Don’t They Just Hate the Poor?



It Just Hasn’t Worked.

Most people want to help the poor and disadvantaged, but it seems we are not very good at it.

“Over the last 50 years, the government spent more than $16 trillion to fight poverty.

Yet today, 15 percent of Americans still live in poverty. That’s scarcely better than the 19 percent living in poverty at the time of Johnson’s speech. Nearly 22 percent of children live in poverty today. In 1964, it was 23 percent.

How could we have spent so much and achieved so little?”

                                                                                                        Michael Tanner at the Cato Institute.

Nearly all federal welfare programs encourage recipients to stay on welfare, and not become self-reliant. cite. When the government money spigot is on, people rush to fill their cup, because they see it as easier than doing for themselves. This is especially true in the case of social security disability, where the Federal government is giving out “disability” checks to people who can and do work.  

A Matter of Incentives.basement

Why should a man work if he can get food, housing and medical care by working the government system?   Though enacted with good intentions, government programs create a strange set of incentives: to not work and live off the dole.

For example, by trying to “help” single mothers, the government  created a lifestyle where women don’t think twice about having a baby out of wedlock, because they know to expect all sorts of “help,” from housing assistance to food stamps to free medical care. When middle class people, who pay for all this through taxes, think about having a baby, they have to decide whether they can afford the medical costs of delivery, and then the thousands of dollars of child-raising costs.

    ?  ?   Nothing from Nothing leaves Nothing  ?  ?

No one is going to cut off benefits from the child with Down’s Syndrome or anyone totally incapable, but maybe we ought to incentivize, for example, the paraplegic to do data entry or answer phone inquiries, something they can do.

Should they choose to do nothing, the (dis-)incentive would be to get nothing.

As far as unemployment goes, it seems kind of funny that there are so many jobs that Americans just won’t do.  How can we have both high unemployment plus the need for immigrants?




Newt Gingrich recognizes that we just can’t cut off support for those already dependent, and has an interesting approach: by altering the incentives in social programs.

He once proposed putting welfare kids in orphanages, under the reasoning that it removes the incentive for women to have out-of-wedlock kids. It would make certain that the same money would be better spent to benefit the children, such as healthy food, a safe place to sleep, and the mental stimulation so important to the brain development of young children. Not to mention all the problems associated with young black fatherless boys.

Some say he is too “big government”, but if we are going to spend the money anyway, his ideas are worth considering.


The question is not whether to help the truly needy and infirm — we all agree with that — it is how to keep the able-bodied and fraudsters from getting in on the free government money.