Posts Tagged ‘redistribution’

Another Bite at the Apple: The Desperate Need for Welfare Reform

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Insensitive?

In the immediate aftermath of the election, I suggested to readers that the key driver in Barack Obama’s re-election was one particular sub-group of the electorate in which Romney got creamed.  I pointed to single mothers as the key group that killed any chance of a Romney victory, and the reason I suggested was simple enough to understand: “Free stuff.”  In short, this particular segment of the populace views big government as a “sugar daddy,” and by extension, it’s chief advocate, Barack Obama was the chief beneficiary of this view.  I had known that the number of programs and benefits available to women who fit that description was quite amazing, but I had no idea the extent to which this is true. The simple truth of the matter is that unless and until conservatives devise a method by which to change this formula, they are going to lose national elections.  The problem they will face in so doing is the screed of the left about a “war on women,” but apart from weak-kneed leadership, afraid of such attacks, if something doesn’t change, the country is already lost.

The following image is a chart put together by James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute, and it demonstrates how a single mother is subsidized by the state, or how Eve, once tempted from her pedestal, became a ward of the state:

The first thing that should strike you is that a single mother of two earning only $29K is subsidized to the extent that she has the same effective lifestyle as a similar woman, unsubsidized, earning $69K, because net, the two have around $57K in income and benefits.  Effectively doubling her meager gross by virtue of the welfare state’s programs, the woman earning $29K is in pretty good shape.  People have lamented to me over the years about people who use foodstamps, but who also load their groceries into awfully nice cars, and the question had been: How can this be? Here’s part of the answer, inasmuch as relieved of the costs of food, medical care, and a tax burden, among other welfare-state benefits, what income is present is freed-up for the purchase of that nicer car.  It’s no wonder she has an iPhone 5, because under this construct, she can afford it, since taxpayers are subsidizing to some degree virtually everything else.

Leftists and those of the moderate middle wonder why we conservatives claim that such programs are a disincentive to work, but the facts make it clear.  What is the point in bettering oneself if it actually can be a detriment to income, as the chart above makes perfectly clear.  At certain thresholds, by earning the next marginal amount, benefits available drop off to the extent that it’s punitive to earn more.  This explains well why in certain lines of work, we have the phenomenon of women roughly matching the description, who quit or get themselves fired once they’ve been there a certain period of time, and it’s because they need to keep earning, but they also need to prevent themselves from crossing these thresholds, or “welfare cliffs.”

The challenge to conservatives is to reverse this without being accused of waging a “war on women.”  The first thing we need to admit is that such a situation is a travesty, both to the women trapped by this process, and to those who are working outside the blanket of this lavish welfare state.  It should never be the case that our people are faced with the choice of placing reason in adversity to morality.  Let me try to explain it this way: If you’re that woman earning $29K, you’d be nuts to earn enough money to push you over the cliff.  It would diminish and damage your lifestyle, and the lives of your children.  At the same time, you would [hopefully] know that to continue to languish on these programs is wrong, but when you look around, you notice everybody around you is doing it, so how wrong can it really be?

This dichotomy is the difficulty we face.  We have provided this system, and it is entirely socialistic.  Viewed from a big-picture perspective, it’s constructed precisely to create a very socialistic outcome: The net wages and benefits are flat from wage or salary levels of $29K to nearly $70K. The woman who earns $29K is the economic equal of the woman who grosses $40K more.  This is an astonishing revelation to many people, who had no idea how thoroughly perverse with socialism this system had really become.  Is there any wonder that welfare-to-work initiatives have failed in recent years, to the largest extent?  Is there any wonder that job training programs seem to have been largely fruitless?

It’s easy enough to identify the problem once you have the facts before you, but then the question becomes: Whatever shall we do about it?  If Congress simply slashes these benefits, they fear they won’t be re-elected, but if they don’t do something soon, they won’t be re-elected anyway because this will have become the daily reality for far too many people to ever reverse it.  The problem is that if we don’t reverse it, it’s going to bankrupt us, and that day is coming all too soon. All of this subsidization is being accomplished with borrowed money, and it simply is not sustainable.  It’s always difficult to convince people that their best long-run interests are better served by giving up a little in the shorter run, and the evidence is quite obvious when one examines how few people ever put money away for retirement or savings in any form. Part of the reason they’re unable is because the money they’re earning today is being taxed to subsidize others, so that the total effect of this problem is much worse and much more widespread than the superficial conclusions one might draw.

We need a real, thorough examination of our welfare state, but under the current administration, we’ll be lucky if we can merely restrict its growth.  This administration knows where its bread is buttered, and it’s not going to yield any ground on this without a brutal fight.  The truth may be that this has already doomed us to a financial and monetary collapse of epic proportions.   When that happens, it won’t matter any longer because this will come to a screeching halt, and both the single mothers in this scenario will pay a terrible price along with every other American.  The left has worked very hard to dissociate any stigma previously attached to such subsidies, so we’re going to need to make more than a financial argument, because this is a problem in largest measure of desperate moral concern.  We need adults in the room, but right now, Congress is acting as the elves in Obama’s portrayal of Santa Claus, and the states have become the sleigh, Rudolph, and his eight four-legged friends. It must stop, but in truth, one way or the other, it will stop.  The question is whether it stops in a sudden crash, or instead because we decide wisely to apply the brakes. The choice is still yours.

For now.

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So You Want to Spread the Wealth?

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Spreading the Misery Equally

In a recent discussion with an acquaintance, who was interested in my recent article on the nature of the people who are rioting in London, and elsewhere around the world, the question was posed to me: “How can you expect to convince young people who’ve never really had to struggle for anything that they shouldn’t be handed everything for free?”  This question is about the entitlement mentality that now seems to be spreading in pandemic proportion and threatens the foundations of our constitutional, representative republic.  It’s true that it’s a difficult thing to explain to somebody who has convinced themselves that demands, and not hard work, are the road to personal prosperity.  I was considering the problem on my way home when a thought crossed my mind: One of the reasons I fight so hard against socialism is because I’ve already experienced its oppressive boot on my neck.  I know from personal observations how it cripples the ability of individuals to prosper.

The problem with most of the people who demand more and more at the expense of others is that they have no skin in the game.  Since many of these people have never been on the paying end of the socialist monstrosity, I’m inclined to believe they simply don’t understand it, and won’t, until they’re made to pay, somehow.

I hope you’ll forgive me, my patient readers, as I propose something in order to make a point, because I think we can make the notion of having “skin in the game” as literal as any dare suffer to imagine possible.  Consider now, if you will, my own modest proposal for the ultimate entitlement program, designed to fulfill a basic human need, to promote self-esteem, and otherwise “spread the wealth around,” albeit of another kind.  Before I make my proposal, let me start by saying that money, property and wealth are just extensions of one’s person, so that if any of these are up for grabs to the mob in the name of “the public good,” it is truly an assault on the individual.  For this reason, and in order to demonstrate the immorality of socialism, I therefore propose a new entitlement program aimed at giving every person in our society the chance to feel better about themselves.  It’s predicated on the notion of the “public good,” and will doubtless reduce the incidence of violent crimes and relieve the poverty of spirit with which so many now suffer.  I therefore give you: “S-GROPE“:

Sexual Opportunity Resource Equalization Sponsorship Act of 2011 (SORES)

S-GROPE” is an acronym that stands for “Sexual Gratification and Recreation Of People Everywhere.”  This program will be administered by a new division of the Department of Health and Human Services, to be called “SCROOME.”  (That’s: Sexual Conjugation Resource Office Of Managed Ecstasy”, in case you hadn’t guessed.)

S-GROPE will be enacted to ensure every American equal access to sexual gratification and fulfillment.  We’ve learned through intensive study that this is an important part of human behavior and social development.  Too many people have been forced by the selfishness of others to endure endless long nights alone with no hope of human contact.  In order to ensure fairness, every American will be assigned an S-GROPE account number, and all Americans will be entered into a shared pool.  This will ensure fairness to all, but more importantly, it will be carried out safely within the confines of officially approved SCROOME Centers.

Commencing on the first Monday of the New Year, couples will be selected at random, with notifications sent out to all participants with the name, address, and time of their conjugal visitation.  Upon receipt of said notification, participants shall have not more than five days to schedule and fulfill their obligations under the program. The only exemptions shall be for minors and dependent adults, Congress, and other Federal officers and officials.  This program will be administered in the  most fair and humane manner possible: There will be no discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, condition of disability, or other factors.  Pairings will be selected at random, within the 25 mile geographical range of the participant’s home of residence.

When contacted by notification from SCROOME, participants should understand this to be a mandatory activity for the good of society.  Failure to appear, or any attempt to leave the premises after arrival at the officially designated SCROOME Centers will result in strict criminal liability, up to and including not more than 10 years of incarceration at a Federal SCROOME rehabilitation center…

Now, every person who reads my blog knows that this is entirely in jest, and is even now thinking up their own clever acronyms, but I would suggest you ask all those you know who suffer from delusions of redistribution: “If you can demand my wealth, my earnings, and my property at the point of a gun, and threaten me with imprisonment, why not my body too?  Why not yours?  Why should you get a choice about when or if to engage in sex, or with whom?  After all, it can be clearly demonstrated to be in the public interest according to some research clinician’s study.  No?  You don’t want this? What else could be the possible meaning of a federal mandate to purchase health-care insurance?”

“If you don’t want this, then how dare you demand the wallets or bank accounts of others?  If you don’t think this a proper use of Federal power, what makes you think it a proper use of Federal power to force me at gunpoint, under threat of incarceration, to fund the food on your plate or the roof over your head?  Is it because I have a bit more money at the moment than you?  Do you think that justifies it?  Well, the sad fact is that somewhere there is somebody with even less than you, who will eventually look at your wallet as you’ve been looking at mine.”

“If you think the notion is absurd when it is applied as in my offered piece of legislation above, what in the world would make you think it’s any less absurd, in logic or morality, to propose the same notions with respect to my labor?  When you demand my wallet, you’re demanding a share of all the labor that went into filling it with what little it contains.  When you demand that government pay for this or for that, you’re demanding that citizens be strapped to a table in your SCROOME Center for your own pleasure and purpose.”

These are the questions you should ask of anybody who contends they have a right to a full belly at the involuntary expense of others, because that person is morally capable of all of this and more.  You cannot claim the labors of a millionaire or a billionaire, or even a dirt-poor horse farmer without committing the same essential crime:  You’re guilty of demanding that others live for your sake, or else.  You’re demanding they live for your satisfaction, or else.  You’re seizing their work and the means to the attainment of their own dreams and aspirations.

One can pretend this hadn’t been the case, but the truth is much worse than most care to admit: Programs for the redistribution of wealth are merely a form of enslavement, just as the bizarre program I’ve proposed offers the same logic in service to the same preposterous ends.  You cannot claim to want freedom while demanding entitlement to the efforts and wealth of others, just as you cannot claim a right to sexual fulfillment by a spree of government-coerced rapes.  By definition, none of these things can be a right, because they negate the rights of others to their own lives, liberties, and property.  It’s time to stop pretending that socialism isn’t what it so clearly is, and if my vulgar little proposal  assists you to better explain the crass depravity of the entitlement mentality, so much the better, for if the person with whom you’re discussing it refuses to understand, it can be safely said that such a person has abandoned humanity already.