As we have moved into cities, it is necessary to work to live. We do not ‘live off the land’ as in the past. Thus, when work is unavailable, one tends to resort to theft from the better-off. Thus, welfare appears to have been instituted so that the well-off did not suffer from theft. Welfare is often considered to be a right as well as a privilege. In reality, it may be neither. It may be a scourge, a road to unhapiness, a path to dependency. For many, it has become ‘a way of life’, a ‘lifestyle choice’. So, the concept of ‘welfare’ has clearly gone wrong, whichever stance you take. In the limit, if all persons tend toward welfare, the entire system fails. At such limit, it could be used to destabilize a country. Encourage dependency on big government with its handouts and watch the country implode. Welfare is not a fail-safe system. Welfare it is not a ‘human right’. It is not a right ‘because you were born as a human’. It is perhaps not a privilege as is does the recipient, nor society no ‘favour’ in the long run. Take a stroll, if you dare, through the high welfare areas of your city. Try a stroll through that area by night – alone. This is quite different to walking through a poor area in say Jakarta, India, or China. In Asian poor areas, the locals are busy repairing old shoes and dead bicycles. They are industrious. In the long run, as with socialism, and communism, welfarism provides little incentive to work for the benefit of society. ‘Out for nought’ is perhaps the major failing of socialism and communism.
- Take a man’s ability to fish and no one will be eating fish.
- Take a man’s enthusiasm to work and he will put his efforts to some less productive use – like causing mayhem.
Welfare has created a series of societal problems that might be illustrated but the following rough and ready slang type definitions from ‘Urban Dictionary’:
- Welfare Queen: A female with kids from different men, getting money from the government to buy phones and skanky clothes to post statuses and booty shots on facebook.
- Welfare Whore: A woman who continues to have many children, often by different men, in order to live off of the Welfare system.
- Welfare Mom: A female who purposely produces children for the sole purpose of living off the Welfare benefits she will obtain for doing so.
- Welfare Breeder: Another word for Rabbit Scab. Basically a complete piece of shit who has babies to steal more money from those of us who work for a living.
One ‘Urban Dictionary’ contributor gives his cryptic summation:
Welfare is one such “entitlement”. It is a godless attempt to force charity. Unfortunately for those bent to this defective ideology — socialism, charity cannot be coerced. One can be forced to give, however, but instead of love as the impetus one does so begrudgingly creating the temptation to hate the agent of coercion (government) and the temptation to hate the recipient. Additionally the recipient is tempted to hate the resource (working citizen) as the agent (government) claims the resource (working citizen) is greedily withholding money that could extricate the recipient from the current parasitic state of lifeby ‘Taxed into Prosperity’.
Another ‘Urban Dictionary’ contributor gives:
An ‘entitlement‘ uses the coercive power of government to deprive one of the fruits of his labor and give it to the feckless members living around us in our society.
The welfare state has become an ideal that has attracted much derision. It brings forth thoughts about this statement:
Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
Welfare undermines the personal responsibility of the poor to help themselves. It incentivizes inactivity and dependency. Welfare also promotes a false sense of security among the populous. “I don’t need to have concern for the future as the government will be there to take care of me.” It promotes a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. Welfarism also gets accused of producing ‘drug culture’, crime infestation, and family disruption. The drugs may work to help the welfare recipient to cope with the lack of independence through dependency.
One side issue that is bigger than we may realize is that welfare increases dependency on the state and thus increases state power. Whoever controls your money, controls you. A bigger government becomes more susceptible to totalitarianism, then tyranny. Welfare thus aids the erosion of liberty. Accompanying high taxes reduce the range of activities available to us. Increased regulations from our all-powerful state limit what we are permitted to do. Taxation of the productive becomes harsh where every taxpayer finishes up being treated as a criminal. As one truck owner operator put it: “They have turned us all into criminals.” Whilst the workless get agents to guide them through the process. As one welfare recipient said to me: “Andy. I can’t work for you because I will lose my benefits.”
Getting off welfare can be difficult, particularly for single mothers, because they cannot get jobs that earn better than welfare. The welfare funds become addictive. Like other dependencies, withdrawal is hard.
Our Christian society is by nature charitable. But when the big hand of government decides that it will monopolize the the charity by compulsory harvesting of working incomes, a problem arises. Natural charitable nature evaporates and the sees the charity as a right from an impersonal government. The national government steps in to hand out aid. This intervention becomes costly and produces disastrous results. By siphoning funds from the private sector, the decision makers, backed with an army of robotic bureaucrats, diminish the ability of civil society to eradicate poverty. The result is not the eradication of poverty but the creation of a ‘poverty’ lifestyle.
History gives us better solutions. According to Jude Blanchette:
Earlier in the twentieth century, private charities offered a more effective cure for chronic indigence, and it was through mutually beneficial activities and voluntary funding that the spirit of American compassion was unleashed. In the best interests of the poor, the government should withdraw itself completely from all activities designed to help them and allow civil society its full range of motion.
She is saying the small local efforts to combat local poverty were previously more effective. Locals will not just give away ‘local’s’ money, they will push someone into local work. Local is much more compassionate and ‘hands on’.
A typical definition of poverty is: “Poverty is, the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support.” Simple logic would suggest that the solution is money. This means taking from the ‘haves’ and giving to the ‘have not’s. But the ‘War on Poverty’ has not been won, because of a flaw. In ‘Losing Ground’, Charles Murray expounds the failures of federal social policies from 1950–1980 by stating:
“The first effect [of government policy] . . . was to make it profitable for the poor to behave in the short term in ways that were destructive in the long term. Their second effect was to mask these long-term losses — to subsidize irretrievable mistakes. We tried to remove the barriers to escape poverty, and inadvertently built a trap.”
The “trap” was built through the largess of the federal government, which exacerbated the dependency of the poor on handouts, and supported decisions that furthered damaging behavior.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in his ‘Memoirs on Pauperism’ of 1835:
“Man, like all socially-organized beings, has a natural passion for idleness. There are, however, two incentives to work: the need to live and the desire to improve conditions of life.”
The benevolence of the government with tax harvested from those that work ends up destroying the incentives to work and creates a host of other social problems. It even incentives marital breakdown by giving single mothers superior treatment thereby creating a class of fatherless children.
History of the Welfare State
The Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck, turned Germany into a modern welfare state by enhancing the Prussian tradition of welfare programs that began around the 1840s. Otto implemented old age pensions, accident insurance, and medical care. His programs were supported by German industry because its goals were to win the support of the working class. Part of the logic was to reduce the outflow of citizens to the United States, where wages were higher but welfare did not exist.
The United Kingdom implemented welfare reforms between 1906 and 1914. The reforms included ‘Old-Age Pensions’ (1908), free school meals (1909), the Labour Exchanges Act, the Development Act 1909, which brought greater Government intervention in economic development, and the introduction of the National Insurance Act 1911 which included a national insurance contribution for unemployment and health benefits. There was a pressure to try and reduce strain in Britain to counter a division of Britain into two opposed halves. This was beautifully worded by Will Crooks, a Labour MP, who said in 1908: “Here in a country rich beyond description, there are people poor beyond description.”
The Beveridge Report
In 1941, with World War II raging and no victory in sight, Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874–1965) still felt able to order a commission to investigate how to rebuild the nation after the war. His plans included a committee which would span multiple government departments, investigate the nation’s welfare systems, and recommend improvements. Economist, politician, and employment expert William Beveridge (1879–1963) was made the chairman of this commission. Beveridge is credited with drafting the document, and in December of 1942 his landmark ‘Beveridge Report’ (officially known as the “Social Insurance and Allied Services” Report) was published. As part of Britain’s social program, this is possibly the most important document of the twentieth century. It was published just after the first major Allied victories. It tapped into a hope for a brighter future. William Beveridge made a string of recommendations for transforming British society and ending ‘want’. He wished to create a ‘cradle to grave’ security. His text was mostly a synthesis of existing ideas and was widely accepted by an interested British public as in a manner that made a component part of what the British were fighting for: “win the war, reform the nation”. Beveridge’s ‘Welfare State’ was the first officially proposed, fully integrated system of national welfare.
This reform was to be targeted. Beveridge identified five ‘giants on the road to reconstruction’ that would have to be beaten: poverty, disease, ignorance, squalor, and idleness. He argued these could be solved with a state-run insurance system, and in contrast to the schemes of previous centuries, a minimum level of life would be established that was not extreme. Nor would it punish the sick for not being able to work. The solution was a ‘welfare state’ with ‘social security’, a national health service, free education for all children, council-built and run housing, and full employment.
The key idea was that everyone who worked would pay a sum to the government for as long as they worked, and in return would have access to government aid for the unemployed, ill, retired or widowed, and extra payments to aid those pushed to the limit by children. The use of universal insurance removed the means test from the welfare system, a disliked pre-war method of determining who should receive assistance. William Beveridge was of the thought that government expenditure would not rise, because of the insurance payments coming in. He expected people to save money and do the best for themselves, as was very much the thinking process of the ‘British tradition’. The individual remained, but the state provided the returns on individual’s insurance. The portrayal was that this was in harmony with a capitalist system. It was not sold as communism. But was it communism by a back door?
- The Beveridge Report received widespread support, and it is seen as the foundation document for the welfare state created by the Labour government of 1945-1951.
- The Beveridge Report quickly became the blueprint for the modern British welfare state.
President Lyndon Johnson, in his 1964 ‘State of the Union’ address, proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” In the half century since that date, the American taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs. This spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. However, improvements measured by the Census Bureau, has been negligible. If we look at the primary goal of reducing the ’causes’ rather than the ‘consequences’ of poverty, this ‘War on Poverty’ has been a complete failure. A great portion of the American population is currently less capable of self-sufficiency than back in 1964. This suggests that lack of prosperity is not aided by handouts.
- The ability and desire to be self-sufficient is damaged by the welfare system itself.
- Welfarism generates a reliance on welfare by breaking down the habits and norms that lead to self-reliance.
- Anti-marriage penalties built into the welfare procedures are destructive to the maintenance of the family unit as the core unit of society.
Let us be blunt and state that: The 1960s ‘Great Society’ and ‘War on Poverty’ programs of President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) have been a colossal and giant failure. Actually, it is worse than a failure. The ‘Great Society’ is a ‘problematic society’ and the ‘War on Poverty’ created a ‘poverty ridden society’.
It may seem morally appropriate that a government should implement a ‘social welfare programs’ for the benefit of the people. However, we must be clear that such as system will in no way be effective in alleviating poverty. Like it or not, social welfare programs incentivize poverty. Dr. Thomas Sowell hits hard when he states:
“If we wanted to be serious about evidence, we might compare where blacks stood a hundred years after the end of slavery with where they stood after thirty years of the liberal welfare state. In other words, we could compare hard evidence on “the legacy of slavery” with hard evidence on the legacy of liberals.”