Fifty years ago President Johnson initiated a $20 trillion taxpayer-funded war on poverty. It was an ambitious goal, one that he hoped would fight what many considered the “evils giants of society” including want, disease, ignorance, squalor, and idleness. But now, as President Obama commemorates the anniversary Wednesday of Johnson’s 1964 speech, which gave rise to Head Start, Medicaid and a plethora of other federal anti-poverty programs, many of us are left wondering if the economic policies of the left haven’t simply left us with a dependency culture which continues to steadily grow.
Welfare can create entitlement
There’s the great argument, one which has been fueled by the recent debate whether or not to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed, where President Obama argues that extending the benefits are necessary for the millions who remain unemployed.
Then there is the other side of the argument. Idleness takes two forms: voluntary and enforced. There are millions of Americans who are unemployed for a variety of reasons which are beyond their culture: spending cutbacks, job loss, growing competition from abroad and a dozen other economic factors. Then there are others who have grown dependent on the state. They believe that the state or government owes them a living. Still others have been left with little incentive to find a job when they are receiving unemployment benefits and other government handouts which make it more profitable not to work.
How is the welfare state doing under President Obama?
If welfare was about giving a leg-up and not a hand-out why are we seeing it have very little impact on the overall poverty rate? Right now a record 47 million Americans receive food stamps, about 13 million more than when President Obama took office. The poverty rate has also remained around 15 percent for three consecutive years.
So what’s wrong with our current welfare system? Experts suggest it’s become less about meeting Johnson’s goal of making people self-sufficient and prosperous and more about giving away free stuff. Why would you go to work when you can get paid to sit?
Welfare should create an incentive for people to work. Right now, many individuals have decided they are better off on benefits then if they did decided to go to work. But what if we simply cut the benefits and forced those who were able to work. Do not give them a choice.
President Bill Clinton had it right, it’s time to end welfare as we know it and create a workfare. Guess what? Under Clinton’s plan millions of people lost their benefits, went back to work and the revolution took hold. What if citizens choose not to work or cannot find work? They can be put to work by the state, and if they aren’t willing to work, they won’t get any money.
Widowed, disabled and children
There will always be those in society who need help. No one is saying that we shouldn’t help the truly disabled, elderly, widowed or children. For those who have been given much- much should be expected. But it’s time to rethink whether the welfare policies of our country have created an entitlement state where many of our citizenry have stopped working because they think someone else should take care of them.
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