Welfare Recipients Make More Than Honest Workers


I think I may have finally found the most bothersome, noxious piece of information of all time, thanks to the editors at Townhall.com. The emphasis in the next quote is mine:

It’s official. Taxpayers are no longer simply helping the poor, they’re subsidizing the lives of welfare recipients at a better rate than their own. The Senate Budget Committee has released a report showing households living below the poverty line and receiving welfare payments are raking in the equivalent of $168 per day in benefits which come in the form of food stamps, housing, childcare, healthcare and more. The median household income in 2011 was $50,054, totaling $137.13 per day. The worst part? Welfare payments are equivalent to making $30 per hour for 40 hours a week. The median wage for non-welfare recipients is $25 per hour but because they pay taxes, unlike welfare recipients, the wage is bumped down to $21 per hour.

When I read this, I threw up a bit.

I’m going to be honest with you and tell you a little bit about my personal life, which I don’t typically do in the pages of United Liberty. And I certainly don’t want to start a pity party over me. But here’s the facts: I currently have a paying job, but not a great one. I’m an intern in DC. I make $30 a day. Let me repeat that: I make thirty dollars a day. Yet even though I work hard, create value, and do my damndest to support myself without forcing others to support me, the average welfare recipient receives 5.6 times what I make, paid for with my tax dollars.

To borrow a phrase from my brother in law, I’m offended.

I’m offended that a hard working guy like me, who is quite frankly fed up and frustrated with this miserable job market, is making less than one-fifth what some lazy, unworking, unmotivated person is getting just by breathing. I’m offended that people who aren’t working are practically living like kings, while I have to scrape together whatever I can to pay my rent for a room that has less space than a storage closet.

Basically, it’s better to not work at all than it is to work and generate money. Not only is that offensive, it’s doomed to insolvency.

Fortunately, as an update at the bottom of the article notes, the $168 a day figure is not exactly what all families receive; it is only for those below the poverty line, and it is, more accurately, what the government spends every day delivering those benefits (and here’s the important part) including administrative costs. So the article is a tad misleading, but I think it highlights a very important

I want to be clear about something: I am not entirely against the concept of welfare. I’m willing to grant some welfare for those who truly cannot take care of themselves, such as orphaned children or the mentally disabled. If you can’t feed and bathe yourself, you pretty much get a pass in my view. But that’s obviously not what we have today, if there’s $168 of taxpayer money going down the drain towards welfare benefits.

This madness has to stop. As I’ve just said, I’m willing to deal with limited welfare to take care of the truly incapable and downtrodden, just as Milton Friedman was in Capitalism & Freedom. But there is no way we can afford a system like this, and it will lead us towards bankruptcy. Having the consumers, in this case, outpace producers will not end well, and it is just plain wrong to lift welfare recipients above workers—it’s meant to help them survive, not make their lives plush. If we’re going to get anywhere, to forge a long-term solution to the fiscal cliff problem, that’s going to have to include genuine welfare reform. Whether a basic income, a minimum income guarantee that’s aimed at lower-income Americans, a negative income tax, or something else, we’re going to have to change.

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