Why welfare hasn’t cured poverty

By Genevieve Wood | The Daily Signal

When President Lyndon Johnson launched his War on Poverty in the 1960s, he pledged to eliminate poverty in America.

More than five decades, several welfare programs, and $25 trillion later, the welfare system has utterly failed the poor.

The poverty rate remains mostly unchanged, and tens of millions of Americans are dependent on government assistance.

Currently, the United States spends about a trillion dollars a year on 80 different federal, state, and local welfare programs.

About 40 million Americans are considered poor. If we divided that $1 trillion among those 40 million people, we could give each person approximately $25,000 a year, or $100,000 a year for a family of four.

We’re clearly spending a lot of money, so why have we not ended poverty?

Our welfare system discourages work. It discourages families from staying together. And it encourages dependence on government.

In other words, welfare keeps the poor poor.

In many cases, welfare has harmed the very people it was supposed to help, especially children.

Why has this happened?

As welfare benefits grew over the years, they increasingly served as a substitute for a working parent.

As the taxpayer became the family breadwinner, that encouraged many men to stop upholding their responsibilities, leaving more and more women as heads of single-parent households.

On the other side of the coin, single mothers were discouraged from marrying the fathers of their children because that reduced their benefits.

Sadly, the cycle continues today as many children who grow up on welfare eventually follow in their parents’ footsteps when they have families of their own.

So, what do we do?

First, we have to understand that the problem with the current system is that it discourages work. Work is the fastest and most effective way to get out of poverty and become prosperous.

Welfare programs should be designed to offer temporary help while encouraging able-bodied recipients to find work and become self-reliant.

In states that have implemented time limits and welfare-to-work requirements, recipients have received job training, found jobs, and increased their incomes dramatically. They’ve also dropped off the welfare rolls.

Second, we must continue to create the jobs that help recipients transition to work.

As we’ve seen in just the past few years, cutting taxes on individuals and businesses and cutting regulations that hinder business growth are the keys to massive new job creation, high levels of employment, and increased wages for workers.

Most Americans want a social safety net that helps those who can’t help themselves and they want to help the poor find meaningful work.

We’ve learned through decades of experience that throwing more money at poverty doesn’t end it. Temporary assistance, jobs training, growing the economy, and promoting self-sufficiency do.

As we wage the war against poverty for the next generation, let’s fight smarter.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Deutsche Fotothek

9 thoughts on “Why welfare hasn’t cured poverty

  1. Vermont has been greatly affected by the lose of all the manufacturing jobs that have been lost to other states (due to our laws) as well as over seas. We have created a catch 22 situation for those people who worked in those industries that can not find equal work, nor have the funds to leave the state with a home they can not sell! It is sad what this state government has done to the middle class people of this state. We are witnessing a socialist state being created. We will soon run out of other peoples monies and where will Vermont be then? Is there time for someone brave and battle tested to stand up to the elitist government officials of this state. I am praying it will happen.

  2. How about putting welfare payments on a sliding scale, much like some disability payments, where the more you earn, the less welfare you receive, as your wages increase your welfare decreases, but you are never left in an “either-or” situation. This keeps a cushion until, hopefull, one reaches full employment. But let’s take the savings and use them for TRAINING–folks don’t just wlk out the door to a new job without some training–work with tech school, commuity colleges, and business helps pay for apprenticeships.

  3. If I remember correctly, a Republican led Congress after several attempts forced Clinton to place work requirements on receiving welfare. As a result folks went out and actually found a job. The results were amazing. Folks found work and self sufficiency extremely rewarding not in just a financial way, but in improved self esteem. Then along came Obama and it all went up in smoke and we reverted to same old, same old. Our President has explored imposing certain restrictions on receiving food stamps and we all heard the out cry. Some times you can’t win.

  4. We did that! Now big business is importing the replacement generation from south of the border.While I support Trump trying to level the playing field for manufacturing,we’re never going to compete against 3rd worlders with no labor laws and now environmental regulation.

    It’s not coming back

  5. Benevolence in the form of government charity entangled with nonprofit assistance has excused individuals in our society from their obligation to be productive. We have in fact encouraged systemic collectivism and decreed it “good” without understanding our system is based on the Liberty of each individual.

    Charity belongs to the free will of the individual giving it while intending to assist directly with his or her wealth or labor, it has become common place to extract the fruits of labor without consent or in some cases even the knowledge it is charity. From each according to their means to each according to their means.

    Giving away individual Liberty in the name of benevolent causes is a very dangerous game when it becomes mandatory that we all participate!

  6. “In other words, welfare keeps the poor poor.”


    People are poor because we played blue collar labor off against third world labor. The fact is there is 85 million jobs paying $30,000 or more and a labor force more than double that so it’s impossible for people to not be poor when there isn’t enough good paying jobs.

    65 million jobs paying $40,000 or more and the population is 330 million.
    That means 1 in 5 Americans has a decent job.

    Yes millions of working poor are just too lazy to go get a better job.

    Is this website going to run junk infomercials like that other website in VT ?

    At least here people can make comments.

  7. Best article I’ve read about poverty in a long time!! I see where the state of Vermont is complaining about the new law Sonny Perdue is proposing to reduce welfare AKA ye old SNAPs by making able bodied individuals work and no benefits!! This article should be sent to every member of the Vermont Legislature

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