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How does welfare hurt the poor?

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Nathyn replied on Sun, Dec 9 2007 11:55 AM

ozzy43:

Nathyn:

ozzy43:

This ignores all aspects of the issue except for the static monetary question, and so fails to address the ethical aspects. It's an answer NOT to 'does welfare help/hurt the poor?', but rather to 'is welfare remunerative, overall, for the poor?' I don't accept that as the topic under discussion. 

 

"How does welfare hurt the poor?" is a question of remuneration, not ethics. Nowhere in that question is it suggested that helping or hurting the poor is either right or wrong.

 

That's patently absurd. If you cannot see the ethical connotations implicit in a discussion of welfare or in the terms 'help' or 'hurt' then there is nothing for us to discuss. Right and wrong has nothing to do with it -you seem to be confusing ethics with morality.

 

Well, yes, because we're not all Ebenezer Scrooge, when that question is asked, it's going to seem implicit to just about whomever it's asked.

The question is based in an ethic, but asks for the value-free analysis, "Will welfare have the effect you intend?" 

You wanting to turn this into a debate over welfare just being plain evil is irrelevant. 

"Austrian economics and freedom are not synonymous." -JAlanKatz

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ozzy43 replied on Sun, Dec 9 2007 12:43 PM

Nathyn:

The question is based in an ethic, but asks for the value-free analysis, "Will welfare have the effect you intend?" 

You wanting to turn this into a debate over welfare just being plain evil is irrelevant. 

So again, you change the question to try to make your argument fit it. From 'does welfare *hurt* the poor' to 'does it have the intended effect'.

Your style of argument is at best disingenous, at worst dishonest and represents, as far as I can tell, pure sophistry. 

In short, it's pointless to debate with you since argument and provocation rather than an honest search for truth are apparently your goal. Perhaps this gives you a charge you need, makes you feel good about yourself. But I'm not interested in supporting you in this endeavor.

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. - Goethe

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ShaneC:

I'll preempt this by stating that I'm only going to generalize my own point of view on this matter:

 

I think that welfare as a concept is great.  It's a method of helping out one's fellow man when he needs it.

For the anti-welfare crowd, would you be as adamently opposed to welfare *if* it was ran in a much more productive manner that actually provided temporary help as opposed to encouraging non-productivity?  

I know many would still oppose it on the grounds that taxation = theft, however - I'd feel at least a little bit better about being robbed by the state if it actually went to a useful purpose.

 

 

Yes, and as a Catholic I adhere to charity, but Mises already showed that the state can not do it. Welfare is not charity.

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Does welfare depress demand for higher wages? I think it does, because workers on public assistance are able to get by with less. It should follow that a regime of lower taxes and no welfare will result in higher overall wages

 Is this a reasonable projection? 

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bowenj10 replied on Tue, Dec 11 2007 3:34 PM

I apologize in advance for jumping in here and disrupting the flow of the conversation.

I'd like to get your opinions on a book that relates to this subject but which is not directly related to economics and politics.  The question was, "Does government welfare actually harm the poor, and if so, how?"  My contribution to this discussion is the book The Millionaire Next Door.  The authors address the subject of the impact of welfare (in the form of parent-supplied welfare) on the level of success of the recipients.  The authors did, in my mind, an adequate job of explaining the negative relationship between welfare and success.  Has anyone else read this book?  If so, what are your thoughts on it in relation to this discussion?

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ozzy43 replied on Sat, Dec 15 2007 12:38 PM

Mises.org has an article by Henry Hazlitt today called 'The Task Confronting Libertarians' - written in 1969 - which discusses welfare and other big govt schemes at the time. Well worth reading. Wanted to quote just this snippet, because I think it frames the question in the proper way:

'We should all be concerned about the plight of the poor and unfortunate. But the hard two-part question that any plan for relieving poverty must answer is: How can we mitigate the penalties of failure and misfortune without undermining the incentives to effort and success?'

So far, those who have posted responses that could be characterized as 'pro-welfare' have not, to my recollection, answered this question comprehensively, and definitely not the latter, crucial, clause. Until and unless such an answer can be provided, such a pro-welfare position will by necessity be incomplete, unsatisfactory, and unworkable.

As Hazlitt goes on to say:

'Most of our would-be reformers and humanitarians simply ignore the second half of this problem. And when those of us who advocate freedom of enterprise are compelled to reject one of these specious "antipoverty" schemes after another on the ground that it will undermine these incentives and in the long run produce more evil than good, we are accused by the demagogues and the thoughtless of being "negative" and stony-hearted obstructionists.'

In other words, pretty much exactly what we've seen here. 

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. - Goethe

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ozzy43 replied on Sat, Dec 15 2007 12:43 PM

BTW, if you want a thoroughgoing answer to the original question, you can get it in a one stop shop - this essay is dedicated to answering how welfare hurts not just the poor but all of us:

Robert Higgs: Nineteen Neglected Consequences of Income Redistribution

 

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. - Goethe

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miksirhc replied on Mon, Feb 25 2008 7:25 PM

My argument against the welfare state rests on these points:

  1. The welfare state requires high taxation which slows the rise in living standards which occurs in a freely progressive market.
  2. The welfare state also gives money to those who will spend instead of invest and that also results in slower growth and a slower rise in living standards.
  3. The poor will eventually, in a freely progressing economy, be extinct: they will be able to afford more and more goods each year. Welfare only slows this process.
  4. Welfare provides disincentives to work hard and invest in the future.
  5. Welfare is immoral; it violates property rights of the taxed.
  6. Private charity should be enough to take care of the poor. 
  7. The poor is caused not by the free market but by interventions such as minimum wage laws, inflation/credit expansion, etc.
I'm not lazy, I just have a high time preference.
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Hey Donny!

The reality is that welfare programs help poor people in a lot of ways, and probably hurt them in a lot of ways too.

Spot on.

 

Do the poor consider themselves better off as a result of government assistance?  When phrased in that way, the answer is almost unquestionably yes.

Right. But it violates the Pareto criterion, because it violates the non-aggression principle. It is also unquestionably true that cannibalism sometimes makes the cannibal better off.

 

--Len.

 

 

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Solredime replied on Tue, Feb 26 2008 12:52 PM

purplemage:

 Here is a good question.  Does government welfare actually harm the poor, and if so, how?

 

Since the other posters already desribed the economic consequences, I'll just add this thought:

Welfare is an inherently collectivist idea based on egalitarianism. If you believe in the ideals of invidivualism, then simply put, the government has no right at all whatsoever to tax you in any way shape or form without your consent. To do so would breach the anti-aggression axiom, invalidating the government as a legitimate entity.

This is why I don't understand how individualist ministatists can resolve the cognitive dissonance arising when they attempt to simultaneously endorse full property rights, and also taxation through coercion (theft). As soon as they begin to invoke an argument such as "for the greater good", or "the market couldn't provide it" they fall into the trap of collectivist patronising of the consumer, and violate consumer sovereignty.

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Student replied on Tue, Jul 19 2011 8:55 PM

Does government welfare actually harm the poor, and if so, how?

EBT cards are made out of uranium. Also, food stamps have rude comments written on them.

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Mike replied on Tue, Jul 19 2011 9:23 PM

""Being able to live without fear of literally starving to death or dying as a result of an easily curable disease doesn't seem like a controversially helpful thing.  Assistance with finding a new job, free education for one's children, and protection from the elements don't seem like they would be up for debate either. ""

 

this way of thinking is what leads good minded people to accept socialism; in other words, we would not have XYZ without government.. which as we know is total bunk..

private charity is better because in addition to being more efficiant - it also requires somehting in return from the receipient, unlike gov. handouts.

Be responsible, ease suffering; spay or neuter your pets.

We must get them to understand that government solutions are the problem!

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