Sobering Report on Unsustainable Welfare System

#2
In England we already have a welfare state which is out of control. The problem is that when you've built it it's difficult to take it apart.
 
#3
In England we already have a welfare state which is out of control. The problem is that when you've built it it's difficult to take it apart.
Indeed.

Not a new observation of course as our (US) forbears recognized this danger to the republic:

Ben Franklin:

"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer."
Sam Adams:

"The nature of the encroachment upon American constitution is such, as to grow every day more and more encroaching. Like a cancer; it eats faster and faster every hour. The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue. The people grow less steady, spirited and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity and frugality become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole of society."
President Grover Cleveland:

"I can find no warrant for such an appropriation [for welfare] in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood."
 
#4
JJ I firmly believe that the NHS and our welfare system are the mark of a civilised society. However how they are accessed and abused is up to governments. Weak ineffectual governments do not provide the climate for employment opportunities and personally I think they use benefits as a vote winner on both sides of the pond. Don't be afraid of US NHS. Do what your forefathers did. Checks and balances.
 
#5
I like Franklin's comment. I like him better on paper though.
 
#6
JJ I firmly believe that the NHS and our welfare system are the mark of a civilised society. However how they are accessed and abused is up to governments. Weak ineffectual governments do not provide the climate for employment opportunities and personally I think they use benefits as a vote winner on both sides of the pond. Don't be afraid of US NHS. Do what your forefathers did. Checks and balances.
I am not afraid of the so-called "affordable care act." I still contend that it has little to do with health care and everything to do with violating the principle of federalism that limits interference in our lives by the federal government that the "checks and balances" were intended by our founders to ensure. In addition, I live by the premise that a government powerful enough to provide for your individual needs is also powerful enough to take all your liberties, whether in one fell swoop or by increments as our current Masters are now doing.
 
#8
More bad news:

While spending on the food stamp program has increased 100 percent under President Barack Obama, the government continues to push more Americans to enroll in the welfare program.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has embraced entire promotional campaigns designed to encourage eligible Americans to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.
A pamphlet currently posted at the USDA website encourages local SNAP offices to throw parties as one way to get potentially eligible seniors to enroll in the program.
“Throw a Great Party. Host social events where people mix and mingle,” the agency advises. “Make it fun by having activities, games, food, and entertainment, and provide information about SNAP. Putting SNAP information in a game format like BINGO, crossword puzzles, or even a ‘true/false’ quiz is fun and helps get your message across in a memorable way.”
The agency’s most recent outreach effort targets California, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and the New York metro area with radio ads.
The ads have been running since March and are scheduled to continue through the end of June — at a cost of $2.5 million — $3 million, CNN Money reported Monday.

and

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services yesterday moved to eliminate the “work for welfare” requirement enacted by the 1996 bi-partisan Welfare Reform Act signed by President Bill Clinton. The Reform Act is widely credited with removing nearly half the cases from state welfare rolls throughout the country. Government records show that welfare rolls shrank dramatically in the four years after enactment of the historic reform.
HHS eliminated the “work or look for work” requirement by announcing in a policy memo Thursday that individual states no longer need to report compliance by recipients of welfare payments. Translated from bureaucrat-speak, that means there will be no sanction or cutoff of funds if states stopped requiring welfare recipients to work or seek work. The news apparently slipped well below the radar amid a raucous day on the presidential campaign trail. A few prominent GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill picked up on the change, and accused the administration of overhauling one of the most important bipartisan agreements of the past several decades.
“President Obama just tore up a basic foundation of the welfare contract” Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in a statement. He also called the move a “blatant violation of the law.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney Friday said, “President Obama now wants to strip the established work requirements from welfare.” He said “the linkage of work and welfare is essential to prevent welfare from becoming a way of life.”
How exactly the HHS change will play out is unclear. In Thursday’s policy directive, the department said the states may seek a waiver from the work component of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (formerly “Aid to Families with Dependent Children”), in order to “test alternative and innovative strategies, policies and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.”
HHS stressed that any alternative should still aim to get welfare recipients into gainful employment. Any plan that “appears substantially likely to reduce access to assistance or employment for needy families,” will not be approved, the memo said.
But HHS is suddenly allowing for more flexibility in a program known — and in many circles, lauded — for its rigid framework. Currently, states have to have 50 percent of their caseload meet certain work participation requirements, though there are ways around that as many states fall short.
The latest department directive suggested alternative plans could “combine learning and work” to fulfill the work requirement, or let “vocational educational training or job search /readiness programs” count as well.
The administration defended the move in a blog on the HHS website. George Sheldon, acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, said states will be held “accountable” for their alternative plans. He pitched the changes as a response to states burdened by current rules and guidelines.
“The new steps we have taken will give states more flexibility in how they operate the Temporary Assistance to Need Families program. And the steps we have taken were specifically requested by states led by officials from both parties,” he wrote. “When the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program was established as part of welfare reform in the 1990s, it was intended to give states flexibility to design effective programs to help parents move from welfare to work. Today, however, Federal rules dictate mind-numbing details about how to run a welfare-to-work program. Most States and experts agree that these aren’t helpful.”
The hard-fought welfare reform agreement in 1996 was struck between the Bill Clinton administration and a Republican-led Congress. It is still considered a signature legislative achievement from that period.
The number of people on TANF has decreased dramatically since 1997, but roughly 4 million people are still enrolled according to federal figures.
Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, have written to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking for a more detailed explanation of the change and her authority for making it. Both expressed concern that the change would strip the crux of the 1996 welfare reform deal.
“This ends welfare reform as we know it,” Camp said in a statement.
“I’m disappointed that after years of sitting on their hands and failing to propose any significant improvements to the TANF programs, the Obama Administration is once again over-stepping their authority and attempting to circumvent Congress through an unprecedented bypass of the legislative process,” Hatch said.
I am sure these developments have nothing whatever to do with getting votes.
 
#11
it's getting the balance right that's the difficult bit
There is no example anywhere of the balance being struck properly over time. It may work for a while but any social welfare system is doomed for 2 main reasons--human nature and the immutable law of bureaucracies (to grow and never really shrink). With these two inexorable factors at work, every "give away" system is doomed to fail by virtue of the math--at some point there are more takers than there are givers (taxpayers) and from that apogee can only come unsustainable decline.
 
#12
My dad used to say that in a civilised society a safety net is unavoidable but a security blanket is unforgivable.

All the same I find it amazing that the richest country in the world has so much abject poverty and that so many of its legal residents have no reasonable level of health cover. There is book kicking around called Freakonomics, that discusses the economics of unintended consequences and how incentives rapidly become subject to fraudulent behaviour. The authors base all their deliberations on real data and come to some surprising conclusions; the summary of the causes of the falling crime rate in 80's NY is particularly brilliant. One of their views on the US health insurance business is that those who can afford it don't buy it, as they are prepared to take the risk that they will continue not to need it, and those that do need it can't afford it as those that don't need it are not paying premiums which would help to offset the cost.

I don't have the answer to the social benefit conundrum, but it is clear that there are no quick sustainable fixes.

We can see the results of this 'selfishness' in all walks of life now. I especially try my damnedest to minimise my tax bill as I do not believe that my money is best spent by a conniving politician with a self-serving agenda. On the other hand I realise that if nobody paid tax the few socially cohesive mechanisms we have would collapse. I also completely understand anyone else who resents having to schlepp along a bunch of skivers and scroungers on their own already burdened backs. In the Olympic 100m final, Usain Bolt will not be expected to slow down and drag along the Azerbaijani competitor who, through no fault of his own, is just not as good. The Germans in the UEFA Euro 2012 competition were not compelled to donate any surplus goals to Greece.

The best we can do for the poor, the sick and the under-privileged is to provide equal opportunities. That is not socialist thinking, but good sense. We don't know what natural talents and brilliance are hiding under the rough unpolished surface of the downtrodden. Releasing these and providing direction and support are incumbent upon all of us. Incidentally I think the British Army is, or at least was, very good at this.

I realise that this post is somewhat cliched, but cliches only became such because they reflect a widely held belief and fall into common use.
 
#13
There is no example anywhere of the balance being struck properly over time. It may work for a while but any social welfare system is doomed for 2 main reasons--human nature and the immutable law of bureaucracies (to grow and never really shrink). With these two inexorable factors at work, every "give away" system is doomed to fail by virtue of the math--at some point there are more takers than there are givers (taxpayers) and from that apogee can only come unsustainable decline.
Maybe; but it's a case of the not-so-perfect welfare system being more acceptable to the majority than the alternative of no system at all.
 
#14
NGO's have to operate like the Red Cross in many US states to deal with what is effectively a huge population of disenfranchised and displaced persons.

No one appreciates a lecture from a US conservative think tank when that state of afairs goes on, it's quite frankly crass and offensive.
 
#15
All the same I find it amazing that the richest country in the world has so much abject poverty and that so many of its legal residents have no reasonable level of health cover.
So do many of their citizens which is what this Obamacare thing is supposed to address which it might not do fully, but it's seen as a step.
 
#16
So do many of their citizens which is what this Obamacare thing is supposed to address which it might not do fully, but it's seen as a step.
The vitriol that this evokes in the right wing underbelly is incredible. As far as they are concerned this is one step away from a Soviet Socialist style republic.
 
#17
My dad used to say that in a civilised society a safety net is unavoidable but a security blanket is unforgivable.

All the same I find it amazing that the richest country in the world has so much abject poverty and that so many of its legal residents have no reasonable level of health cover. There is book kicking around called Freakonomics, that discusses the economics of unintended consequences and how incentives rapidly become subject to fraudulent behaviour. The authors base all their deliberations on real data and come to some surprising conclusions; the summary of the causes of the falling crime rate in 80's NY is particularly brilliant. One of their views on the US health insurance business is that those who can afford it don't buy it, as they are prepared to take the risk that they will continue not to need it, and those that do need it can't afford it as those that don't need it are not paying premiums which would help to offset the cost.

I don't have the answer to the social benefit conundrum, but it is clear that there are no quick sustainable fixes.

We can see the results of this 'selfishness' in all walks of life now. I especially try my damnedest to minimise my tax bill as I do not believe that my money is best spent by a conniving politician with a self-serving agenda. On the other hand I realise that if nobody paid tax the few socially cohesive mechanisms we have would collapse. I also completely understand anyone else who resents having to schlepp along a bunch of skivers and scroungers on their own already burdened backs. In the Olympic 100m final, Usain Bolt will not be expected to slow down and drag along the Azerbaijani competitor who, through no fault of his own, is just not as good. The Germans in the UEFA Euro 2012 competition were not compelled to donate any surplus goals to Greece.

The best we can do for the poor, the sick and the under-privileged is to provide equal opportunities. That is not socialist thinking, but good sense. We don't know what natural talents and brilliance are hiding under the rough unpolished surface of the downtrodden. Releasing these and providing direction and support are incumbent upon all of us. Incidentally I think the British Army is, or at least was, very good at this.

I realise that this post is somewhat cliched, but cliches only became such because they reflect a widely held belief and fall into common use.
Quite right, a safety net is one thing...a fishing net quite another. New labour were very good at creating a client constituency out of public sector employee's , welfare junkies and immigrants and topped it off with scare stories about a privatised NHS. I wonder if the universal franchise is such a good idea after all....maybe it should be limited to taxpayers, after all government is about spending other people's money and the one's providing the dosh should have more of a say in spending it than the non-contributors with their hands out. Not talking about ex-working OAP's ...obviously.
 
#18
Even discounting for the conservative bias of the AEI, the actual data are quite discouraging:

6 charts that show the Welfare State run amok | AEIdeas
You think you've got problems?

For every person in the UK entitled to use the NHS (that's everybody) there is less than one person working in the private sector to fund the NHS.

Our welfare spending exceeds our spending on health and education combined. It almost equals our spending on health, education and defence.

The UK government's revenue from national "insurance", that is supposed to pay for welfare, is about half of what the government actually spends on welfare.

The difference between income and expenditure has been funded by a trillion quid's worth of borrowing and, more recently by simply printing money.

As the famous song says, "There may be trouble ahead."
 
#19
Quite right, a safety net is one thing...a fishing net quite another. New labour were very good at creating a client constituency out of public sector employee's , welfare junkies and immigrants and topped it off with scare stories about a privatised NHS. I wonder if the universal franchise is such a good idea after all....maybe it should be limited to taxpayers, after all government is about spending other people's money and the one's providing the dosh should have more of a say in spending it than the non-contributors with their hands out. Not talking about ex-working OAP's ...obviously.
Fishing net is a very apt metaphor. Our current Masters, primarily to garner votes for the Nov election, are now spending millions (of course in today's Alice in Wonderland economics where trillion is the common denominator, millions barely even register) on adverts (and even Spanish language soap opera clips http://www.foxnews.com/politics/201...d-questionable-food-stamp-ads-after-criticism) seeking applicants for "food stamps." I use quotes because our Masters also did not want to cause recipients any discomfort at the check out line with cumbersome and obvious stamps so they give each recipient a debit card making it so much easier. To add insult to injury, He is trying to eliminate a work requirement for welfare recipients who are able to work as well http://mobile.nola.com/advnola/pm_29230/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=e9kRBDRo
 
#20
You think you've got problems?
Ha! Basically what a Zimbabwean acquaintance here on a work permit said to me yesterday. (Incidentally, he said things are a lot worse there than the media here makes out, and he thought they were deserving of the type of "assistance" we gave to Libya recently.)
 

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