I need to start this post by revealing something personal about the person behind this screenname. I am a proud Mexican-American. I was not always proud. I can admit that now. I was raised on the government dime. We received welfare, and lived in Section 8 housing. We pushed a cart home from the grocery store, right along a busy street in Chicago. Rather that remain in the system, I escaped as soon as possible. I received a full scholarship to college. Yes, it was partly based on my race, but it was also based on my grades and test scores. Still, I didn’t know then what I do now.
I was raised to rely on the system; to get what was coming to me. We didn’t have a hand out; we had our hands out, our mouths open and our begging ready. We went to the welfare office to ask for more benefits, pleaded with our landlord for a reduced amount of the portion we had to pay, which I remember to be about $25, and asked relatives for money.
There was a major flaw in the system, even in the 80s. The welfare office made my mom sell her car because they considered it an asset. When she attempted to get a job, the government reduced the amount of welfare we received. Since she had no job skills, it was never worth it to gain employment.
The most important part of this story is that my father was an illegal alien. Eventually he would reveal to my mom that he only married her for his green card, but she didn’t know it at the time. When she met him, he couldn’t speak English; he was working as a construction worker, which was a coveted job for illegals in the 70s.
When he eventually left us, my father told my mother to get the most money from the government by claiming he deserted us. Even as a foreign-born person, he knew how to use the system.
The end of this part of the story is tragic. My mom died still depending on the government to meet every one of her needs: Her food, her rent, her hospital bills, her medicines, her nursing home care. The only thing they wouldn’t do is bury her. She died believing that the world had slighted her. And I contend that it did.
I am persuaded that the government lulled my mother into a false sense of bare contentment. She began to believe that she could never work, could never dig her way out of the system’s coffin-grip, and that the government was her only true friend. At times it sounded like a drug; “I can’t do that; the welfare office won’t like that.” “I can’t risk that; they’ll take away my benefits.”
Oh sure, I hear the skeptics. She could have turned her life around. She was lazy. She loved the handout. That very well was true in the end, but it wasn’t in the beginning. My mom wanted to get a job. But when they paid her $4.00 an hour and the government took away $4.00 an hour, she could never see her way around it. She had no vehicle, a young child and wasn’t getting ahead. So, she ended up being eased into compliance with the system. She died with an Obama phone.
Governments weren’t created to take care of us from cradle to grave.
Here are some facts:
“Today, the U.S. spends 16 times as much on welfare as it spent in the 1960s—about four times the amount needed to pull every poor family out of poverty—yet the federal poverty rate remains nearly unchanged.
Total spending at all levels of government on the roughly 80 federal means-tested welfare programs, which provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and lower-income Americans, is close to $1 trillion annually.
Under President Obama’s budget projections, Americans will spend over $12 trillion on welfare over the next decade.
Welfare is the fastest growing part of government spending. Between 1989 and fiscal year 2008, means-tested welfare spending increased by 292 percent.
In 1964, only 7 percent of births in America were outside of marriage. Today, more than 40 percent are. Children in single-parent homes are more than five times as likely to be poor compared to their peers in married-parent homes.”
What affects the increase in welfare recipients? Employment, or lack thereof.
“If we add in the underemployed and the hidden unemployed, Levin and Blanchflower calculate, the ranks of the U.S. unemployed would swell by the equivalent of 3.3 million full-time workers.”
We can’t ignore how illegal aliens are affecting the numbers. (As an aside; you can dress up ‘illegal alien’ as ‘undocumented immigrant’ but that’s really not even a close approximation.)
“Unauthorized immigrants make up 5.1% of the U.S. labor force. In the U.S. labor force, there were 8.1 million unauthorized immigrants either working or looking for work in 2012. Among the states, Nevada (10%), California (9%), Texas (9%) and New Jersey (8%) had the highest shares of unauthorized immigrants in their labor forces.”
This voice for welfare reform bears considering:
“The greatest cause of poverty in America today is the current welfare system itself. That is because the incentives of the welfare system lead people to take the counterproductive actions that cause poverty in the first place – not working, or non-work, and single mothers bearing children outside of marriage.”
I know that if you never nudge a person toward personal responsibility, they may never reach for it. I know that individual people, churches and other outreach organizations could help people in need far better than the government, with much better results. I don’t deny that there are people who can’t work, and that’s why there are safeguards in place. But if we continue to let the government run the system, we’ll never be able to legislate, vote or get ourselves out of this mess.
In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. – Proverbs 14.23