This post is based on an article on The Federalist Papers website. It consists of two quotes about welfare and the consequences of our current welfare programs.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback explained the problems with our current welfare system:
“Welfare is failing, just not for the reason you think. For too long, conventional wisdom in Washington, D.C., has dictated the best way to move people out of poverty is to expand welfare programs so that individuals could possibly, gradually, work their way out of dependency.
Kansas’ recent reform experience turns that notion upside down.
It is now clear that welfare fails because it ensnares people in poverty by paying them to not work. Welfare fails because it discourages people from improving their lives. So many recipients don’t work and get caught on welfare, suffering in poverty for years…even generations.
Fortunately, there’s a proven way to help.
Kansas shows what’s possible when you free people from the welfare trap. With assistance from the Foundation for Government Accountability, Kansas just completed the most comprehensive welfare tracking project of its kind. We matched more than 41,000 individuals as they moved off welfare with their employment records at the state’s Department of Labor.
…When moved off food stamps, half of these Kansans began working immediately. Nearly three-fifths were employed within 12 months and their incomes rose by an average of 127 percent during that first year. Incomes kept increasing as they progressed to full-time work and increased their wages. Better still, those higher wages more than offset the food stamps lost, making them more financially secure. This is real success!
Kansas’ simple reforms have led to more employment, higher incomes, less poverty, and lower spending.
Even those still on food stamps (but now required to work to keep them) are twice as likely to be working and have also substantially increased their incomes, though their overall incomes are still not as high as those freed completely from welfare. The result is that these individuals now need less help and their average time on food stamps is cut in half.
…For too long, Washington, D.C. has encouraged states to extend food stamps and expand Medicaid to ever more able-bodied adults. They promised welfare as an economic stimulus and states – red and blue alike –bought it. The result is not stimulus, but malaise.
People on welfare are working less, earning less and as a result are trapped in poverty. Millions of them. It’s a national tragedy.
Fortunately, states have many reform tools to roll back what has become the gateway to dependency: food stamps. States can assist their citizens by restoring work requirements, time limits, asset tests, reducing eligibility loopholes, and eliminating fraud.
Once free, those previously dependent on the government are motivated to work and earn more than just money: they gain self-worth, dignity, and a hopeful future. All things a person can’t get from welfare.
Americans know the value of hard work. That’s why common-sense work requirements were core to the bipartisan 1996 welfare reform that turns 20 this year.
Now is the perfect time for Congress to expand work requirements and time limits for non-disabled adults on all welfare programs – including Medicaid, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, food stamps, and housing. It’s time to start holding states to asset tests for all welfare programs. It’s time to return welfare to the truly needy and stop trapping Americans in government dependency.
With these reforms, Congress can help restore the working class and give real hope to millions still trapped in poverty and a failing welfare system.”
The second quote is from Benjamin Franklin:
I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.
There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor.
Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavors to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen? — On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent.
The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness.
In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty.
Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday, and St. Tuesday, will cease to be holidays. SIX days shalt thou labor, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.
We don’t do anyone any good by giving them things they did not have to work for. There is something in human nature that feels a sense of accomplishment when we earn something and feels less than capable when we have to depend on someone else for everything. We need a change of attitude in the American welfare system. It’s time to help people get back to work instead of encouraging them to take more from those who do work.