Sunday, November 15, 2009

Generous social welfare

To me, welfare is a temporary fix and a safety net. In US, we have three generations of teenage mothers. When the system is too generous, people tend to be lazy (I believe laziness is human nature - leave it for another topic some day) and take advantage of. A lot of abuses. Our local newspapers and friends always point out these abuses.

My friend told me there were a gang of young folks playing the motor cycles the entire day. I knew some but not all are collecting ‘disability insurance from the government.’

The newspaper reported last month that a ‘disabled’ fireman participated in a body builder contest. We had one incident almost every month.

The aliens (most illegal) know how to take advantage of our welfare system which is not connected to immigration system. Steve mentioned some in his previous post. There are books teaching folks in Taiwan how to have a rich life in US without spending their own saving.

As I said before, China and US are extremes. I do not see many homeless in China as folks there take care of themselves and depend on themselves more as they do not have a safety net like US. That’s a good thing. I bet every beggar in Beijing has a sad story behind.

US becomes a permissible society with the riches. I’m pro sharing the riches of the society and that’s what the high taxes are for. But, the generous welfare could discourage folks to work hard. As in my last post, who wants to work when your total benefits would be reduced when you work? Same for saving. If you have over 1,000 in a bank account, you’re not eligible for the $800 monthly social security supplement.

Sorry the state is confusing to folks outside US. The entitlements come in two parts: federal government and the state (like California or Mass.). The state like Mass. tries to balance the budget by releasing mental retards from the hospitals earlier than necessary. The drunks are addicts are the products of permissible society to me. They have to help themselves first and the state has to take some action to solve their root problems. Giving them money is not a solution but help them to buy the next drug or liquor. With the generous housing subsidy, free medical help, food stamps…, I wonder why these folks cannot survive in US.

I’m not in social science but just use my common sense. It is over-simplified for discussion via my observation. I see government wasted a lot of money in the welfare projects that did not fare well. Examples abundant: dismantle the housing for the poor due to no security police, best equipment to schools with students who do not want to learn… Not OK when we do not learn from past mistakes.


  1. More examples.

    * In my own eyes, I saw a beggar turned down the offer of a fast food meal. I bet he need money to buy liquor.

    * The guy in front of the line used food stamp to buy the most expensive beef while I never receive welfare and unemployment bought the medium meat on sale.

    * When we did not have HMO, for small problems like a cold we did not go to see the doctor to pay $30 for the visit. In Mass., the health care is free when you're below a certain income level.

    I would like to help the poor, but in a fair and just way. Better help them to get out of poverty and drug/drink problems.

  2. Randy says:

    How about when Minnesota had to talk about limiting the use of EBT cards because too many recipients are using ATM machines at Indian casinos to get their cash. Or those EBT cards are being redeemed in all 50 states. Or those benefits are being used to buy alcohol or tobacco or lottery tickets -- when Minnesota had food stamps, they had a number of stings on neighborhood convenience stores that paid 50% on the dollar so recipients could get cash for the food stamps, to spend on items other than food.

    I lived in a downtown area for 20 years. I worked across the street from a Catholic shelter/soup kitchen and lived across the street from a non-denominational women's and children's shelter. In the first few years, I used to often be approached for "spare change" for bus fare or food. I started carrying around bus tokens and gift certificates for food at some of the local eateries downtown. The most common response when I gave them out -- "Don't you have any money?" Only twice did I ever get thanked for a bus token. And one of them almost died in front of me. After the first few years, the "regulars" stopped asking me, because they didn't really want bus fare or food.

    The grocery store downtown was expensive on most items. I sometimes got one or two of the more reasonably priced items there because it was conveniently located halfway between my workplace and my home. But I often saw people using EBT cards to buy $40 to $60 worth of groceries. With a 30-minute round-trip ride on a bus for $1, those same groceries could have been had for half that. That's what *I* did when I needed to get more than just an item or two -- because I haven't owned a car since 1984.

    I only worked 20 hours per week as well. One reason -- because anything I earned above that had a marginal tax rate of nearly 40-50% and to me it just wasn't worth the effort. Even at 20 hours per week, I put the equivalent of about 70% of my net income into savings each month. But many of my full-time co-workers had difficulties making ends meet.

    That job was the ONLY non-minimum wage job I ever held. When I got my BS degree, I was planning to pay my own way through graduate school on two minimum wage jobs. And I worked during college to pay for my own room and board during my undergraduate years. I recall a friend of mine telling me he was a little embarassed about his son, because he and the son had gone to McDonald's and the son had said something to the effect that anyone that worked a minimum wage job was a loser -- but his son wasn't qualified for anything other than a minimum wage job himself. And my friend had worked some of the same minimum jobs I had had.

    I find it outrageous that people that work 60-80 hours per week, or that go to school for an MBA in addition to a full-time job, are subject to so much taxation. We shouldn't be penalizing them for such hard work and trying to better their lives. Why is anyone else deserving of their efforts?

  3. Jim says:

    Tom and Tony,

    I try not to be judgmental, but at times it's difficult. Tom, I applaud your comments. I find it a bit gulling to hear some much about us being a Christian nation, but it is in name only. There is a world of difference between BEING a Christian and CALLING oneself a Christian. Jesus said to "love your neighbor", "love your enemies", "turn the other cheek", "forgive 70 times 7", "love those who hate you", etc. He preached the Beatitudes "Blessed are the poor in spirit." And in Mathew, chapter 25, he laid out the guideline for entering heaven: "When I was hungry, you gave me to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink. When I was homeless, you sheltered me." You can read the rest for yourself. But what a hypocritical nation we are. But we are not alone. Even in his day, Jesus called the Pharisees and Saducees "Whitened sepulchures!" for being such hypocrites. And like the poor, I guess we will always have them with us.

  4. However, my points are:

    * The welfare system is a safety net and should be used for the desperate (like
    today's unemployed) or used temporarily.

    * Examples abound.
    We have several generations of teenage mothers collecting welfare. If the
    welfare is not that generous, would they repeat this cycle?

    Again, if we would lose our free health care if we don't work, would we look for
    a job?

    US has become a big spender and spending is the root of the problem and not the
    solution. We need to use a percentage of a GDP for welfare, health care...

    Taxing the rich alone is discouraging folks to work hard and take chances.
    Eventually we will kill the geese that lay the golden eggs as they can move else
    where - I cannot as I am not in the league with the rich.

    I'm in the middle class. The spending will cost this class a lot. Our children
    have to pay for what we're spending. 3 years later I bet we will have more taxes
    and high inflation (a kind of invisible tax).