Welfare Dependency Destroying America
Are you old enough to remember 1968, when the US was a country of working people, not an example of welfare dependency destroying America? Unemployment was 3.6%. The Federal debt was $500 billion and the deficit was $25 billion. There were almost 200 million Americans back then—and most of them (96%) worked for a living, and paid taxes—and were proud to do so.
Here we are in 2013, and unemployment is 7.5%, but real unemployment is the underemployment is almost twice that level 14-15%. We are a nation of just over 300 million Americans, 1/3 of which are dependent on government Payments. In fact, 103 million Americans get some kind of federal food assistance—more than the 97 million full-time American workers.
During the past half-century the American work ethic and the will to work of Americans has deteriorated tragically. The anecdote below would have once been humorous. Now it is just sad.
The National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us “Please Do Not Feed the Animals.” Their stated reason for the policy is that “The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.” Meanwhile, the Food Stamp Program (SNAP), administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever, to 46 million people.
It makes me wonder whether the Park Service message describes the American people. When included in the Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) other 15 programs, that 46 million more than doubles. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) identified so much overlap, that the FNS may be providing participants more than 100% of daily nutritional needs, because many people participate in more than one FNS program simultaneously.
In addition, copies of receipts showing porterhouse steak and lobster bought with Food Stamps are circulating on the Internet, infuriating taxpayers who are being ripped off by the irresponsible group of dependent Americans.
This chart from Kiplinger Forecasts compares budgeted spending from 1968 to 2011 and leads to a staggering conclusion: America has become a welfare dependency nation. If you add the lines where there was no budget at all in 1968, they are ALL welfare-related—now consume nearly $300 billion annually—more than 10% of the Federal Budget. This is all new spending, paid for by the overloaded minority of Americans who work and pay taxes.
A recent story on The Blaze describes how laxity in requirements for disability has exploded the number of Americans who are “disabled.” If you see some of these “disabled” Americans participating in active sports, do not be surprised. Many of the new disabled are “gaming the system,” claiming back and musculoskeletal injuries which are nearly impossible to disprove. Others claim disability due to emotional distress, job stress or similar disorders—also impossible to clearly diagnose.
“The number of American workers collecting federal disability payments climbed to yet another record high of 8,830,026 in January, up from 8,827,795 in December, according to newly released data from the Social Security Administration.
This is the 192nd straight month that the number of American workers collecting federal disability payments has increased. The last time the number of Americans collecting disability decreased was in January 1997. That month the number of workers taking disability dropped by 249 people—from 4,385,623 in December 1996 to 4,385,374 in January 1997. As the overall number of Americans collecting disability has increased, the ratio of full-time workers to disability beneficiaries has decreased.”
“In December 1968, 1,295,428 Americans collected disability and 65,630,000 worked full-time. Thus, there were about 51 Americans working full-time for each person collecting disability at that time. In January 1997, the last time the number of disability beneficiaries declined, 4,385,374 Americans collected disability and 104,900,000 worked full-time. Thus, there were then about 24 Americans working full-time for each person collecting disability.
In January 2013, with a record 8,830,026 Americans collecting disability and 115,918,000 working fulltime, there were only 13 Americans working full-time for each person collecting disability.”
If fact, I may become “disabled” as I write this due to the “depression” I feel at the realization that so many Americans have become unmotivated, lazy, or simply choose to live on government welfare instead of finding a job. (Note: Depression is a qualified disability condition.)
What can we do to “undo this condition?” Sadly, very little. Once people start drawing these benefits, they do become dependent on them. Thus I call it “America’s welfare dependency.” Worse yet, people receiving such welfare begin to feel “entitled” to them. Their rationales are many, ranging from having worked and earning it, to having sustained their real—or imagined—disabilities on the job, to just believing that other Americans who have jobs should pay for them to live, because they “deserve to be taken care of.”
The only way to reverse this trend is to stiffen the controls and qualifications for disability and welfare, and perhaps most of all, require some kind of productive activity from those who receive welfare benefits…what was once known as “workfare” and going to pick up a check doesn’t qualify. Take (and pass) classes on a continuing basis, to learn new, employable skills, or perform light-duty work on public-works projects. Meet a periodic testing criteria for continued welfare/disability payments.
A severe restriction must also be placed on what the Food Stamps can be spent to buy, with serious (criminal) penalties (and loss of benefits) for those caught fraudulently abusing welfare. (It is “theft” in a different form.) Finally, slowing (or stopping) the upward climb COLA (cost of living adjustments) could reduce the costs of welfare, and might actually incite job seeking for the able recipients. Instead, the system rewards them for staying on welfare.
None of this however will reverse the mindset of the “American Welfare Dependency” affliction. The only thing will do that is a restoration of Americans’ will to work, and pride in paying their own way and being self-sufficient. Otherwise the Park Service admonition has truly come true: “Please Do Not Feed the Animals. The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.”