The War on the Poor

(for full-size of infographic, go here)

The conservative movement in the US and Canada is maintained by the CIA and a legion of “think tanks” mainly funded by the oil industry.[1] To their purposes, they support the myth of a “communist” conspiracy in order to wage war on the poor, to eliminate obstacles to the further accumulation of wealth by the rich.

Communism, however, is a red herring. The real threat is the pernicious "greed is good" ideology of neoliberalism.

Their ruse is to criticize any government strategy devised to alleviate the plight of the poor and the needy as “socialism” or “communism.” Communism may have proposed one particular approach for redistributing wealth, but it certainly didn’t invent the idea. Rather, the notion of charity is as old as humanity, and commanded as the first obligation of every major religion in history.

The first welfare programs were instituted under Judaism. It was Christianity that civilized pagan Europe with principles of compassion now known as “humanitarianism,” introducing notions of education, public health care, orphanages, programs for the poor, and so on, all services that were given a further level of sophistication under the religion of Islam. But with the demise of religion in the West, the proverbial baby is being thrown out with the bathwater.

The reality is that the CIA serves the interests of the moneyed elite, and achieve their con by exploiting conservatism as a Trojan Horse. As Ribuffo noted, “What Americans now call conservatism much of the world calls liberalism or neoliberalism.” They have recruited droves of naïve Americans and Canadians into denouncing social programs as “communism” and taxes as an infringement of our “liberties,” thus ultimately supporting policies that facilitate the reduction in taxes on the rich, and avail services traditionally provided by the government—such as such as education, health care, social programs and even the penal system—to their further profit-making through privatization.

However, like the idea of charity itself, greed and its excuses are also as old as humanity. Over recent centuries, there has been an attempt to gain support for such a perverted view of reality. In the eighteenth century, Adam Smith, reverently hailed as the “father of economics,” put forward the mythology that the selfish pursuit of wealth creates prosperity for all. Following his example, in the late twentieth century, the leading “think tanks” are fostering various prejudices against the poor, insinuating that their poverty is largely a consequence of their own fault.

The most dishonest myth spread about the exploitation of welfare was expressed by Ronald Reagan during the 1976 campaign trail. Known as the “Welfare Queen,” he related the story of a woman from Chicago's South Side who was arrested for welfare fraud. "She has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names." However, a number of investigative reporters attempted to discover her identity to no avail.

The suggestion that spending on social programs is wasteful is disingenuous. Approximately 50% of the US government budget is for military expenditures.[2] Conversely, in 1992, welfare and food stamps amounted to only 1 percent of the combined state and federal budgets.[3] If the definition of "welfare" is expanded to include all one-way transfers of benefits for which no services or repayment are required in exchange—such as student grants, school lunches and pensions for needy veterans—then welfare comprises only 12 percent of the combined budgets.[4]

And yet, a study by the right-wing Cato Institute claimed to prove that welfare paid better than work, and therefore encouraged recipients to stay on welfare. However, the study was later shown to be flawed.[5] A study in Massachusetts showed that it was not recipients but vendors who committed 93% of welfare fraud. Surveys conducted found that welfare payout is less than a full-time minimum wage job and, contrary to growing prejudices, that the majority of those receiving welfare assistance would rather work than receive benefits.[6] The vast majority of people collecting some kind of temporary assistance, including employment insurance, receive benefits for less than two years.

The troubling truth of the matter is that the vast majority of people receiving Medicaid, SNAP, and other kinds of financial assistance already have a job. Some have two jobs.[7] There is no city in the United States where a person earning minimum wage can afford a market rate apartment.[8]

There is also a prejudice that women on welfare are encouraged to have more children in order to increase their benefits. But, the average family receiving assistance has 2.8 kids. Most families receiving benefits have only two children, while only one in ten have more than three children.

As studies repeatedly demonstrate, poverty is a result of wealth inequalities, certainly not “laziness.” Two recent studies, published in the British Medical Journal, examined all 50 states in the US. Each study defined a measure of income inequality and compared it to rates of disease and other social problems. Consistently, it is the gap between rich and poor, and not the average income in each state, that best predicts the death rate in each state.

States with greater inequality also had higher rates of unemployment, higher rates of incarceration, a higher percentage of people receiving income assistance and food stamps, and a greater percentage of people without medical insurance.[9] Pertinently, states with greater inequalities also spent less on education per capita, and had poorer educational performance, including poorer reading and math skills, and lower rates of completing high school.

Tragically, the largest single group on welfare is children. About one in every four children under the age of 18 receives welfare benefits. America has the greatest level of child poverty anywhere in the industrialized world. The percentage of children below the poverty level has risen from 15% in 1970, to 21% in 1992.[10]

Tellingly, in 1990, the poorest income group (under $10,000 a year) actually contributed the highest share to charity: 5.5 percent.[11]

When it comes to a choice between Left and Right, the answer is, as is most often the case in these matters: somewhere in the middle. In other words, the Golden Mean. Some things can be catered to through private interests, but when it comes to essential human needs, the profit motive not only doesn’t apply, but introduces the very dangerous threat of conflict of interest. Like a pusher and his clientele of addicts, a private health care system would profit from people being ill; a penal system from people being incarcerated; an educational system from ignorance, and welfare from poverty.

It’s high time we stopped buying into the anachronistic Cold War propaganda about “communism,” and rediscovered the saner principles of social democracy, where the government ensure essential social services, and leaves the rest to the formidable wealth-creating potential of the profit motive.

 

 



[1] David Livingstone, “The Fraser Institute and the subversion of Canadian values: part one,” The Rossland Telegraph, July 27, 2010.

[2] Rady Ananda, “More than 50% of US Government Spending Goes to the Military,” Global Research.ca; Federal Discretionary Spending, National Priorities Project.

[3] Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, "Cash and Noncash Benefits for Persons with Limited Income: Eligibility Rules, Recipient and Expenditure Data, FY 1990-92," Report 93-832 EPW and earlier reports

[4] Ibid.; U.S. Bureau of the Census, Government Finances, series GF, No. 5, 1992.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Amanda Mole, "Debunking the Top 6 Welfare Myths," The Examiner, April 9, 2013.

[10] U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, P60-185

[11] Survey by Gallup Organization and Independent Sector, cited by Boston Globe, "U.S. Charities See Increase in Gifts," December 16, 1990

 

Comments

"Rather, the notion of

"Rather, the notion of charity is as old as humanity, and commanded as the first obligation of every major religion in history."

Yes, and obligatory participation (taxing at the point of a gun) has nothing to do with it. You are misinterpreting the whole thing. What's being done is actually more sinister. The poor are created by the state by means of inflation, barriers to entry (licensing, patenting, permits and etc) and government spending. This is what's destroying the poor. And the very thing that causes them to be poor is represented to them as their salvation. If only the government could spend and print more... Then there would be no poverty.

We can help the poor by the fraction of what modern governments are now spending. It is just an excuse . Helping the poor and taxation are two opposite things in reality. More government actually corrodes the economic organistation structure of a country which has an impact mostly on the lowest classes.

"Approximately 50% of the US government budget is for military expenditures"

Wrong. 50% of the discretionary spending goes to military. It is actually close to 20% of the total budget.

"The suggestion that spending on social programs is wasteful is disingenuous[...] Conversely, in 1992, welfare and food stamps amounted to only 1 percent of the combined state and federal budgets.[3] If the definition of "welfare" is expanded to include all one-way transfers of benefits for which no services or repayment are required in exchange—such as student grants, school lunches and pensions for needy veterans—then welfare comprises only 12 percent of the combined budgets.[4]"

This whole paragraph makes no sense. The percentage of spending and it being actually wasteful are two unrelated things. 1 millionth of the budget can also be spent wastefully. And why use statistics from 1992? And aren't entitlements one way transfers after the recipient has recieved the amount he already paid in?

"And yet, a study by the right-wing Cato Institute claimed to prove that welfare paid better than work, and therefore encouraged recipients to stay on welfare. However, the study was later shown to be flawed.[5] A study in Massachusetts showed that it was not recipients but vendors who committed 93% of welfare fraud."

Again, two unrelated things: fraud and comparison of work and walfare.

"Surveys conducted found that welfare payout is less than a full-time minimum wage job "

Well if you dont count the toil of working. It is unbelievable that a man smart as you cannot figure this out. When you work, you have to wear a suit and pay for the dry cleaning. You maybe have to eat out at lunch. You have to commute to work. No one's net wage gain (and the employers wage cost) equal to what they get in wages.

And more importantly, you actually have to work when you work. There is value in liesure. Nobody actually wants to work. We want what work provides for us so that we can do things that are not our work but our joy.

If you count all these in, welfare is better in most cases. Especially for young people without a family.

"[...]and, contrary to growing prejudices, that the majority of those receiving welfare assistance would rather work than receive benefits."

self report is of no use either.

" There is no city in the United States where a person earning minimum wage can afford a market rate apartment"

And raising the minimum wage would solve this? You know what would happen, they would lose their jobs and cannot even afford to eat. Wages are not determined by decree but by the demand for the particular work position by the empolyers in the market and the supply of people who are willing and able to supply this service. Putting price floors and ceilings cannot change this fact. It can only hider the price mechanism (which is a sunnah by the way) to work.

No employer designs their company by considering if the wage earner will be able to afford his family with his offer. This is so stupid to think of. We (I am an employer too) design our organisation by considering prices, including the price of labour. The position I am going to offer has to create more value than I pay for. Otherwise I would be subsidizing the employee. And this choice would not be economic but rather social. I could just give him charity and tell him not to come to work. Don't forget, there are many ways an employee can ruin your whole business (law suits, sabotage, termination pay or mere failure) that, I would rather pay him in the beginning not to come to work at all if I am not going to derive any value from that position. So, when you raise the minimum wage, I eliminate the job position, not overpay for it.

Furthermore, not all jobs have to be paying enough to support a family of four. How can anyone expect this? There are levels to the job market, like entry level jobs. How can anyone expect a fry cook at a chep restoraunt to earn 3000$ per month? What would happen to the price of the food? Would anyone eat there? Would that job exist?

Minimum wage is a huge cause of unemployement. No wonder no one is pumping gas in western welfare countries but every thing is self served and mechanised. And so many teens are unemployed. In the old days, people worked for free to get some experience. Rather than learning to be a mechanic, western youngsters are getting payed to do pot and lie on the beach all day.

"There is also a prejudice that women on welfare are encouraged to have more children in order to increase their benefits. But, the average family receiving assistance has 2.8 kids. Most families receiving benefits have only two children, while only one in ten have more than three children."

But it incentivizes them to make two children, get a divorse at 28, earn a child support from her ex husband and a paycheck from the government. Even free kindergarten so that she can sleep around easier. Then people wonder about the increased divorse rates.

"When it comes to a choice between Left and Right, the answer is, as is most often the case in these matters: somewhere in the middle. In other words, the Golden Mean."

True.

"Some things can be catered to through private interests, but when it comes to essential human needs, the profit motive not only doesn’t apply, but introduces the very dangerous threat of conflict of interest. Like a pusher and his clientele of addicts, a private health care system would profit from people being ill; a penal system from people being incarcerated; an educational system from ignorance, and welfare from poverty."

Agriculture from being hungry, textile industry from being naked, housing industry from the need of shelter and so on.

Profit motive and charity are not conflicting ideas. Profit motive and welfare are.

I think you ve fallen for the leftist propaganda and I really request you to reconsider your position on this.

You might want to start from here

http://youtu.be/pES9C7fX_Co
http://youtu.be/asRDOhgN70Q

I think that poverty is being globalized as well

I've lived in several countries in the last ten years and have observed that the middle class is under attack almost everywhere, not just in the USA. I feel that spreading poverty and the destruction of the middle class is part of the globalization agenda, and that it is worse in societies where the usual suspects control everything important including the government and media. It is interesting to note that only in my permanent home in the Philippines is the middle class actually doing well and growing instead of shrinking. It might be no surprise to point out that the global elites who are mainly of a certain ethnic group do not have much of a presence yet in the Philippines. I feel that this is no coincidence.

Global Poverty

Yes, poverty is part of a global agenda. The US's wealth is created from the poverty of the rest of the world, by making use of the World Bank and the IMF to strangle Third World countries though debt and "structural adjustments." (this is usually coupled with the assistance of the CIA to make sure no one objects to their puppet rulers in those parts of the world.)

They keep American citizens blind to this reality by claiming that the Third World is "developing," and providing more debt as "aid." And then they celebrate themselves as the best country in the world to keep their own citizens blind to their own suffering. And that is the purpose of the media. As the Romans used to say, "give them bread and circuses."

Read Perkin's Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

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