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Sunday, July 31, 2022

Why Welfare Fails

 I have a brother-in-law who has been living on government welfare for the last 6 years. This wouldn't be particularly amazing if he didn't have a wife and three kids. His wife doesn't work either. He is not disabled nor is his wife. They simply found a way to escape the regular, routine, work life.

Near as I can tell he gets about 1100 a month on his EBT card. He currently has 3100 in rollover credit on the card. The government also gives him 500 a month in what they call "EBT cash." This is money you can withdraw from an ATM for any purpose. He has also been receiving 750 a month in child tax credits. 

Thus far we have about 29k a year in direct payments. He gets a 6k "tax refund" each year.  He and his family receive medicare from the state. I'm not sure what else they do to game the system but 35k a year is simply the base case. If they work, they work for unreported cash.

The sum total of welfare I have taken directly from the government works out to about 4 weeks of food stamps in 1981. I also received 2 weeks of unemployment between jobs in 1984. About 800 bucks. In both instances, I found a job and ended those payments.

Some members of the cop hating community like to point out that my retirement is funded with tax money. Partly true and mostly false. I paid into the retirement system for 25 years. The city matched that with a slightly higher payment which amounted to nearly 20% of my salary per month. Those 25 years were in all likelihood, the greatest years of stock market investing and returns. Those years began in 1983 and ended in 2007. Once long ago, I calculated that the 20% sent into our state retirement system, compounded over 25 years amounted to 1.4 million. If I make it to 90, I'll break even in inflated dollars. Most won't.

Welfare was never meant to be a way of living. A way of life. It was initially meant to get people back on their feet again and stop shortly thereafter when folks became self-sufficient again.

Back in my working days as a police officer, we had 4 government subsidized housing projects which amounted to around 400 units in all. The vast majority of our calls for service were at these highly dense, low-income dwellings. Noise complaints, drug dealing, domestic fights, child abuse, theft. 

I often referred to those projects like prisons- without the fence. People were incarcerated there until their release date. We were the guards.

So why does welfare fail? It fails because the government is supplying the bottom half of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, food, shelter, and health care. Often, they supply money in the form of EBT cash and unemployment. When you satisfy the most pressing needs of most people- you rob those people of their ambition and motivation. The welfare culture steals any willingness to work or escape their situation. People are more than happy to spend their days drinking, smoking dope, screwing, and receiving payments from the government.

The other problem of course is that this behemoth of a government simply cannot administrate any of these programs in any strict sense of the word. There is not some well-defined drop date where the government applies the rule- These payments last a year. After that they are done. We are not here to provide you with some cradle to grave subsistence living. 

That system can only get worse with millions of people flooding across our southern border.

So ideally, a functioning government would not be in the welfare business to begin with. Forced to intervene on behalf of the long term mentally ill or disabled- I could see state government in that business. But this idea of robbing millions of healthy people of utility and a sense of self-worth must stop. People get trapped in those prisons and they become a burden to society. Many never leave and their children see nothing wrong with that way of life. Thus, the cycle repeats.

Give a man a fish, he eats tonight. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.