How Welfare is Draining the System

Over the weekend, I was watching the local news before going to bed.  A story they ran caught my attention and it had to do with the amount of government assistance that some people can get.

The news story centered on a single mother of 2 that lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Five years ago she didn’t have any alternative but to apply for welfare and government assistance.  Since that time, she has been trying to work her way off of welfare, but the system has sucked her in so deep that she’s not sure she can get out.  She told a local reporter:

“If you’re gonna get something for free, are you gonna work for it?  It kind of sucks you in.  They feel like they’re hopeless.  They feel like they have no alternative.”

The news story went on to list the amount of government aid available to a single mother of two who makes $19,000 per year.  Mind you the figures vary from state to state, but this is what would be available in the Lancaster area:

  • Day Care – $14,976

  • Head Start Program – $13,400

  • Housing Vouchers – $7,148

  • Weatherization – $6,500

  • Heating Bills – $400

  • Cell Phone – $480

  • Land Line – $230

  • Legal Advice – $182

  • Food Assistance – $6,028

  • Medical Assistance – $6,045

  • Pell Grants – $5,500

  • Education Opportunity Grant – $4,000

  • SMART Grant – $4000

  • TEACH Grant – $4000

  • Tax Credit – $6,800

  • Tax Return – $1,900

The total government aid available totals up to $81,589.  Some of those are a one or two time assistance only and others are yearly.

Gary Alexander, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare told the reporter:

“We’re headed for a cliff and we can’t afford it because we don’t have enough tax payers.  If we’re not careful, the system will crash and maybe if it does crash then we’ll finally wake up.”

In a statement released by the Senate Budget Committee:

“According to the Census’s American Community Survey, the number of households with incomes below the poverty line in 2011 was 16,807,795.  If you divide total federal and state spending by the number of households with incomes below the poverty line, the average spending per household in poverty was $61,194 in 2011.”

The report did say that not all families living below the poverty line receive welfare, but there are also some families above the welfare line that receive some welfare.  Theoretically, all of the families living below the poverty line should be eligible for some form of government assistance and if they all filed claims, well, it would mean that $61,194 annual welfare per family multiplied by 16,807,795 families equals $1,028,536,207,230.00.  That means that welfare in 2011 could have cost the states and federal government $1.028 trillion dollars.

The problem is exasperated by the system itself.  When so many people receive so much assistance, often for not working, what is the incentive to get a job and provide for one’s family?  They have to get a very well-paying job just to offset all of the benefits they lose by going off of welfare.  With many employers cutting back workers’ hours or dropping employer provided healthcare benefits because of Obamacare, it makes it even tougher for anyone to get out of the welfare black hole.  Like black holes in space, welfare sucks people in and few ever emerge.  It is also sucking in billions of taxpayer dollars and in the very near future, there won’t be enough dollars left to suck in and the black hole will collapse on itself, leaving millions of Americans with nothing.

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