The Incentive to Remain Poor

The thing that most worries me in this dismal economic climate is the massive expansion of the welfare state. While the poor, the disillusioned, and the malcontents continue to raid the nation’s welfare institutions, their elected officials have been hard at work trying to drive these programs into oblivion. These programs were set up to function as a safety net for those that were down on their luck, yet have quickly turned into personal hammocks for those who are unable, and often unwilling, to contribute their fair share to society. This new mentality has driven this nation towards the edge of the cliff that will be our financial demise.

Despite the fact that the system is collapsing, Democrats continue to push for an expanded welfare program. Historically, they’ve accomplished this mission by waiving work requirements, loosening the qualification standards, and most recently, by requesting parties be thrown in order to promote food stamp enrollment. Yes, parties. You see, this might be a good idea if the parties were to be thrown at a job fair. However, these parties are to be hosted by current food stamp recipients, with the bulk of the invitees being the aforementioned recipient’s friends. The idea is to have so much fun at the party, at the taxpayer’s expense, of course, that the individual will be energized enough to go enroll in the program themselves, presumably so they can also throw extravagant food stamp parties for their friends. If they have enough friends that will enroll in the programs, they could literally party every day of the week, utilizing refreshments that are provided by us, the tax-payer. This circular approach to voter appeasement demonstrates why the Democrat party is so dangerous. It is buying votes with our money.

More recently, the SNAP program doubled down on its efforts to break its own food stamp world record by encouraging non-English speaking residents to sign up for the program. How do we know this? Well, they began a heavy advertising campaign associated with Spanish soap operas in which parts of the dialogue and plot focused around the obtaining of food stamps. After The Daily Caller broke the story, the USDA caved by cancelling the program, citing that even they didn’t consider their own tactics to be “appropriate outreach.” However, they continue to still advertise the SNAP program in Spanish. This is discomforting for some, since the bulk of the non-English-speakers are of the illegal immigrant variety. It is well known that illegal immigrants are now migrating here for the purpose of welfare enrollment, which might explain why 20% of the SNAP’s beneficiaries are identified as “race unknown.” If the program doesn’t know who the individuals really are, it would stand to reason that they are also unable to determine their race.

In order to survive, the system needs some serious reform. Spending $800 billion a year on welfare is beyond a safety net. It is downright theft. If we are going to maintain a safety net (and we should) for those citizens that need it most, it is imperative that we purge the freeloaders from the system. One in seven people do not fit the bill of disabled or helpless Americans. I’m willing to bet from sheer speculation and personal observation that a large percentage of the recipients are taking advantage of the various programs in some way. To make a long story short, they could easily survive without the tax-payer’s help.

As Frederic Bastiat defined in 1848, “Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” Nothing could be truer of our government today. The few subsidize the many by paying taxes to fund these welfare programs. A tax on an individual’s income is simply a vehicle by which the government can confiscate that citizen’s property, for the purpose of redistributing it to someone else. That citizen may have worked for that property, yet they won’t get to keep it. Instead, some stranger who didn’t work for it will receive it. This government-endorsed plunder is raging out of control. The latest reports show that more than 46 million people are on food stamps, or one in seven individuals. Their reasons are varied, but, in any event, this system cannot sustain itself. With an increase of 14 million recipients under the Obama presidency, it is evident that people are simply not improving their lot by working their way off the program. The simple fact remains that when you pay people to be poor, they’re going to remain poor.

Jeff Max | Texas Wesleyan University | @JeffreyMaxxx

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