Tag: Welfare

Welfare to Work


There is a bitter fight brewing in Congress over work requirements for welfare recipients.

President Biden labeled “wacko” the Republican proposal in the debt ceiling bill to require able-bodied childless beneficiaries to either work, obtain job training, or do volunteer work. Our great uniter claimed, “Republicans are cutting benefits for folks they don’t seem to care much about.”

The welfare industry chimed in, saying poor people have no transportation options and job training was not available in some areas. Welfare recipients will be thrown into abject poverty if required to work, because apparently they are incapable of self-sufficiency.

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First I spoke to a young man I know who recently began working for a rather large California tech company who opened a large facility near here.  He enjoyed his work, but he was bothered because he had to do much of the work of people that did not “know English”.  From our conversation and […]

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Rob Long is on for Jim again today. Join Rob and Greg as they cheer states expanding their school choice programs as unions continue to keep public schools closed. They also discuss New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordering faster, preferential COVID tests for family and friends while the rest of New York waited much longer for results. They also shake their heads as San Francisco lefties state that whites and men will not be receiving welfare benefits. And they wrap up with their memories of the assassination attempt again President Reagan 40 years ago today.

Amity Shlaes discusses the economic history of the 1960s and the efforts of Presidents Johnson and Nixon to eradicate poverty—the subjects of her just-published book, Great Society: A New History.

The 1960s were a momentous period, from the Civil Rights Movement to the Vietnam War, but Shlaes’s book focuses on the incredibly ambitious government programs of the era, which expanded the social safety net beyond anything contemplated before. Overall, the Great Society programs, Shlaes writes, came “close enough to socialism to cause economic tragedy.” Great Society is a powerful follow-up to her earlier book, The Forgotten Man, about the Great Depression and the 1930s.

Howard Husock joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss Husock’s new book, Who Killed Civil Society? The Rise of Big Government and Decline of Bourgeois Norms.

Government-run social programs funded with tax dollars are thought to be the “solution” to America’s social ills. But in his new book, Who Killed Civil Society?, Husock shows that historically, it was voluntary organizations and civic society, operating independently from government and its mandates, that best promoted the habits and values conducive to upward social mobility.

Forget UBI, America Already Has Universal Basic Consumption


Recently, there has been much talk about having a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for everyone in the US. On the Left, one presumes this would be in addition to the rest of the welfare state. On the right one hopes it’s proposed to replace most of the welfare state.

I already oppose the UBI (even as a replacement for welfare) for sound economic and political reasons, but that’s not what this post is about. Rather, it’s about how our focus on income has ceded much of America’s public discourse about poverty to the Left. We can (and should) do better than that.

It’s easy to see how we’ve gotten here. The data on income is readily available, so it’s simple to pull charts and graphs and to test theories. And since income is the major source of tax revenue, it’s natural to focus on income when contemplating changes to government policy. The problem is when we use income as a proxy for quality of life, which is presumably what the debate about poverty is really about. If we’re interested in how people live — we do call it “welfare” — we should be looking at net consumption rather than net income. You can’t eat money and, unless you’re Scrooge McDuck, you don’t derive nearly as much enjoyment from having physical money as you do from spending it. Money is only worth what we can buy with it. How much Americans live on tells us far more than their tax return.

Giving Destroys the Soul


A joke is told of a man who is drowning 50 yards off shore. There are countless variations, but the simplest political version I know is that the Democrat throws the man 200 yards of line, then drops his own end. And the Republican throws 40 yards of line, because even a drowning man has to learn to help himself.

We think that charity is easy to define: it is helping people by giving them things. At least, that is what we teach children. And it is what liberals think “charity” is when they make the argument that Big Government is doing nothing more than what the Bible prescribes.

But this is a big mistake, even by the most well-meaning conservatives. Charity is not “giving people things.” Charity is about helping people. And there is a very simple proof:

Peter Cove joins Brian Anderson to discuss his new book Poor No More: Rethinking Dependency and the War on Poverty.

Declaring the War on Poverty in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson stated that the goal was to “cure poverty, and above all, prevent it.”

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Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a proposal to replace most or all existing wealth transfer (welfare) programs with a flat grant of cash per month.  UBI has gained a following across the political spectrum.  See, for instance, this Cato Institute discussion between libertarian policy wonk Charles Murray and retired union boss Andy Stern, where they […]

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Example ACF Program (Administration for Children and Families) These LGBT programs above are offered by some of the 19 specialized division offices with at least 43 program areas provided by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) which is one of eleven operating divisions under U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), a cabinet-level […]

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Universal Basic Income: The Ultimate Tool of Social Control


Whoops! Forgot the strings.

Finland is on the verge of replacing most of its welfare system with a Universal Basic Income, a guaranteed monthly check to every adult citizen (such proposals also go by other names, including “Guaranteed Basic Income”). Some champion UBI as a way of deconstructing the welfare state and enhancing individual freedom, as people can spend their checks however they please. Others tout the economic incentives since, in contrast to traditional welfare programs, people won’t lose benefits by taking low-paying or part-time work. Others worry that that — even if UBI were to pass — the welfare state will come roaring back as politicians seek to buy votes with other people’s money.

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To understand how and why welfare has become such a mess in modern America let’s look at a hypothetical example. Suppose two men are out of work. Both have families that are not being provided for. The bills have piled up and the pantry is bare. One of the men is a carpenter who has […]

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About the Boys


shutterstock_21324538“It’s about what these women will let guys get away with.” You may not expect to hear commentary like that at your garden variety think tank panel discussion, but it got pretty lively at the American Enterprise Institute discussion on the topic “Do Healthy Families Affect the Wealth of States?”

Megan McArdle of Bloomberg View is author of the above comment. The question at hand was: Why are so many young women (64 percent of moms under the age of 30) having children out of wedlock? The class divide in America is nowhere as wide as on the matter of marriage. College educated men and women are sticking with the traditional order of marriage first, children after. Not only that, but they are far less likely to divorce than their parents’ generation. Those with only some college or less, by contrast, are much less likely to marry before having children, and much more likely to divorce if they do marry.

McArdle was answering her own question in a sense. She noted that many who had studied the retreat from marriage among the uneducated propose the “working class men are garbage” thesis. According to this view, lots of young men are unemployed and playing video games all day. Why would a young woman want to marry such a loser? She’d just be getting another kid.

Why Muslims Can’t Assimilate in Europe


Minimum wage laws, payroll taxes, and regulations raise the cost of hiring to the point that unskilled workers cannot find employment. The least experienced, least educated, and most discriminated against are left with few prospects. In the United States, those most affected are African American teenagers; in Europe it’s young Muslims.

Denied legal means of earning a living, some turn to criminal means. Denied constructive outlets for their energies, some turn to gangs and violence to bolster their self-images. Adolescent Swedes, Germans, and Frenchmen whose parents emigrated from the Middle East may have little knowledge of Islam but understand that it inspires fear in the countrymen who look down on them.

The Upside-Down Economics of Welfare


The welfare trap is deeper than I ever imagined. It occurs when a person on welfare finds that working harder provides no benefit, or actually costs more than it brings in. Repeat: the welfare system makes it so people can lose money by working more, and enjoy fewer benefits by getting a raise.WelfareState2

“That’s no trap,” one might say, “that’s Utopia.” I say no. When you do no work, you gain no skills and lose your future prospects. Your social interactions decline. Your attitudes become entitled. Your self-esteem shrivels. Worst of all, there is no reason to believe your situation will improve, let alone that you can improve it. Those are just the costs to the recipient of the welfare who — you’ll recall — is the supposed beneficiary.