Replace Welfare With Charity
Among the evidence cited by the report for its argument that the welfare state is a hindrance to success:
Special Report - December 20, 2011
A new report from the Independent Women’s Forum argues that America’s current welfare system is doing more harm than help. The report, “Recipes for Rational Government,” a Policy Focus on “Welfare and Charity: Two Different Things” by Hadley Heath, senior policy analyst for the Independent Women’s Forum, was released this month. It argues that despite Americans being “generous compared to other nations and [having] created a robust network of private charities, government still offers a substantial, taxpayer-supported social safety net,” which has failed to solve the problem of poverty in America.
- In 2011, state and federal governments spent more than $900 billion on the “more than 70 federal means-tested welfare programs” in existence.
- 49 million Americans still live in poverty.
- 45 million (nearly 15 percent) Americans receive food stamps.
- Divorce and out-of-wedlock childbirths are “[t]he top two reasons cited for entering welfare. Research has shown that early welfare policies that explicitly penalized marriages helped lead to an explosion of out-of-wedlock births, particularly in the African-American community, which has had a devastating impact that persists today.”
- “[O]n average, a one-week extension of unemployment benefits is associated with a 0.15-week extension of time unemployed, and exit rates from the unemployment program as benefits come close to expiration.”
- The state and federal government spent roughly $950 billion on means-tested welfare programs in 2011, which equals nearly $19,400 per American. The federal poverty line for a family of four is $22,350.
Hadley argues that the size and scope of today’s government welfare programs “throws a wrench in [the] incentive structure” key to American success that recognizes “hard work and prudent decision-making [as] the key to a better life.” Among the reasons the report gives for Americans to push for welfare reforms are that:
- Streamlining government aid programs would “save money and focus aid on the people who are truly in need,” rather than “the federal government agents who run the programs.”
- Reform would boost the economy by creating “better economic opportunities” and encouraging “more economically-productive behavior” from Americans. Additionally, streamlining the system would reduce the burden on taxpayers and “improve [the] general economic conditions by reducing deficits and debt.”
- Reform would restore the social safety net by returning government welfare programs to their proper role as temporary measures “during unanticipated tough times that allow people to regain self-sufficiency,” rather than being “a permanent part of recipients’ lives.”
- Streamlining the system “would allow poor people to become self-sufficient, thereby restoring their personal dignity and giving them greater freedom.”
- The current system “discourages private charity or neighborly assistance since many assume that it’s government’s jobrather than oursto help those in need.”
The report offers encouragement, though, by emphasizing that much of what has been taken on by the welfare state can be better served through charitable organizations. Hadley points out that the benefits of charitable help for the impoverished in place of government welfare are “more efficient, more personal, more loving and, ultimately, more effective,” by encouraging “healthier more productive life,” taking a “holistic approach” to helping individuals, encouraging all Americans to succeed using the opportunities available.
“The United States is among the wealthiest countries in the world,” Hadley writes. “The best way to share or spread that wealth isn’t welfare, or even charity. It is the many opportunities for free exchange and wealth creation that the free market provides.” She goes on to encourage policymakers to “take care not to inadvertently punish married beneficiaries and recognize that healthy family formation and maintenance is the best preventative measure against poverty.”
Marriage and Economic Well-Being - FNC - June 2011
Report Questions Definition of Poverty - July 22, 2011
Squeezing Families - FNC - August 2010
Government Dependence Grows - October 25, 2010
American’s Greatest Child Poverty Weapon - October 4, 2010
Married Fathers Deter Poverty - June 21, 2010
Landmark Study Estimates Costs of Family Fragmentation - April 16, 2008
Why Families Matter - FNC - September 2007
Tax Policy, Marriage, and the Family - FNC - February 16, 2011
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