June 14, 2011

Do Social Welfare Programs Encourage Poverty?



     I had just completed preparing a post, Social Welfare***, written by my late mother, Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius, when I read a similar article in the morning newspaper.

     The author of the newspaper article stated that Now I understand that government poverty programs encourage people to stay dependent. There’s money in it. The policy-makers would have known this 25 years ago had they read “The State Against Blacks.”

     If I were a betting person, I’d wager that my mother never read the book The State Against Blacks. She simply compared the attitudes of the people she grew up among, and the attitudes of the people when she attended college in Maine—in her late sixties:

     …..I feel strongly that the bureaucratic structure of social welfare today robs the unfortunate of dignity, crushes all efforts to creatively supply food, clothing and other necessities. The social welfare system has put in place a system whereby it is easy for generation to follow generation in sitting back and accepting help, yes, even expecting this help as their right without putting forth any effort to help themselves.

     The author of the book, Walter Williams of George Mason University, said in the book that poverty programs destroy the natural mechanisms that have always enabled poor people to lift themselves out of poverty…there’s a huge segment of the black population for whom upward mobility is elusive, and it’s because of the welfare state.—because of government.*

     In his new book, Race and Economics, he elaborates:

     A chief culprit…is the minimum wage.

     “Let’s not look at the intentions behind minimum wage,” he said. “We have to ask, what are the effects? Put yourself in the place of an employer who must pay $7.25 no matter whom you hire. Will that employer hire a person who can only add $3 or $4 of value per hour?’

   He will not.

     And so fewer young people get hired and “get their feet on the bottom rung of the economic ladder.”

     This hurts all young people, but black teens most…*

     Both my mother and Williams appear to agree—social welfare programs can encourage dependency and entitlement. The question now becomes: Is there a way for social welfare programs to enrich the truly needy, to help move them to independency and responsibility where possible? Perhaps the system needs a major overhaul.

     People ask what can be done to save our nation from decline…perhaps they should be asking why the government spends money for the shallow and immediate wants of the population which makes civic virtue all but disappear.**

     What would be the effect if  the social welfare system was designed to provide persons with a hand up, not a hand out? But is that where the money is?


*Government against blacks, John Stossel, Greensburg Tribune-Review, June 5, 2011  D1


***Social Welfare posted on this site June 12, 2011



MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius

My Mother’s Secret: An Adoption Story

Oprah and I: Adoption Reunion Experiences

“All My Children:” Susan Lucci & Erica Kane


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