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The Role of Value and the Welfare State

August 29, 2012

I used to believe and actually still believe in helping those less fortunate, but like most  people of my generation, I was pulled into the socialist view of the government providing for those less fortunate and even though there were those who didn’t dare use the S word they were still socialistic practicing liberals who believed in handouts to the poor. After so many years of working in non-profits and working within the paradigm of the welfare state to help people and not seeing results and becoming less and less satisfied with the field, I wonder what could be wrong? What helped me find a solution or direct me towards the solutions was travelling to South America and seeing that although the accepted belief is that Latinos like to live off welfare, nothing could be further from the truth when you are in South America where there is no welfare and people have to engage in enterprising ventures as street vendors or whatever God given talents they have in order to make ends meet. That changed my life or rather my ideas forever.

What I have learned since is that welfare is a burden to us all and not a mutually helpful government function. These days poor people or rather poor mentality people believe that they have a right to be taken care of by the government, without having the government meddle in how they spend government money, but it just does not work that way. When you ask government to take care of you from cradle to grave, you are asking to give up your personal liberty.

In my personal experience these last few years, I have dealt with clients whose life goals is figuring out how to have a job without losing their social security benefits. I used to get this all the time from the young Puerto Rican males in North Philadelphia. They wanted to know how I could hook them up with a job without it affecting the social security check they were getting every month for some phoney disability they did not have. And the directors of the program I worked for expected for me to do just that. Not only that but they would try to get more things for free or with the least about of effort and sacrifice on their part. Not just these young men but everyone that was receiving services from this agency. People would come in and say they heard that Congreso is giving away air conditioners or turkeys for Thanksgiving.

But this article is not about putting down people who want to live off the goverment, its more about the fact that having this kind of system requires a lot of intervention on the part of government.  I understand there is a lot of poverty in our country, but the greatest remedy for that poverty is increased production in a free market. Where you have a market economy, no one need starve.

The welfare state relies upon taking from some to give to others and Thomas Jefferson warned against that. It reduces the production of those who get something for nothing, and it reduces the production of those who know their increased production will be heavily taxed. The general welfare is better served by policies that increase production, which will in turn increase wages or raise the purchasing power of consumers and reduce prices. If we really want to help poor people, we should adopt policies that encourage savings.

From → Economics

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