Tag Archives: welfare

Insight from Thomas Sowell — on the Poor

8 Jul

I had written a blog entry about how the definitions of “poor” and “poverty” have become very gray as a result of all the “welfare” benefits being given out to people who qualify by some arbitrary definition.  However, Dr. Sowell came along and stated my case so much better than I was about to do.

Republished on “PA Pundits” blog from Dr. Thomas Sowell’s recent original column.

“Leaders of the left in many countries have promoted policies that enable the poor to be more comfortable in their poverty. But that raises a fundamental question: Just who are ‘the poor’? … ‘Poverty’ once had some concrete meaning — not enough food to eat or not enough clothing or shelter to protect you from the elements, for example. Today it means whatever the government bureaucrats, who set up the statistical criteria, choose to make it mean. … Most Americans with incomes below the official poverty level have air-conditioning, television, own a motor vehicle and, far from being hungry, are more likely than other Americans to be overweight. But an arbitrary definition of words and numbers gives them access to the taxpayers’ money. This kind of ‘poverty’ can easily become a way of life, not only for today’s ‘poor,’ but for their children and grandchildren. Even when they have the potential to become productive members of society, the loss of welfare state benefits if they try to do so is an implicit ‘tax’ on what they would earn that often exceeds the explicit tax on a millionaire. If increasing your income by $10,000 would cause you to lose $15,000 in government benefits, would you do it? In short, the political left’s welfare state makes poverty more comfortable, while penalizing attempts to rise out of poverty.” –economist Thomas Sowell

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The Joys of April 15th

15 Apr

I distinctly remember a time when I was fine with paying my federal income taxes.  Proud to, in fact.  I have paid income tax every year for 45 years, some years a relatively small amount (my military years), and some years huge amounts (by my definition).  But it used to be about how blessed and fortunate I have been.

But the pride has entirely gone now.  And what is worse, I am at a point in life where I have to actually pay money when April 15th rolls around – withholding does not cover the “tab” at this phase of my life.  In fact, over the past several years I have found it galling, disgusting, disturbing, insulting, angering, and downright ridiculous to have to pay money out-of-pocket – to “write a check” – for an additional few thousand dollars (beyond withholding), well knowing that it is going to the most bloated, inefficient, misguided and corrupt organization in the United States – or passing through to millions of people who are on the public dole for no good reason other than they CAN be (and I am NOT talking about the truly needy here).

I believe Andrew Jackson made a comment after the Missouri Compromise of 1821 (?) that he was glad, or hoped, that he would not still be around when the country paid the price for dealing with the slavery issue through such compromises.  He happened to be on the wrong side of history (to say nothing, perhaps, of the wrong side of morality), but I understand his sense of foreboding.

The thought does cross my mind to take the Alfred E. Neuman approach to the destabilization and decline of what has possibly been the greatest, most innovative, most prosperous and most generous nation the world has ever seen – “What, me worry?” – since I expect the country will hold together until my passing.  At least I hope so.

Can we recover?  The only ways I can see a recovery is to 1) regain our moral footing and dedication to founding principles and common sense laws and regulations, 2) eliminate multiculturalism in favor of unity of purpose and culture (i.e., assimilation), 3) prevent the dependent class from achieving majority-voting-block status, and 4) get our financial house in order by constraining the size, reach, and spending of the federal government.

And do I see all these things happening?  Hardly.  But I am a great believer in miracles.

Afterthought:  I find that it is one thing to have money withheld for taxes out of salary, and maybe get some part of it back, and quite another to actually have to pay “extra” out-of-pocket.   Maybe what we need is a tax system in which there is MORE of a requirement to pay out-of-pocket — say, a target to withhold only 50% of estimated tax burden — so that ALL Americans (the tax-paying portion of us, anyway) can feel the pride or anger in writing that extra check to those bozos at the end of the year.  Think the cumulative outrage might get better performance out of them?

Obama Double-Speak

8 Feb

John Stossel, in a recent essay titled, “Obama Is Not King”, points out the seemingly huge disconnect between the man’s words and his actions.  I present a sample of Stossel’s case below, but the full essay can be found at

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_commentary/commentary_by_john_stossel/obama_is_not_king

Excerpt:

Just a few years ago, when George W. Bush was president, the Congressional Record shows that Senator Obama said this: “I rise, today, to talk about America’s debt problem. The fact that we are here to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure and our government’s reckless fiscal policies.”

Right!

Sen. Obama went on: “Over the past five years, our federal debt has increased from $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion — and yes, I said trillion with a ‘T’!”

Again, he was right to worry about the debt and right to call it “a hidden domestic enemy … robbing our families and our children and seniors of the retirement and health security they’ve counted on. … It took 42 presidents 224 years to run up only $1 trillion of foreign-held debt. This administration did more than that in just five years.”

It’s hard to believe that Obama chose those words just seven years ago, because now his administration has racked up another $6 trillion in debt.

It’s also a shock that Barack Obama believed this: “America has a debt problem. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

Yet this year, he demanded Congress raise the debt limit without conditions .

I want the old Barack Obama back.

End of excerpt.  It speaks for itself.

C S Lewis on Humanitarians in Power

8 Feb

Some 60-70 years ago, in an essay titled, “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment”, C. S. Lewis, Christian apologist extraordinaire, wrote a passage that appears considerably more relevant today than in his own time.  Lewis wrote:

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.  It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.  The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.  They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth.  Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult.  To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and to be cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.  But to be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we ‘ought to have known better’, is to be treated as a human person made in God’s image.”

I believe this can rest without my further comment.

Affecting Outcomes through Education

18 Jan

Very interesting article by E.D. Hirsch on the statistical link between language proficiency and upward mobility.  I am duplicating the first three paragraphs here, but the full article can be found at http://www.city-journal.org/2013/23_1_vocabulary.html

Excerpt:   [Bolding is mine]

A Wealth of Words

A number of notable recent books, including Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality and Timothy Noah’s The Great Divergence, lay out in disheartening detail the growing inequality of income and opportunity in the United States, along with the decline of the middle class. The aristocracy of family so deplored by Jefferson seems upon us; the counter-aristocracy of merit that long defined America as the land of opportunity has receded.

These writers emphasize global, technological, and sociopolitical trends in their analyses. But we should factor in another cause of receding economic equality: the decline of educational opportunity. There’s a well-established correlation between a college degree and economic benefit. And for guidance on what helps students finish college and earn more income, we should consider the SAT, whose power to predict graduation rates is well documented. The way to score well on the SAT—at least on the verbal SAT—is to have a large vocabulary. As the eminent psychologist John Carroll once observed, the verbal SAT is essentially a vocabulary test.

So there’s a positive correlation between a student’s vocabulary size in grade 12, the likelihood that she will graduate from college, and her future level of income. The reason is clear: vocabulary size is a convenient proxy for a whole range of educational attainments and abilities—not just skill in reading, writing, listening, and speaking but also general knowledge of science, history, and the arts. If we want to reduce economic inequality in America, a good place to start is the language-arts classroom.

Ben Franklin, on Welfare

16 Jan

“I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Benjamin Franklin, On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 1766

 

More Fraud and Waste: Pity the Taxpayers

13 Jan

In a recent piece titled “EBT Abuse:  The Cash for Drunkards Program”, Michelle Malkin features yet another example of waste and fraud in our so-called compassionate use of taxpayer resources.  Where does it all end?

Below are excerpts from this essay.  The entire essay may be found at http://www.creators.com/opinion/michelle-malkin/ebt-abuse-the-cash-for-drunkards-program.html

Excerpts [Bolding is mine]

From New York to New Mexico and across the dependent plains, welfare recipients are getting sauced on the public dime. Drunk, besotted, bombed. But while politicians pay lip service to cutting government waste, fraud and abuse, they’re doing very little in practice to stop the EBT party excesses. Where’s the compassion for taxpayers?

You see the signs everywhere: “We accept EBT.” Fast-food restaurants do. Clothing retailers do. Auto repair shops, liquor stores and even sushi joints are joining the club. “EBT” stands for the federal government’s electronic benefits transfer card, which is intended to provide poor people with food stamps and cash assistance for basic necessities. The two separate programs were combined into one ATM-like card designed to reduce the “stigma” attached to Nanny State dependency, and — voila! — an entirely new method of mooching was born.

If the idea was to eliminate the embarrassment of life on the dole, the social justice crowd succeeded phenomenally. Last weekend, the New York Post blew the lid off scammers who brazenly swiped their EBT cards “inside Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn; the Blue Door Video porn shop in the East Village; The Anchor, a sleek SoHo lounge; the Patriot Saloon in TriBeCa; and Drinks Galore, a liquor distributor in The Bronx.” Out: Cash for clunkers. In: Cash for drunkards!

[Several Examples included here]

Several state legislatures have barred EBT spending on these vices, along with tattoo parlors, lottery tickets and cigarettes. Last February, President Obama signed GOP-backed welfare reform measures into law aimed at closing the so-called “strip club loophole” and preventing welfare recipients from blowing their cash benefits on booze, porn and gambling. But that law doesn’t go into effect until next year. And many politicians are just shrugging their shoulders, muttering “Whaddya gonna do?”

Here’s a radical idea: How about making taxpayer protection a priority for once and, yes, getting serious about strengthening the stigma on bottomless entitlement dependency and entitlement abuse?

According to the Department of Agriculture, illegal food stamp use costs the public upward of $750 million a year. A report by the Government Accountability Institute last fall revealed that “few security measures are in place to monitor EBT card fraud. .  .  .

[End of excerpts]