal? Isn’t the goal elimination of poverty? Why have we not changed or stopped? Is it even constitutional to do this at the federal level?
Are we creating temporary support or dependence?
Tens of millions of Americans are dependent on government assistance. Was that true before we started our “do gooder” war. Today, we spend about a $1 trillion a year on welfare programs and there are many of them. About 80 different federal, state, and local welfare programs, more or less.
The War on Poverty programs as a percentage of the federal budget are nearly 25%. That is enough to eliminate the deficit, if the War had been won. That’s worth thinking about isn’t it?
What do we spend?
There are about 40 million “poor” Americans or about 12% of America. How much could we give each if we divided that $1 trillion among them? The answer is each person would get about $25,000 a year. Think about that… That is about $100,000 a year for a family of four. So why have we not ended poverty?
What the system does…
Our welfare system is not about getting people out of poverty. In fact, it discourages work. It provides incentives to break up nuclear families. The system encourages dependence on government. Welfare as it currently exists, pays people to remain poor.
In many cases, welfare harms the very people the designers say they want to help, especially children. Or maybe the people who design and operate these programs are not egalitarian at all. Why has this happened? As welfare benefits grew, they increasingly served as a substitute for a working parent. Government was made a substitute for the breadwinner.
That encouraged men to stop upholding their responsibilities, both financial and social. The result left a greater number of women as heads of single-parent households. Single mothers were discouraged from marrying the fathers of their children. Doing so reduced their benefits. The cycle continues today with many children growing up on welfare. Worse yet, they follow in their parents’ footsteps when they have families of their own.
So, what do we do?
We have to understand the problem with the current system. The problem is our welfare system discourages work. Work is the fastest and most effective way to get out of poverty. It is the best way to create self reliance and independence. Welfare programs should offer temporary help. They should encouraging able bodied recipients to find work. People need to become self reliant and the programs should help facilitate reaching the goal.
Some states have implemented time limits and welfare-to-work requirements. There recipients have received job training, found jobs, and increased their incomes dramatically. They’ve also dropped off the welfare rolls. That is a desired outcome.
There must be creation of the jobs that help recipients transition to work. The key to new job creation is cutting taxes on individuals and businesses. That effort is aided by cutting regulations that hinder business growth. If high levels of employment and increased wages for workers solve poverty. We have the solution in front to us.
Another way to look at the system…
Now maybe you want to argue we don’t have a broken welfare system. Let’s assume you are right. So why are we continuing to spend so much on these welfare programs? Try this explanation on for size. We are adding more than 3 million people a year to our population. Mostly at the bottom of the economic ladder.
We are taking in 1 million through legal immigration. We are taking in well over an million in known illegal immigration. If there are currently 125,000 per month it means we are adding 1.5 million known illegal immigrants. Assuming an additional unknown half person for each known illegal immigrant and the total becomes 3.25 million immigrants annually. That’s about 1% of our population. There an economic incentive for people to come here. Is welfare part of it?
If that is the case we are adding close to 10% to our welfare rolls through immigration annually. What nation can continue to do that endlessly? Welfare in America is more than what was possible for many working individuals in their home nation. Border security is national security.
Most Americans want a social safety net that helps those who can’t help themselves. We want to help the poor find meaningful work. We have learned through decades of experience that throwing more money at poverty doesn’t end it. Temporary assistance, jobs training, growing the economy, and promoting self-sufficiency do. Isn’t it time to fight smarter. If we do not get our financial house in order and keep it that way America will end.