The Black Hole called Welfare – Why taxes and welfare are bad (Part 3)

Let’s say someone broke into your house. They went to your wallet, pulled out $100, and left. Then they gave that $100 to charity. How would you feel about that? Would you feel like you were being charitable? Or would you be annoyed because it was your money? What if someone broke into your house, stole $100, and gave $30 of it to charity. They used the other $70 to cover their expenses; the time it took them to take your money, the rent on the office they work out of, and they are paid $160,000 a year to do what they do. Would you be happy if someone took $100 from you, without your consent, and only $30 of it ended up helping someone? What if someone broke into your house and stole $100. They used $70 to cover their expenses; apparently there is a lot of overhead when it comes to redistributing wealth. Then they took the remaining $30 and sent a check to someone. The recipient has no guidelines, they got the $30 check and they can spend it one whatever they want. You’ll never know what your $100 ended up doing. Conservatives don’t consider this charity.

Now that you know why taking money from the rich is bad, let’s go over why giving money to the poor is bad. Now, just like ’wealthy’, poor is also hard to define. Is it anyone who is having trouble paying the bills? Plenty of people with higher incomes can have trouble paying the bills, especially if they are in debt. Is it anyone making less than a certain amount a year? Is it anyone whose expenses exceed their incomes? I was looking at statistics from the Urban Institute, they put the poverty line at $19,000 a year, and the low-income line at $38,000 a year. One statistic I found says that 12% of Americans are living below the poverty line. I don’t know if that includes children or not, but either way it seems a reasonable enough number to work with. Some people think it should be the government’s responsibility to eliminate poverty. I think that would be impossible, as some people choose to live in poverty. Some people choose not to work, some people choose to change jobs frequently, some people choose not to finish high school, some people live to get drunk. There is nothing wrong with any of those choices, in America people are free to do as they please. But if those are the choices they make I don’t understand why it is the government’s responsibility to take our tax dollars and support them in their choices. We also need to remember that for most people, poverty isn’t that bad. If you think of poverty in Africa, you probably picture naked children, contaminated water, grass huts and maybe a small bowl of rice for dinner. Poverty in America is not that bad. The vast majority of Americans living in poverty have a car, a microwave, a television, running water, and a place to live. These days most of them also own a computer, a video game console, and a cell phone. I’ve never seen any Americans walking around naked because they couldn’t afford clothing. Poverty is just a designated income line; just because someone is ’living in poverty’ doesn’t mean their life is bad, and it certainly does not mean that they can’t afford the necessities of life.

I also contend that many people are not making as little as they claim, which changes the number of people living below the established poverty line, and changes all the averages of wealth distribution and median income calculations. There are, of course, many people who obtain money illegally; prostitution and selling drugs are two that come to mind. It is impossible to track the number of people with these careers, and how much they make. I’m sure that wealthy drug lords don’t submit their incomes to the IRS at the end of every year. Other people with jobs working for cash also don’t; they’re usually working for cash exactly because they don’t want the IRS to know about the job. Now, I don’t know if this (hopefully) small workforce accounts for any significant amount of income relative to the national calculations, but I am putting it out there to point out that many people who report no income actually do have an income. There is another fairly large group who probably typically fall between the poverty line and low-income line. This is people working for tips. Servers, valets, musicians, bell-hops, matre d’s, window-washers. I know there are dozens of professions where people receive tips, and many professions where that is the main source of income. I couldn’t find any numbers indicating how many servers there are in America. I tried to think of every restaurant in the town I live in, and how many servers each one hires, and how many towns there are in America. The conclusion I came to is that there are quite a few people who work as a waiter or waitress, and most of them probably make less than $38,000 a year. I worked in two different restaurants in high school and college; one was a wonderful little 50’s diner where all the waitresses wore poodle skirts, the other was Perkin’s Family Restaurant and Bakery. I loved being a waitress, I always had a lot of fun, probably because I love food.

Now, when I say, Cheating on their taxes what comes to mind? Probably wealthy people; rich, selfish people who are doing horrid things like using banks in the Bahamas, writing off every cent they donate to charity, and hiring legions of lawyers to avoid paying a dime more than they have to. I have learned, however, that cheating on taxes is not something only the elite and wealthy do. Both restaurants I worked at, every single server underreported her tips. Can you believe it! Poorer people also want to keep as much of their money as they can! What is the world coming to! Servers are paid $2.13 an hour, and they are supposed to report all their tips, so the government can take their taxes out of the $2.13. Every single server I knew reported 10% of her sales, and one of them specifically told me that 10% was the magic number, report any less than that and a red flag would go up at the IRS. Most servers make 15-20%, and if they’re really good they can make a bit more. Hopefully not every server in America is willing to lie to the IRS to save a couple of dollars every paycheck, but in the restaurants I worked at it was common knowledge that you didn’t report what you actually made in tips. Most of those servers had previously worked at other restaurants, so I assume it was the same there as well. Which leads me to wonder; how many people reportedly living around the poverty line are actually making 50-100% more than they claim? Even if it were only half the servers in the country, how many people would that be? How would that change the income distribution? How many servers ’qualify’ for welfare on their stated income?

That is one of the less significant reasons I am against welfare. People like getting things for free. Of course a waitress who ’qualifies’ for welfare isn’t going to say her income is actually much higher than she claimed on her taxes. She’s going to take the money, and probably won’t think twice about it. She may not even know what her income actually was. I know people don’t think twice about lying to save money, because I worked in it and I saw it every single day. I don’t know what they would have said if I had asked them how they felt about cheating on their taxes; they probably would have snorted and said, “Let the rich pay the taxes, they can afford it. I need this money so I can buy food.” I imagine that most of the jobs people can get working for cash fall into the lowest income bracket, so a large percentage of people who qualify for welfare have incomes that can’t be verified. I don’t think it is right for the government to take money from me and give it to someone else who may be making as much as twice as much as they claim. Of course, that’s not my only reason for being against welfare. I have no idea how many people there are on welfare who work for tips, it could be as little as 1%. But maybe it’s a lot more than that. Maybe as many as 20% of welfare recipients don’t actually qualify because they are underreporting their incomes. Does it seem fair that the government can confiscate your money to give to someone who doesn’t qualify for it?

I don’t like welfare because it fosters dependency. Many people argue that this can’t be proven; which is true, it’s hard to prove what someone’s attitude is or how they might have done things differently if they hadn’t received welfare. The experiences I have had show me that human nature tends towards laziness. I highly recommend a great book called, “The 10 Things you can’t say in America” by Larry Elder. He tells about an experience with a man he played tennis with. Afterward they were talking; Larry mentioned that he ran a company, and the man said he was out of work and asked if he could give him his resume. Larry asked why he wasn’t out looking for a job, and he said his unemployment benefits didn’t run out for a while. I had the exact same experience with a woman I know whose husband lost his job. She said she was looking for work, and I said if she needed something quickly I knew she could get a job substitute teaching and start right away. She kind of shrugged and said it wasn’t a big deal, because her husband was still getting unemployment benefits. This is quite a natural reaction; if you’re getting paid you might as well stay home and enjoy the break. There is no study, no survey, no data that can convey the attitude contained in those two examples. It is human nature to prefer not to work. Children who grow up living off welfare benefits are used to it, so why put forth the effort to break out of that cycle? Michael Tanner testified:

While the average stay on welfare remains relatively short, nearly 65 percent of the people on welfare at any given time will be on the program for eight years or longer. Moreover, welfare is increasingly intergenerational. Children raised in families on welfare are seven times more likely to become dependent on welfare than are other children.

Professors Richard Vedder and Lowell Galloway of the University of Ohio, found that, if you compare two individuals with incomes below the poverty level, an individual who does not receive welfare is two and a half times more likely to be out of poverty the next year than an individual who receives welfare19. His statements kind of make it sound like welfare breeds dependency. Being on welfare makes you less motivated to earn a living on your own. It makes sense. If you risk having nothing, no food, no housing, you’re going to do something to make sure you get what you need. Even if it means working hard, sacrificing time you would rather spend sleeping, giving up buying unnecessary things, and maybe even trying to learn a new skill. If the government is going to give you the means to get by, then there is less motivation to be self-sufficient. It’s not much, of course, but it is enough to buy food and shelter. As long as you know you can always get enough money to live, there is less motivation to work hard. It also breeds a sense of entitlement. The government is just giving you money, so why shouldn’t it give you more? Enough to live in a slightly better apartment? Enough to buy toys for your kids? Everyone else has more, why shouldn’t you get a bit of what they have?

Welfare is also contributing to the disintegration of the family. In 1960 only 5.3 percent of births were illegitimate. Today it is nearly 30%, and nearly 66% of black births are illegitimate. Fifty years ago if a girl got pregnant out of wedlock she would get married or give it up for adoption. The father had responsibilities. Today the ’father’ can take off, because he knows the government will take care of the kid. Half of all unwed teen mothers go on welfare within one year of the birth of their first child; 77 percent are on welfare within five years of the child’s birth20. The welfare system was set up as a safety net for families with children, to help them have enough to get by until they could afford to support themselves again. Now it has become a way of life, allowing people to live however they want while taking no personal responsibility for their actions.

William Galston, President Clinton’s Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, says that the welfare system is responsible for at least 15 to 20 percent of the family disintegration in America. “Others, such as Charles Murray, attribute as much as 50 percent of illegitimacy to welfare. I believe that any objective look at the available literature on this topic indicates a strong correlation between the availability of welfare and out-of- wedlock births…by removing the economic consequences of a out-of-wedlock birth, welfare has removed a major incentive to avoid such pregnancies. A teenager looking around at her friends and neighbors is liable to see several who have given birth out-of- wedlock. When she sees that they have suffered few visible consequences (the very real consequences of such behavior are often not immediately apparent), she is less inclined to modify her own behavior to prevent pregnancy.20”

Well, those are all just statistics and such.  You can’t make assumptions about people and their situation and intentions.  What if you heard it from someone actually in that situation?  A high school friend of mine is living as a single mother in relative poverty, and has a blog.  She shares an experience she had in a post called “Ghetto Moms vs. US Spending”.

 

“In the ghetto there are a few things every kid knows: what food stamps are, most siblings are only half related, what child support is, how to use a weapon, what streets not to walk down after dark, and most importantly how to milk the government. It is sad to say these things out loud, but they are very true.  A “wise” eight year old once explained to me that I had had my kids “wrong”. They all had the same father. She told me, “Everyone knows that if you have more baby daddys you get more child support and never have to work. The government pays for everything too.” At the time I was shocked. What kind of parent would want her child to grow up planning to have multiple children by multiple men and live off the “system” for her life? What kind of life would that be?”

My mom has spent years doing volunteer work in social services. She spends most of her time working with single pregnant women, setting up adoptions or helping them adapt to being single parents. She says she has seen several children abandoned with their grandparents while the mother moves away and lives off welfare benefits.

So, welfare is actually perpetuating the problem it is supposed to be fixing. Much of the money being spent on welfare recipients is actually an investment in breeding more welfare dependent people. I, naturally, do not want my tax dollars being invested in a program that encourages more welfare, so that more money is needed to support the program, so more people go on welfare, so more money is needed, resulting in more people on the program…

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About whyimconservative

I'm a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom with a Biochemistry degree living in Austin. I love my kids, my husband and my country. I want to explain why I'm conservative.

Posted on June 6, 2011, in Why Taxes and Welfare are Bad and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. BRAVO! Very well put!!

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