We must keep striving until everyone has an above average income might be a proper rallying cry for the poverty pimps in the country. “Fixing” poverty and making all of anything above average are both mathematical impossibilities.
LBJ started the so-called War on Poverty (or more precisely the “Scheme to Create a Monolithic Voting Bloc”) in 1964 when the poverty rate by the existing metric stood at ~15%. Since Ogabe took office federal spending on welfare programs have increased by 41% to over a HALF-TRILLION dollars ($668 billion for FY ’11) a year yet our progress on defeating poverty (again, a mathematical impossibility) has changed very little. According to the CATO Institute (a source for some of the values in this article) we are currently spending $61,830 a year for a “poor” family of three or $20,610 for every poor person in the country. Hell, at that rate the wife and I could live pretty comfortably and I suspect most of our readers could too, so what gives? Why aren’t we making progress in this alleged war? Simply put we keep moving the goal posts for what constitutes poverty and it’s advantageous for the Left to constantly increase the numbers of people eligible to step up and slurp at the government trough.
In order to assess poverty in the U.S. we first need to see what our definition of poverty is. The government for the last 20 years or so has reported the number of persons living in poverty is relatively unchanged at around 30 million Americans. The media and activists likes to use about 1 in 7 Americans. We are given images of those people living in desperation, deprived of basic needs and largely homeless. As most of us know this is utter bullshit. I can’t say that some people actually do live in those conditions, and the number is not insignificant but way, way, WAY less than that 30 million figure. Chronic homelessness has a number of other factors in play, not addressed by your typical welfare program. There are quite a few folks that live homeless by choice, those with significant, untreated mental illnesses especially including chemical dependencies. Also there are millions of Americans that in fact, do experience temporary crises in food, clothing or housing. Compassion dictates that we must have a safety net for these situations, and I wouldn’t advocate the total elimination of our social programs essential to weave that net.
Placing the former group to the side of our discussion leaves the ‘average’ person or family living in poverty. Using an isolated figure like income for the determination of who is and isn’t ‘poor’ wrecks the target populace for government programs. ‘Poor’ Americans in general, live in conditions that the upper middle-class in other countries would envy. Last year the Heritage Foundation produced a report entitled “Air Conditioning, Cable TV, and an Xbox: What is Poverty in the United States Today?“. This well-researched report provides excellent insight into the state of poverty and the ‘war’ in the US today. Most astonishing to me are the two graphs depicting by percentage, the living amenities owned by ‘All US Households’ and ‘Poor US Households’. The graphs are virtually identical.
This near equality begs the question “So why the hell are we still bombarded with images of starving children and women dying on the streets homeless?” You really do know the answer, right? The Left. We will always have a group of citizens that can be called ‘poor’, it’s a mathematical certainty not a social failure. The progressives will always use the ‘everyone must be above average’ and ‘no one must be poor’ paradox to tax and spend their way into a lifetime of elected employment. They can count on two group’s votes here, the recipients of other people’s coerced money disguised as largesse by the government politicians and also the vote of the guilty liberal that must fweeel better about him or herself that they ‘did’ something, of course the companion to that ‘something’ is did it work is of no consequence to them, merely the fact that they ‘tried’. Notice the parallel here to the ridiculous concept we have in kid’s sports where everyone gets a medal for participating and there are no winners or losers. The liberal gets it’s medal for participating (through taxes onlyl) in the war on poverty, regardless of the outcome. We can spend a TRILLION dollars a year on Welfare perpetually in the ‘War on Poverty’ but there can never be a win. But hey that’s OK for Mr. or Ms. Bumper-Sticker Ideologue.
What is or should be our intentions regarding the ‘poor’ is the very first question if we intend to reform the system, and we must. As the baby-boomers continue to reach retirement age our tax burden will rise astronomically just on social programs, as we all know. Of course, the first battle will be with the socialists wanting to maintain their sinecures and that requires maintaining the system status quo. So far we’ve been spending all these billions just to allow the poor to attain the trappings of the higher classes without the responsibility and effort that everyone else needs to earn them. We’re on our 3rd generation of cradle-to-grave welfare dependency in large population groups of the inner cities. Getting these folks off of government dependency will be worse than getting a crack-addict clean. Also, look for the the socialist-progressives to morph the welfare system from a safety-net into an income redistribution scheme to equalize incomes. It isn’t enough for the Left that the ‘Poor Folks’ have all the niceties the rest of us do, they need the same AGI we have otherwise it’s ‘unfair’ and what little prosperity we have was at the expense of others, besides ‘we didn’t build it’ anyway.
What to do? I for one favor a serious Workfare program, but there are many details that would need to be addressed to keep it from becoming a clusterfuck. Do we have the recipients only perform services for the government or do we have a program whereby they can be ‘hired’ by the private sector. This might have some attractive features since the charge for their service could offset their welfare checks. Do we attempt to provide job skills training or just unskilled labor? I would suggest both, but only for those that display a willingness to learn. One thing for certain is that we will never break the dependency cycle without first instilling the work ethic into this group. We have to keep in mind that in general, the recipients right now have NO shame whatsoever in living off the taxpayers (well, Obama’s Stash). They’re actually proud of themselves for taking ‘the man’s dime’ while they can get all the bling and build a bad-ass Donk with it, along with paying the rent and groceries. They honestly see themselves as being ‘clever’ without realizing their perceived cleverness is actually targeted slavery by the left. The Left will protect this status-quo viciously, truly free people will not vote for the slavery of the handout. Realization and acceptance that the true way to prosperity is through work and perseverance, will be accompanied by an epiphany that government social programs ensure they will never be prosperous and that they are at the mercy of selfish politicians.
The poor will always be with us, as Andrew Wilkow is right ‘some people just suck at life’, and it’s not helping them by making them increasingly comfortable in their poverty. Ben Franklin had it absolutely right. Welfare reform is imperative. We are rapidly approaching a point where the checks will be drastically reduced or stopped. Period. With the current state of the welfare program cities will burn if those EBT cards don’t get reloaded. The fact that Ogabe gutted the ‘work’ qualifications proves that the Left intends not only to maintain the current program, but expand it in a direction even more costly to the taxpayers. What are we prepared to do?