Soul-crushing dependency

“This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency .” It seems we need to relearn this every generation. I learned this lesson in the 1970s. I suppose it is time to learn it again.

Everything we do has consequences, often not those we hoped. When dealing with a complex system, and all human systems are complex, getting to the results we want is often counter-intuitive. It seems to make sense that if we want to help poor people, we just give them what we think they are lacking. We forget that we are talking about people who will adapt and respond to what we do.

As the linked NYT article points to a problem I have seen often in my own experience. Government intervention can create perverse incentives that make the problem worse. Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something. Or put another way, sometimes things are going badly wrong not in spite of but because of our best efforts. We need to think systemically and this is hard.

Our goal is - or should be - to help the poor stop being poor. The first step in doing this is figure out what condition made and/or is keeping them poor. It used to be a lot easier. In generations past, there were lots of people who were poor because of conditions largely or completely outside their control. Most Americans can look to grandparents or great grandparents who were abysmally poor by today's standards. Programs that brought roads & electricity, removed chronic disease, opened schools or provided credit worked very well in these sorts of conditions. Public health and infrastructure improvements of the first half of the twentieth century brought the great mass of people into the circle of prosperity.

But by the late 1960s we were starting to reach the point of diminishing returns. The programs had done much of what they could. The problem of poverty was no longer just having no money but cultures and habits that perpetuated poverty. In these situations, merely putting more money into the system was like giving the boozer more whiskey, sometimes literally. Unfortunately, it was at this time that the liberal ideas of victimhood came to the fore. We declared war on poverty. Poverty won and demanded reparations. Many of the programs designed to help the poor, merely exacerbated their misery.

Charles Murray documented this in his groundbreaking book Losing Ground. This won him the unending enmity of the liberal left; they attacked his motives and his character, but they could not dispute his conclusions.
Basically this is what happens (I quote at length):

"1. The Law of Imperfect Selection. Any objective rule that defines eligibility for a social transfer program will irrationally exclude some persons. Programs like Food Stamps and the Supplemental Security Income program constantly expand. Whenever the people who administer the programs run into a case of a genuinely needy person who has been excluded under a current rule, they tend to redefine the rule or otherwise alter the program's administration to be more inclusive, which in turn brings more people who don't need the social transfer under its umbrella.

"2. The Law of Unintended Rewards. Any social transfer increases the net value of being in the condition that prompted the transfer. Kristoff referenced the increased net value of being illiterate because of the "intellectual disability" payment of $698 per month that leads parents to withdraw their children from literacy classes. But the same thing is true of every payment of any kind that requires people to demonstrate that they have a problem before they qualify for the payment. It is not a defect in program design. It is inescapable whenever you give rewards for having a problem.

"3. The Law of Net Harm. The less likely it is that the unwanted behavior will change voluntarily; the more likely it is that a program to induce change will cause net harm. Fewer and fewer people are old enough to remember, but once upon a time almost all children were born to married couples and almost all young men were physically able to work and knew how to show up on time and work hard. Then, in the mid-1960s, before globalization, before manufacturing jobs disappeared, while working-class wages were still going up, we decided that compassion should be bureaucratized. The three laws of social programs explain a lot of what has happened to the working class since then."

We have to keep our goals in mind. Our goal is not to support the poor in their poverty (although such charity might at times be required) and it certainly is not to create conditions that perpetuate poverty. Our goal is to help poor people become formerly poor people. To the extent we cannot eliminate poverty our goal should be to ameliorate the most pernicious effects of poverty, the crime and disorder that blight the lives of the perpetually poor.

Probably the best help to the poor in our lifetimes was President Clinton's welfare reform, which limited times people could be on the dole and created incentives to get back to productive lives. Dependency dropped and so did crime rates and misery. We don't want recreate those failed policies of the 1960s and 1970s. It took us more than thirty years to recover from this. Let's hope this generation learns quicker than we did.

Posted by Christine & John at December 10, 2012 7:56 PM
Comments
Comment #358453

Poverty is soul crushing one way or another. You’re at the mercy of a system one way or another. The difference is, you don’t have people starving, you don’t have people dropping out of participating in the legitimate economy, etc.

You assume that their alternative would be a productive, rewarding job. Would that actually be so? You’re also assuming that people who are actually working jobs aren’t having to avail themselves of government programs to get by.

I’m not an advocate for a culture of dependence, much as you would like to paint it that way. What I’m an advocate for is an overall raising of the standard of living of the average American, and a breaking down of the barriers that keep the poor locked in poverty.

Too often, the approach Republicans and conservatives have taken to things is best described as throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Any time Government or government programs don’t perform as expected, or screw something up, that is taken as yet another cue to shrink government.

In too many cases, conservatives have claimed that when they undo social programs and the like conditions will improve, only for a predictable decline in the fortunes of these people to occur instead.

This is not to say that we can’t organize some sort of data-driven reform, but rather to say that Republicans are less concerned with results than they are with their program of restoring America to pre-FDR policy. They use the language of innovation, of undoing obsolete laws and programs to replace them with even more obsolete government. Worse yet, you can’t tell conservatives these days its not working, they insist for the sake of not giving in that it’s working perfectly fine.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 10, 2012 8:19 PM
Comment #358459

Stephen

We are talking here HOW to help the poor. I do not propose letting people starve. But I look at the system as … as system. The simplistic ideas of the 1960s ended up arresting progress and putting us into a world of greater misery for the poor. Welfare reform signed by President Clinton helped fix this thirty years later.

Nobody ever “goes back” and no serious person advocates trying to do that. Conditions change. Now let’s talk about the New Deal. MOST of the New Deal policies failed and were discontinued. They have not become part of our modern ideas. So when you talk about FDR, remember that you are talking about something fairly amorphous.

Anyway, I want to continue to move forward, with a system that incorporates incentives AND is flexible. Detailed plans don’t work in complex human systems. We need to try things and then modify. This becomes very difficult if we have defined entitlements.

I think we probably should shrink government in order to make it more effective. When you try to do too many things, you do nothing well. With my own staff, I always emphasize setting priorities. We get much more done that way.

I have three kids and nothing is more important to me than their happiness. Yet at times I have had to give them less help and less stuff than I could have. Government is like a bad parent. It gives and withdraws capriciously.

Re data driven - it sounds very good, but the data usually lags the results. Often the decision makers are the ones who have to gather the information and use it. I have trouble with analysts telling me what to do w/o understanding the problems in their real world context.

Much of the trouble of the 1970s was “data driven” but the models were wrong.

Posted by: C&J at December 10, 2012 8:46 PM
Comment #358488

There is a helping hand up. And then there is the crushing handout.
The hand up tells the person getting it that someone believes in them. And that they can make it on their own. This makes the person want to get out of the situation they’re in and improve themselves.
The handout tells the person receiving it that that they can’t make it without whoever is giving them the handout. This makes the person receiving it feel like they’re to stupid to do anything worthwhile.
Government programs always turn into handouts. Even if that wasn’t the intention of the program at the start.
When the welfare program started it wasn’t meant to be a permanent way of living. But it’s turned into one. We have 3rd and 4th generation welfare recipients. And it’s become something that folks think is owed to them.
This ain’t good for them. Anytime anyone is dependent on the government system it robs them of their dignity.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 11, 2012 12:13 AM
Comment #358537

It is vital that we reexamine our social welfare policies periodically, and it seems like the next few years will give us the opportunity to do so after we finish recovering from the recession. In the medium term, we will need to work together to balance the budget and produce surpluses before the next recession comes. This will mean increasing taxes in some places and decreasing spending in others. Social welfare spending remains a candidate for such reductions. This means we need to evaluate whether such policies are effective or not.

I thank C&J for sharing the article about welfare dependency in Appalachia. Ron acknowledges that there are hand ups and hand outs, and I think this is a very good distinction to make. Ron alleges that government spending inevitably deterioration into hand outs. Although some government programs actually manage to avoid this devolution (public education for instance), there are certainly many that do for the reasons outlined by C&J. The question we need to ask is whether we can tolerate a certain level of dependency if there is a larger population of people who treat these government programs as hand ups and not hand outs? Should we expect absolute compliance with out intentions? I think there are many Watchblog conservatives who believe that a single able-bodied person dependent on welfare is intolerable, but I do not share that view. I am willing to tolerate a few of these “parasites” if there is a much larger population that benefits as intended. However, if there is a reform that may reduce the number of these people without harming the rest, then I am open to that idea. The reforms passed by Clinton in 1996 proved to be beneficial and we may be due for another set of reforms in light of the PPACA, which reduces health care costs for many in the bottommost quintile.

Posted by: Warren Porter at December 11, 2012 1:07 PM
Comment #358542

As Clinton did with welfare the 3 years and done for life is great but to many loopholes were in the law. I see people and generations still on the welfare rolls. We need to put those who are able to work do community services for their checks and if they don’t want to work for it to bad, no honey, no money. Also we need to tighhten the unemployment laws to make sure that people who are supposed to be looking actually are I know from past experience that those who are unemployed just get prospects out of a phone book.

Posted by: KAP at December 11, 2012 1:32 PM
Comment #358552

Warren

Depends on how many are stuck in dependency.

I think there are different ways to look at this. The most facile way is to look at the dependents as cheats and loser. This is, BTW, true. But I believe in redemption. These cheats and loser are also, victims, not victims as liberals would like us to believe of the heartless system, but of the liberal soft bigotry of low exceptions.

It is attractive to blame others and be dependent, but it is pernicious. We need to ensure that these sort of weak personalities do not fall into the trap, not to save ourselves money (at good thing otherwise, BTW) but to save them from themselves.

I have friends and relatives who are welfare dependent. I hate their sin but try to love the sinner, which is not easy. They are not fulfilled people. The system has betrayed them by its heterogeneity. It would be better if they suffered more physically in order to win more spiritually and in the long run physically too.

Being dependent on the dole is not a complete life. It is a failure, morally and in almost every other way. Better these people are pushed into discomfort than made comfortable in their error and misfortune. I am very un-PC, but I am also right.

Posted by: C&J at December 11, 2012 3:25 PM
Comment #358557

Maybe so.

There really isn’t an easy answer to this question. The only way forward I can imagine is to tinker with the system we have already until everything works out. Like it or not, social welfare programs have lifted many people out of poverty since the 1930s. There have been plenty of unintended consequences along the way that we have to deal with. And there are plenty of unanticipated interactions between social welfare programs and shifts in societal values in spheres such as sex. Also, globalization and automation are fundamentally changing the way are economy is structured. There will be a lot of friction as we make the transition and some of that friction has negative impacts on our social welfare programs.

I may be part of the problem, but I also find a great number of people to be simply incapable of excellent work. In the past, they may have gotten by. A woman could depend on her husband or a man could rely on being only marginally employed in an unskilled job. Today, there is little for these people to do. Unskilled jobs are disappearing fast as robots take over and marriage plays a profoundly different role nowadays then it did before.

Posted by: Warren Porter at December 11, 2012 3:44 PM
Comment #358577

Warren
The problem is that welfare has more folks living off of than using it as it was intended. It was in tended to be a hand up but has developed into a hand out.
My next door neighbor, or as close to next door 3/4 of a mile can get, has been on welfare all her life. Her momma was on welfare, three of her daughters have been on welfare since they were 15 or 16 and her youngest daughter has just gone on welfare at the ripe old age of thirteen.
This was not the intention of welfare when it was started. But this is what it has become.
I went down there and asked her if either she or one of her daughters would be interested in cleaning house for me the other day. Her answer “Why in the hell would we want to work for you when we can get welfare and your still paying us.”

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 11, 2012 6:12 PM
Comment #358578

Warren

Yes. Try new things.

But we have to make hard choices. Frankly, if one lazier guy suffers so that two good citizens can redeem themselves, it is worth it.

Some people cannot be helped, unless they help themselves. Remember the recent example of the guy with the shoes? A cop bought a “homeless” man some boots. The homeless man sold them and it turns out he wasn’t homeless, since the state gave him money.

Posted by: C&J at December 11, 2012 7:51 PM
Comment #358579

What strikes me in the tone of this article is the sense that poor people cause their own problems or at least fail to address them properly.

You fail to look at the flip side which is that there are people on the opposite end of the spectrum who cause as much problem with their actions and dealings as do the poor. Check out the situation in many third world countries where government support is minimal to non existent. Has the lack of governmental support kept poverty at bay in those countries. Do the owners of the public wealth have no responsibility toward those citizens from which they often derive that wealth.

Financiers who write deals and finagle laws which effectively cheat the poor and unsophisticated purchasers of money need some of this inspection and adjustment. Go ahead and cut back government services. But quit providing government protection and cover for those who really get the bulk of the government’s largess.

Follow the money.

Posted by: LibRick at December 11, 2012 8:19 PM
Comment #358581

LibRick

Poor people generally DO cause their own problems. It is not necessarily their fault, but it is their behaviors and attitudes that keep them in poverty.

Re rich people screwing up - they do too. So what? That is a different sort of problem.

Re poor countries - generally the lack of freedom keep the poor in misery in these places. As I mentioned, this used to be the case in the U.S. too. But the success of policies coming out of the New Deal etc. largely addressed this. Today if you are persistently poor in the U.S. you are either very unlucky or some of you actions need to be changed. It does nobody any favors to assume that wealth and poverty are distributed by random chance. The poor and the rich have choices.

Posted by: C&J at December 11, 2012 8:40 PM
Comment #358593

C&J
Nobody can be helped unless they help themselves. just giving money to folks to live on ain’t helping them at all And they won’t even try to help themselves by trying to find work.. Giving someone $20 for gas so they can go to work, or a job interview helps them. But they’re also helping themselves by going to work or trying to get a job.
It just basically boils down to unless someone is trying to help themselves, they can’t be helped.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 11, 2012 11:19 PM
Comment #358610

Ron

Right. And the further problem is that sometimes “help” delivered the wrong way actually hurts, as do many social welfare programs aimed at the poor.

Posted by: C&J at December 12, 2012 5:34 AM
Comment #358629

Bad things often happen to good people. Circumstances beyond their control. We need to help them all we can both personally, and through government programs, to “get back on their feet”.

A growing number of others, whose problems for the most part are self induced, choose to take the government assistance for no other reason than the fact that it is available to them and an OPTION to taking a job. Some choose to take a job and only work part time when full time is available because full time would prevent them from getting a check from Uncle Sam. These are the people I have a problem with. I have a problem with political leaders who allow this to happen.

My gripe is compounded by the fact that jobs are going unfilled. Advertised jobs at $12/hr, with benefits, no experience necessary, and on the job training, and no one applies.

Canada over a decade ago greatly pared back their handouts and lo and behold their unemployment numbers plummeted. Why don’t we do the same? Too simple? Unfair? How do you neck nuzzlers not support turning our failed system around in this manner? We can’t keep on keepin’ on in the current direction.

Posted by: John Johnson at December 12, 2012 8:15 AM
Comment #358636
Circumstances beyond their control. We need to help them all we can both personally, and through government programs, to “get back on their feet”.

I agree with the ‘we need to help them personally’, but I don’t get the ‘through government programs’. Why? Can you explain?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 12, 2012 10:44 AM
Comment #358638

I was simply referring to some form of federal/state welfare for those who truly need it. We can never do away with government assistance in its entirety.

Posted by: John Johnson at December 12, 2012 11:14 AM
Comment #358640
I was simply referring to some form of federal/state welfare for those who truly need it. We can never do away with government assistance in its entirety.

Why? What specifically makes ‘government assistance’ different than other assistance?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 12, 2012 11:20 AM
Comment #358643

OK, Professor, quit playing games here. What do you want to know?

There is still true altruism out there. There are entities and individuals who are around with the sole purpose of helping the down and out. Then there is the government and their use of our tax money to do the same. My rub is that they go overboard and do not control it properly. Fraud is rampant.

Posted by: John Johnson at December 12, 2012 12:09 PM
Comment #358675

Lib Rick
Has Government support eliminated poverty in this country?
While how governments in third world countries treat the citizens is deplorable, I’m more concerned about how we demean our poor by giving them handouts. It’s telling them that they can’t make it without big brother looking after them. This create dependency on the government for their lively hood. But then I reckon that’s what y’all want.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 13, 2012 12:41 AM
Comment #358696
OK, Professor, quit playing games here. What do you want to know?

I am playing no games, you made the statement that ‘government programs’ were necessary. Why?

There is still true altruism out there.

I would hope so, it is tied to the concept of ‘empathy’ which the majority of human beings have. If one does not have a notion of ‘empathy’, they are sociopaths…

There are entities and individuals who are around with the sole purpose of helping the down and out.

I agree, and I am party of some of those. Most of us give to some of these entities. Why can’t we just use them and leave the governmental force out of the equation?

Then there is the government and their use of our tax money to do the same.

Oh, you mean the use of force to make people support the charity of your choice?

You don’t see ANYTHING wrong with forced charity?

I have a story for you… 3 men are eating lunch on a park bench. A homeless guy comes up to them and asks for some money. Man A and Man B start to pull out 5 dollars each to give to the man, while Man C says he can’t afford to give that to him right now. Man A and Man B then beat him up and take 5 dollars out of his wallet and give the 15 dollars to the homeless man.

That is ‘governmental programs’, our version of forced charity.

In other words, you are advocating not what Man A and Man B do when confronting a charitable need, but what they can force Man C to do.

This can best be explained by reading The Forgotten Man by William Graham Sumner, an American academic who held the first professorship in sociology at Yale College. In 1876, he became the first to teach a course entitled “sociology” in the English-speaking world. He was the second president of American Sociological Association serving from 1908 to 1909.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 13, 2012 11:28 AM
Comment #358701

Please educate me. Where in the world do you find such a society? That is…one whose citizens are so altruistic that they provide the needs of all those who, by whatever circumstance, are unable to provide adequately for themselves? Where the government has not had to become part of the collection, qualification and distribution process? I would suggest to you that this concept is only found in books, and only works in books. If I am wrong, please enlighten me.

Posted by: John Johnson at December 13, 2012 1:14 PM
Comment #358805
Please educate me

I’m trying to, did you read the article I suggested?

Where in the world do you find such a society?

I’m really glad that you weren’t around while the founding fathers were having the discussion about what they would replace their monarchial society with after the revolution in the 1770s…

provide the needs of all those who, by whatever circumstance, are unable to provide adequately for themselves

There is no society that has ever existed that can provide the needs for all of those who needs it, even with governmental help. Even socialist societies that were designed to eliminate that issue. So we have a choice between a society that uses force to make people provide to charity and can’t help everyone and a society that doesn’t use force to make people provide to charity and can’t help everyone…

You seem to want to support the ‘force’ option, why?

only works in books

You like make a lot of absolute pronunciations without anything to back them up, perhaps you could explain why a society that does not use force and the threat of incarceration and death to provide help to others would ‘only work in books’?

Unless you are of some opinion that all humans are sociopaths?

If that were the case, how did these laws get passed in the first place, wouldn’t a ‘majority’ of people need to want to help others for this to happen? Why can’t they just get together and help on their own?

Let me ask you a question…

If you were in dire straights and was looking for help, would you rather that help came because people wanted to help you or because someone else put a gun to their heads to help you?

When human beings see others in need, they POUR help to them. You can just look at the Haiti earthquake, or the Sandy concerts from a couple of days ago. The problem is directing that desire to help and there is NOTHING that the government can do that private organization can’t do in that manner except for one thing.

Legally use force to make people help.

The problem in the past is that the ability to communicate the need and deliver the help to people who weren’t immediately near you was impossible. That is no longer the case.

Unfortunately, you are unable to explain, at all, why government is needed in this role. You just think that it is an accepted fact so you don’t question it. You have ‘faith’, therefore never seek to actually question the belief.

You are the one who made the absolute statement and can’t back it up, maybe you could enlighten me and explain to me WHY government has to be putting guns to people’s heads in order for charity to work?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 14, 2012 8:29 AM
Comment #358813

No need to write a book here, Rhinehold. Name a model. Give me one example of where this voluntary giving is in place and covering the needs of the down and out.

I would love to be part of a society that functions in this manner. Common sense tells me that it ain’t gonna happen. Simple as that.

I’m talking reality here…not dealing in hypotheticals or “if only’s”.

Posted by: John Johnson at December 14, 2012 9:45 AM
Comment #358815

I am a huge proponent of canceling entitlements to slackers, and paring them back greatly to others. How supplying everyone with a free cellphone came to pass is beyond me. It’s ridiculous.

This being said, no way goverent involvement in doling out help can be avoided. No way. If you think otherwise, you are living in a dream world.

Posted by: John Johnson at December 14, 2012 9:59 AM
Comment #358816

Actually, you aren’t dealing in any kind of reality, only one that exists in your mind.

The current system does not eliminate the needs of millions of people who go without. So your view of government needing to put gun to everyone’s heads in order to help ‘everyone’ doesn’t exist and is not real.

Again, I am SOOO glad you weren’t whispering in Thomas Jefferson’s ear in 1776, saying ‘but where has this notion of self rule ever been tried and worked, name one place’.

As for ‘naming a model’, the US Constitution is one. I know we don’t actually follow the constitution anymore (and that is a shame) but you can look at the words of James Madison who said…

“Charity is no part of the legislative duty of of the Government”.

Or Thomas Jefferson who said…

“We are all doubtless bound to contribute a certain portion of our income to the support of charitable and other useful public institutions. But it is a part of our duty also to apply our contributions in the most effectual way we can to secure this object. The question then is whether this will not be better done by each of us appropriating our whole contribution to the institutions within our reach, under our own eye, and over which we can exercise some useful control? Or would it be better that each should divide the sum he can spare among all the institutions of his State or the United States? Reason and the interest of these institutions themselves, certainly decide in favor of the former practice.”

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 14, 2012 10:13 AM
Comment #358820
no way goverent involvement in doling out help can be avoided. No way.

Why? You still can’t explain it to me, which tells me you don’t KNOW why, you just ‘think’ it and have never questioned that belief.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 14, 2012 10:19 AM
Comment #358821

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”
-Benjamin Franklin

In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief of French refugees who fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison stood on the floor of the House to object saying, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

“There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
-James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788

This last quote is tied to your assertion that ‘this is just how it has to be’, the power was abridged in a way, like a frog in the slowly heating water, so that you now don’t even QUESTION the taking of this power away from the people and the unconscionable use of force on our fellow citizens for such an idea.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 14, 2012 10:33 AM
Comment #358823

Quit quoting me a bunch of book crap, Rhinehold…or what Jefferson or Benjamin F. had to say about the subject. Tell me where pure altruism has provided for the down and out…the truly needy. Words are words; reality is reality.

If you want to play games with words, let’s try it. Hypothetically, the U.S. does away with all forms of entitlements (this is what you are lobbying for, correct?). Tell us how you envision this dream of yours playing out in your Utopian society. Obviously, it begins with those who “have” giving freely to those who “don’t have” for ever and ever, Amen…and this is where I start laughing out loud. It sure looks good on paper, doesn’t it?

Posted by: John Johnson at December 14, 2012 11:11 AM
Comment #358824

BTW, the ‘government assistance’ you are saying is necessary wasn’t really started until 1960s… Since then:

In 1968, 4.1% of families were headed by a woman receiving Welfare assistance; by 1980, the percentage increased to 10%. In 2008, 28.7 percent of the households headed by single women were considered poor. The poverty rate for single-mother families in 2010 jumped to 40.7% compared to 8.8% for married-couple families.

It seems that this is a self-fulfilling program, making things worse so that it can help more. Much like how since the institution of the Department of Education in the 1970s we have seen a steady DOWNWARD trend in the education of the citizens of the US.

It seems to me your ‘reality’ doesn’t work very well.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 14, 2012 11:14 AM
Comment #358828

Knock off the mindlesss horseshit, Rhinehold. I never said that our welfare system was working properly. I have, in fact, on almost every other post on the subject railed against its going overboard. I do not, however, think we can provide for the down and out, truly needy without government assistance in qualifying and overseeiing.

I keep asking you, and will do so again…where is this utopian society functioning that you so want to emulate where individuals gladly provide all the basic necesscities so the less fortunate will have adequate food, clothing and shelter? Where has this worked in the past besides in a book or in some historic figure’s oratories?

If you can’t cite one, drop the subject…there is no sense in addressing the issue any longer.

Posted by: John Johnson at December 14, 2012 12:25 PM
Comment #358829
Knock off the mindlesss horseshit, Rhinehold.

Nothing I have posted is either MINDLESS or HORSESHIT. Apparently you view anything that is not within your belief system as invalid without even discussing their merits, that’s an easy way to ‘debate’ someone, isn’t it?

I do not, however, think we can provide for the down and out, truly needy without government assistance in qualifying and overseeiing.

Yet, when I asked you, several times, to explain WHY, you refused.

I keep asking you, and will do so again….

And I have been asking YOU, yet you simply refuse to answer. I have answered you but you don’t like the answer, so I will try again, this time in a way that even you may accept…

Where has this worked in the past besides in a book or in some historic figure’s oratories?

United States of America, 1776 - 1972.

there is no sense in addressing the issue any longer

I agree, your ‘debate’ style is non-existent and reminds me of a religious person who expect you to just accept what they say without backing it up without ever having to defend it.

I ask you a question which you continually refuse to answer, and then get indignant that I don’t answer your question in exactly the way you want me to.

It’s like trying to have a discussion with a petulant 10 year old.

However, for anyone else who is following along, let’s look at some facts.

Except for some forced retirement and insurance programs instituted after the Great Depression, welfare designed to assist all poor and not just the disabled and elderly wasn’t instituted in the US until 1972. Since that time, the poor have had it worse and worse. As was stated before “In 1968, 4.1% of families were headed by a woman receiving Welfare assistance; by 1980, the percentage increased to 10%. In 2008, 28.7 percent of the households headed by single women were considered poor. The poverty rate for single-mother families in 2010 jumped to 40.7% compared to 8.8% for married-couple families.”

The only thing that government can do that private organizations can’t is legally use force on anyone. I’ll give an example…

Everyone seems to think that we need the FDA to regulate the safety of our drugs and food. Yet, they don’t seem to think we need to regulate electronic equipment made and used in the United States. Why not, they are dangerous, right?

Well, the simple fact is that the Underwriters Laboratories group has been evaluating and labeling electrical equipment for a hundred years. And they are doing a good job. And they are NOT a governmental agency.

Why can’t we have a PRIVATE FDA-type organization that operates just like UL and is not in turn being run by POLITICS? Instead, they could identify and label drugs based just on science and not political pressures…

To many, this sounds like a ‘radical’ idea, but as we see with UL, that was the way we did things until the progressive mindset of ‘caring with other people’s money’ took shape in this country and flipped the ideals that this country was founded upon upside down. White is Black, Left is Right, etc…

Honestly, with very few exceptions like slavery and a federal banking system, this country was pretty much a ‘libertarian’ society right up until the Vietnam war… you know, radicals.

And *I* keep asking you

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 14, 2012 1:53 PM
Comment #358838
Hypothetically, the U.S. does away with all forms of entitlements (this is what you are lobbying for, correct?). Tell us how you envision this dream of yours playing out in your Utopian society. Obviously, it begins with those who “have” giving freely to those who “don’t have” for ever and ever, Amen…and this is where I start laughing out loud. It sure looks good on paper, doesn’t it?

It’s not just ‘good on paper’, it can be shown every day. Look up how much money is donated every year to the United Way, Cancer Research, McDonald’s House, etc, etc, etc….

This is ON TOP OF the money being forced out of people’s wallets to ‘provide assistance’. If these caring people had more money to give, they would. People are not, by and large, SOCIOPATHS. Perhaps that’s the issue I’m seeing here with people who can’t fathom a world where assistance is given to people through choice and not by force. Because THEY would help out anyone unless they were forced to? Are we really raising a generation of sociopaths?

The simple fact is that we could set up a non-governmental agency, let’s say United Way (or another one, or a new one) and let it operate without POLITICS dictating how they help people. Then we allow anyone to designate a portion of their income, through their paychecks (as can be done with the United Way) to help those people. The organization would then be free to use those funds to help people without having to lobby government, deal with endless regulations, etc.

I know you, considering you think everyone is a sociopath, wouldn’t do this without force, so lets give them incentive. Let’s say we keep the tax system as it is, BUT, for every dollar you give to an approved charity, you are returned on your taxes every year that same dollar back, up to the amount taken out of your taxes given to social programs. That way YOU can determine how best to help others, not politicians at the whims of politics, and you are putting as much money into charity as you were being forced to before.

Then, some time in the future, we can pull back on that and people will be USED to helping on their own, they would know who lives in their neighborhoods again and who needs help (and who should be rebuffed).

I know, I know, radical thinking, like how this country functioned for almost 200 years…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 14, 2012 3:20 PM
Comment #358840

Wow, eschewing book knowledge, what a wonderful way to keep yourself ignorant…

Tell me where pure altruism has provided for the down and out…the truly needy. Words are words; reality is reality.

Well, since you don’t read much or want to hear about Ben Franklin, you probably don’t know that he set up the first PUBLIC Hospital in the United States. Or that all hospitals were run through altruism until the middle part of the last decade when government started putting their hands into them. In fact, most health insurance policies were also non-profits, look up the history of Blue Cross Blue Shield (oh, I forgot, that would mean books and history and stuff).

The fact is, altruism does more for the truly needy by letting them know that people care. When you are on dire straights, you want people to help you because they WANT to help you and you are usually in a very depressed state, knowing that others CARE helps a lot. Getting a check from the government because you qualified on some list *ISN’T* the same thing.

Human interaction, mentoring and knowing and caring about your fellow man (altruism) is the cornerstone of any society to function as a society. The minute you stop (as we did in the 1970s) is the minute you lose the humanity of the society and descend into what we are seeing today, an authoritarian government deciding the paths that we all will take in our lives, just a little more each and every year…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 14, 2012 3:26 PM
Comment #358842

Are you a bookworm, Rhinehold? We could; we should. Heck, do it, man. Put together a plan and try and get it implemented. I’m all for you.

I give not only of my time, but my money. I give through my church and directly to some families whose kids I have coached, so hold back on the snide comments, please.

If you look at the total of all non-profit giving and compare it to entitlement spending what do you see? Right…a very small number in comparison. Cut the entitlement numbers in half and you are still not close.
It is pie-in-the-sky thinking. As it is, most of the giving is done right before the end of the year so it can be deducted from tax liability. Wait until tax reform comes around and all deductions are done away with…see how altruistic the public is when this happens.

If you had given me just one little peak at a place where a program like this was working, you would have had me paying attention. As I thought, this is all about a big dream you are having.

Posted by: John Johnson at December 14, 2012 3:34 PM
Comment #358844
If you look at the total of all non-profit giving and compare it to entitlement spending what do you see? Right…a very small number in comparison. Cut the entitlement numbers in half and you are still not close.

2 things.

1) most of that spending doesn’t actually help anyone…

2) if you aren’t taking that money out of people’s paychecks automatically, they would have more to give. If they are already giving they usually have what they NEED and are helping because they want to. And they want to help more, that’s the nature of humanity.

If you had given me just one little peak at a place where a program like this was working

Hmmm, I guess 200 years of the United States isn’t good enough then?

I’ll leave you with this link…

http://research.stlouisfed.org/wp/2007/2007-012.pdf

This paper examined the short-run and long-run relationships between various categories of government spending and charitable contributions over the period 1965 to 2003, a period marked by rapid growth in federal and state government spending. Cointegration tests showed that a long-run negative relationship does exist between charitable giving and government spending, most notably total giving and education giving. The relationship is less than one-for-one, thus suggesting partial crowding out. Granger causality tests showed that increases in state and local government welfare and education spending do reduce charitable giving to these respective categories. To summarize the results, we find limited evidence of crowding out in the long run and the short run, and conclusions regarding crowding in or crowding dependent on the specific categories of government spending and charitable giving studied. We obtained the interesting result that a decrease in state and local government spending on education increases private giving to education, and that increased education giving then leads to a reduction in federal government spending on education. We argued that this one-way relationship is a result of changing fundraising efforts and the nature of state and local government versus federal government education expenditures (general appropriations versus grants, respectively) and the relative size of each toward total education expenditures. In addition to a reduction in private charitable contributions resulting from government spending on charitable organizations, government growth itself, ignoring the destination of government spending, may reduce private charitable contributions. Private contributions may decrease because of reduced disposable income that results from higher taxes used to fuel future government growth.
Posted by: Rhinehold at December 14, 2012 4:04 PM
Comment #358853

Sorry, Rhinehold …what is so profound about a study that shows individual and corporate giving going down when taxes go up? Who would ever think it would do otherwise?

The point is, as I see it, that if we cut out government controlled entitlement programs altogether, private giving is not going make up the difference. Bottomline. End of story.

Posted by: John Johnson at December 14, 2012 6:13 PM
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