Poverty and Welfare

The connection isn’t only moral.  It’s economic, also, as new research is showing.

Richard Vedder, an economics professor at Ohio University says that our exploding welfare state has led to an American poverty rate of 14%—these welfare programs actually are

creating a dependency on government, which is unhealthy both for the individuals involved and their children, and also for the broader society[.]

Specifically, Department of Labor statistics show four programs in particular contribute to  Americans’ increasing dependence on government.

  • Food stamps, or The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as it’s now known.  Nearly 30 million more Americans receive them than in the year 2000.
  • Social Security Disability: 3 million Americans  received payments in 1990—today it’s 8.6 million.
  • Pell grants: 3.9 million students were awarded them in 2000.  Today it’s 9.7 million, even though  nearly half of graduates work in jobs that require no degree.
  • And extended unemployment benefits: 26 weeks had been the standard—today it’s 52 weeks or more for many [and during the Panic of 2008 and ensuing Obama Recovery, it’s run as long as 99 weeks].

This isn’t just academic theorizing, though.  Doug McKelway, in his article at the above link, talked, among others, to a sandwich shop owner in Maryland:

Kyle Murphy…described how anecdotal evidence he sees as an employer jibes with Vedder’s assessment.  He often sees new hires quit to seek government benefits.

“The people who know how to use the system best get the most out of it.  It’s not necessarily the people who need the assistance the most,” he said.  Murphy has seen many of his employees quit jobs, then claim they were fired to obtain unemployment benefits.

Vedder concludes,

We have had nearly four decades with growing incomes, rising standard of living for the majority, yet the poor have grown in number even as a proportion of the population.  So some of these policies are not working.

I’m more cynical: since they create a captive collection of voters for the hander-outers in government, maybe they are working.  Never mind that the outcome puts our republic at risk.

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