As Americans we need to look at the trillions and trillions of dollars spend over the last century on welfare and decide whether any of it has been productive at all. Over 50 years ago President Johnson began his ‘war on poverty’ and implemented the welfare system. Today, over 100 million Americans are on some sort of government assistance. This is more than those that have a full time job. But the program has cost American taxpayers over $20 trillion in the last 5 decades (this does not include social security, medicare, or unemployement). We need to just say no to the ridiculous spending of our government on all agencies & departments & programs that only benefit the people running them.
The goal of the welfare program was to aid the needy in order for them to get away from poverty. In fact, all welfare has done has made it harder for the poor to escape poverty, and bring more people into a state of poverty with how the system is set up. While our government has consistently changed the guidelines for those at ‘poverty level’ and any statistic to try and compare will be skewed because of this, they can’t hide the fact that in 1967 26% of the population was considered at or below poverty levels and in 2012, 30% of the population is still considered at or below this line. So trillions of dollars poured into the system and the poor have stayed poor, and many more have become poor.
Is the answer to eliminate help to the needy? Absolutely not. In the words of Bill Cosby, “If I didn’t like poor people, why would I come and tell them how to make their lives better.” But our current program is set up to incentivize the very things that keep the poor down. If the poor truly want out of poverty, they need to recognize this and make the necessary changes. We also need to change the system to bring about true help and not just putting bandaids on a cut.
For instance, the system is set up to penalize the poor who decide to marry, yet that is one of the key factors to ensure poverty, having children out of wedlock. When President Johnson set up his welfare system, only 7% of children were born out of wedlock. Today, over 40% of children are born out of wedlock, with African Americans having the highest rate at 72%. This is not helping any child, or any poor person. This is one of the biggest ways the system has failed the poor.
In 2008, 26 million Americans were receiving food stamps. At the beginning of this year, 47 million Americans now receive them. Since Obama took office, he has increased the number of people receiving food stamps by one-third. This has dubbed him the ‘food stamp President’ by many. Don’t be fooled however, Obama has certainly added much fuel to the fire, but not one political party can be solely blamed. There have been 5 decades of Presidents who have not changed the system for the good.
Take a look at those around you that you know receive aid. The people that I know that receive some sort of government assistance have no desire to ever stop receiving it. How many people even get paid under the table in order to continue receiving food stamps and other benefits? Millions. How many illegal, unskilled, uneducated immigrants now receive aid? Millions. With Harvard graduates not getting the jobs they thought they could, how are illegal, unskilled, uneducated immigrants ever going to get away from receiving government benefits? Yet taxpayers continue to pay their hard earned money into this system, a system that repeats failure.
The only way to correct this cycle of poverty is to change the way the system operates. To change the system, we need to elect officials that actually care about breaking this cycle. Most politicians do not care because it means votes or more money in their pockets. We need to vote for politicians that will make a difference and bring about a real and true ‘change’ in many of the governmental systems that are total failures. Not increasing their size and budget as most Presidents have suggested, but by making them productive.
As Benjamin Franklin said, ‘I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion about what that 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.’