True and False
it had the will, Congress could kill the redistributionist monster,
the Welfare State, that's consumed at least $5 trillion in wealth
since the Great Society. How? Cut anywhere and everywhere, abolish
whole agencies, and return the $350 billion saved from next year's
spending to the taxpayers in the form of a tax cut of the same size.
who thinks this plan is politically untenable hasn't talked to a
taxpayer recently. Americans hate welfare. It violates cultural
strictures against the free ride, taxes the productive to reward
the unproductive, perpetuates poverty, and makes the government
strong and the people weak. To get a jump on opposition from the
media and special interests, the quicker it's abolished, the better.
far, Congressional reforms have addressed none of these concerns.
Speaker Gingrich told the New York Times: "we are around
the edges trimming and manicuring and trying to rethink and modernize
these programs, but there is not a single one of the big programs
we're touching in a profound way."
not a defense, as he thinks; it's an admission of guilt, and proof,
as if we needed it, that he will lead no revolution against welfarism.
Programs are slated to grow and grow, at an alleged "slower rate"
than some mythically worse growth rate that the Congress itself
makes up. History will still record that welfare spending has gone
up under the "revolutionary" reforms of this Congress.
point is not the rate of growth of spending, but the destruction
that taxes and spending are causing right now. If this destruction
were ended immediately, masses of people would be reintroduced to
the work ethic, taxpayers would have more money in their pockets,
and voluntary spending on private charity would go up. Until then,
poverty, sloth, and bureaucracy will continue to be subsidized by
you and me.
would love the opportunity to give more to actually help the less
fortunate, especially in their own families and communities. But
taxes, including Social Security, are draining people's discretionary
income and creating a disincentive to give. A real welfare reform
would address this problem first.
primary plank in the Senate's bill has to do with block grants to
the states. This is supposed to be "federalism," but no true federalist
would be impressed. Federalism is the idea that government should
be close to the people so it can be limited. Federalism does not
mean that the national tax police should loot the industrious so
politicians can dole it out to other governments on the condition
that they give to people who pay no taxes.
block-grant scheme was met by an invasion of state-government lobbyists.
They didn't oppose the idea. They just wanted to make sure they
get their share of the loot. See what's happening? The block-grant
concept is creating yet another constituency demanding something
from Washington: state legislators. Once the money begins to flow,
and the politicians at the state level have new cash to play with,
future welfare reform will be that much more difficult. Indeed,
this could be part of the purpose.
bickering has centered as usual on who gets what, a dispute that
cannot be solved rationally. The money can't be divided on the basis
of population, since there is no consistent relationship between
poverty and population density. Neither can it be divided based
on existing poverty, since that will create incentives to maximize
poverty, as officially measured, in order to get the cash.
are those who see welfare reform as a chance for new forms of social
engineering. Some religious leaders say we should pay young, single
mothers not to have abortions. Has it not occurred to them that
the problem goes back one step further? When teens bear children
out of wedlock, it's the consequence of a more fundamental problem
that taxpayers have been forced to subsidize. If we stop the subsidies
that reward promiscuity, we'll begin to see young people lead more
argument goes to the core of another hysteria. Some Republicans
have decided that poor women are responsible for virtually all our
social ills. Instead of cutting welfare, they want to add political
supervision and government orphanages. Writing in the New York
Times, Lisa Schiffren, former Dan Quayle speechwriter, even
urges these women to have abortions. But the point of welfare reform
is to get government out of the business of running people's lives,
either from the supply side or the demand side.
we did this right including a massive slashing of taxes for the
rich and middle class we'd see private dollars take care of the
deserving poor after the bums have been forced to work or starve.
Yet there are those who don't want private charities to stay private.
A neoconservative group called the "Project for American Renewal,"
which has support in the Senate, wants Congress to spend $8.6 billion
to subsidize private "antipoverty charities."
way lies disaster. No doubt, private charity does a better job than
government welfare. But it won't if it's put on the government dole.
Charities know that government money is always there for the taking.
Just do and say what the government orders. For example, policy
groups can chow down on NASA's pork, so long as they say that NASA
is the greatest thing since moon boots.
danger of taking government money in addition to being the recipient
of stolen funds is that it compromises efficiency and independence,
and, of course, the Mises Institute has never taken a dime. Liberal
groups are glad to take government loot, since their primary goal
is to expand government power. But people with our views face a
choice of sticking to principle or selling out.
for or receiving welfare has become a way of life for everyone.
Can we imagine life without it? Consider this analogy from the hometown
of the Mises Institute. When Hurricane Opal hit us, people faced
tremendous damage to homes and cars, rampant shortages, and nearly
a week without electricity. Yet anyone who was able became part
of a generous outpouring of concern for others. The reason was not
the emergency situation as such, but the sense we had that if we
don't help our neighbors no one will.
is those feelings and actions that the welfare state has worked
to dampen, and which abolishing welfare would revive. A sweeping
and radical welfare reform would return hundreds of billions of
dollars to their rightful owners, encourage charity for the truly
needy, and underscore the need to scrape the barnacles off the boat.
Congressional freshmen seem willing to adhere to a higher standard
of public life than the leadership. No more fiddling around the
edges with these diversionary tactics and thousand-page schemes.
An honest welfare reform is as simple as wiping it off the budget