This article is not written to judge the merits of the welfare system recipients. For the sake of this article I'm going to, in addition to ignoring the needy recipients, also put aside the abusers. It's no secret that there are a number of liars, thieves, and welfare queens. I do believe that there are some poor and down on their luck people, especially with families, that do what they feel that they must to protect the ones that they love. I can't blame these people for that. These programs exist, and if they're going to continue to exist, I would much rather have Americans that actually need these programs be the main beneficiaries rather than the fraudulent abusers.
Most everyone that I've ever spoken to that truly needed government assistance of some kind would much rather have a good paying job than receiving a handout. Once these people finally make their way through the long process of getting assistance, which is still not enough, they realize that they have become mentally and financially enslaved.
The leftist ideology, and specifically, the Democrat party have long been hip deep in different forms of slavery and oppression. One of the first political authors I read was the former Congressman Clarence Mason Weaver. He wrote a book called "It's OK to Leave the Plantation." This book explores the mechanism used by the left to oppress Minority groups in America, specifically the African-American community. He makes several valid points and shares personal experiences in this very quick read. I find that the notable conclusion that he makes on several occasions is that oppression is a mental game.
This is an excerpt from the preface of his book. "...The Africans were never really slaves in America. If we were slaves, there would've been no reason for whips and chains. You are only a slave if you think like a slave. The Africans were captives in America and resisted as much as possible. The captors had to develop self-hatred, worthlessness, and hopelessness in the Africans to make them think they were slaves..."
Making people feel as though they don't have any hope, they don't have a choice, and they aren't good enough to succeed is an effective way of keeping people from ever achieving more. He calls it the plantation mentality. This has been the function of modern day welfare and the leftist machine that profits from it. This is a system that is designed to keep people from achieving more. Otherwise, there wouldn't be so many punishment mechanisms for success built into the system.
Getting your head straight and removing your feelings of shame and hopelessness are the key to freeing yourself from poverty and a bad life. Not yet, another government program that will continue to make you feel like you can never achieve success on your own. Recipients have to ask the government for permission to do basic things in life like make a purchase or even get a job.
The system as it exists today is so complicated and so filled with paperwork and waiting that the process can be extremely intimidating to people who actually need these programs. And once you're in, there are a vast number of limitations put on what you can do financially before assistance is withdrawn. You quickly find out that your life is not your own and your choices are not your own.
Before when it came time to take whatever job was available, it was a no-brainer. But now, you have to weigh out whether or not this new job will pay enough and exceed the benefits that you have been receiving so that you are capable of continuing to support yourself and your family. It seems like a simple idea: a job is available, so just take it, but it's not that black-and-white.
If you were, for example, receiving housing assistance and food stamps, which can exceed the value of nearly $1000 a month depending on how many family members you have, getting a part-time job at McDonald's doesn't come close to covering that cost. And the moment you get that paying job, the benefits that you did receive are dramatically diminished. This creates the welfare trap.
You quickly find that it’s easier to not work and receive benefits rather than to work making less money. There's also the added twist that it takes a long time to get back on government assistance. This means if for some reason, the new job doesn't work out or you get laid off, then you have to start all over again leaving a potential 4 to 6 week gap with mouths to feed. This is part of the mental game that is also used to enslave peoples' minds. It creates an element of fear for mothers and fathers. They now have to gamble as to whether or not this job is going to work out in the long run and put the filled bellies of their children at risk.
All of these things add up to a feeling of worthlessness, a feeling of hopelessness, a feeling of enslavement. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty. This also builds a group of people whose entire lives revolve around these government programs. Threatening to affect or change them even slightly horrifies people that are reliant on them. This speaks to the motive of the politicians that push this agenda.
The left, and specifically, the Democrat party figured this out a long time ago. They identified that the majority of the population was at a lower income. These people have the highest probability of, at some point, needing a form of government assistance. And by championing these welfare programs, they essentially would become the new masters of these people.
It no longer mattered how awful and racist the Left was because, Politician X who is a Democrat says he will increase your family benefits my 5% next quarter versus Politician Y who is a Republican saying he wants to get you off welfare and get you a job. Most people on welfare, as I stated earlier, have already wrestled with this, and have been overwhelmed with the sense of hopelessness a long time ago. Many of them wanted that job when they started out. Many of them believed that this would only be a temporary move until they "got back on their feet," but after many sleepless nights and several job offers that didn't pay quite enough to survive, they lost that feeling of self-worth and it turned into self-loathing.
Every single year the need grows greater in society for welfare programs. Every single year the cost increases to fund these programs in society. And how do we fund these programs you might ask? Through taxation of course: corporate taxation, at the state and federal level, and personal taxation-- when you make your money and want to pass it on to your children after you die. It also happens through regulation; companies are incentivized to hire people that aren't necessarily qualified to do the work that they are doing to receive some sort of a tax benefit. The rules and conditions surrounding these hirings create massive increases in overhead, time, and additional paperwork necessary for each individual that is put to work.
One example is the constant increase in the minimum wage. There are few government engineered welfare programs that sink as low as the mandatory minimum wage. This makes a weaker labor force by not allowing small business to weigh the cost to hire unskilled workers. By keeping unskilled labor costs low, it allows companies and untrained workers to enter into a mutually beneficial agreement. Employers get inexpensive labor, and the worker benefits from the employer making more opportunities to gain necessary job skills in the free market. This means more people are employed and more people are getting trained to be better workers in the future. This benefits future employers, the future of the employees, and the end consumer who will receive goods and services from a better-trained workforce.
The minimum wage was never intended to be a "living wage." It was always intended to be more of a "training wage." Due to this extreme regulation and the increases in taxation on an annual basis, this has prevented any incentive for employers to compete for their labor force.
This is just one government mandated regulation that keeps unemployment high and labor force involvement low. This creates the other element of the vicious cycle that pushes more and more citizens every year into welfare. Constitutional Conservative Republicans and economists with a little bit of common sense can understand this. The problem has been educating the current beneficiaries of the welfare state to understand this. And honestly, how can they take that risk? They would be taking a gamble on their future and the wellbeing of their children. A large arm of the left-wing media machine has as its mission to create a distrust of the conservative right. This can be seen in the fear mongering that occurs every time someone on the right talks about Social Security reform.
Politicians get up in front of the American people and explain that the system is going bankrupt. They explain that their government officials have been robbing them blind for years and that reforms are needed. This is necessary so that Social Security can become solvent and then slowly morph into something more sustainable. There have been dozens of proposals over the past decade and a half that could work, but our opponents on the left use fear to prevent that.
Most people don't realize the lie that is welfare. The truth of the matter is annually the taxpayers spend approximately $60,000 per household. Clearly, if we would just give that money to every household in America, we would effectively wipeout poverty. The poverty rate would not continue to grow. But, because the poverty rate does continue to grow, it proves that somewhere sticky fingers are pocketing the majority of this money. This money is not making its way into the hands of the intended recipients. You would think over the several decades since the beginning of the welfare state that we would see the need for these programs to move in reverse. Sadly, this is not going to happen until real reforms are passed.
As I said at the beginning, this is not meant to be an indictment of the people that actually make use of these programs. This is an indictment of the politicians on the left, and in some cases on the right, who know the system is broken. They know the system exploits people, and they continue to push for these programs anyway. Because by keeping a large group of impoverished people mentally, emotionally, and financially enslaved to them ensures them perpetual power election year after election year.
Check back in soon for -
Part 3: Dispelling Myths and Curing the Welfare State