Abin Sadar writes in American Thinker The Professional Poor 9/24/11
The genuine poor are people who, through debilitating circumstances great or small, have become incapable of sustaining a work life, and sometimes even a home life. Because of mental illness, physical disability, and other unfortunate and unfair acts of man and nature, there are people in our country who genuinely need the help, to varying degrees, of others. These folks are truly helpless and need assistance from the government and/or through involvement bycharitable organizations.
Most everyone I know is concerned about the genuine poor. These people help with money, when appropriate, and in the form of one-on-one volunteer hours at effective charities. As Dennis Miller has said, “I’m willing to help the helpless, not the clueless.”
At one point I asked Mike, who was an intelligent and capable guy, why he never went out looking for a job. I mean, with some effort, he should be able to find a job that would easily pay him more than $270.00 a month.
Mike set me straight. “If I got a job, not only would I lose the $270.00 I get for not working, I would not qualify for rent at $180.00. So I would lose my apartment, too. ”
Mike would have had to get guaranteed, steady employment paying about five times what the government handed him for free every month in order to afford even low New York City rent, let alone have something left over for electricity, phone, and food.
So Mike was trapped. He wasn’t motivated to learn any skills or try to advance socially. Over the years, he became bitter and defensive.
The vast majority understand that some people will need help, but when 45% of the population is unable to sustain itself, then we should question whether the solution is the problem. The vast array of benefits creates a vast array of incentives not to work. The threat of losing your benefits makes the marginal cost of work enormous. When facing hard times we used to fall back on family and friends, now we fall back on government programs. Furthermore there is a network of government agents who make a living managing and administrating the programs.
Higher minimum wages have wreaked havoc on the unemployment of those entering the workforce. We raised minimum wages 40% just before the recession. Extended unemployment benefits have stifled the incentive to look for jobs, and the threat of impending tax increases has stifled the willingness to create them.
We can not support this without growing the economy and you do not grow an economy by raising taxes. Even with modest economic growth we can not support the benefits that too many Americans are becoming used to. It must unwind and our only decision is how to unwind it with the minimum amount of social unrest. The longer these benefits persist the harder this will become.