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General Articles

Welfare

 

The Constitution of the United States of America was written “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”.  

 

Starting roughly with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration, continuing with Lyndon Baines Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ and accelerating through Barack Hussein 0bama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act, the American federal government has been heaping burden after burden upon the tax paying citizens of the USA (and their distant progeny:  0bama’s 2016 budget request predicts a$26 TRILLION federal debt by 2025) and providing more and more support and ‘relief’ for citizens and slowly enslaving a growing segment of the population to a life of inability to provide for themselves.  The Constitution does not give the federal government the authority, responsibility or right to support any single citizen or group of citizens directly – or indirectly – except by compensation for services rendered.  The ‘Tranquility’ sought was not the serenity of slumber, sloth or narcosis. The ‘Welfare’ to be promoted was not the present day definition of cradle-to-grave entitlement payments and provisions.  Not even the hallowed ‘Commerce Clause’ of Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 can be stretched or twisted in any rational common sense manner to cover food stamps, ‘Section 8’ housing, unemployment payments or Medicaid for any individual.

Federal government provision of food, housing or medical care is often described as entitlements.  Being entitled to something is to have a legal right or claim on that thing.  How does the American Constitution give anyone the legal claim on any thing other than the rights specifically enumerated therein?  It does not.

 

If there is a right to food, then to what food does a citizen have the right?  One slice of stale white bread per day?  A tablespoon of peanut butter?  One cup of soy meal?  One pound of premium Russian beluga caviar?  Six organic filet mignon steaks cooked by a 3-star chef? Where do you draw the line?  If it is not ‘fair’ that some people have food and others do not, then why is it not ‘fair’ that some people eat $20 per pound imported lobster and $500 a bottle wine while others eat peanut butter on stale bread and polluted tap water?

If there is a right to housing, then what is the minimum standard housing they are entitled to occupy?  Should every American citizen have 100 square feet under roof?  Or 1000?  Does the right to accommodations include furnishings?  Should everyone have at least a fine antique Persian carpet over teak wood floors and gold-plated plumbing fixtures, a top-of-the-line widescreen television in every room with cable and Internet and a $24,000 AGA cooking unit?  Should that right include a half-acre yard with in-ground swimming pool?  The average ‘poor’ American family lives in more space than the average ‘middle class’ European family.

If there is a right to education, then what level of education is to be guaranteed?  Shall we insist every high school dropout be admitted to Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Columbia or Duke through a complete doctoral degree?  And of course, we can’t keep track of performance using grades or other means, because then a record of who is smarter, more proficient, more diligent or more talented or deserving would exist and –heaven forbid – discrimination would arise.

If there is a right to a job, then to what job shall everyone be entitled? Shall John Q. Public, fresh from failing out of his local high school, be given surgeon’s instruments because he believes that is his ‘right’?  And if Americans are entitled to a minimum wage, what is that wage to be?  Shouldn’t the proverbial unskilled ‘ditch digger’ be granted the same wage as the president of Exxon-Mobil?  Their time and energy should be equally valuable, yes?

If there is a right to healthcare, what minimum level of care should be accessible?  Shouldn’t the lowly homeless person be afforded access to the same care as the millionaire?  There is, unfortunately, only one ‘best neurosurgeon’.  She can’t operate on every person in America immediately.  And of course, medical attention needs to be prompt, if you are in need of care and entitled to it NOW, then by all means let’s rouse the surgeon from her slumbers – even if it may also diminish her skills or rouse her ire and incline her to do a slipshod job so she can return quickly to her bed.

There is no ‘right’ to food.  There is no ‘right’ to housing.  There is no ‘right’ to education.  There is no ‘right’ to healthcare.  There is no ‘right’ to a job.  Where do we draw the line at what are ‘rights’:  shouldn’t there be a ‘right’ to the perfect spouse; a ‘right’ to the vehicle of our dreams; a ‘right’ to happiness?  And who will define happiness?  The serial killer is happiest when killing.  Shall we let him claim his ‘right’?

Do you not see how absurd it is to guarantee a right to any of the above and more?

 

Think about education.  Do teachers give the answers to their students?  No – at least, not good honest teachers genuinely concerned for the quality of the education they offer.  They make the students study, memorize, practice, learn and hopefully the students, once taught, will be able to read, do math, research, think independently and contribute gainfully to society and hopefully add to the sum of human knowledge.

 

If I were to abandon my cat she would survive quite comfortably.  She’s a barn cat.  I feed her barely enough to keep her around.  She provides the bulk of her own food in chipmunks, mice, voles, squirrels, birds and rabbits from the territory she has established around our home.  (In fact, yesterday she brought me two voles to prove her prowess before devouring them.)  If I were to stop feeding my dogs, they would starve in short order.  They never learned to hunt because I provide them all they need.  They are dependent upon me.

Consider the old proverb:  Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  We can restate this as:  ”Give a man a fish and he will expect another fish from you tomorrow.”

By providing complete support to a population without their effort in exchange, the government creates a class of dependent incompetents and slaves.  Here is an example of the government inflicting dependency and discouraging self-sufficiency in the American populace.

 

Once upon a time people took care of themselves, their families, and the members of their community.  They provided shelter, food and medical care for the elderly, widowed, orphaned and infirm.  Local churches, civic groups and other charitable organizations determined who was in need and deserving, collected funds and material from the community and provided the ‘fish’ AND the ‘fishing lessons’.  The ‘soup kitchens’ of the Great Depression were privately operated.

  Then the federal government began doing so, or demanding (unconstitutionally, of course) that the States do so, since it is the States that administer these programs.  Today, more than 25% of the federal budget is spent on ‘welfare’.  That is nearly one TRILLION dollars that is extracted under duress from the pockets of some citizens to provide for other citizens.  The latter portion is currently nearly half of the population.  In 2012 there were 47 million Americans using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program (food stamps) buying nearly $89 billion worth of food.  There were 32 million children participating in the School Lunch program, another 3.3 million preschoolers getting food via the Child and Adult Care Food Program, another 2.3 million eating through the Summer Food Service Program and 8.9 million women and children dining via Women, Infants and Children (WIC).  All 2013 food assistance by the USDA totaled $111 Billion.  That’s theoretically more than 93 million people relying on the federal government to feed them.  That’s pretty embarrassing when a first-tier nation, supposedly the richest in the history of the world, has 30% of its people unable to feed themselves.  All these programs are the modern-day ‘soup kitchens’.

Now, what is very likely true is that many people counted in the several programs mentioned above are involved in more than one of those programs, although absolutely, 15% of residents of America were enrolled in SNAP in 2013 – 4 years after the latest recession supposedly ended.  However, if the government is siphoning off nearly one TRILLION dollars from the economy to support a huge proportion of the population, that is nearly one TRILLION dollars that is not available for businesses to hire those people so they can feed, clothe, shelter and pay for medical care for themselves and contribute to the nation’s ‘general Welfare’.  It is nearly one TRILLION dollars that citizens cannot save for their retirement or pay for their children’s education or start new businesses to employ still more people. It is nearly one TRILLION dollars that citizens cannot donate to local charities to provide for their neighbors in need.  If the American federal government did not spend 20 – 25% of its budget on ‘welfare’ then there would be that much more money in private hands to hire more workers, pay higher wages, donate to charities to care for those in need locally.

 

The Housing Act of 1937 authorized the federal government to assist citizens with their rental housing.  There were 4.8 million households receiving ‘Section 8’ assistance in 2008 and 1.8 million families living in ‘public housing’ in 2014.  When there is ‘free money’ available, like the Billions of dollars the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pays to private landlords, rents will rise to consume all the funds appropriated.  This forces the general rent levels to rise so the lower classes cannot afford housing without the intervention.  It is a need created by the program itself: a self-fulfilling, self-perpetuating enslavement.  Not only is this assistance unconstitutional, it distorts the housing market for lower income families.  HUD’s 2013 discretionary budget was $41.1 Billion.  That’s $41.1 Billion that was removed from the private economy and not available to pay better wages so those getting the housing assistance could afford housing on their own.

 

I am not saying that those Americans who accept this government aid are bad people or do not need or deserve to be assisted.  However, the American Constitution does not make any provision for the federal government to care in any way for the personal needs or wants of its citizens.  I repeat:  private citizens once took care of their community members.  The federal government’s efforts to fill this role have disemboweled that previously tight-knit community and put distance and apathy between neighbors. 

The ‘war on poverty’ has destroyed far more families, especially black families, than it has helped.  With regulations that make it more monetarily advantageous to have no adult male in the home, there exists a deterrence to traditional nuclear families.  With regulations that pay poor women to ‘make babies’ instead of learning a productive trade, it is no wonder that the ranks of those with ‘limited resources’ continues to grow.

 

It has been documented here and here that a mother with two children can get the equivalent of $49,175 in welfare from the State of Hawaii.  She would need a job paying more than $60,500 to have an equivalent standard of living.  That sounds like a pretty good deal.  When a young unmarried mother without productive skills can live completely via the government dole, she has no incentive to ever try to improve her lot or that of her child(ren).  The government, with its attempt at ‘helping’ the lower classes, is destroying motivation to contribute to society in any meaningful way and guaranteeing the existence and expansion of those groups.  From that same Cato Institute study:

“welfare currently pays more than a minimum wage job in 35 states”

and

“In 11 states, welfare pays more than the average pre-tax first year wage for a teacher. In 39 states it pays more than the starting wage for a secretary. And, in the 3 most generous states a person on welfare can take home more money than an entry-level computer programmer.”

 

Why don’t we all stop working and move to Hawaii and let the government feed, clothe, house and doctor us – in an idyllic setting?  Why should anyone with minimal prospects or initiative want to look for work when the government will feed, clothe, house and heal them at middle-class levels.


There are those that believe that by thinking positively, positive outcomes will manifest.  The corollary to this is that focus on negative things will produce negative results.  Athletes and musicians concentrate on top performances – PERFECT practice makes perfect outcomes.  People at the pinnacle of their field do not dwell on possible mistakes or faulty strategies.

A family member went to Kenya a few years ago and came back totally disillusioned with the attempt to help there.  The Kenyan government had (probably still has) a program in place to pay women more support if their child has Human Immunodeficiency Virus (is HIV positive).  It is no surprise to learn that women were intentionally infecting their children with HIV to increase their welfare amounts.

So when we fight a ‘war on poverty’, we get more poverty.  When we wage ‘war on drugs’, we get more drugs.  The American federal government rewards poverty, unemployment and poor heath by subsidizing them.  Instead of paying someone to not work, have more children than they can afford to raise and have unhealthy habits, diet and lifestyle, why don’t those theoretically trying to ‘solve’ these problems make programs that motivate initiative, integrity and good health.

 

Having said all that, there is nothing to prevent State governments from providing these services.  If a State’s citizens would prefer to have the State provide food, housing and medical care to its fellow citizens, more power to them.  But a State could also make any ‘welfare’ assistance predicated on some work, education, service – in some way ‘earning’ such help.

 

It is past time for the American federal (and State) government to stop being the ‘safety net’, the nanny, the enabler and let the people fend for themselves, rebuild their self-esteem, take care of their families and community as was once the strength of the USA.

 

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