When safety nets strangle

posted at 12:01 pm on December 13, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

While I often disagree with Nick Kristof’s take on public policy, I have a lot of respect for his willingness to travel to some of the worst places in the world to write about poverty and oppression.  Last week, Kristof traveled not to Somalia or Sudan but to Appalachia, to discover what causes and sustains American poverty.  In part, Kristof admitted, it was the very programs meant to solve them:

THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.

Many people in hillside mobile homes here are poor and desperate, and a$698 monthly check per child from the Supplemental Security Income program goes a long way — and those checks continue until the child turns 18.

“The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check,” said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County, a poor part of Kentucky. “It’s heartbreaking.”

This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

Some young people here don’t join the military (a traditional escape route for poor, rural Americans) because it’s easier to rely on food stamps and disability payments.

Kristof’s column has to be read in full to be appreciated.  He isn’t engaging in liberal apostasy by condemning safety-net programs in total, but he does acknowledge that they need reform to alleviate poverty rather than institutionalizing it.  Safety-net programs have improved the quality of life in the US — for instance, 35% of elderly Americans lived in poverty in 1959, compared with only 9% today under a very different definition of poverty.  However, children are more likely to be trapped in these systems, thanks in part to a big pro-senior tilt in safety-net programs that comes from the political power of that demographic.

Some conservatives believe the only way to reform safety-net programs is to end them altogether, but these programs remain so politically popular as to be unassailable. Repeal is impossible, even if it was the most desirable outcome (which I don’t believe is true).  In my column for The Fiscal Times today, I offer the keys to reforming safety-net programs to recalibrate them to the service of children, and to reducing and eliminating poverty rather than perpetuating it:

Clearly, if we want to keep our social safety net programs – and there is very little political will to do otherwise – we need to re-engineer them to orient efforts to preparing children for success. To that end, we should try to find ways to improve education as a means to escape poverty and strengthen the institution of marriage.  We need to find and eliminate marriage penalties in welfare programs, and perhaps look for ways to reward marriage in households with children. That also means orienting the state approach to marriage not as a licensing opportunity focused on adult outcomes, but as an institution where the state interest lies solely in protecting and nurturing children.

Welfare programs should also emphasize the need for self-sufficiency. Ironically, we already accomplished that in the mid-1990s with a rare case of real entitlement reform, in which Congress and President Bill Clinton created incentives for welfare recipients to find work. That requires an economy that produces real job creation, but also consistency in enforcing those provisions. President Barack Obama undermined them by executive order earlier this year, a move that should be rescinded as soon as possible.

We can do better on education in part by allowing resources to flow to non-government players through school choice. Too many families have no opportunity to offer their children any other option but the failing public school closest to their house. The substandard education that children in these schools receive doom them to poverty later just as surely as the easy path from Supplemental Security Income derived from claims of intellectual disability as a child to adult disability checks. School choice for poor families would enable parents to make choices that will allow their children to compete later for jobs, and to produce innovation that will lift even more children out of poverty in later generations.

Finally, while there is no will to eliminate social safety-net programs, they may face doom anyway on the basis of simple math. Governments at every level have incurred liabilities for safety-net programs that they have no realistic chance of fulfilling. Politicians expand programs without paying for what has already been promised, and those who argue for reform are shouted down by people who argue by anecdote.

If we want to save these programs to help the truly needy and lift people out of poverty, we need to put these programs on solid fiscal footing. That will mean rethinking every such program’s benefits, eligibility, and administration in a way that puts costs at a reasonable and sustainable level.  Otherwise, we face a fiscal crash that would discredit these programs forever.

Doing nothing is not an option.  Doing nothing guarantees that people — especially children — get strangled by the safety nets intended to help them, and doing nothing means that the programs will soon collapse on their own and set all of the needy adrift.  The responsible and compassionate path is reform that learns from the failures of the last five decades and puts the US on path to provide prosperity to everyone who desires it.

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…we’re the government…and we’re here to help!

KOOLAID2 on December 13, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Governments at every level have incurred liabilities for safety-net programs that they have no realistic chance of fulfilling. Politicians expand programs without paying for what has already been promised, and those who argue for reform are shouted down by people who argue by anecdote

…just hold local and state officials responsible for the results…and see what happens

KOOLAID2 on December 13, 2012 at 12:14 PM

…get the federal government out of everything…except defense!

KOOLAID2 on December 13, 2012 at 12:15 PM

I think any sort of “marriage” talk will be a non-starter with the left. you say “marriage” they hear “the patriarchy” or “domestic abuse.”

they’ll say “free day care” and “strong families”

NoVAHockey on December 13, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Getting the fed out of the safety net business and putting it in the hands of states and local communitries would go a long ways towards eliminating the hamhandedness and inefficiencies. I’m not claiming administration by the states would be corruption or SNAFU free, but, it would be light years better than having the feds do it.

a capella on December 13, 2012 at 12:16 PM

…oh oh!…could have been a Bishop day

KOOLAID2 on December 13, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Doing nothing is not an option.

How about “You can ignore reality but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality” to back you up on that? Our vaunted liberal leadership is not really ignoring reality, they are desperatly trying to hide it.

No budgets
EOs for Fast & Furious
Lying about Benghazi
Hiding illegal alien pedophiles in Senator’s offices
Compliant media
and on and on and on

Let’s allow events to occur shall we? Many of us are ready to deal with the consequences. The example of Appalachia is mirrored in every housing project in every city in this nation. From Cabrini Green to Katrina (in NO) to the Obamaphone urchin.

DanMan on December 13, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Some conservatives believe the only way to reform safety-net programs is to end them altogether, but these programs remain so politically popular as to be unassailable. Repeal is impossible, even if it was the most desirable outcome (which I don’t believe is true).

How did Americans cope and still create such a great nation when there was no such thing as a safety net?

Sorry, Ed, but the safety net is nothing but pure dependency.

Bitter Clinger on December 13, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Oh the irony…

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is actually proud of the fact it is distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to “Please Do Not Feed the Animals.” Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.

PatriotRider on December 13, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Since this assistance is tax free, and not subject to SSI, each child that is on this form of assistance is the the equivalent that child providing the family income that would require working 25 hours a week at a minimum wage job.

Working 25 hours a week sweeping floors or flipping burgers when you can get that money by skipping school? Not hard to see why so many choose to blow off literacy.

No Truce With Kings on December 13, 2012 at 12:18 PM

So long as these programs exist, then they by their very nature, will destroy the lives of people and the culture of this nation. It is just simply how it works.

Do not fix them, let them die of their own disease!

Let It Burn, add fuel and fan as needed!

astonerii on December 13, 2012 at 12:19 PM

How did Americans cope and still create such a great nation when there was no such thing as a safety net?

Bitter Clinger on December 13, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Before safety nets (and safety hammocks), there was safety rope. It kept people safe from crime, with reasonable degree of success, and the people used to capable of procuring everything else on their own.

Archivarix on December 13, 2012 at 12:23 PM

When Work Is Punished: The Tragedy Of America’s Welfare State

Exactly two years ago, some of the more politically biased progressive media outlets (who are quite adept at creating and taking down their own strawmen arguments, if not quite as adept at using an abacus, let alone a calculator) took offense at our article “In Entitlement America, The Head Of A Household Of Four Making Minimum Wage Has More Disposable Income Than A Family Making $60,000 A Year.” In it we merely explained what has become the painful reality in America: for increasingly more it is now more lucrative – in the form of actual disposable income – to sit, do nothing, and collect various welfare entitlements, than to work. This is graphically, and very painfully confirmed, in the below chart from Gary Alexander, Secretary of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (a state best known for its broke capital Harrisburg). As quantitied, and explained by Alexander, “the single mom is better off earnings gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045.”

tom daschle concerned on December 12, 2012 at 6:07 PM

We have made people comfortable, hell even prosperous in real terms compared to the world, in in their sloth. Totally inhuman and immoral.

tom daschle concerned on December 13, 2012 at 12:23 PM

Let It Burn, add fuel and fan as needed!

astonerii on December 13, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Might actually be to late to let it burn. Erick Holders Department of Injustice becomes America’s Gestapo. We are way deep in the doo-doo now folks.

SWalker on December 13, 2012 at 12:23 PM

Ed, there are so many things wrong that to isolate the “safety net” solution without making it possible for private charity to flourish is a foolhardy proposition. Failing under it’s own weight it will, because it has to mathematically. That’s kind of the premise of the LIB meme – we remake something sustainable after the collapse. The interconnectedness of the tax system, perverse monopolistic health-care laws and other barriers (EMTALA), once removed, would allow people to do something worthwhile (not paying bubble prices for these things). I’m focusing more on Medicare/Health only because it’s the biggest of them. The Fair Tax, ending of EMTALA, posted billing rates, etc are all great places to start a system that is functional.

SkinnerVic on December 13, 2012 at 12:26 PM

PatriotRider on December 13, 2012 at 12:17 PM

never gets old does it?

Like the Michigan pol lamenting how his constituents will become moochers without closed shop policies requiring union dues. The irony is overwhelming.

DanMan on December 13, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Ed, correct me if I’m wrong, but there have been programs calibrated to help children. SCHIP comes to mind. And that program has ballooned beyond its original purpose like almost every other safety net program.

The problem is not calibrating the programs, it’s that these programs are seed vehicles in the push for government to become the universal parens patriae.

wte9 on December 13, 2012 at 12:30 PM

I first heard of this kind of thing when tutoring at an inner-city Cincinnati school. The father of a perfectly rational and highly intelligent kid who was in the tutoring program told me that the child had been hospitalized for an assessment because she was “artistic” [read "autistic"]. The school’s social worker explained the scam to me.

Unbelievable.

BuckeyeSam on December 13, 2012 at 12:32 PM

You subsidize something, and we subsidize more and more bad behavior, you get more of it. Heck, if I have the choice of loafing, eating, and drinking … or working … the former looks very tempting. And why work when someone in your identical position doesn’t work and gets an equal or better standard of living than you do.

AFAICS, Obama has zero interest in cultivating a work ethic in people, or in helping to create an atmosphere where they can follow their dreams. Not following Obama’s dreams, but THEIR dreams.

Why is the federal government as big as it is? Shouldn’t most governmental functions be done at the state and local levels? And yet the lion’s share of our taxes go to the federal government. I don’t get it.

Paul-Cincy on December 13, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Kristoff’s concession — mild, as it was — is significant. Even the Socialist governments in Europe have (in the 1990s and 2000s..it remains to be seen if they don’t back away in the current environment) realised that people get comfortable in their poverty. Many used to have unemployment benefits that lasted for 5 years until the governments realised that — regardless of how long unemployment lasted — recipients always “unexpectedly” found employment right before the benefits ended. 5-year unemployment bennies? 4 years/11 months on UI. 4-year unemployment bennies? 3 years/11 months on UI. And, so on and on…

People forget that Germany was called “The Sick Man of Europe” a little more than a decade ago. It was a Social Democrat – Gerhard Schröder – who began the modernisation of the country’s welfare state and labour laws/regulations with his Agenda 2010 set of reforms – which transformed Germany into a world competitor.

This is a great article by Tyler Durden:

More Welfare, Fewer Workers

Resist We Much on December 13, 2012 at 12:36 PM

I first heard of this kind of thing when tutoring at an inner-city Cincinnati school. The father of a perfectly rational and highly intelligent kid who was in the tutoring program told me that the child had been hospitalized for an assessment because she was “artistic” [read "autistic"]. The school’s social worker explained the scam to me.

Unbelievable.

BuckeyeSam on December 13, 2012 at 12:32 PM

I wonder if this has anything to do with the “1 in 100 kids is artistic” stat. Uh … autistic.
:)

A good friend’s recently divorced wife just went on SSDI for psychiatric issues. She’s very personable, intelligent, has gotten and is able to get and hold jobs, if she wants to. I don’t see the disability.

Paul-Cincy on December 13, 2012 at 12:38 PM

The second link on this website is to an extended Powerpoint presentation that contains in one place lots of charts and graphs on the rising state of dependency in America. The second part of it focuses on the sorts of dependency trends highlighted by Ed and Kristof, and it contains a long list of sources at the end: http://foundingvirtues.blogspot.com/

Mervis Winter on December 13, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Might actually be to late to let it burn. Erick Holders Department of Injustice becomes America’s Gestapo. We are way deep in the doo-doo now folks.

SWalker on December 13, 2012 at 12:23 PM

That is why I added the add fuel and fan as required… It is not going to be a neutral activity. I wonder if Obama has thought about a GANF act. Guns&Ammo4NeedyFamilies so he has his army funded…

astonerii on December 13, 2012 at 12:47 PM

The poor keep the state and federal government workers very employed.
 
portlandon on February 5, 2012 at 11:55 AM

 
Like the drug war, we’ve embraced it as a solid corner of our fed/state/local financial foundations and neither our economy or our employment numbers can tolerate us solving the “problem”.
 
rogerb on February 5, 2012 at 12:42 PM

 
But why are those jobs worse for the economy than private sector jobs. Its not like the private sector actually produces anything in this country anymore. Its just a question of different types of service providers.
 
libfreeordie on February 5, 2012 at 12:48 PM

rogerb on December 13, 2012 at 12:48 PM

I wonder if this has anything to do with the “1 in 100 kids is artistic” stat. Uh … autistic.
:)

A good friend’s recently divorced wife just went on SSDI for psychiatric issues. She’s very personable, intelligent, has gotten and is able to get and hold jobs, if she wants to. I don’t see the disability.

Paul-Cincy on December 13, 2012 at 12:38 PM

I remember just 7 or 8 years ago that same group’s ads claimed the ratio was 1 in 166. Now it’s 1 in 100. Getting your kid diagnosed as autisic is starting to become a fashion accessory. And, of course, the disability payments that come with it.

Bitter Clinger on December 13, 2012 at 12:57 PM

I love to tell liberals to do a Google search for “how to get crazy checks.” They do not believe that people are gaming all public assistance programs. Which isn’t surprising, since reports like Kristof’s in the media are as rare as hen’s teeth. This sort of thing is also rampant in Philadelphia, where parents actually fight to get their kids INTO special ed classes, because then they can get the “crazy check.”

I have a friend from Kentucky who grew up very poor, but made it to college and has had a fine career in IT. He is the only person in his entire extended family who is NOT on federal disability. He says they are proud of it and laugh about how easy it is to do no work and get paid for it.

rockmom on December 13, 2012 at 1:00 PM

There is no responsible or compassionate in ‘dis gubmint, neither is there any sensible. The only way there will ever be any reform of any kind whatsoever under the current regime of libturdism is after collapse. Nothing short of collapse will wake up the idiots and those with their heads in the sand (and many of them are allegedly intelligent people) and the low information dumbmasses and the morons who are running this country into the ground. Let us not forget the complicit enabling slimestream media who will be overthrown. There will come a day when there’s no more money and everything comes to a grinding crashing halt and nobody will be able to make excuses, give exemptions or cover up any longer. When we finally have Alinsky’s chaos dominating in the streets of Amerika as Obamuh desires, then reform will begin bcuz the lazy-a$$ lying cheating corrupt deadbeats currently in charge will be fleeing for their lives and then we true Americans will be able to take back our country.

stukinIL4now on December 13, 2012 at 1:11 PM

rockmom on December 13, 2012 at 1:00 PM

A friend’s brother is mentally retarded — birth delivery accident. He’s in his fifties and lives in a group home. It’s difficult to understand what he says. But he works two jobs at two different landmark local Cincinnati restaurants, and follows local sports very closely, with a lot of enthusiasm, and goes to a lot of games. He knows how to use the bus. And he gets disability payments. He deserves them. If someone wants a role model, a hero even, look to someone like him.

Paul-Cincy on December 13, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Ed, you seem to be making the assumption that nobody wants broken families, people trapped in dependence, and the rising societal costs and government outlays that result. Based on their actions, it seems evident that Democrats in general, and this administration in particular, want exactly that. Democrats may pay lip service towards wanting to reduce government waste or to keep American families strong or to reduce dependence on Welfare and the like. But their every action to thwart any move in that direction shows where their real agenda lies. If it’s good for America but it fails to increase the number of Democrat votes, then Democrats will be against it.

Socratease on December 13, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Safety net.

What an apt description. A safety net protects from imminent harm. On the other hand, nets are designed to entangle & trap anything or anyone they catch.

Getting in is as easy as falling off a log. Getting out…

taznar on December 13, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Last week, Kristof traveled not to Somalia or Sudan but to Appalachia, to discover what causes and sustains American poverty.

Kristof is just now discovering poverty in America and, more specifically, the poor of Appalachia???? What’s up with that? This is hardly a secret or a new occurence.

The bottom line is that it may sound good to talk preparing children for success by better schools or eliminating marriage penalties to encourage more stable families but neither gets to the heart of the problem. This is a way of life for many. That is the kind of learning that is harder to undo.

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2012 at 1:22 PM

That is why I added the add fuel and fan as required… It is not going to be a neutral activity. I wonder if Obama has thought about a GANF act. Guns&Ammo4NeedyFamilies so he has his army funded…

If being armed were a Constitutional Right like contraceptives are…

Oh, wait…

Socratease on December 13, 2012 at 1:23 PM

I was expecting an article about the EPA.

viking01 on December 13, 2012 at 1:27 PM

…get the federal government out of everything…except defense!

KOOLAID2 on December 13, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Defense and inter-state commerce, of course. Unless you think that only defense is mentioned in the constitution.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 1:27 PM

And he gets disability payments. He deserves them. If someone wants a role model, a hero even, look to someone like him.

Paul-Cincy on December 13, 2012 at 1:14 PM

I’m not disagreeing that this is the kind of situation that disability payments are meant to address. But when we go from talking about those who require assistance to talk of those who “deserve” it, I’m on a different page.

Happy Nomad on December 13, 2012 at 1:28 PM

He deserves them. If someone wants a role model, a hero even, look to someone like him.

Paul-Cincy on December 13, 2012 at 1:14 PM

I think you got things a bit backwards.

Is he a good role model for the disabled or lazy able bodied? Sure is. Does he deserve disability checks from other people? I am going to have to say no.

If his parents had an insurance policy against a disabled birth or him becoming disabled, then they paid for a service and he would deserve that benefit…

If he became disabled working for a company which covered disabilities or he bought his own coverage, then he would deserve a check.

Here is where your logic breaks. He is disabled, thus he should be given free money with no work… He does work, and that is great, but why the extra money when he is not earning it?

The only way you can say he deserves the money is by saying those who make the payment are indebted to him, indentured servants, also known as slaves. But he did nothing for them to be indebted to him…

Here is where the safety net should belong.

1) Self.
2) Immediate Family.
3) Extended Family.
4) Friends.
5) Associations.
6) Charity.
7) Community.
8) The government has no role here, any role it takes on creates dependency and causes people to fall into immoral behavior. The only role the government plays is as part of Self and Associations. The self would be as an employee of the government. The association would be the government job offering a service for fee safety net item. Such as an employee paid retirement plan or disability, health or life insurance policy.

astonerii on December 13, 2012 at 1:31 PM

astonerii on December 13, 2012 at 1:31 PM

The fact of the matter is most Americans, and in fact most people, disagree. Under your assumptions, material wealth is the ultimate determinant of everything, even life and death. The vast majority of humanity disagrees, and you should get over it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 1:46 PM

Though I have plenty of blessings whenever I read about those whose journey ended on Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Normandy, Inchon, Tet or the Persian Gulf it reminds me that, by comparison, I “deserve” nothing.

The best run charities are private ones. The political advantages of handouts instead of hand up (buying votes) is largely avoided. Management is more local than more faceless quota-job bureaucrats in DC. The troublemakers can be more readily filtered out. The hell raisers can get the bum’s rush out onto the street. Much like the many advantages of private schools over the publik skools.

viking01 on December 13, 2012 at 1:48 PM

He deserves them. If someone wants a role model, a hero even, look to someone like him.

Paul-Cincy on December 13, 2012 at 1:14 PM

I think you got things a bit backwards.

But there IS a federal safety net which, if anyone, those like my friend’s brother would deserve. While your radical rejection of the status quo is just peachy in principle, I prefer to deal with reality. Liberals understand each small victory they win brings them closer to the kind of country they want. Dreaming about radical changes isn’t going to effect the change we want.

Paul-Cincy on December 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

The fact of the matter is most Americans, and in fact most people, disagree. Under your assumptions, material wealth is the ultimate determinant of everything, even life and death. The vast majority of humanity disagrees, and you should get over it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 1:46 PM

Funny little joke ernesto pipes in.

So ernesto, what % of your income do you donate without force to charity, the kind that directly helps pay for people to have better lives, as opposed to donating to political agendas?

What % of YOUR specific income are you willing to hand over to government under duress of force to care for these people?

The difference here is that in one case you are voluntarily helping your fellow man. In the other case you are enslaving your fellow man while at the same time creating dependents.

When government hands out the money, there are no checks or balances on who gets it. Whether they are gaming the system or are truly needy.
When it comes from charity, then there are checks and balances that are there to verify the need and check for abuse.

When government hands out the money, those paying cannot judge and correct an immoral recipient.
When it comes from charity, those paying can chose to support charities that support people as well as certain moral codes.

When government hands out money, it underwrites immorality and punishes morality.
When charity hands out money, it underwrites morality and those who are moral benefit from giving to charity.

This is why the progressives demand that government hands out the money. It destroys our culture for good morals and causes it to speedily reach immorality, which is where they have ultimate power.

The law has no power over a moral person. It only has power over the immoral.

astonerii on December 13, 2012 at 1:55 PM

I read this article and had the same hopeless feeling that I always get when someone points out some big government program and says that the local governments would do a better job. Of course they would, but do you really think the Feds are going to give up the power that these programs give them?

After all, it isn’t really concern for the needy of whatever class that drives all this largesse. It is pure, raw power. Power is the name of the game, and the results don’t matter at all.

There is only one way any of this gets fixed, and that is in the long run. The entity controlling all of it, in this case, the Federal government, will have to overreach itself to the point that it literally can’t fulfill its promises. When that happens, and the programs can’t be funded, when other people’s money has run out, when people are left high and dry because the government has failed to deliver on its commitments, then the changes will come. They won’t come easily, and they won’t be nice and neat and orderly. Far from it. These things will only be fixed when enough people have had their fill of this nonsense. That is going to take time, and things are going to have to get worse — a lot worse — before Americans have reached their limit of abuse from their leadership.

I make no predictions of what happens after that, but I sincerely hope it goes no farther than a lot of entrenched lawmakers getting booted out of office on their fat behinds, to be replaced with new ones that actually have the welfare of the country and the people at heart. Then, perhaps, we will see some of the changes that need to be made actually become reality.

I also suspect that I will not live to see it.

hachiban on December 13, 2012 at 1:55 PM

But there IS a federal safety net which, if anyone, those like my friend’s brother would deserve. While your radical rejection of the status quo is just peachy in principle, I prefer to deal with reality. Liberals understand each small victory they win brings them closer to the kind of country they want. Dreaming about radical changes isn’t going to effect the change we want.

Paul-Cincy on December 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

No, they do not deserve, whether it is there or not. They just get, along with the scammers, because it is run under the government.

You will never win ANY victory for conservatism with your argument. Reason? Because you refuse to educate anyone on things. All you do is bolster the argument that we need a federal safety net. We do not.

The only dreaming I am doing on this aspect is that at some point we run out of other people’s money and it all fails.

astonerii on December 13, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Under your assumptions, material wealth is the ultimate determinant of everything, even life and death. The vast majority of humanity disagrees, and you should get over it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 1:46 PM

Apparently liberals think so. Everyone of their policies and desires calls for taking money from people.

darwin on December 13, 2012 at 2:03 PM

The vast majority of humanity disagrees, and you should get over it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 1:46 PM

Once upon a time the National Socialists figured that if they sided with Zero’s role model Mussolini and NY Times’ Duranty’s role model Uncle Joe Stalin then all would be swell if they invaded Poland and France for their just desserts and “destiny”… for a short while until reality hit.

Maybe you should get over it.

viking01 on December 13, 2012 at 2:08 PM

The law has no power over a moral person. It only has power over the immoral.

astonerii on December 13, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Where do you come up with this stuff?? I mean, I get that you live in a world of thought exercises and waxing eloquent about big social issues, but where on earth do you come up with this sh*t??

darwin on December 13, 2012 at 2:03 PM

The liberal model simply seeks to avoid a society where those without material wealth are left to languish without a decent education or access to proper medical care. Given our capitalist system, the way to do that is through the redistribution of wealth. Should you have some other way of achieving this, I’d love to hear it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Under your assumptions, material wealth is the ultimate determinant of everything, even life and death. The vast majority of humanity disagrees, and you should get over it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 1:46 PM

Apparently liberals think so. Everyone of their policies and desires calls for taking money from people.

darwin on December 13, 2012 at 2:03 PM

I’ve never seen anyone so interested in other people’s money as liberals. It’s remarkable. Other people who have money, people who want other people’s money, people who don’t think people deserve the money they have. Lots of envy and coveting.

Paul-Cincy on December 13, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Paul-Cincy on December 13, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Again, if you have some way to make it so that people born poor aren’t at a preventable social disadvantage, I’d love to hear it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Bright Beginnings is a social for small children that is effective.
I know Ed has written about this before and he is not in favor of B.B. because the gains made in preschool are not measurable after several years in grade school.

I agree with him on most points but this is where I differ. Children who attend preschool benefit greatly. Ask most kindergarten teachers. Just because the gains can not be measured at the age of 18 does not make it a wash.

Instead of cutting out a program that actually educates children from a young age, we should try to duplicate that success in all of the successive elementary years.

guera on December 13, 2012 at 2:29 PM

social benefit— I mean

guera on December 13, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Again, if you have some way to make it so that people born poor aren’t at a preventable social disadvantage, I’d love to hear it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 2:21 PM

You sound like the British in the 1770′s.

weaselyone on December 13, 2012 at 2:35 PM

The liberal model simply seeks to avoid a society where those without material wealth are left to languish without a decent education or access to proper medical care. Given our capitalist system, the way to do that is through the redistribution of wealth. Should you have some other way of achieving this, I’d love to hear it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 2:15 PM

First, let’s define capitalism. Capitalism is simply a term used to describe what people do in free societies … that is, engage in commerce and go about their lives relatively free of government intrusion and coercion. We are quickly moving from that to a government controlled society.

Secondly, instead of creating giant bureaucracies to take money from people and give it to others, why don’t liberals simply try to create more opportunity for people and help those in need themselves? You ever think of that? Do you realize how much money is spent by the left trying to get laws enacted that take money away from other people? Billions. Plus, liberals never stop. Never. Once they have one thing they want more.

It’s typical in government controlled societies for opportunity to decrease as control increases. Your programs are their own worse enemies.

darwin on December 13, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Again, if you have some way to make it so that people born poor aren’t at a preventable social disadvantage, I’d love to hear it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Being born poor has nothing to do with it. People born poor in the US have become billionaires simply because they worked hard and when they failed they tried again. Liberals think that’s bad.

You cannot control how people will be. There will always be poor people, there will always be hard workers, there will always be lazy people, there will always be the criminal, there will always be the generous. You cannot create a society where everyone is equal because no two people are.

darwin on December 13, 2012 at 2:55 PM

I’ve never seen anyone so interested in other people’s money as liberals. It’s remarkable. Other people who have money, people who want other people’s money, people who don’t think people deserve the money they have. Lots of envy and coveting.

Paul-Cincy on December 13, 2012 at 2:17 PM

It’s fascinating how they paint Republicans as greedy when in reality liberals are all consumed with money … everyone elses. .

darwin on December 13, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Again, if you have some way to make it so that people born poor aren’t at a preventable social disadvantage, I’d love to hear it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Once upon a time before the “Great Society” of welfare queens getting knocked up in their mid-teens to get their own “free” Section 8 apartment with a transient baby daddy who might show up occasionally to share the AFDC check and walkin’ ’round money or sire yet another welfare dependent…. the poor typically comprised a complete family with both parents sharing a parental responsibility thus enhancing the possibility their offspring wouldn’t grow up someday to be a union thug, crack dealer or Chicago gangsta. Before all that “help” the poor child of two parents in the home, going to a school with someone better than a typical NEA, English-challenged quota-hire… stood a chance of bettering their prospects.

viking01 on December 13, 2012 at 3:04 PM

The responsible and compassionate path is reform that learns from the failures of the last five decades and puts the US on path to provide prosperity to everyone who desires it.

The failure of the last five decades is that government cannot be a charity provider. It either callously lets people fall through the cracks (and enables some very perverse incentives) or it doesn’t treat everyone equally under the law.

And, it’s not the “US”s place to “provide prosperity”. It is the federal government’s job solely to protect its citizens rights and to treat everyone equally under the law. It is *not* their place to provide in any way whatsoever for people’s prosperity. People provide for their own prosperity, and people can provide for each other’s prosperity if they desire it. But the government cannot.

Repeal is impossible, even if it was the most desirable outcome (which I don’t believe is true).

Sorry, Ed, but it *is* the most desirable outcome in the long run. Virtue will never be a government trait. And, government-enforced private virtue is no virtue at all. It’s theft.

GWB on December 13, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Again, if you have some way to make it so that people born poor aren’t at a preventable social disadvantage, I’d love to hear it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Hey, idiot, I was poor, very poor, once…I went to work, fool.

Schadenfreude on December 13, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Some conservatives believe the only way to reform safety-net programs is to end them altogether, but these programs remain so politically popular as to be unassailable.

It’s called welfare reform. You don’t have to completely end the program. If you limit how long it applies, you can accomplish the same thing.

Honestly, the fact that it’s called a “safety net” should tell you that it’s not meant to be permanent. Who lives their lvies in a net?

tom on December 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:

First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

Any government ‘safety net’ is run by bureaucrats. There are some bureaucrats dedicated to doing the job that is set to them and then there are the bureaucrats who oversee them.

Those that oversee them for a government safety net must justify their position by expanding the safety net. Doing so requires a larger organization. Those in the oversight role see a need for more overseers and higher pay. This is true of any organization.

If you want to end the expansion of the ‘safety net’ then it is very simple: pay those doing the work NOTHING. Any of those involved in the dispensation of such funds allocated for such work that misuse or abuse it are then stripped of all worldly possessions and not allowed to apply to any government ‘safety net’. Ever.

If it is so damn worthy you will get people willing to do this work FOR FREE.

Every single liberal pushing for a ‘safety net’ should be willing to do this in their spare time to help the poor, the needy, the dispossessed and those down on their luck.

If they complain that they must work for a living… well that is the point, isn’t it? Yet the most dedicated people to a job and managing funds are those that take up such duties and have no vested interest in expanding power or influence and know that they can get tossed out on their ear for misuse or abuse of such systems. Those organizations that take willing volunteers to dispense the goods and funds given to it for a purpose are called: charities.

Government is not a charity. It is not as efficient as a charity… hell most for profit businesses have problems meeting efficiency of charities and the most efficient charities can lower their overhead to a percent or two of overall cost. That is why charity has been the source of the greatest help to the greatest numbers and the lowest cost possible over time.

The ‘safety net’ is not a charity until it is RUN LIKE ONE and as EFFICIENTLY AS ONE so that those that seek to cheat, chisel or deprive the truly needy are kept out by dedicated individuals who have volunteered to do the job and are not seeking to EXPAND the ‘safety net’ for career advancement.

Heck, I would want this for all of the non-constitutionally mentioned organizations that Congress has deemed worthy of encrusting this Nation with. Get volunteers for the EPA, DoJ, Labor, Energy, Agriculture… places like DoD, the US Mint, USPTO, and a few other cats and dogs can all be paid at military pay scales up to the rank of Captain at the SES level. Do THAT and you will soon find shrunken departments with a very few, very committed individuals running them. For free. If it is such a good thing for the Nation to have these organizations, then we should be able to find willing volunteers for them to work gratis for the benefit of the Nation.

ajacksonian on December 13, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Again, if you have some way to make it so that people born poor aren’t at a preventable social disadvantage, I’d love to hear it.

ernesto on December 13, 2012 at 2:21 PM

We’ve been fighting the “war on poverty” your ways for 50 years. How’s it working out? I can tell you if we fought any other type of war and went backwards as we have in terms of the measures of success, the left would be castrating people for wasting the money.

We spend, Federal, State and Local, 1 TRILLION dollars on welfare last year. That’s $60,000 for every household in America.

How do we get out of it? We leave more money in the hands of Americans, who are very generous. We let charities and other groups who can hold people accountable help those in need. Those charities and groups have traditionally held people accountable for fixing their situations, or at least working on it.

Instead of giving a family 600+ dollars a month for a “disabled” child, how about giving every child $7500 vouchers for the school of their choice. Eliminate the public school monopoly and let quality soar in schools as they compete for students and have to actually be successful at producing educated kids.

We no better cure poverty than we can cure stupid. Some people just aren’t. There will always be poor and no matter how much money you pour at them, they will be that way. What you need to create is opportunity. A competitive school system, low unemployment, money in the hands of investors and innovators instead of bureaucrats.

I’ve overheard the conversations. “Wow I’m coming up a little short now Trish, I think I need to get a job.” “No, have another kid, that will bump up your AFDC checks.”

Give people the option of life long hunger or pulling themselves up, even with temporary, private, charitable help, and they will pull themselves up. The government model encourages finding more and more ways to live off the dole, not to get out of it.

There was a story on HA a while back about a woman that did go to work, but there was a point where a certain amount of income gave her less take home because of how much “support” she lost, so there was a disincentive to work at all.

PastorJon on December 13, 2012 at 4:28 PM

How to get people off of welfare. First create an economy that is conducive to job creation. Second, revamp the welfare application:
1)name 2)address 3) what is your plan to get off welfare? Please provide details.

Make it like unemployment where you have to go in every two weeks and show that you are either working on your GED, working on college or other post highschool training or actively looking for a job. If you have a baby while on welfare, no extra money except an increase in WIC. I would also lower benefits. Make welfare uncomfortable-not painful but uncomfortable. There’s no motivation for too many people to get off welfare if they can afford cable, brand named sneakers for their kids, cell phones, etc.
My last suggestion would be to require people who are looking for work but don’t yet have a job to do community service to the taxpayers. Work 15 or 20 hours a week at a government building in a low skilled job so govt. needs to hire fewer people. Then they have something to put on a resume as well as paying the taxpayers back.

hopeful on December 13, 2012 at 5:51 PM

My feeling on welfare is that it should be a local issue, maybe state. Why should states send their money to the feds only to have them parcel out what they think the states should get back, AFTER they take their cut out to pay for the whole process. It’s like a money laundering scheme and makes the system much more expensive than it has to be.

hopeful on December 13, 2012 at 5:56 PM

And Pastor Jon is right too about charities. Local charities have way more flexibility in weeding out people who are taking advantage and can be more creative doing things such as using local grown fruits and veggies.

hopeful on December 13, 2012 at 5:58 PM