Welfare Reform for the 21st Century

Our entitlement and welfare programs are growing exponentially and threaten to drown our economy and future growth.   Further, the way they work now does not  truly encourage job seeking and individual endeavor and taking personal responsibility for our own  lives and the decisions we make.  The programs that currently exist are enormously expensive and counterproductive in achieving the goals mentioned above.  A short list would be HUD, the food stamp program, earned income tax credits, the various job training programs, Social Security welfare payments, lunch  programs at school, grants to cities and states for various training programs, and of course the actual welfare payments made directly by the States.   That is not a complete list; you are welcome to add all the others that you can think of; the list is very extensive.   These programs cost a fortune every year.   It is not only the direct costs of the programs themselves but the additional burden of the gazillion government workers that administer the programs.  They are a tremendous strain on the taxpayers and very serious questions can be raised about whether they efficiently and morally achieve their announced purposes.   It is time for some radical new ideas to be tried.   Yes, many people  get off welfare or entitlement programs every year.   But those that do I believe do so more because of their own effort and work rather than any benefit from the programs.

Some folks need help and some folks sad to say are laggards who don’t have the ambition or inclination to change their lives.  That is their choice.  Even the poor should have freedom of choice.   If you want to sit in a 300 square foot apartment all day and read poetry and eat peanut butter sandwiches who am I to say that is a “bad” life.   Is there any way to change things to perhaps save money and allow everyone the freedom to lead their own life.

Why not cancel and eliminate every single one of those programs and fire all the employees administering them.   You make your own assessment of what they cost.  I think you will find if you add them all that it comes of well over 250 billion a year at least.   Why not simply write a check to anyone who wants it who is not working for a minimum amount each year in lieu of  any welfare or entitlement program.   Say $17,000 for a couple and $10,000 for a single person.  Yep, it is sure not much money but they would have food, clothing and shelter.  They could always go to work if they choose.   I figure a little less than half the poplulation are workers because more than half are too young or too old to be in the workforce.   Of that group how many would opt for the program?   Make you own estimate and do the math.  The only “welfare” agency that would remain would be a clearing house for job opportunities and references to NGO services.   If you do work during your lifetime and pay a minimum of say $40,000 into Social Security then you  could get Social Security at retirement age; otherwise you would recieve only the minimum payment.   The numbers can be tinkered with all you like but you get the idea.  Play around with the concept.   With some encouragement from  society and family I think the overwhelming majority would opt for work and the opportunities that it would bring.   In the meantime no one would need to be on the street or without food, clothing and shelter unless that was their choice.   Adjustments could be made for special needs individuals.  We alraedy provide help for them now and they could be blended into this concept.

Some might argue that there would be a “stigma” attached to accepting  the Federal check.  Yes, I would think so and what is wrong with that.  At least this stigma can be removed, get a job.  It is not like the spot in MacBeth that can’t be removed.  (“out out, damn spot”) This is only a bare bones outline and I invite you to give it a work out, improve it please.  It is time for new ideas and methods to deal with our world of today.   Continuing what we have been doing will guarantee that we will be in the same place 50 years from now except the costs will be even higher and the public debt beyond bearing.  Let’s try something very different for a change.

Prester John was a mythical character that took the world by word of mouth and innuendo centuries ago–the 12th century A.D   He was supposedly descended from the three wise men according to one version.  He lived somewhere allegedly in the far east beyond Persia.  There was a letter that was supposed to have been written by him to leaders of Europe at this time offering help in freeing  the Church of the Holy Seplucher from Saracen hands.  The letter was a forgery.    Many miracles and wonderous things were attributed to this myth.  He was at least part of the object of Marco Polo’s journey to China and he was still being discussed as late as Christopher Columbus’s time.  He was a religious Bigfoot of his time and  for several more centuries.  He is a demonstration of the power of hope in man.  Everyone wanted to believe in him so badly that they knew he just had to exist.


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Filed under Economics, history, Politics

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