(If you’re just joining this series, feel free to read the previous installments.)
Welfare — Has it Helped the Poor? (Part 2)
In Part One, we looked at how the “War on Poverty” — as well intentioned as it surely was — turned out to be an abysmal failure, creating not only more poor, but trapping these unfortunate souls within a system escaped by all too few, while effectively stripping them of their dignity and sense of self-reliance.
I suggested that, quite simply, if we wanted to truly help the poor (as opposed to merely providing lip service to helping the poor) then we needed to get government out of the Welfare business; a place in which they have proved to be totally incompetent.
As this entire series places a high value on understanding premises in order to come to logical conclusions, here are the two very well-intended questions asked by those who care deeply about the poor, believe totally in the Welfare System and can’t see how anyone or anything other than a government bureaucracy (the same body that has failed miserably at this for more than 50 years) can possibly help them:
Question: “Are you saying then that we shouldn’t help the poor? That we should just leave them on their own to starve?”
Answer: Absolutely not. In fact, just the opposite. I’m saying that it is our absolute moral responsibility as human beings to help the poor. (The key word being “help”).
Question: But, if the government doesn’t do it, who will?
Answer: THIS is the crux of the matter, and I shudder in both disbelief and sadness hearing that question as often as I do, not just in terms of this topic but when asked about practically everything else government has managed to completely mangle while fooling its citizens into believing that they are helping.
Wait! I’m going to correct myself here. I don’t think government really has fooled its citizens into thinking it has helped (by and large, the masses no longer believe that), but here’s what it has done which is just as dangerous: it’s fooled its citizens into believing that nothing but government could possibly help. And, when that’s the case, people will helplessly sit back and say, “go ahead.”
When it comes to Welfare, of course, this results in numerous problems; just a few being:
#1 The same actions and the same results. We’ve all heard the well-known definition of insanity; “doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.” What we’re doing now is even worse: the same thing over and over – that isn’t working – knowing we’re going to get the same results, and encouraging it anyway!
#2 Less volunteerism because “government is already doing it.” (Yes, there is still lots of volunteerism, but not nearly as much as there would be, and these volunteers and their organizations are often hamstrung by the very government agencies that see them as competition!)
#3 Less charity money raised because “government is already doing it.” Despite that, individuals still give a lot but not nearly as much as if government was not as actively involved.
#4 A huge waste of taxpayer money. This because, unlike charitable organizations, which must be accountable to their donors and typically have administrative fees around 25-35 percent, the government Welfare System (based on force, remember?) works on just about opposite numbers with an average of 65-75 percent of ever taxed dollar being used to support the bureaucracy administering the system.
#5 A much smaller percentage of people who are ever helped off of welfare. In fact, they are often encouraged to get on and, through numerous rules, regulations and some really weird reverse incentives outside the space and scope of this blog, are “encouraged” to stay on and stay dependent. This again is opposite of a private charity.
In the next installment … we’ll look at a Free-Market solution to helping those who cannot help themselves and need either temporary or ongoing assistance.