Report shows why Americans are flocking to welfare
Welfare pays better than minimum wage.
You have a choice. You may get up, drink your coffee, commute to work, and do your daily grind, dutifully paying your taxes all the way, or you can make it go away with a trip to you local welfare office. Which do you choose? A new report suggests why so many Americans are choosing the latter.
Unless the political will to change develops, the problem will become worse.
That's right. The first six thousand dollars you earn goes to pay for those who are not working.
Of course, nobody in a country as rich as ours should begrudge the poor a safety net, after all, aren't many of us just one disaster away from it ourselves? Yet what happens when the safety net becomes a hammock?
Those were the words used by Matt Brouillette, from the Commonwealth Foundation, a government watchdog group. Brouillette was interviewed by CBS 21 News reporter Chris Papst as part of his investigation into just how much welfare a person can get.
Papst launched his investigation after a coworker curiously turned down a raise. His coworker, Kristina Cogan, was a single mom of two who explained that accepting the raise would impact her government benefits, so she refused the raise.
This means that you and I, as taxpayers, must continue paying her bills.
Cogan needed the help at the time. Earning just $19,000 per year, she was a recently divorced mom with two kids to support. She explained that walking into the welfare office was scary, but after awhile it became comfortable.
"You do what you have to do as a single mom," she told Papst. She also added this comment: "If you're going to get something for free, are you going to work for it? It kind of like sucks you in. They [welfare recipients] feel like they are hopeless. They feel like they have no alternative."
Cogan is largely correct. People do have that feeling, but why?
A minimum wage earner can work for 40 hours per week and earn a poverty-level wage with little hope of advancement. There's barely enough money to get by from month to month. There's no savings, no decent used car, no living alone. It's roommates and beat-up vehicles, and school will only mean massive student debt without guarantee of a job to pay it off later.
This is a very bleak prospect for the minimum wage workforce, and it's why there is a growing movement to increase that wage. Despite the strident arguments that raising the minimum wage would harm the economy, we might find it to be the lesser of two evils.
That's because the easy way out for many of those workers is welfare. A single trip to the welfare office can make a lot of worries just melt away. According to Papst, Cogan was eligible for as much as $81,000 in public assistance. If she took advantage of all of it, she would be solidly placed in the middle class, without lifting a finger.
Eventually, many minimum wage workers do find the welfare office. For most it's food stamps and a few other smaller programs, perhaps some tuition assistance so they can someday break out of the bottom tier. For others however, it is a way of life.
We have all heard the horror stories about those whose only job is to work the system. Yes, they're out there too.
So what's the plan? Unfortunately, there is none. Just keep feeding the masses bread and circuses.
"This isn't the American dream," Brouillette told Papst. "When there are taxpayer funded programs that could give you the equivalent lifestyle of a middle-class family, why would you have an incentive to go to work?"
The political will isn't there to change the system. Politicians often shy away from talk of cutting benefits or changing the way they are paid for fear of retaliation at the ballot box. The attack ads virtually write themselves.
However, we know as a nation that we need more people working, and paying taxes, if we are to avoid economic meltdown - which admittedly, in an economy probably kept afloat with fiat currency, could already be upon us.
As a nation, we must do a number of things we will not like to reform the system. We do need to raise the minimum wage enough so that people who consider welfare will see a net loss rather than a net gain. It is cheaper to pay a worker minimum wage and collect taxes, even if it's just a few dollars, than to pay out up to $81,000 each year in free benefits.
We must open a path forward, insisting that welfare recipients who are able, attend school, find work, or do something to advance themselves. We need to ensure that we facilitate these positive choices with affordable education, career training, and job placement where appropriate. We do have such programs in most states. However, we need to add to them incentives to make progress, which would include sanctions for those who prefer to remain idle. Those who refuse to make progress should be see ...
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