Should welfare be paid to able-bodied Americans indefinitely? Is dependency good for people?

Nancy P. posted this article from the Heritage Foundation, and I thought it would make a good blog post.

Excerpt:

Food stamp rolls have been growing rapidly. But what many may not realize is that participation among able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) has been skyrocketing compared to the total number of participants. That’s just one reason Congress should reform the food stamp program in the farm bill now under consideration. In just four years, the number of able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) on the food stamp rolls skyrocketed by over 2 million. While overall food stamp use grew by 53 percent between Fiscal Year 2007 and Fiscal Year 2010 (from about 26 million to nearly 40 million), it more than doubled among able-bodied adults without dependents during this time–from 1.7 million to 3.9 million–an increase of  roughly 127 percent.  Food stamp spending today is roughly $80 billion, double what it was in Fiscal Year 2008.

[…]While the recession no doubt plays into the increases in food stamp participation, policy loopholes have opened the doors to boost growth as well In his 2009 stimulus bill, Obama allowed states to waive the modest ABAWD work provision (which says that after 3 months ABAWDs must work or perform some type of work activity for 20 hours per week to remain on food stamps).

With the work waivers in place, ABAWDs can stay on food stamps for an unlimited amount of time without working or preparing for work. Without a work requirement  it is difficult to ensure food stamps are not going to those who could otherwise work.  A work requirement acts as a gatekeeper: those who really need assistance can still get it, while those who may not really need it will be deterred, thus targeting resources to the truly needy. It also encourages individuals to move towards work, and it can provide job training and other employment help.

Self-sufficiency for able-bodied adults should be the goal of any sound welfare policy. Unfortunately, most of the government’s 80-plus welfare programs–including food stamps–aren’t focused in this direction.

Helping those in need means helping them rise above government dependence. Unfortunately, self-sufficiency seems to be kicked to the bottom of the list all too often when it comes to reforming the nation’s broken welfare system. It’s time for Congress to realize that helping individuals means a hand-up, not merely a handout.

A long time ago, there was a reasonable, temporary safety net that was available to people who were in real need of relief. But now it seems as if the government is spending alot of money on these programs, and often to people who are not trying to get out of their dependency situation on their own.

Here is what I do not want to have happen:

  1. Government confiscates the earnings of job creators and employees through taxation
  2. Government keeps some fraction of the money for their salaries, benefits and pensions
  3. Government gives some of the money to Planned Parenthood and Solyndra
  4. Government gives some money to people who are likely to vote for them
  5. The people who get the money vote for bigger government, and are discouraged from working
  6. The children of the people who are dependent on government see a bad example of dependency

It seems to me that if you look in the Bible, there is no support for government-controlled redistribution of wealth as a cure for “poverty”. There is support there for industry and business, and voluntary charity. Most of the poverty in the USA is, in my opinion, either caused by government policies or caused by individual decisions, like dropping out of school or having children before marriage. This is a wealthy country, and people are very generous with charity. They would be even more generous if government were more limited so that they could keep more of their own money for charity. I think the problem with the left is that they think that people don’t give to charity, since they don’t, and must be forced to pay taxes. But we on the right are not like you. I would rather give away twice as much as I pay in taxes rather than pay what I pay in taxes. I love charity, and the only thing stopping me from giving away more is taxes.

This previous post about earned success references a Wall Street Journal article written by Arthur Brooks (president of the American Enterprise Institute) is also relevant, I think.

2 thoughts on “Should welfare be paid to able-bodied Americans indefinitely? Is dependency good for people?”

  1. I think that the problem many *recipients* have with voluntary charity is the same problem that you mentioned recently with regards to atheism: immorality. Private charity is a gift; and in the past, and even still today in a lot of instances, it is a gift that has strings attached. Strings like “stop drinking” and “take responsibility for your life” and “take the time and raise your children”.

    Things that people do NOT want to hear.

    I think that this is the reason that the preferred term for government handouts is “entitlement spending” and not “charity”.

    Like

  2. Charity is freely given and freely accepted. Government wealth redistribution is NOT charity – it is nothing short of theft from the current and future generations.

    Like

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