The War on Poverty.

in welfare •  6 months ago

Including medical care, total state and federal spending on welfare last year was about $949 billion. The poverty rate was such that 45 million Americans were below the poverty line. Some math indicates that we are spending $21,089 per person or $84,355 for a family of four. Surely that's enough to have lifted all of those families out of poverty (median US household income is around $51,000). For some strange reason, it hasn't worked. I can't imagine where the vast majority of that money has gone....

I hereby dub this Broken Water Main Economics

ADDITION: And if you think this overestimates what we actually spend on "true" welfare, cut the numbers in half. Or even take just a third. At at third, it would be $28,000 per family of four. In 2017 (assuming you had no other income), that would have put you right about the mean of the lower-middle quintile, or well above the poverty line.

If you want to understand why there is so much "waste" with anti-poverty programs, ask yourself why we don't just cut checks to send to poor folks. (Put aside paternalist answers for a moment.) Once you think about that question, the whole system looks a little different, and what seems like "waste" might actually be its raison d'etre. As economics reminds us, we should always ask: cui bono? (Wow, French and Latin in one status....) When you realize who the primary beneficiaries are under the current system, what seems like a bug is now a feature.

And you can then reasonably conclude that, like the War on Terror, the War on Poverty is a war that will never be won because those fighting it are its primary beneficiaries.

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The political class actually love having poor people dependent on welfare, because it's their voting base. Another important point about the welfare system is that it fallaciously assumes that unsuccessful people necessarily are 'exploited', and that successful people necessarily are 'exploitative', but the thing is that one demographic group can actually perform worse than another demographic group, naturally. I'm pretty sure that welfare by heavy taxation is NOT the right way to go in order to balance that. It also very much depends on how we define 'poverty.' Usually we automatically take, say, the bottom 10% in terms of income or wealth and label them "poor." With this definition we will always have 'poverty', since there will always be a 'bottom 10%'. With this we ignore that the bottom 10% have excessively better living standards than compared to 100 years ago, correlating with market freedom that has flourished in SPITE of the state.

You have some interesting numbers there @honeybee. I am guessing most of the welfare payments are not getting to those below the poverty line. You included medical care in your numbers which I am guessing is probably quite large as well.

So anyway, does giving poor people money help them. From my experience on Steemit, it just seems to create a dependency and expectations for more money. That experience is based on small amounts of money but the same is likely to be true with higher amounts of money.

A friend of mine gave me an example where workers in a poor country were given higher pay or a payout of some sort. Instead of treating this as an incentive to work harder they just quit their jobs. It appears there is absence of long-term thinking.

Educating people below the poverty line is more likely to be beneficial in the long-run rather just giving them money. When I say education, I mean real education that can be applied to life rather some type of doctrine or dogma that some schools dish out.

'The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see' - Alexandra Trenfor

Your last paragraph is a very important point and relates to so many areas. Always follow the path of who benefits from anything. Government always need a war on something as the war itself is far more beneficial to them than the outcome that it is likely to produce.

Hey @honeybee, seems like you have a real soft spot for the US. I am guessing you have spent quite a bit of time there.

This is very sad. A lot of money destined for poverty is finally lost along the way, and many projects that finally do not work for that.

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Keep doing the same thing, over and over, the same way, again and again, and expecting different results.... hummmmmm.. then again, if the objective is to just get these poor ignorant souls to VOTE for your side, well, that’s a different story.

The war on poverty now involves banning homeless camps. And criminalizing homelessness. When a persons poverty becomes a criminal act it gives law enforcement carte Blanche to arrest and search the homeless. Oh you don't have a job? You can do community service, bust those rocks!

I joke. In part.

The war on poverty hasn't worked because liberal ideology doesn't empower people... it enfranchises them into dependence.

Quite sad to see so much noise going on around on the media about war on this, war on that. Yet the benefits that ought to be accrued to the people for which this campaign such as war on poverty was started never seem to get to them and even when it does, it often gets to selected few whose faces are usually aired on mainstream media and then used as an ingredient in the machinery set in motion to beguile the public into digesting the lies about the cause and eventually enriching the pocket of those fighting the so called war. Pathetic!

Work is the one true way to get out of poverty, if we do not promote self reliance and hard work,the poverty level will stay as is.

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