Monday, April 20, 2009

One More Post About Welfare

This welfare discussion may be dragging on a bit, but I wanted to quickly share this study. It is a few years old but it shows that in the late 1990's and early 2000's the number of families receiving welfare decreased by about half, that the percent of families on welfare dropped precipitously to about two percent, that poverty rates are falling (though it looks like they ticked up again during the Bush years), and that for a few decades in the 70's through 90's the rate of Americans on welfare essentially held steady. It also shows a rough, but not absolute, correlation between unemployment rates and rate of Americans on welfare.

If I understand the conservative argument correctly, part of it relies on the fact that by providing welfare to the poor we are creating a "Nanny State" in which the incentive to work is diminished and more people will rely on welfare. But if we were creating a welfare state that incentivized laziness shouldn't we see welfare rates rising instead of falling? Welfare rates had previously held steady for decades. Wouldn't conservatives expect that number to rise steadily?

The reality is that the vast, vast majority of Americans are willing to work and do not want to be on welfare. Those on welfare are looking for and finding work. The welfare program actually helps families work their way out of poverty. There is a certain small percentage (we're talking less than 1%) of Americans that rely on the welfare system instead of personal responsibility, but they are the exception, not the rule.

Much of the progress came as a result of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, a bi-partisan effort signed into law by Pres. Clinton. That act required more personal responsibility from welfare recipients and funded programs to help families get out of poverty.

Nobody, liberals and conservatives alike, wants their money going to welfare abusers. Everybody, liberals and conservatives alike, wants fewer people in poverty and fewer people in the welfare system. We all have faith in the American people to work if they can and support themselves. Our welfare system appears to positively influence all of these things by providing a useful social safety net. So, far from creating a Nanny State, our welfare system seems to be at least useful, at most successful.


Josh said...

I don't expect welfare rates to rise, Jake. I expect people to have enough self respect to stay off of welfare all together. I think it only takes common sense to see that when you give something for free, there are always going to be people who take advantage of it. The main difference between your opinion and mine is that I don't think it is acceptable to support even one loser, on the premise that we may be helping hundreds that need it. I am all for helping those people, but there is no accountability placed on them. I don't see this as any different than corporate bailouts. If the government is going to dole out cash, they need to monitor where that cash is spent, and on what.

I find it very amusing that the same liberal minds that constantly preach bigger government and more control suddenly want less when it comes to handing out tax money. I know you still think that the fourth amendment somehow keeps the system from drug testing prior to giving aid, but I stick by that idea too.

Jacob S. said...

I'm not sure what you mean by that second paragraph. Maybe you can explain it a little further. I don't think any liberal wants to just hand out tax dollars willy-nilly. Liberals are demanding for more accountability from corporations that received TARP funds, and renowned liberal Bill Clinton signed a welfare law that required more accountability from individuals.

Josh said...

Now the liberals are demanding accountability. When the money was being thrown around, it seemed as if nothing was expected in return, and that there was no control. I have my beliefs of Communistic control attempts, but the fact is that the accountability you speak of, regarding TARP funds, has more to do with control than with help. The money was originally handed out and now some banks/people don't want the control measures that were put in place after the fact, and the government won't take it back. Give me a good reason for that.

If your hero Clinton did so much, how do you explain the fact that nothing changed? People on welfare are not held accountable for what they use our tax dollars for. These folks are given free money, and no one is even checking to see where it is going. I've seen where it goes. I've seen the certain points of the month when the public drunkeness is highest, when the stores can't keep the liquor and tobacco stocked.