For years I’ve been confused by our country’s welfare system. Sure, we absolutely need to have a strong safety net for those folks in our communities that fall on hard times or need some additional support. I don’t think anyone would suggest that folks with special needs should be tasked with earning the same level of income that the rest of the population is expected to earn. That’s just not fair and, in America, we try to be as fair as possible (within reasonable expectations, of course).
Yet, sometimes I think we completely botch the job when trying to reach that noble goal.
The biggest example that I can provide is the fact that more and more of our fellow citizens are falling under the federal definition of being “poor” in America. Before I offer some comments, take a look at this video featuring the FOX Business Network’s Stuart Varney and, remarkably for the second time this week, Jon Stewart. And, if you can, try to avoid the less-than-funny comedic mocking that Stewart puts out there while digesting Varney’s larger point.
I had to post this video on the blog because it cuts directly to one of the (many) points that I used to battle out with my professors in the very hard left-leaning graduate school where I received my master of the arts degree. Namely, the people who are considered “poor” in America are mostly not poor… at all! Watch that video again – there are folks who think that they’re poor and yet they have a cell phone! A cell phone?! Really?! You mean to tell me that someone out there is considered “poor” and thus worthy of thousands of dollars of government assistance (i.e. yours and my tax dollars) and yet they have a cell phone, a car, a refrigerator, cable television, etc?
Are you f’ing kidding me?!
What’s the point in working for a living? Honestly, why should I go to work tomorrow? Instead, maybe I’ll just go to the welfare office and tell them that I need assistance. Think about it – they’ll give me enough money to keep my cell phone, car, and cable television – how is this is bad idea?
All kidding aside – this is one of the points that I really did argue about with my hardcore liberal graduate school professors. And I’m proud to say that this is one of the many points where I argued them into corners that they couldn’t get out of (over and over again). The root of my arguments was that everyone seems to be able to design research projects and define why we have to support areas and individuals who are at a disadvantage, but no one has even attempted to define how much is enough. Now, as my liberal professors were all hard left individuals, they immediately tried attacking me personally as opposed to responding with a reasoned, academic argument. They’d ask me if I had a problem paying taxes or helping the less fortunate (expecting me to say “yes”).
And that’s when I’d tell them that I consistently donate at least 10% of my income to charities ranging from scholarship funds to animal humane societies to their very own university and I simultaneously would halt their personal attacks, force the conversation back towards the academic argument, and win over the entirety of my classmates (conservative, liberal, and moderates).
It was a sweet scene whenever it happened.
But the argument would eventually go around in circles until it ended nowhere because, in truth, no one has an answer to that question. No research has been done on that question because the field of community development and public policy is pretty much dominated by liberal-minded people who would never think that, at some point, the spigot should be turned off. Thank God there are outlets like FOX Business to ask these questions to the masses and – more importantly – thank God there are individuals like Varney who are not afraid to draw back the curtain and show the Wizard of Oz in all of his grotesque simplicity. Look, folks – there’s no denying that our government is giving away the farm in social welfare programming to help “poor” people who could live as kings and queens in some third world countries on this earth. No doubt at all – and I think both sides of the aisle would agree.
What our challenge to the academic community should be is to research and figure out that dollar amount where money is no longer an efficient way of battling the problem of poverty in this country. When does money no longer alleviate the problems of poverty and, instead, other remediation techniques have to be implemented? When should we stop giving subsidized funds to individuals and, instead, give them a voucher for family counseling? Should we stop giving a per child stipend to single, unwed parents after their fourth or fifth child? Or maybe after their first? What about their tenth child?
Unfortunately, we can only answer these questions with our own personal opinions because the academic elite in this country refuse to research the questions that can give us real answers. Instead, they opt to research the same tried and true programs that they’ve reviewed for the last half a century. Sooner or later, that insanity has got to end.