It Pays Not To Work

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The website “,” option “Browse by Category,” lists 77 programs for child care and child support, 108 programs for energy assistance, 271 programs for food/nutrition, 54 programs for housing, 70 programs for living assistance, and 53 loan programs, many in various states.

Doug Besharov, a resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute and visiting professor at University of Maryland, has written that rhetoric about cutting poverty is misleadingly outmoded because, he wrote, “it implies that government income transfers can be the vehicle for achieving substantial reductions in poverty. Almost all Americans live far above subsistence poverty,” mostly because of their earnings, and the rest because of government transfer programs. “What is now called poverty is really income inequality.” Besharov was the first director of the U.S. Center on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Reducing income inequality, Besharov says, cannot be accomplished through government income transfers alone. They “cost too much, create harmful disincentives to work and marriage, and must compete against old-age pensions and health care.”  Real progress in boosting income means “increasing the earnings capacity of lower-income workers and reducing the number of female-headed families.”

The poverty level that Professor Mulligan writes about refers to various resources available to families. Considering all the hammering the economy took during those years from 2007 to 2010, the poverty increase is tiny. “Measures of the poverty rate typically change more than that over any three year period,” notes Mulligan.

By now, however, many unemployed have exhausted their unemployment benefit. The Associated Press reported in November that 75 percent last year were getting a check. Now, it’s down to 48 percent. Nearly a third of the country’s jobless have not worked for a year or more.

As Mulligan writes, “Were it not for government assistance, for every seven people who would have been considered in poverty,” the safety net caught six. “Another interpretation is that the safety net has taken away incentives and serves as a penalty for earning incomes above the poverty line.” Mulligan added, “I suspect that unemployment cannot return to pre-recession levels until safety-net generosity does, too.”

Well-meaning—and always political—safety-net programs can make public assistance a life-style. For instance, a woman who begins having children while in high school can get relatively magnanimous benefits, including free family medical and dental care, groceries, transportation, rent and child care that is worth $30,000 to $40,000 a year. Obama has set aside millions in programs for single women—a favored voter group.

If, instead of living the welfare life, the woman mentioned decides to finish high school and start working, she might make only, say, $ 9 an hour ( $18,700 a year). Which course do you suppose most uneducated, single young women take in this era of Obama?

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  • Alexander Gofen

    Father, must I go to work?
    No, my lucky son.
    We're living now on Easy Street
    In dough from Washington.

    We've left it up to Uncle Sam,
    So don't get exercised.
    Nobody has to give a damn –
    We've all been subsidized.

    But if Sam treats us all so well
    And feeds us milk and honey,
    Please, daddy, tell me what the hell
    He's going to use for money.

    Don't worry, bub, there's not a hitch
    In this here noble plan –
    Hi simply soaks the filthy rich
    And helps the common man.

    But, father, won't there come a time
    When they run out of cash
    And we have left them not a dime
    When things will go to smash?

    My faith in you is shrinking, son,
    You nosy little brat;
    You do too damn much thinking, son,
    To be a Democrat.

    (to be repooblocrat -more up to date)

    November 4, 1949, Daily News ( flier )

    • intrcptr2



  • pierce

    With a fearless, rather foolish leader like Obama, who in their right mind would want to work. Question, do you pay taxes on welfare checks? If not, I need to go on welfare.

  • RiverFred

    The fraud is massive especially with food stamps. Several of my friends work as cashiers at grocery stores, many of those on food stamps drive nice cars, have nice jewelry and check this, they buy the most expensive food products, products the cashiers can never afford.

  • mrbean

    The sooner that this clandestine Muslim Africoon chimpout and his big butted sheboon sow and two corn-rowed sowlets are long gone from the contamination of the whitehouse the better.

  • Questions

    The people who hustle the system might well be called "the 9 percent." I'm not applauding.