Weaning off of Welfare

Welfare has been a long time in the making, and it will be a long road back. Clearly our welfare system is out of control and must be reigned in, and ultimately eliminated. Unfortunately, the welfare state is so large, despite the fact that many would like to terminate it completely and immediately, we know that approach would result in nationwide hemorrhaging of biblical proportions. Children would go hungry; some older people would surely die. Violent crime and thievery would increase dramatically because like the squirrel fed by his homeowner all winter, a lifelong welfare recipient can't likely forage for himself.

Dependent for years on government and accustomed to having everything provided for him, a person can't be expected to just get a good job and support his family immediately. He likely would have to rob others and steal for it, maybe even kill. Conservatives understand that, so obviously we can't just shut off all the water. Still, something must be done. Most of us realize that complete and immediate abolition is too drastic. We need to somehow wean ourselves off of it - but how?

It took decades of progressive "New Deals" and Utopian "Great Societies" to bring us from funding temporary emergency assistance to lifetimes of entitlements and benefits. It won't require quite as long, but it will take a good while to get us out of this malaise and on the road to prosperity again. In the end, patience will win out. We must mentally regress to our formative years; to the times and the values we had when we were proud and strong - and we knew why.

Social Security and Medicare

By definition, Social Security and Medicare are not “welfare”. We pay for that through our taxes over the years. Sure, plenty take advantage of the disability opportunities, and other associated benefits, but most of us pay for a lifetime. At retirement it kicks in at a certain limited pension amount. It clearly needs drastic reform, but from someone who has paid for decades against my will into my “insurance policy” I don’t want it taken from me because someone else “needs” it more.

There are some even on the right who reluctantly suggest that whether we like it or not, needs testing has to be done. They are willing to forgo their benefit because they know they don’t need it and believe that since they can afford to leave it on the table, others in the same income or asset level should too. To those people I say it is no different than any other asset a person accumulates. If they want to donate their social security benefit back to the United States Treasury, the instructions and address were listed earlier in this book. I paid for this and I want it back. If I don’t need it maybe I will donate it to a church or other private charity where it will do far more good than allowing the government to determine its use.

A few years ago George Bush II proposed to make a portion of social security private, not optional to pay, discretionary as to using a private account instead. Anyone could take a small portion of the amount currently going into social security and place it into their own private investment fund. The amount suggested to be optional was just 2% out of the 12.4% we must pay into the program. It was not a matter of doing it or not, it was a matter of where to put it – the government or into a private investment company or bank.

This proposal was spun by the media and those on the left as another boondoggle for the rich and the fat cats on Wall Street. After all, they would be able to solicit all companies and employees to invest that money for the employee, and God forbid, might actually make money doing it. That can’t be good, no – let the government continue to run the biggest Ponzi Scheme in history. One thing about the real Charles Ponzi (the Italian immigrant whose name the dastardly scheme has taken) was that he didn’t do it on purpose - at least not at first, and he was truly repentant that he let it get out of control. Oh – he also served prison time for it.

The Bush suggestion to privatize just a part of the Social Security system went down in flames. Lawmakers didn’t like losing control over any of that money. After all, how could they threaten voters that the other guys, the bad guys, the hated political opposition would take it away if it wasn’t under their control? Without control, there would be no power. Merely losing that small amount of control was enough to cause these power hungry elitists hissy fits.

Privatization of social security is the answer, but it would have to be very gradual. Like any other contractual pension plan, those of us who have paid into it should get something out of it. I would not hesitate to stopping it now. Those who have paid receive what they invested over the years, or even a credit for what they paid to be returned at retirement. Then shut it down.

Social Security is not welfare. We may not like it, we may believe there is a lot of waste but we pay for it and getting something back is not welfare.

Welfare is the taking of money from someone else through government as middleman to which the beneficiary has not contributed. It consists of any subsidy for which the recipient did not pay; allowance checks, food stamps, fuel assistance, utility bill assistance, medical care, housing allowances, day care, free cell phones, and children’s benefits. On and on it goes.

This has to stop. We offer a four step program.

Four Regressive Steps to Welfare Elimination

It won't be easy, but the following is a four-step program for eliminating our welfare state permanently and returning us to the affluent nation founded on personal freedom and responsibility that we all deserve. Over the past several decades we have come to realize that government does not know how to stop any program, they only seem to have initiate and expand capability. We are here to help with that failure. When something doesn’t work anymore, we get rid of it. Not so simple in government, so we have to take a while to unravel it.

This all begins one full year after initial implementation and passage. We must have this delay in order to offer time and every fair chance for all of the parasites on the dole to alter their lifestyle and to understand that they must prepare for their new place in a free new world.

Step 1: Freeze!! - No more enrollees allowed!

Those already enrolled, can stay. They may continue to act as the barnacles slowing down our economic ship. However, no new recipients will be allowed for any program. No newly born children may be added to a family, no newly incapacitated, no recently bankrupted or even the long-term unemployed who’ve given up. No one. No exceptions. We are getting government out of the charity business altogether. It is not the proper role.

The newly born children will have to rely on their parents to make sacrifices in other areas to make room for the added expense they bring. The delayed start of an entire year offers welfare recipients time to make the decision to have a child or not. Anyone currently pregnant at implementation, or who gives birth within the first year of this program can be added to the family roles, but not there after. So for three months, have at it in the bedroom – after that the cupboard will permanently closed to new arrivals.

This is choice. Welfare parents may choose to have more children after the first year, they just won't be paid for them. Nothing. They make the decision whether or not to procreate; it will be completely in their hands. No sterilizations, no required aborting of second or third-born children, no forced adoption. If they believe that they would have a difficult time affording kids, they probably shouldn't have them. Maybe they should offer them up for adoption, but it will be left to the parents to determine. They will be free to decide to have more children and do the best they can with the money and benefits already provided. It is completely up to the parents.

The newly incapacitated, would have a year to arrange for care. A tragedy, yes, but financially solving individual personal misfortune is not a valid function of government. When exceptions become the rule, many will apply for the aid and be taken on as dependents. Soon the numbers of exceptions will increase, the qualifications for help diminish and eventually the takers rule again – as they do now. Caring for the incapacitated is kind and virtuous, if done by one individual for another out of the goodness of heart. When forcibly administered by government, it victimizes one in order to reward another and it is not the proper role of a government of all the people.

We all know that by terminating new enrollees some otherwise deserving individuals (if there is such a thing) under previous law will now be shut out. This is inevitable. Those who suffer catastrophes that would have otherwise been absorbed by the rest of us through welfare assistance programs will no longer be considered the obligation of government. They must now rely on family, friends, and charity for assistance. This approach worked well when we were a prosperous nation, it will again and we will again be success

Step 2 - Freeze All Federal Employee Levels for Ten Years NO NEW HIREES 

Employees of all federal departments including the welfare departments must also be frozen at today's level in every division of every department in every state. No increase in personnel will be allowed in any civilian branch. If a worker quits or is terminated, he may be replaced if deemed necessary from within. Retired workers are not to be replaced, this will shrink government work force gradually.

This part of the plan begins on the day the new law is signed. There is no need to wait a year to implement this. If we did, there would be an influx of connected workers. We can’t have that.

The reasoning here is that the general depletion of the welfare roles and corresponding overall reduction in work force through attrition should coincide well enough with employees responsible for serving them and so there should not be any need for replacing workers. If an essential employee leaves for any reason, he may need to be replaced. That would be a decision for local management to make, and they must look to other departments to fill that void.

If an indispensable employee retires, and his job is critical and must be continued, then there must be a transfer from another area to fill the need. No new hiring. Again, this is a matter for management to decide who is transferred and to where.

In private business, employees are constantly switching roles, and improving their position. There is no reason it can't be done better in a government setting. “No increase in allowed personnel” does not mean employees can't receive raises or promotions. They can. Just like any other entity, some will be promoted. Many, maybe all will receive normal raises. We just can't allow any new workers to join the government employment roles. There are far too many now.

One of the reasons so many governments, including cities, towns and state and federal levels are going bankrupt, besides gross mismanagement, laziness, graft and corruption, is the cost of unnecessary and retired workers and their pension and benefit plans. They are simply just too expensive to continue in the manner in which they are going now.

This is part of the welfare elimination argument as well as its own not because we believe that government workers do not earn their salaries. We don’t, but that is not all that relevant. Whether they earn their pay or not, we just can’t continue to offer lifetime jobs and benefits to those on the inside which those of us on the outside just can’t afford for ourselves. We can’t afford it anymore.

Pay those currently as agreed, but no more. We believe in the sanctity of contract – but the future is not yet written. We want to write it a little better this time. The public sector should support this approach because if we don’t change this soon, bankruptcy won’t be far away. At that point, a court will restructure all debts and decide whether to honor the contracts or not – and how.

States, counties and towns should follow this example too as they are just as guilty. Stop raising property taxes on residents and businesses to pay for their own mismanagement and nepotism.

Step 3 - Stop Penalizing Recipients for Working

Since all recipient's benefits and amounts will be frozen, they will need an alternative method to deal with the increase in cost of living that inevitably comes with normal inflation. There should no longer be a penalty or benefit reductions to recipients for increasing their income for a period of at least ten years.

This change will allow certain government employment positions in branches structured to monitor or report on this to be reduced. These displaced workers can be available to be moved to other needed areas to fill in for retirements and other terminations.

Though not sympathetic, conservatives understand that many welfare beneficiaries refuse to be productive because it honestly makes no economic sense for them to be so. If they earn too much money, they will have their benefits reduced or eliminated. Think about it. If they work, they will have less time with their family and friends; they have more stress as they perform actual work; and they risk reduced or terminated benefits and lose all or many of the other free goodies formerly available. Who would even consider that? Yes, a responsible moral person would do so, but only if he believed he could ultimately be successful and benefit his family in the long term.

Unfortunately many welfare recipients have been indoctrinated to think differently. They would not consider purposely reducing their benefits in order to begin a potentially lucrative career that might fail and could jeopardize their family’s accustomed lifestyle. They just wouldn't chance it. Can we blame them?

Let's encourage them to get away with it for a while. Allow them to work above board, earn as much as they can and increase their lifestyle for a period of at least ten years. We will revisit it then. They may find that they prefer producing and providing for themselves to dependency upon others. They may discover that they like it and are good at it. They may even stumble on satisfaction, happiness and pride. Surprised? Shouldn’t be.

Since they would not be financially punished for the attempt, at least some would choose to try to be more productive. Probably a lot would try because now they would have another way to provide for their families without the harsh penalty they would face under current law.

Some might take this opportunity and become very productive. They could possibly earn more than many of us who have been working and paying taxes for years while we never received any “entitlement” benefits. Lets face it, many now will only accept work “under the table” for fear of risking the loss of lucrative benefits. This will allow them to surface and contribute.

It doesn't seem very fair to continue to reward them when others not receiving benefits actually earn less. This could be considered a major flaw. If it is, it is one we can live with to achieve the overall objective. At least the newly productive will be paying taxes and contributing while receiving their goodies. Remember, before they contributed little or nothing. The primary reason for this exception is to encourage the beneficiaries dragging us all down to produce for themselves without risking their lifestyle. It will be their reward for joining the responsible among us and beginning to contribute to their own welfare.

This approach is like gifting a child a down payment for a house. Sure, it hurts initially, but if he doesn't screw up, he is now on his way to financial independence. A lot of things can go wrong, no doubt, but don't we at least want to encourage them to try and suggest legitimate means to do it? Isn't that the goal here?

Wouldn't we rather they learn to fish than have to continue to provide them fish every day of their lives, and for the lifetimes of their heirs for generations to come? So we are providing the bait and maybe the rod too. It could be that some consider that too much. They should get their own rod and bait. Keep in mind that welfare payments will not increase, and if they work, there will be more tax dollars to pay for it, and they would be paying for some of it themselves. Not perfect, but at least they are more motivated to learn to do their own fishing.

Step 4:  - All Direct Benefits Cease in 25 Years 

Ninety percent of all government welfare programs will cease to operate in 25 years. Direct payments to individuals will completely disappear after 25 years - for anything. This may seem like an enormous amount of time, but remember how long it took to get us here; it will take a while to wean off. The time to complete elimination will be long, but we will see positive results almost immediately.

We have to target the elimination much like pension planners plan for retirement a few decades in advance, but in reverse. Actuarially audit the system each year to ensure its elimination in 25 years. This could be accomplished by starting with the reductions of about 10% in the first year. First eliminating the easier fraudulent claims, then gradually reducing the budget each year as recipient’s age, die, and progress beyond the defined need. The employees currently in the departments that monitor income of the recipients to ensure they are not earning too much will no longer be necessary, so they can work on uncovering fraud too.

This is harder than it sounds, but we have to do it. We can’t eliminate 4% of the budget each year based on the previous year. It doesn’t disappear in 25 years. We would still have over 1/3 the budget we have today.

Four percent of 100 (current budget) is four, subtract that from 100 and we get 96. The following year, four percent of the 96 remaining is not four again, it is less, and each year we reduce progressively less. Like the frog jumping half way to the wall every year will never make it. After 25 years we only cut about 65% of the budget that way. We need to cut deeper and faster and be serious about it.

A nine percent reduction every year would leave us with about 10% of the current budget after 25 years. Not bad, maybe even good enough to support its replacement project explained below. We need major cuts here, a serious focused strategy and annual oversight to keep on track. When recipients get out of the governmental trough, they are off, done. We can do this, it won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile. Whoever is left receiving welfare after 25 years will just have to live without it. It isn’t like they weren’t forewarned and had no time to prepare.

The Children

What about the children? What will happen to them? Remember that there won't be any children on welfare since we've already eliminated increases, so 25 years they will all be into adulthood and unlike the kept squirrel, accustomed to assuming most of the responsibility for their own lives. A summary of a report below seems to indicate pretty clearly that welfare does children far more harm than good. This is pretty obvious to most of us, but we have facts now to back it up.

Not only is it a serious financial burden to the rest of the population to have to support a dependent class, it is a disastrous condition for welfare children as well. As documented by Rector and Fagan in their synopsis of the mid-nineties analysis, study after study has shown that:

"Welfare also plays a powerful role in promoting illegitimacy. Research by CBO Director O'Neill also shows, for example, that a 50 percent increase in monthly AFDC and food stamp benefit levels will cause a 43 percent increase in the number of illegitimate births within a state. Illegitimacy, in turn has an enormous negative effect on children's development and on their behavior as adults. Being born outside of marriage and raised in single parent homes:

· Triples the level of behavioral and emotional problems among children;

· Nearly triples the level of teen sexual activity;

· Doubles the probability a young woman will have children out of wedlock; and,

  Doubles the probability a boy will become a threat to society, engage in criminal activity, and wind up in jail.


The liberal welfare state is founded on faulty logic. This flawed logic runs something like this:


Premise #1: Children in families with higher income seem to do better in life.

Premise #2: Welfare can easily raise family income.

Conclusion: Welfare is good for kids.


FALSE CLAIM 1: Raising incomes is crucial to the well-being and success of children.

The common statist corollary to this premise is that poverty causes such problems as crime, school failure, low cognitive ability, illegitimacy, low work ethic and skills, and drug use. Hence, reducing poverty through greater welfare spending will reduce most social problems. History refutes this belief. In 1950, nearly a third of the U.S. population was poor (twice the current rate). In the 1920s, roughly half of the population was poor by today's standard. If the theory that poverty causes social problems were true, we should have had far more social problems in those earlier periods then we do today. But crime and most other social problems have increased rather than fallen since these earlier periods.

History and common sense both show that values and abilities within families, not family income, lead to children's success. Families with higher incomes tend to have sound values concerning self-control, deferred gratification, work, education, and marriage which they pass on to their children. It is those values, rather than the family income, that are key to the children's achievement level. Attempting to raise the family income artificially through welfare is very unlikely to do much to benefit the child, but it is likely to destroy the very values that are key to the child's success.

FALSE CLAIM 2: It is very easy to raise family income through welfare.

This also is untrue. Because welfare reduces work effort and promotes illegitimacy and poverty-prone single-parent families, it actually may cause an overall decrease in family incomes. Welfare is extremely efficient at replacing self-sufficiency with dependence but relatively ineffective in raising incomes and eliminating poverty.

FALSE CLAIM 3: Higher welfare benefits and broadened eligibility will help children and improve their success in later life.

In certain limited cases, such as when it is needed to eliminate serious malnutrition, welfare can help. But there is no evidence that enlarging benefits and expanding enrollments in most U.S. welfare programs will improve children's lives.

The Truth About Welfare

In contrast to the failed premises of welfare liberalism are the following hard facts about welfare and children:

Except in very limited cases, such as those involving serious malnutrition, welfare programs do not yield fewer problems and better life outcomes for children.

Welfare programs intended to combat poverty do not help children but do increase welfare dependence, which in turn is very harmful to children's well-being.

Welfare programs intended to raise family incomes do not benefit children but do significantly increase illegitimacy and single-parent families, which in turn have decisively negative effects on children's development."(End Note 1)

What about the children? They would clearly be far better off without it. Do we really need an intensive study to reason that out for ourselves?

Welfare was not meant to be a permanent generational lifestyle. Anyone in their 20's or 30's now with children and approaching 50's or 60's in 25 years at the proposed termination, should probably not have been on so long and would certainly have had more than reasonable enough notice and time to prepare to provide for themselves at its conclusion. To suggest that 25 years isn't enough time seems like an irrational argument to make.

As far as the workers in welfare departments, 25 years is a long time there too. Most of those working now will be retired by then, gradually reducing the work force. Those just starting or hired after implementation will have to realize welfare administration is no longer a 30 year career path and so they must plan for something else. Given the changes proposed here, it is not unreasonable to assume that in 25 years the workforce will be only a fraction of what it is today, so the worker displacement should not be great.


End Note 1

"How Welfare Harms Kids"

by Robert E. Rector and Patrick F. Fagan

Backgrounder #1084

The New Welfare Era

In twenty years, we begin to identify buildings to use for our new safety net program. It shouldn’t take more than five years to ready them suitable for habitation to coincide with our 25 year plan.

After 25 years of welfare reduction and elimination, we will have completely eliminated direct payments to individuals. At this point, we now use some of the prisons and other unused government buildings and refurbish them to house the truly needy.

Truly needy are those people who really have no family, friends or any other method of providing for themselves, but we provide no direct payments of any kind to them. They are so needy that they will appreciate a place to stay out of the weather and something to eat. We provide housing in which they are paid nothing, given no discretionary money. They must accept what is provided by the housing department. They will have no luxuries, but they will be safely housed.

These housing units do not have to be prison cells, but they must not be luxurious. There will be no cable TV, no pets allowed. If someone needs housing to be provided by another, he can’t afford to support himself, so he certainly can’t afford a dependent pet. Perhaps there will be a communal building for television and computer access, a library - but not in their own dwelling units.

Meals will be served cafeteria style in a common area. Food will be healthy, and there will be plenty of it.

This welfare tenement is meant to be a place people will want to stay only when they are in such dire straights they really can’t survive on their own. It can not be so finely furnished or have amenities which might entice people to clamor for admittance. It is meant to be a bare bones no-frills type of existence, which would allow a healthy temporary life for a shortest time as possible. It would encourage the residents to move on. No luxuries provided. This is just a place to sleep, and eat.

Does this sound terrible? Tell that to the bum sleeping in a cardboard box under the bridge.

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