10.22.2012 1

Who does welfare hurt most?

By Rebekah Rast — Hard times can fall on anyone.

Joe Kerekes, 56, and his wife, Anita, live in the southern part of West Virginia—once the heart of America’s coal producing region.  But now this area that heavily depended upon a single industry for jobs is not offering the economic opportunities it once was.  MSN Money tells the story of the Kerekes and the startling fact that in the small town of Berwind, West Virginia, more than 90 percent of residents are unemployed.

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Monique Brown, a 30-year-old single mom of four, used to work two jobs, but lost them both in 2008. Huffington Post describes her current situation:  “Still jobless, Brown found out about a public housing unit last month in the Birmingham suburb or Fairfield. With the Salvation Army paying her deposits and purchasing furniture and some appliances for her, Brown was able to swing a place of her own using $573 a month in disability payments for one of her sons, food stamps and donations.”

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CNN tells the story of Margaret, living with her four school-aged children in a three-bedroom apartment on Chicago’s South Side. “Margaret is unable to pay the $850 per month rent, so she and her family perform janitorial tasks for the landlord to make ends meet. The children’s clothing is all secondhand, Margaret uses food stamps to make sure everyone is fed and when it is time to buy shoes for school, she has to save an entire paycheck.”

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These stories likely relate to the 46.2 million Americans today that still live in poverty according to the latest Census data.

There is no denying these last four years have been difficult for many American families, no matter their social and economic situations.

While, charities, churches, neighbors and communities have stepped up to help those in need, federal taxpayers have also been tapped—to the tune of $1 trillion in fiscal year 2011 alone.

U.S. Spending on WelfareBased on a report from Congressional Research Service (CRS) spending on federal welfare programs increased during the Obama years from $563.413 billion in fiscal year 2008 to $745.84 billion in fiscal year 2011 — a 32 percent increase.

Has this huge increase in spending helped Americans get back on their feet?  It may have placed a temporary roof over their head, or given them assistance to buy food and other necessities, but has it led them to a self-sustaining lifestyle?

Try as it might the government can’t hand out what Americans need most — jobs.  Americans want to provide for their families and it is very likely many of the people currently living off the government dole would much rather a job.

How do you make that happen?

By getting to the root of the problem.  Welfare in this country has become a Band-Aid.  More taxpayer money goes to the less fortunate, more government programs are created and those receiving the benefits get pushed out from participating in the American Dream.

Instead, these 46 million Americans face the specter of having their independence and self-esteem crushed. They are forced to make decision in all aspects of their lives based upon their dependency on government.

While more spending and more government programs might seem compassionate and helpful, they create a trap that is nearly impossible to work through.  The $1 trillion in welfare spending comes from 83 different means-tested programs.  You can bet there is overlap and confusion when putting all these programs together and those who are supposed to be helped by them find themselves stuck in an oppressive web.  Or worse, realize their economic situation is better on the government dole than working towards their own success independent of government interference.

It would serve everyone to evaluate all these programs and weed out ones that haven’t proven effective or are overlapped by another. Furthermore, the government cannot afford to keep up this level of spending.  The Weekly Standard points out that under Obama “for every $7 we’ve had, we’ve spent nearly $11.”

The problems with welfare go deeper than just the money spent and the increased number of people falling under its wide umbrella — it doesn’t solve the problem.

It doesn’t provide jobs.  It doesn’t provide a livelihood. It doesn’t give someone the economic freedom they could potentially reach.

Ironically many people turned to the government in 2008 when the housing market collapsed, forgetting that it was federal government’s involvement in the loan industry that caused the crash.

People turn to the government when they lose their jobs for unemployment benefits.  Meanwhile the government works to regulate industries like coal and logging and oil out of existence, costing thousands of sustainable, well-paying jobs.

The welfare epidemic stems from a much deeper problem in this country.  When you have a government that wants its people dependent upon it and can enforce laws and regulations to make that happen American citizens turn into little more than feudal serfs.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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