Where We Were And Where We Are

Walter Williams posted an article at Townhall today about welfare.

The following information about Walter Williams is posted on his Facebook page:

Born in Philadelphia in 1936, Walter E. Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from California State University (1965) and a master’s degree (1967) and doctorate (1972) in economics from the University of California at Los Angeles.

In 1980, he joined the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and is currently the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics. He has also served on the faculties of Los Angeles City College (1967-69), California State University (1967-1971) and Temple University (1973-1980). From 1963 to 1967, he was a group supervisor of juvenile delinquents for the Los Angeles County Probation Department.

More than 150 of his publications have appeared in scholarly journals such as Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review and Social Science Quarterly and popular publications such as Reader’s Digest, The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. He has made many TV and radio appearances on such programs as Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose,” William F. Buckley’s “Firing Line,” “Face The Nation,” “Nightline” and “Crossfire.”

Walter Williams is one of the leading economists in America.

These are some highlights from his Townhall article:

Before the massive growth of our welfare state, private charity was the sole option for an individual or family facing insurmountable financial difficulties or other challenges. How do we know that? There is no history of Americans dying on the streets because they could not find food or basic medical assistance. Respecting the biblical commandment to honor thy father and mother, children took care of their elderly or infirm parents. Family members and the local church also helped those who had fallen on hard times.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, charities started playing a major role. In 1887, religious leaders founded the Charity Organization Society, which became the first United Way organization. In 1904, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America started helping at-risk youths reach their full potential. In 1913, the American Cancer Society, dedicated to curing and eliminating cancer, was formed. With their millions of dollars, industrial giants such as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller created our nation’s first philanthropic organizations.

He further observes:

Before the welfare state, charity embodied both a sense of gratitude on the behalf of the recipient and magnanimity on the behalves of donors. There was a sense of civility by the recipients. They did not feel that they were owed, were entitled to or had a right to the largesse of the donor. Recipients probably felt that if they weren’t civil and didn’t express their gratitude, more assistance wouldn’t be forthcoming. In other words, they were reluctant to bite the hand that helped them. With churches and other private agencies helping, people were much likelier to help themselves and less likely to engage in self-destructive behavior. Part of the message of charitable groups was: “We’ll help you if you help yourself.”

The article concludes:

There is virtually no material poverty in the U.S. Eighty percent of households the Census Bureau labels as poor have air conditioning; nearly three-quarters have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more. Two-thirds have cable or satellite TV. Half have at least one computer. Forty-two percent own their homes. What we have in our nation is not material poverty but dependency and poverty of the spirit, with people making unwise choices and leading pathological lives, aided and abetted by the welfare state. Part of this pathological lifestyle is reflected in family structure. According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year 11 percent of black children and 3 percent of white children were born to unwed mothers. Today it’s respectively 75 percent and 30 percent.

 There are very little guts in the political arena to address the downside of the welfare state. To do so risks a politician’s being labeled as racist, sexist, uncaring and insensitive. That means today’s dependency is likely to become permanent.

Restoring the work requirement to welfare is a partial answer to the problem. However, the real answer is to restore the family, the moral values we have lost, and the value of parenting.

In March 2013, The Brookings Institute posted an article titled, “Three Simple Rules Poor Teens Should Follow to Join the Middle Class.”

These are the rules:

Let politicians, schoolteachers and administrators, community leaders, ministers and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities: at least finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.

Encouraging children to follow these rules is the way we could actually end the welfare state.

 

Some Charts From The Heritage Foundation About Welfare In America

On April 5, The Heritage Foundation posted an article titled, “Understanding the Hidden $1.1 Trillion Welfare System and How to Reform It.” I strongly suggest that you follow the link and read the entire article, but I would like to post some basic charts from the article:

The article lists three goals of welfare reform:

The goal of welfare should not be to reduce poverty after receipt of welfare through an ever-larger welfare state. A new approach is needed. The goal of welfare policy should be updated to include three other concepts:

  • Increasing efforts toward self-support;
  • Reducing self-defeating and self-limiting behaviors; and
  • Increasing psychological well-being.

It should be noted that adopting these new goals does not mean that the government should stop assisting the poor. For example, as noted previously, a low-wage parent who works full-time for the full year under the existing welfare system has combined economic resources from earnings and welfare assistance that are well above the poverty level. Ensuring that the families of full-time workers are not poor is a laudable goal that should continue to be pursued.58

The objective might be inappropriate for families with large numbers of children. See Rector and Sheffield, “Five Myths About Welfare and Child Poverty.”

 Unfortunately, the current structure of welfare assistance undermines rather than enhances self-support and psychological well-being. That aspect of the welfare system must be transformed.

It is time to combine charity and encouragement. We need to provide incentives for people to get off the welfare rolls. Welfare should not be a generational profession.

 

 

Changing The Welfare Paradigm

On Tuesday The New York Post posted an article about President Trump’s Executive Order on welfare reform. The article notes that America currently has a very low unemployment rate and a very high number of people on welfare. That really does not seem to compute.

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial today on the subject.

The editorial reminds us of some of the history of welfare reform:

Although it was President Clinton who signed that sweeping welfare reform bill into law, plenty of Democrats were furious. Marion Wright Edelman, then head of the Children’s Defense Fund, called it a “moment of shame.” Illinois Sen. Paul Simon declared that “this isn’t welfare reform, it’s welfare denial.” Even now, many Democrats want to get rid of it.

And that’s despite its proven track record of success.

“In the past decade, welfare rolls have dropped substantially, from 12.2 million in 1996 to 4.5 million today. At the same time, caseloads declined by 45%. Sixty percent of mothers who left welfare found work, far surpassing predictions of experts.”

That was how Bill Clinton himself described the reform’s success a decade after he signed it into law.

The reforms that President Clinton put into effect were greatly loosened under President Obama, and welfare rolls soared. Part of that was due to the sluggish economy under President Obama, and part of that was due to the changes in the reforms.

The editorial concludes:

In Trump’s executive order, he makes the compelling case for expanding work requirements:

“Many of the programs designed to help families have instead delayed economic independence, perpetuated poverty, and weakened family bonds.

“While bipartisan welfare reform enacted in 1996 was a step toward eliminating the economic stagnation and social harm that can result from long-term government dependence, the welfare system still traps many recipients, especially children, in poverty and is in need of further reform and modernization in order to increase self-sufficiency, well-being, and economic mobility.”

Well said. But to make that happen, Republicans need to keep hammering away at this theme until it sinks into the public consciousness. And they need to turn around the metric used to define success to one that counts declining enrollment as a victory.

That’s the only way we will ever be able to turn the tide on what seems like a relentless and unstoppable expansion of the welfare state.

Senator Daniel Patrick “Pat” Moynihan wrote a report in 1965 predicting that the War on Poverty would destroy the African-American family. He was right. The welfare programs under the War on Poverty have also destroyed the white family. It is time that generational welfare becomes a bad memory of the past–not a present problem. Hopefully, President Trump has just taken the first step in that direction.,

An Agenda That Would Help All Americans

On Tuesday, CNS News posted an article about President Trump‘s agenda after tax reform. It is an ambitious agenda that would do great things for America.

The article reports:

At the start of a Cabinet meeting on Monday, Trump plugged the Republican tax plan, then said spending cuts and welfare reform are next on the list:

“We’re working to reduce wasteful government spending,” Trump said. “We’ll be working on healthcare, infrastructure, and welfare reform. We’re looking very strongly at welfare reform, and that will all take place right after taxes — very soon, very shortly after taxes. So we’ll be submitting plans on healthcare, plans on infrastructure, and plans on welfare reform — which is desperately needed in our country — soon after taxes.”

Welfare is needed as a safety net–it should not be a career choice. It is time to examine what we are doing to educate those children from families where education is not seen as valuable. It is time to make sure that children who graduate from American high schools know how to fill out a job application, a college application, etc. The key to welfare reform is education and providing a reasonable transition from welfare to work. I think we can do that if both parties in Congress would work together.

The article concludes:

At the White House press briefing on Monday, a reporter asked spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders what Trump meant when he mentioned welfare reform:

“I think there’s no secret,” Sanders said, noting that Trump had spoken about it during the campaign. “And when we have specifics on what that will look like, we’ll certainly announce them and roll them out. I don’t anticipate that happening over the next couple of weeks. We’re very focused on tax reform and making sure we get that done by the end of the year.

“But this is something that the president has a great deal of interest in, and I think you can count on probably the first part of next year seeing more specifics and details coming out on that.”

To be a healthy country, we need to give Americans opportunities to improve their lives through education and hard work. Welfare reform would be a step in that direction.

The End Of Welfare Reform

Yesterday the welfare reforms of the 1990’s ended. There was no note, there was no trumpet fanfare, and I haven’t seen it on the news. What happened? An executive order by President Obama cut out the heart of the welfare reform bill passed during the Clinton Administration.

The Corner at National Review reported:

The welfare reform law was very successful. In the four decades prior to welfare reform, the welfare caseload never experienced a significant decline. But, in the four years after welfare reform, the caseload dropped by nearly half. Employment surged and child poverty among blacks and single mothers plummeted to historic lows. What was the catalyst for these improvements? Rigorous new federal work requirements contained in TANF.

Contrary to some perceptions, the formula that made welfare reform a success was not giving state governments more flexibility in operating federally funded welfare programs. The active ingredient that made the difference was requiring state governments to implement those rigorous new federal work standards.

The article explains how the work requirement was changed:

…the Obama administration issued a dramatic new directive stating that the traditional TANF work requirements will be waived or overridden by a legal device called a section 1115 waiver authority under the Social Security law (42 U.S.C. 1315).

Section 1115 allows HHS to “waive compliance” with specified parts of various laws. But this is not an open-ended authority: All provisions of law that can be overridden under section 1115 must be listed in section 1115 itself.

The welfare reform bill was vetoed by Bill Clinton twice before he signed it.

The article concludes:

Obama’s new welfare decree guts sound anti-poverty policy. The administration tramples on the actual legislation passed by Congress and seeks to impose its own policy choices — a pattern that has become all too common in this administration.

The result is the end of welfare reform as we know it.

This is another example of executive overreach. All this does is create more government dependency, increase the size of government, and change a policy that was successful. It is time to elect a new President.

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