Some Brief Observations About Welfare

The conversation of welfare annoys me to no end. By my observation, it is one of the most emotionally charged political subjects among many people I know. People get legitimately angry about practically anything involving work or the perceived lack of it. I understand that emotion; I, like many of you, work hard. Most people work hard.

It can be very easy to point at the people who receive any sort of social benefit, and assume they are lazy or otherwise incapable, and that they are an enormous drain on our economy, and getting them to work would turn things around. It’s an easy, logical argument until you do 10 minutes of research.

First, a few baseline rebuttals to most typical statements/arguments/incorrect opinions:

– Across the board, half or more of recipients of any kind of welfare are only on it for two years or less. Around 75% (depending on the type of welfare) are off within three. It’s a small amount of people who are on welfare perpetually.

– Over 50% of welfare recipients have a job. It’s just that wages are lower and the cost of living is higher than 40 years ago. It’s often not laziness, it’s economic reality.

– People on welfare use drugs at a rate equal to or even below that of people receiving no benefits. Testing for drugs is dumb and wasteful, and that’s been proven by the dumb and wasteful states that have tried it.

– The only benefit undocumented immigrants can receive is Medicaid. They are not getting payments, unemployment, food stamps, or any other benefit. They can’t.

– The “Welfare Queen” was a thing Reagan made up. They certainly exist, but not to the pernicious extent ol’ Gipper present it as.

– If you made $50,000 last year, you paid $36 towards food stamps. That’s $0.10/day so some people can eat. Calm down.

Finally: our economy pays far more in corporate subsidy (re: welfare for people who already have more money than you will ever, ever have) versus social welfare (re: people who actually need money). Most recent figures put it over double.

So if you’re pissed about hard-earned tax dollars going to other people, point up, not down. Spit on the guy in a suit, rather than the one in rags.

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