Think Tank Report Says Poor Americans Have It Too Good

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Conservative think tanks have spawned a cottage industry churning out dubious studies purporting to show that poor families are living high on the hog on public benefits, a claim that anybody who has actually experienced poverty in America would find laughable.

Renee Adams, left, posing with her mother Irene Salyers and son Joseph, 4, at their produce stand in Council, Va. (AP Photo/Debra McCown)

These papers are then amplified by the right-wing media, forming the basis for calls to further eviscerate a social safety net that’s already been tattered and torn by 30 years of ascendant neoliberalism.

The latest addition to the genre is a study published this week by Michael Tanner and Charles Hughes at the CATO Institute. They calculated the maximum benefits of every federal anti-poverty program in which a single parent with two kids could participate, including things like tax credits for the working poor and supplemental nutrition and health benefits for pregnant women and young children, called it all “welfare” – a word that has long been unpopular to a public that otherwise supports measures to help the neediest – and used it to form the claim that “welfare” provides a perfectly decent quality of life.

Running the numbers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Tanner and Hughes claim that “the current welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincen­tive for work” and urge lawmakers to “consider ways to shrink the gap between the value of welfare and work by reducing current benefit levels and tighten­ing eligibility requirements.”

Taken at face value, the study is actually a stinging indictment of America’s low-wage economy.
Taken at face value, the study is actually a stinging indictment of America’s low-wage economy. Only two of the 33 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) devote a smaller share of their economic output to programs that help poor families make ends meet than the United States – Mexico and South Korea. If those relatively stingy benefits provide more than one can earn working a minimum wage job – the authors say that’s true of 35 states – then the minimum wage is obviously not enough to get by on. Tanner and Hughes make much of the fact that in 13 states, the maximum benefits exceed $15 per hour, but according to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, their hypothetical single parent needs to make at least $20.14 per hour just to cover his or her family’s basic necessities. That’s in the cheapest state – South Dakota. The nationwide average is $24.09 per hour. The federal minimum wage, had it kept up with American workers’ productivity, would fall somewhere between $16.50 and $22.00 per hour instead of $7.25.

But the paper shouldn’t be taken at face value because the authors’ abundant caveats show that their study measures neither the reality of poverty in America, nor that of the public programs designed to fight it.

Tanner and Hughes acknowledge that “surveys of welfare recipients consistently show their desire for a job.” They acknowledge that a significant share of those receiving public benefits are working – Walmart employees, for example, famously rely on public assistance to get by, meaning that taxpayers effectively subsidize the Walton family’s vast fortunes. And they note that programs like TANF are time-limited – to a maximum of 60 months except in most cases.

They also acknowledge the central flaw in their conclusion: in real life the “typical” family in their study doesn’t come close to receiving the maximum benefit from every single program for which they’re eligible. But here the authors’ caveat doesn’t go far enough. Due largely to the fact that eligibility requirements have already become harder to overcome, these programs are helping fewer poor families get by. In 2009, around three out of four poor families with kids weren’t getting any TANF benefits. At the height of the economic crash, about 25 percent of those eligible for food stamps weren’t receiving them; during better times, that number hovers around 40 percent. And as the CATO study concedes, six out of seven poor families aren’t getting housing assistance.

So a study that claims to tell us about the “typical” poor family is really describing a rarity — the equivalent of a four-leaf clover. But the purpose of these studies isn’t to inform good policymaking. They feed a narrative that the poor are lazy and undeserving, and provide wonky cover for further weakening our social safety net. When studies like this one are picked up by the conservative media, all of the authors’ caveats tend to be stripped away, and they become straightforward claims that poor families sit back enjoying a good life, forcing overburdened tax-payers to pick up the tab.

With one in seven Americans either unemployed or underemployed, and the sequester already resulting in deep cuts to programs designed to help the neediest, it’s a profoundly immoral pursuit.

Correction: an earlier version of this post claimed that a household could receive TANF benefits for a maximum of 24 months. 

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  • Ellen Yarbrough

    $700 a month doesn’t buy a lot of luxury. It can’t even pay for rent, electric, gas and water. I’m sick of the right wingers and their heartless, cynical opinions on what other people should be doing.

  • Jane Thompson

    Did you know that medicare does not pay for eye or dental care? Last year I spent $150 for glasses and $3;700 for dental care. And I live on Social
    Security benefits of less than $1,200 per month. My car is 16 years old. I don’t know how long I can continue to buy food and medical care and keep a car running (we have no public transport here) and pay car insurance. I liked it better when I had a job.

  • Willton Foley

    Check out AARP Medicare supplemental. It covers medical at no extra charge per month, and $15 visit co-pays. It also has a dental plan for $30 a month, which provides at least some dental help, although not as much as the medical part. AARP will also cover eye medical care, although not routine vision Rx.

  • Keyser Söze

    Instead of fighting the results lets hold them up and say this is part of American Exceptionalism . Our poor are doing better then anywhere else. Lets continue this and make sure that our poor are in the top income and beat any other country. To do less would be anti American Spirit and values. Thank you Cato for showing us the results of our anti poverty programs. Lets keep up the good work I think Sweden is gaining on us.

  • http://www.americanmomreview.com/ Stephanie Stuart

    It’s more important than ever for us to raise our awareness
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  • Debbie Day

    I think a few people need to be given the amount a single Mom of 2 would get and let them live with 2 children and see how he/she manage to shelter, cloth, feed and medically care for them a couple of months. I think they would wake up very fast and change them mentally & physically as to what thousands of American live every day and have to put up with the stares, rude remarks and negative people who act like it’s their own fault. It pains me to know that we have Americans living so bad and we send money to other countries and do not care for our own. That’s why all these people who would force a girl (child) whose raped have that child, but after they are born elect to vote against programs that may help and feed that same child so they can live!

  • mtpokit

    Generational poverty, especially in no job rural areas, is epidemic. What makes us human is our ability to empathize, some more than others.

  • Doug Miller

    Here I am a former food stamp recipient, welfare recipient among other social services. In the early 70′s my parents got a divorce, my father lost his job and my mother, my two brothers and sister received public assistance.

    It was barely enough to live on. They were constantly auditing my mother and always insisted on knowing whether or not any of the rest of us were working. It was no picnic and it was not extravagant. Now, people get even less.

    This is laughable! Yet, it is quite sad that the poor are being attacked. It does not assist our society in any way. Public assistance is helpful.

    It was helpful for our family. All of us now are educated. One is a doctor and the rest of us have teaching degrees.

  • Anonymous

    Empathy is what makes us human but it isn’t always the best way to make public policy. After all if we truly understand why a welfare cheat does it, we might agree with it. We need a WPA for the new century.

  • Jim McFarland

    If only those people in the “Think Tank” could live the poors’ lives. Would they still believe this?

  • pats

    OK so lets have all the legislators who want to cut benefits (and the folks from the CATO Institute) have all the members of their families live on “welfare” benefits for a month. No cheating. No stocking up on food in advance, getting medical attention beforehand, etc. Even if they were given all the benefits possible they wouldn’t be able to pay a portion of their mortgage payments much less their car leases, grocery budget and private school tuition! Their children should be allowed to know how other kids are forced to live.

    If they are truly interested in getting people off welfare the solution is hiring those individuals and paying a liveable wage. How can they praise the business model of Walmart and other employers which don’t pay employees enough to make basic ends meet? (Sorry I forgot, they only care about the owners and stockholders getting even richer; the rest of us can eat dirt.)

  • Kristen Callahan

    Not one of the folks on assistance is checking up on the stock market.

  • Kristen Callahan

    I am fortunate to have retired from the Commonwealth of Mass.

  • Colleen

    I listened to a TEDS talk about the legal term “willful blindness” – it is a recent talk so it should not hard to find. We all engage in some level of willful blindness – but individuals who actively pursue a rationale to support the right to ignore the needs of others. Kinda like the Nazi’s and the KKK had to come up with some way to make what they did moral. The best we can do is just keep exposing them to the light.

  • terramundi

    One month? How about a YEAR– let them truly feel the effects of poverty over time. None of them would have the guts to do it, or be able to manage. Wusses. Cowards.

  • http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com/ John Bailo

    Not to sound like the latest Dan Brown Novel (Inferno) but we need to get our population under control if we want to give everyone a better life. You can’t shove stuff in one end the tube and expect it not to come out the other end.

    This society needs to get back the principals of Planning and Management. Back in the 20th century we gave up on those things and let the “free market” reign. Well, the so called Free Market was just a way to let a few people freely raid our piggy banks without producing really new technology or innovation.

    Those guys have to go.

    Secondly, we have to take an Optimistic viewpoint about our ability to use math, science and computers (and smart people) to optimize resources. I’m sorry but we already do this all the time, we just don’t have the willpower to extend it to all parts of the equation. Rich, poor and everyone else has to get on board with ending these stupid games of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    We need an economic detente and a reset.

  • Dave

    “The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”
    ― Thomas Jefferson

  • Dave

    The average American is $16,000 in debt.. 80% of you will not have enough money to survive your golden years.. only 1 out of 100 Americans will ever have any money to brag about.. How ignorant could Americans be~? Apparently, pretty darn ignorant..

  • Anonymous

    I think a few people need to be given the amount a single Mom of 2 would get and let them live with 2 children

    Uh, wrong. How about changing the incentives so that stupid single women stop having bastard kids with random male trash, and then expecting the rest of us to help support the little ones who can’t get reality shows like Honey Boo Boo? That amounts to a fraudulent paternity and child support claim on the whole society, ironically enforced on employed gay men and employed women as well as employed straight men, basically everyone who pays taxes. Our society used to stigmatize the women who did that sort of thing.

  • Anonymous

    Jane, if you haven’t thought to apply (a surprising number of people don’t), at $1200/month you should be eligible for SNAP (food stamps), housing assistance, winter heating assistance, and LifeLine (free cell phone or land line discount) at the very least. I do, with an SS disability income about 50% above yours.

    Even so, I get how hard it is. I manage eyeglasses without too much trouble–by replacing lenses in 25-year-old frames. I managed to get 2 broken teeth extracted last year at a community clinic ($80) just under the wire before they stopped serving adults; I don’t know how I’ll ever manage the implants I need. It’s idiotic that Medicare doesn’t cover these things.

    Good luck to you.

  • Amy Hillgren Peterson

    What about consequences for the men who ejaculate and evacuate, thus producing these human beings and citizens of our nation and world?If there was a disincentive for them to produce children with multiple women, or even with one woman, that they are not able to support at least somewhat, perhaps there would be less of the offspring of random male trash.

  • Female on Birth Control

    What about the men who continue to get women pregnant? Have they no blame here? Good Lord, this is a ridiculous argument. Now women can’t get an abortion in many states, so what would you have them do?

  • Anonymous

    Your ignorance is profound. Or are you just trolling? Here’s something to read:

    http://lydy.livejournal.com/76885.html

    There are hundreds like it, if you just cast around a bit. Or, just go kick your cat.

  • The Green Devilish One

    How about we keep abortion legal, affordable, and accessible to help combat this problem?

  • David

    Make the minimum wage $24 then make “welfare” payments 3/4 of that. That should give a survival welfare wage and the minimum would encourage people to want to work. I was horrified to see the low wages and the amount of tipping required when I visited the USA. The price of the meal as advertised was only a small percentage of the actual final cost because of taxes and tips. Pay a good wage and tips won’t be necessary. People will enjoy working and provide good service. the consumer will know the cost and the employer will know their profits. Kiss principle.

  • catonine

    Of course the Cato Institute would come to this conclusion — no need to change the status quo that keeps the rich getting richer and the poor poorer.

  • Margherita

    “The prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.” William James, American psychologist, leading figure of Pragmatism and NYC native, 1842-1910.

  • Amanda Olson MacPherson

    I think some of that is counted in medicaid benefits. I’ve never met anyone on TANF, even with housing assistance AND food stamps, making anywhere near $20/hr. And no, I’m not a recipient.

  • Bill Longley

    same here. or if they do get benefits they do so much running around and processing you could treat it as a full time job.

  • Bill Longley

    thats the kicker, you buy a meal and many people tip a low amount or not at all but servers get taxed as though they get that tip no matter what.

  • Bill Longley

    your right but i would say we willl never see that or if we do its because the system has failed so monumentally that leaders are forced to do it. For now people with money keep the allure of a better life alive through media and we as consumers by far eat it up. or education promotes it, our values we are taught are all oriented around the lives we are living right now. your talking about a massive paradigm shift that no one in the upper end of the financial and political spectrum wants or will endorse.

  • Shelley

    I say we take our politicians that say that, give them a few pairs of normal t-shirt and jeans, a check (Not money…a check), drop them in a random city in the USA, restrict access to their bank accounts, no cell phone, tell them that they must use a false name, and tell them to go get a place to live, a job, and get food for two or three months. Let them live it.

  • Anonymous

    the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Are you saying those two things are connected? Does that mean if I make more money this year than last year, someone else has too make less money.

  • Anonymous

    Then who is going to pay for your medicare when you get old?

  • Anonymous

    You make a single mother look like a victim. If a woman is stupid enough to have babies with a man who is no good, then she is not victim. And no abortion is not the answer. In my day if you had a baby you gave it up for adoption. Today liberals tell us women have only two choices, abortion or welfare. Wrong.

  • Anonymous

    I get so sick of the BS lies. My neighbor says when he fills a prescription, they always pull up in Lincolns, or Caddie…Yep, I believe that…

  • maryl

    they just fail to mention that the caddy is a 1970′s model and doubles as their home.

  • Anonymous

    Koch funded horse manure.

  • Jeremiah

    Yes.

  • Anonymous

    Well-said. Nothing has been so destructive to the American social fabric over the past ten years or so than the GOP/Tea Party/Right-Wing effort to give legitimacy to our darkest angels. Racism, hostility to the poor, etc. never really left us but, by-and-large, giving open expression to them was unacceptable and even embarrassing—who, after all, wants to shine a light on his/her character flaws? Now, however, the right-wing has put its imprimatur on the expression of our most visceral sentiments and, worse, they are often applauded—Steve King said the infamous rodeo clown was “just a guy trying to make a living” and invited him to come perform in his district. I can’t speak for others, but I don’t need anyone to tell me that my most visceral and reflexive instincts are laudable and should be proudly put on display.

  • Rog

    You all need to read the U S Constitution! Giving to the poor and needy is a civic duty, not a governmental responsibility and if everyone did their civic duty with great moral character instead of out of lust for the almighty dollar, then our country would not be in the terrible mess that it is in today. I guess that will never happen now because it seems honesty, character, morals, and compassion for our fellow country men and women has fallen to the waysides as we pick sides and call each other stupid names like “right-winger” and “liberal left-winger” or what ever moronic, inept name you can think of to call “the enemy” of your choosing. We as a people of a once Great Republic need to reign in our government, put petty differences aside, and come to a Constitutionally sound compromise to get back to the Country that so many have paid with their lives to defend and honor!!

  • Anonymous

    This is just a smoke screen for the real “welfare cheats” who are the oil companies, Wall Street, Koch brothers, Walmart, McDs, and other large corporate interests who buy off politicians and get unfair tax free rides, special passes to pollute, tax rebates, bail outs for their incompetence.
    This focus on the poor is to misdirect voters so they do not focus and understand who the real thieves are. It is a sucker deal that just keeps working.

  • Dahn Shaulis

    Yes, it’s called surplus value.

  • green917

    Several of them wouldn’t survive a year living the way many poverty-stricken Americans do.

  • nurseatn

    It has.

  • green917

    Do you support Federal Farm subsidies? How about offshore tax havens? Tax breaks for “US” Corporations that don’t pay taxes while raking in billions (including those that are bailed out with tax payer dollars)? I’ve met a few hedge fund managers and CEOs of major Corporations and, without exception, the single mothers I have known, including the one that raised me, are braver, stronger, more resourceful, and more heroic than any paragon of industry I’ve ever seen or known. I think your comment is offensive and disrespectful!

  • nurseatn

    Good for you. It helped me too when my husband left us, I went to nursing school, had 2 daughters and did not make enough to do much. Got grants, food stamps, medical help and worked part time. Now I am an RN with a BSN also. All my children, went to college. One is a professor of education, one got a business degree and works for microsoft and at 30 makes more than I have ever made. One owns 3 Dutch Bros. I do not know how I would have succeeded without the help.

  • nurseatn

    The government is not what needs reining in , it is the corporations that are directing the government and congress. Our CIVIC duty as you so aptly put it is to help the needy and we do that through the taxes we pay. We as a whole are paying less than we ever used to and the really wealthy are paying next to nothing look at GE. Look at the ridiculous subsidies the oil companies get. That is insanity. The ones that are doing the damage are also directing media to fill our minds with bull shit, things that do not matter and at the same time they are writing things like above, trying to paint the needy as evil . Welfare exists to help the needy, there are plenty of those today. If we relied on mankind to help these folks we would be waiting a long time.. Even people of the extreme right faiths are teaching people concepts that spread hate and judgement instead of love. I guess this is enough.

    Done with most in the world.

  • http://khanneasunztu.wordpress.com/ KhanneaSuntzu

    I am becoming increasingly interested in any quick, sudden changes to this (evolving) status quo. One might argue it will all be “more of the same”, with some gradual improvements, or gradual deterioration, or both, or the macro-economic situation becoming even more desorientingly contradictory over time.

    But I don’t think we are set for more business as usual. The conservatives, and the CAT institute know this, and are hosing down any potential for a system reset resulting from a system breakage.

    So that leaves me to speculate on the big questions
    - how may such a transitional phase shift moment be engineered or triggered?
    - how can such a transitional phase shift better the lives of people?
    - how can it benefit me?
    - how will ‘the privileged caste’ resist… how mean will they play the game and how far will they escalate?

    I am thinking months rather than years. Well here I am in Europe, popcorn at my side. The spectacle will be amazing.

  • De Tocqueville

    “The government is not what needs reining in, it is the corporations that are directing the government and congress.”

    Do you really not understand how foolish and backward this statement is? It’s the government that makes laws, has awesome force behind it, and is directly accountable to the citizens. This reminds me of all those “occupy” individuals who should have set up camp on Capitol Hill, not Wall Street. The problem is Democrat and Republican politicians, period. Until the right learns to give up its retarded social “values” and the left ceases with its brutal economic ignorance and irrational, emotion-based policy, we will continue our slow death spiral.

  • De Tocqueville

    This argument is *monumentally* foolish economically. It’s depressing to see
    so many people lapping up. IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY, folks…there are
    serious downstream consequences. Just for starters, when you raise the minimum wage, all you do is raise the price of goods across the economy. For everyone… INCLUDING the minimum wage recipients. Anyone with even the simplest exposure to economics knows this.

    A higher minimum wage is a ridiculous oversimplification, that is obviously easy for politicians to peddle with emotive terms like “living wage”, playing to your good intentions and, unfortunately, the self-righteousness of many. Educate
    yourselves on business and economics, and stop allowing yourself to be
    lied to by Democrats and Republicans.

  • AwmaSes

    You mean welfare cheats like Alice Walton and her siblings, who are milking the system for (literally) billions of dollars?

  • Anonymous

    Insane. Here’s the real skinny: http://32beachproductions.com/odyssey1.html

  • Anonymous

    wow, Rand Paul, you’re on a roll there buddy. don’t stop now. :P

  • Anonymous

    Yeah! there’s HORRIBLE consequences like billionaires not being able to keep their 700% rate increase in profits in the last thirty years!! O how horrible!! Maybe they’ll only get 300% or….TWO HUNDRED PERCENT! *faints*

  • Anonymous

    IT is with United Health which is a horrible insurance company. My daughter has them and they constantly are very late in paying, AND they always think that she should be cured by now. She has a biological mental illness that will be life-long. She works full-time, and fortunately does what she needs to do to stay healthy. A therapist I once had said that United was the worst company he ever had to deal with.

  • Ella Silver

    De Tocquerville is correct. The second you raise wages, all goods and services will increase in value to keep up.

    That’s basic economics.

  • Anonymous

    Many years ago I needed food stamps for awhile. I was embarrassed to use them because we do such a good job in our country to make folks who don’t have enough to live on to feel that way. We need to provide more social workers to help folks who are in need to not only make sure that they have what they need, but also to make sure that those that don’t need, don’t get anything. Also to provide whatever counseling is necessary. Spend money to save money.

  • Ella Silver

    God my debt is hovering around $5000 and i thought THAT sucked…

  • Ella Silver

    I know lots of welfare cheats. Not just rich ones. Just because many poor are genuinely in a state of crisis, doesn’t mean that there aren’t some milking the system too. That would be asinine.

  • De Tocqueville

    You disagree with the logic? It’s simple as can be. Not a fan of Rand Paul, but I’d trade him for the likes of W or Obama in a heartbeat.

  • Bags

    I am so pleased. 5 years ago if this article had been written, all of the comments would have reflected the idea that welfare is sapping America. It was a pleasant surprise to see all of the comments exposing it as a smokescreen and addressing “corporate welfare” as a much larger problem. I’m with everyone who says those in power should have to experience life in poverty.

  • Vicki Trusselli

    the CATO Institute is crazy. yeah us poor Americans have yachts that we take out on vacations and have five homes worth billions and swim in our pool and our butler drives us to work and makes our beds. i am sick and tired of the one percent who are the repug thugs tea bag hags wag the dog douche bags.

  • Eleanor

    I think the Think Tank should use their thinking powers to develop decent jobs for Americans. I am not employed right now due to a workforce reduction. I want to and need to work, as do many people, however, I do not receive responses to my resume, following up has brought no results and how can networking help when your network associates are in the same boat or are afraid of losing their jobs? We need to develop full-time jobs. American corporations need to treat their employees as human beings. Lets use our resources to help and uplift Americans, rather spending time negatively pigeon-holing people who have fallen on hard times.

  • John_St_John

    Just more vile excrement from the Ayn Randian Kochsuckers at the C.A.T.O. Institute. And I refuse to call them Tea Partiers as tea is good for the body and mind. Something they are not.

  • Spencer

    You obviously have a computer.

  • Liz S

    What boggles my mind is that the 1% seem to be so stupid that they do not realize that lifting the living standard of those at the bottom, would lift their bottom line. Living wages allow workers to buy the products they produce, which helps every sector of the economy, especially the owners, and CEOs who take their profits off the top.

  • Spencer

    You got the important one in the “how can it benefit me?”

  • Spencer

    Yup . . . followed by your uneducated sheep manure. Supported of course by your fellow sheeple.

  • Spencer

    You call them vile?

  • drumfucius

    Black-or white thinking. Public Library has computers. Could be her work computer, a friend’s computer, etc. There are also programs like Free Geek that help the needy get nerdy.

  • Spencer

    The real thieves are the politicians, all of them. The politicians keep the current tax code alive and morph it to suite their re-election needs. Handing out favors in the tax code to rich and poor alike. Until you buy a $1 Top Ramen and pay $.10 in taxes while I by a $1,000,000 Ferrari and pay $100,000 in taxes we will all be at each others throats. Everyone should pay the exact same percent, no handouts to anyone, dirt poor or wealthy.

  • John_St_John

    Yes I do, you got a problem with that?

  • Anonymous

    “The problem is Democrat and Republican politicians, period.” No, the problem is that these politicians spend a third of their time in office fundraising from powerful interests, and are beholden to these monied interests. We have institutionalized corruption in the name of the first amendment, and ensured that anyone seeking higher office be appealing to corporate powers. To even describe this country as a democracy requires qualification at this point. Even if we voted out every member of congress, those who replaced them would still have the same incentives to get reelected, and the same cushy career on K street once they retire or lose reelection.

    In your complaint against OWS not protesting the government, you ignore the complicity of the private sector. Wall street has spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying over the last few decades, and seen exceptional returns on that investment. Those who fund and lobby our politicians are just as culpable as the politicians themselves.

  • Anonymous

    TheOldPoet
    Don’t know her but yes. The problem is that unless the rich stop stealing trillions (mostly legally) there isn’t enough money to fix the problems that cause most (but not all) such crimes by the poor since they can say “Wait, Haliburton can commit treason by selling our troops water with a 5000% markup but I can’t steal a few thousand to live a little better?”

  • Spencer

    Not really, you can express your own stupidity freely in this country thanks to men like me that fought and died for your right to.

  • Spencer

    So . . . dirt poor and still has PC access. My taxes would likely have paid for it. And I am a black and white thinker. You either contribute to society or take from it. I contribute, and more than just taxes.

  • Octoberfurst

    You “fought and died” for our country? Wow are you a zombie now? I’ve never known a dead man to be able to write. Amazing!

  • James tennier

    The hole point is it is more rewarding to steal and get away with it than it is to live by the very Christian values they espouse and yet truly know nothing of as they’re too busy talking and not busy enough listening and seeing.

  • Spencer

    “men like to” Geez . . . comprehend much?

  • Octoberfurst

    So you think the poor shouldn’t be able to use the public library’s computers? What a sweet guy you are! Oh wait, I forgot you are bitching about YOUR tax dollars funding libraries.
    You’re obviously one of those types who doesn’t give a crap about anyone but yourself. It’s an “I’ve got mine–sucks to be you” attitude. Oh and by the way black & white thinking is something only idiots do. Life is mostly shades of gray.

  • Spencer

    “me” not “to” Sorry, California educated.

  • JPR

    I’m not against giving to the poor and needy, but where does it say in the U.S. Constitution that this is required. Enlighten me, please.

  • John_St_John

    Fought and died for who? You didn’t fight and die for my freedoms you s.o.b.. People like my uncle Harry who died in the European theater during WW II fought and died for mine and other people’s freedoms. People like my son, who took his own life due to extreme PTSD thanks to G.W. Bush’s illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, fought and died for mine and other folk’s freedoms. As for you, all you do is run your arrogant mouth and think you are something special because you served in the U.S. military. Hate to break it to you Buck Wheat but you are not someone I would look to for any kind of kind of help in defending The Constitution of the United States or our populace.

  • Spencer

    I was poor, I worked my fingers to the bone and made a very nice life for my family. What gives you the right to steal the product of my blood sweat and tears? I worked for mine, you work for yours. I’ll start donating to homeless vets (not just homeless losers) once the .gov stops stealing my money and giving it away to people that won’t get off their butts and earn a living.
    I contribute – people like you take.

  • JagerBaBomb

    For one, Spencer, John_St_John is calling out the very people who would pick up the CATO paper and shout that poor people are the problem. I hope that’s not you?

    Secondly, that pivot you did? The one that goes, “…you can express your own stupidity freely in this country thanks to men like me…”? Yeah, it has nothing to do with the subject at hand, or the people Spencer is referring to as vile. Unless you self-identify as one of those people. I sincerely hope you don’t.

  • JagerBaBomb

    I’m sure, had we a view into your life, we could pick it apart and find you to be taking more than you believe.

    Oh, but I’m sure you’re a businessman! Pickin’ yourself up by the bootstraps! And if you can do it, anyone can! There’s no such thing as circumstance–only the strength of will! That sound about right?

  • moderator

    Hey Everyone,

    We love debate, but we have zero tolerance policy when it comes to personal attacks, hate speech, and trolling. Please read our comment policy before commenting. If you choose not to follow the policy you will be unable to participate in our community.

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    Sean @ Moyers

  • JonThomas

    Following your logic…(mine might be predicated on different premises)

    If the costs of goods do go up…

    Firstly, they will only raise in fields where wages are at or below the new minimum wage. Every other product already being produced using workers above that new minimum will not be affected. There may be a few incidental increases even in higher paying businesses due to sourced services, but those would be largely negligible.

    It’s often said that if the minimum goes up, then all other wage scales go up…that is a fallacy. It’s true that some higher-than-minimum wages will rise in response, but the record of the last 40 years shows that even when profits increase, wages (when adjusted for inflation) have not appreciatively risen for any reason. Theory is much different than practice!

    Lastly (for brevity only,) even if the cost of goods does rise, that does not mean people must spend the increase.

    For example, to use your statement…” For everyone… INCLUDING the minimum wage recipients…” and putting that into practice…

    If the cost of eating at a restaurant increases due to wages hikes, this does not force the lowest earning members of society to eat at such restaurants. True, those who do not have a measure of control over their own personal finances may surpass discretionary spending, but it is just that…discretionary.

    So, just because they are paid more, it does NOT automatically translate into spending more. This concept of “downstream consequences” is not a truism by any means. Rather, it is a misuse of economic theory promoted by vested interests.

    Yes, there will be some areas of the economy affected, but it is not applicable across the entire board. Matter of fact, it would bring us even more stability and closer to a true economy. Again, following your logic, people who would be priced out of certain markets probably should not be in those markets. The higher goods cost, the trimmer one makes the budget.

    As profits are funneled up the chain, instead of being put into lower wage worker compensation, the less the low wage worker can participate. The less the workers participate, the lower the profits.

    Using the restaurant example…right now the people who can afford it the least (especially when long term health costs are factored in,) often use fast food more than they can afford. Why? For many reasons, including entertainment and the time constraints from having two income families.

    If the costs of fast food goes up, then free market theory (as you propose) says that those who can’t afford it will reduce spending in that area.

    This example exposes the vested interests. These retailers would not enjoy losing low income consumers.

    The concept you base your premise on SEEMS to be a logical outcome, but actually it is only partially true and ignores these, and other factors.

    While I agree that the 2 political parties you mention are not without guile, neither are people like libertarians who would misuse economic theory as a scare tactic.

    I do not think that is your intent, but I write this as a thinking tool. I think your comment does help people to think further and removes the knee jerk from those who only hear the surface good from minimum wage increases, but there are details that are also over simplified from this concept of “downstream consequences.”

  • JonThomas

    Basic? Perhaps. But not thorough. See below.

  • Debbie Day

    Those that replied to me totally misunderstood what I was saying. The topic was how poor Americans have it made. I don’t believe that and if anymore had to live on that meager amount and have shelter, clothing, food, & medicine for themselves and say two children, they would fine it extremely hard and almost impossible. ( I’m not talking about women choices on anything-you totaling took what I said out of text and put it under another situation!)

  • yoni

    no one will deny a needy person government help. people who lose their jobs, people who are disabled – all these people deserve our help. what i can’t wrap my head around are all these husband-less women having baby after baby after baby, and then sucking the life out of the taxes that we hard-working citizens pay so that they can have some more! it’s true that only about 50 percent of Americans are paying taxes so that the other 50 percent can mooch off of us. i find that repulsive. i actually know 2 people who take government assistance, and one of them has claimed a phony mental illness to get out of working for a living. doesn’t anyone check on these people??

  • JonThomas

    Actually, and off the top of my head… “Promote the GENERAL welfare…” “secure the Blessings of Liberty” and… “insure domestic Tranquility,” come to mind.

    Even though it’s not a ‘binding’ section, the preamble does lay out the intent of the Constitution.

    It is not the word “Welfare” that is relevant, but the term “GENERAL Welfare.”

    If a situation arises (as it has) where the general welfare and freedom of the people of the United States (and their posterity) are threatened, then it is incumbent upon the Government to act to protect it’s citizens from undue harm.

    There are a number of threats to the citizens of the U.S. Chief among them is the plutocracy that is threatening freedom and Democracy.

    Another is economic inequality and the subsequent loss of power associated with money=speech.

    When a Plutocratic, Crony Capitalist economic system (of which Capitalism in any form, is not strictly enumerated in the Constitution) threatens the ‘Blessings of Liberty,’ then the Government must act to ‘insure domestic Tranquility!’

  • Steve Chafe

    I think the goal of keeping the minimum wage low, is it is a starter income, if you are good you raise above it. If you are not even worth the minimum you get fired. If you are that unproductive as a member of society, why make a business subsidize their existence? Let them find a charity to support them not tax payers, or small businesses. I personally wish there was a “humane society” for unwanted people, they can be neutered and put up for adoption.

  • Steve Chafe

    And the people do nothing about it except whine on blogs like this. There is just enough money going to the poor to keep them complacent. Until there are riots and blood shed (not mine though) the rich and powerful will continue manipulate the media, the politicians, and the system will roll on.

  • Bruce

    You do realize that a minimum wage job is the only job a lot of people can get, right? No, of course you don’t. Also, it’s not the companies that are subsidizing someone’s existence. It’s taxpayers that are subsidizing corporations (check the part about Wal Mart again). Corporate profits are at an all time high and have been growing year after year. However, wages have remained stagnant. That’s not the fault of the poor. That’s the fault of greedy CEOs.

  • wfletch

    Yes, because poor people are exactly like animals. If only there was a system by which we could cull the herd of all of those with “poor stock.” Oh wait, there is — and it’s called eugenics.

  • Bruce

    Well gee, if you’re so outraged, why don’t you report these people you know to the state? It’s not too hard to do. Or is it easier to just complain about it on a comment board? Or maybe you’re just blowing smoke…. BTW, corporations are receiving far more in “welfare” than the poor.

  • Karen Willcox

    Your comment assumes that members of the 1% produce products that can be bought by ordinary consumers, but I don’t think that’s always the case. Many of the rich make money with money, and produce nothing of any practical value. Raising the minimum wage would certainly help small businesses, though, and that might eventually trickle up.

  • Karen Willcox

    Oh, no, dear: the chauffeur (or driver) drives one to work, and the maid makes the beds. Butlers do other things.

  • Paranormal Skeptic

    A “starter income” should still be enough for a person to survive on, while working full time.

  • yousuck

    Hitler would be proud of you, douche.

  • Susan Bonne

    I wish more sites had your policy.

  • LeeAnn Haley

    Mr. Chafe, Your remarks remind me of Mitt Romney telling people who couldn’t afford college to “borrow from their parents.” I have been unemployed from a job where I used to earn 50 thousand annually. Now I am hunting for any job, even minimum wage, which I generally am “overqualified” for. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told that minimum wage is all I will ever earn at this job, due to “corporate policy.” So whether I am competent or not, there is no way to ‘rise above it’. I have a master’s degree. I am one of the most industrious people I know. Business does not ‘subsidize their existence’. It pays for work performed. I do not ask for welfare, corporate or government. My spouse is my safety net. For now. The American people are the most productive on Earth. They deserve better than what they are getting from the likes of you.

  • Matt S

    I wish we could see a study to find out if there are enough “rise above it” jobs for people with entry level skills to move into. I somewhat doubt that there are. Not everyone who works the counter at McDonald’s can become a manager. We just don’t need that many managers.

    There is, of course, also the salient point that minimum wage has not kept up with inflation, productivity, and rise in profits or GDP.

  • Susan Bonne

    I agree with you..Prices are always set at what the MARKET WILL BEAR..so ..wages go up = costs to produce goes up = higher prices overall on everything we purchase/use/consume = no real wage increase at all.

  • Eva Marie Woywod

    The CATO Institute can kiss this single mom of two ever lovin ample a$$! I am so tired of those who have being condescending – degrading – bigots and putting their paid for opinions out there as fact! After a nearly 18 year marriage ending in domestic violence where I almost lost my life and because of it…as a single mom of two who has been on the system (hated every stinking moment of it) – been on food stamps – energy assistance – medicare – all while WORKING as much as one could in rural America during a recession (depression is more like it)…never getting real footing but always trying against every obstacle known and created by MAN causing my income to hover at the poverty line while still giving back as much as humanely possible to my community including starting an organization to help the homeless and victims of domestic violence- I know firsthand what it is like to be judged, talked about, count pennies for food and heat and then just as you get a step ahead the system knocks you back down two steps and takes away what little footing you managed to create -Despite it all moms like me keep trudging and trying and then we raise children who watch our example and they go out and grow to become productive members of society…even if it means flipping burgers for minimum wage while bankers take a portion of their pay in fees before they get a chance to grab their earnings ….and why? Because moms like me and our children DO NOT WANT ON THE SYSTEM – It’s a prison like no other – so we sacrifice every comfort ..every minute of the day, just to be free –

    Ok – sorry – had to get that out – bad week to read an article like that one!

  • Anonymous

    But that average American you are referring to has been to Disney, smokes a pack of cigarettes a day, dines out to often, has multiple tattoos, $200 sneakers, every premium channel on cable, etc etc etc.

  • stacey

    Articles like this are just outrageous. I’m a college (BBA) educated single mother with 10 years of retail management experience and a history of stellar job performance and $60k income. While I was married, my husband and I unexpectedly got pregnant a few years ahead of our plan – while religiously using condoms. I took 18 months off voluntarily to keep my child out of daycare 16+ hours a day (which is what I was working at the time). When I started looking for employment again in 2009 the economy had crashed and the only job I was able to find was a substitute teacher – for minimum wage (which is a job that REQUIRES a college degree, incidentally, so I’m not sure what this nonsense about “starter income” is all about). I chose to no longer be married due to my husband’s inability to leave his girlfriend, and couldn’t make the bills/mortgage while working full time. I still can’t find management jobs because I don’t have recent experience, and the longer I don’t have a job in the field the harder it is to get interviews. I take SNAP to get by…sometimes I have to choose which bill to pay by which one is likely to be cut off soonest (water, electric, etc). I don’t have cable, I can’t get the AC fixed in my car (I live in the south…it’s hot all the time, and is arguably a danger to my young child), I don’t do anything for fun, I can literally barely afford gas in my car to work – and I live in an area without public transit. In spite of needing my car to work my minimum wage job, it actually counts against me as an asset and LOWERS the amount of SNAP I get…because having a 15 year old car with no AC in a state that is over 100 degree 9 months out of the year is a luxury.

    Seriously take your heads out of the sand, I’m a hard working educated adult looking for something better…teaching your kids. Don’t I deserve to eat? I was told I actually make too much to see a doctor, so I get no help with any of my chronic medical conditions, and making $1200 a month (which is incidentally what I get after taxes working every day, without factoring in the daycare my child needs) I can’t afford insurance. When I get sick I have to hope I get better. This is the life! *eyeroll*

  • Name

    If your assertion that “50 percent of Americans are paying taxes so that the other 50 percent can mooch off of us” is true, and you know 2 people on assistance does that mean you only know 4 people? Or maybe your assertion is incorrect to start with. Your 50/50 claim at best only applies to the federal income tax and completely ignores state income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and many other taxes and fees the poor pay just like you. And, just because someone doesn’t earn enough to owe federal income tax doesn’t mean they are on “welfare”. Count your blessings that you are lucky – yes LUCKY – enough to have a job and make enough to owe taxes. I think there are plenty of people you just called “moochers” who would trade places with you in a heartbeat. And the odds are good they were in your shoes just a few short paychecks ago.

  • jackson

    Hasn’t any one of you complainers about corporations not hiring realize that this administrations policies of higher taxes – the looming specter of Obamacare increased cost for health insurance for their employees – plus an ever expanding number of regulations – plus inflation caused by Bernankes propping up Wall Street by printing a trillion dollars yearly. Haven’t you noticed that food prices have increased along with a gallon of gas. Your salary buying power has dropped dramatically during Obamas reign. 90% of obamas jobs that he keeps crowing about “creating” are mainly Part Time. Real unemployment is double what is reported if you include people working at part time jobs, not looking for a job, etc. Obama has no business sense at all. All he knows is making flowery speeches repeating over and over that he is doing great at lifting the middle class. By the way how has his investments turned out in “green” companies such as Solyndra done. Billions of dollars wasted on his crony buddies who backed these failures,

  • Anonymous

    ..next comes the “free showers”…

  • Judy Putnam

    Thank you for this reply Eva Marie. “I know firsthand what it is like to be judged, talked about, count pennies for food and heat and then just as you get a step ahead the system knocks you back down….” sums it up so well. You sound like a good mom.

  • Anonymous

    They should just call themselves “propaganda tanks,” because no thinking ever goes on there!

  • Anonymous

    All evidence shows that most people use these programs as a temporary stepping stone during hard times. the propaganda against the poor must end!! It is outrageous, especially considering all the financial welfare these corporate groups use to fund this attack on citizens of this country! Appalling!!

  • Anonymous

    I freaking hear you girl!! This is more often the case, and when these self-righteous a-hole know-it-alls start defending such thinking, I see red!!

    Stop blaming women! These guys often start out looking like decent partners, and then later she discovers that he like to hit her, control her, or make her work while he loafs at home!! Women need help, because often THEY are the ones stuck with the responsibility of raising the children! Let’s not punish them, or their children, for trying to be responsible, or wanting some way to get out of an abusive relationship, which is far more often the case. Female on birth control can go eff herself when that birth control fails, and the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic has been closed down, and her “good man” has left her in his rear-view mirror!! No one can predict the future.

  • JonThomas

    Yep. One of the oldest political and power-grabbing propaganda tactics in the world is finding groups with little to no voice and power and blame them for every woe.

    Back up your attacks with some cleverly construed, feel good statistics, and away we go.

  • Anonymous

    The taxpayers have been squeezed, and income has been dropping, starting with Reagan. What did Romney do other than send jobs to China and steal employee pension plans through Bain? The Republicans right now are trying to find ways to steal your SS and deny you Medicare and put you on vouchers. They are also closing down Planned Parenthood clinics that help responsible women get health care during times when their income is not enough, or they don’t have health insurance. I do not think Obama has stood up ENOUGH for women and children, but corporations own many state governments in this country. Look up what the organization ALEC does, and stop blaming an easy target, the current president. you know who had zero “business sense?” George W., C student, former alcoholic, draft dodger, who FAILED as an executive in the oil business. He lowered taxes FOR THE WEALTHY, and spent our surplus on two unnecessary wars. That is not smart, and not conservative money management either. Obama has actually REDUCED the deficit during his time in office. If you are going to complain about something, at least use FACTS to do it. The business lobby and The Chamber of Commerce have decimated the standard of living for the middle class in this country ever since Reagan. It did not happen over night. Solyndra was a project started by George W. Bush!!!! Business failure, and failure as president. None of this has happened overnight, but for decades. The financial and real estate crash happened before Obama even took office. Many people lost their homes, their retirement savings, and their jobs. Did not happen under THIS president.

  • Anonymous

    If McDonalds has to pay employees in Australia $15 per hour, which is THEIR minimum wage, they can do it here. Businesses will always make excuses not to, but their is no excuse for not paying people a living wage.

  • Anonymous

    I think I see the problem.

    The phrase “…while religiously using condoms…” could be the root of the problem.
    Never use a condom for something that you say “Amen” afterward.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, these are people who get disability, as well as seniors on SS and veterans who are retired. These people are not moochers. I am so tired of hearing these stories that “everyone knows” people who are milking the system. You know who is milking the system? Governor Rick Scott, of Florida, whop was CEO of a company that perpetrated the LARGEST MEDICARE FRAUD IN HISTORY.

    BILKED MEDICARE OUT OF ONE BILLION DOLLARS, and not only walked off “Scott-free,” (heh-heh!), but was then able to get elected as Florida’s governor!!!!

    So until he is UNDER the jail, I do not want to hear another word about someone buying a candy bar with their SNAP money!!!!!!!!!

  • clever_sobriquet

    So what. I personally know 2 wall st bankers that looted 9 billion dollars out of the banking fiasco and pain no taxes on it. Who is a bigger crook?

    You are believing a lie. Look at the statistics about who is on welfare and learn a thing or two instead of relying on right wing fear mongering.

    It is not true that only 50% of Americans pay taxes. 50% of people may pay no FEDERAL INCOME taxes bacuse they are too poor, are retired or make so much money that they can shelter it all and avoid it.

  • Anonymous

    That is absurd. before Medicare and Social Security was passed, many many more seniors lived in poverty. If private people had been able to solve social problems by doing their civic duty, problems like that would not have been solved by government. i fear you have spent far too much time listening to Glenn Beck. please desist. He is yet another huckster who has made MILLIONS by ranting at gullible people. Has he shared any of that with you yet? No, I didn’t think so!

    Are the Koch brothers doing their civic duty? Please alert me when that happens, for hell would have frozen over. One has actually been quoted as saying he “doesn’t just want MORE, he wants all of it!” This is how the 1% thinks. Except for Warren Buffet and maybe a few others.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for that awesome quote!

  • Anonymous

    I keep finding myself responding to comments which have been removed! I like to take on the trolls myself, because I can bust their puny arguments more often than not! But we all appreciate the job you and Mr. Moyers do – thank you.

  • Jackson

    The financial failure of the banks happened over years and years starting originally with Carter and then continued with Clinton pushing for “Homes for everyone”. They pushed banks to allow low income people to get loans for homes that eventually walked out on these toxic loans leaving the big banks, who had bundled millions of these loans, holding worthless paper, thus creating the financial crisis..

    An article that states what I said earlier. Obama is a failure as a leader. Take off your rose colored glasses and see him for what he is..

    http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/christopher-ruddy-obama-offshore/2013/08/22/id/521798?s=al&promo_code=149F3-1

  • Dave Cuckler

    You’re an IDOT!

  • jackson

    Solyndra was dropped by the republicans 2 weeks before Obama took office. An excerpt from an article about Solyndra after Democrats blamed bush.
    Republicans pushed back hard against this version of events, unearthing internal Energy Department emails that indicate the panel evaluating the loans had made the unanimous decision to shelve Solyndra’s application two weeks before Obama took office.

    Blaming the failed loan on the Bush administration marked an abrupt turn for the Energy Department, which had championed the Solyndra loan as a model for its efforts to build a so-called “green energy” industry that creates jobs and safeguards the environment. The Solyndra loan was so central to this strategy that the administration initially planned to have Obama personally announce it, and later sent the president to the company’s solar panel manufacturing facility in Fremont, California to celebrate its work.

    The path taken by Solyndra’s application for a massive government loan was just one of several questions explored by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigative subcommittee Wednesday. Members grilled Silver and Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, as to why the initial loan was approved, and why the Solyndra deal was restructured earlier this year. The restructuring came at a time when the company was already showing signs of financial stress, with Chinese competitors offering similar products for less money.

    The House investigation into the matter had been underway well before the company collapsed. Federal auditors had already questioned the methods the energy department was using to analyze the loans. And beginning in March, ABC News, in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News, began reporting on simmering questions about the role political influence may have played in Solyndra’s selection as the Obama administration’s first loan guarantee recipient.

  • jackson

    By the way, what were pot smoking, cocaine user Obamas grades during his school and college years?. Why aren’t his grades published as has every other president? Why has Obama sealed all his records?

  • JonThomas

    PRESIDENT Obama’s grades are NOT sealed.

    http://www.factcheck.org/2012/07/obamas-sealed-records/

  • Tbone

    Newsmax! LOL. No wonder you’re woefully misinformed.

  • Gerslay

    We have to stop confusing ‘minimum wage’ with ‘living wage’. The minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage on which one could support oneself let alone a family. The minimum wage is what an employer must pay any employee. Paying anything less would be in violation of the law and the business owner could be fined or even jailed. The minimum wage was meant to be an entry level wage which allows an employer to hire and pay a lower wage to someone who has no job skills, let along any experience in holding down a job. A living wage is the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet basic needs.
    That there aren’t enough jobs available that pay a living wage is what should be discussed, not raising the minimum wage.

  • A. Haran

    As a disabled American (yes, I’m “really” disabled), I get judged ALL the time for needing food stamps or any other form of assistance. My own family (cousins, born rich, never had it rough), was aggressively rude, heartless, and cruel about my situation, always adding insult to the injury of poverty. I feel the harsh stigma of going to get food boxes of half-expired food, just to survive. Yes, I have a child (the result of an unwanted act), and try to make it without her having a father. I have a 13 year old car and hope every day it never dies. I don’t watch tv, so that I can have internet, and the computer is from before the disability. So, yeah, judge me as a moocher even though I worked 3 jobs at a time before the disability, and PAID INTO THE SYSTEM with my own hard work. It’s pathetic how we treat poverty in this country, as if it were a disease. My budget for food is 1 dollar, per meal, per day, every day; and I feel very fortunate to have THAT. I live with another disabled person, so that we can make our bills together, which we couldn’t do separately. He worked all his life in physical labor – hard work – and now gets “too much” from disability to qualify for medical insurance. He has to pay out of pocket, and this month his medications went up $160 dollars, so he had to quit them cold turkey. But yeah, we’re “living the life” over here.

  • Anonymous

    Perfectly stated Dave.

  • Anonymous

    3% of the investments went south moron. 97% succeeded.
    Can you do the math?

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    As another disabled American, I surely feel for you. It took 8 YEARS for me to qualify for SS disability, because they wrongly denied me the first time. Anyone who thinks it is easy to get disability has obviously never been in a position of having to apply for it. And yes, they had to make it RETROACTIVE when they finally ruled in my favor after 8 years of denial! Of course, it all went to my workplace disability insurance provider who kept me afloat all that time, not to me. If I had not had workplace long-term disability, I would have starved during those 8 years. And I would starve now, were my SS disability not supplemented by my workplace disability. People who comment without having any knowledge of these things don’t know what they’re talking about! I had to quit a well-paying career at the young age of 42, right at my prime earning years. nobody expects to have to do that. I would have had a lot more money today if i hadn’t had to quit work because I was ill. No sane person would give up a great job on purpose!

  • Anonymous

    Which has anything to do with…?

  • Anonymous

    Mon looks like she could miss a few meals.

  • moderator

    Sorry about that. I know it can be frustrating so thanks for understanding!

    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    Thank you so much for saying that! We strive to make this a place where people can feel free to share ideas without fear of shallow personal attacks.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Jenji Morgan

    Employers can not be trusted to not take advantage of the system. I know one employer who has not given a single raise in 5 years and his crews work in 100F weather. Greed is the reason. Three men who had no qualifications to own the company other than the ability to BORROW money, bought it and have bled the workforce dry. Decency and ethics as business owners are a thing of the past. The LIE that we owe business owners a TAX BREAK so they don’t fire us is PROPAGANDA. Minimum wage for anyone 18 yrs or older should rise with inflation JUST LIKE military retirement wages. If a employer can not pay a living wage after six months training, then they can’t afford to have an employee and they need to get off their fat asses and do the work for themselves OR go find a real job.

  • plumwalk2

    Thank you.

  • plumwalk

    I spent 7 years on welfare when I was younger. During that time, I earned a Master’s Degree and became a teacher. I got off and never and thankfully never returned. It was a degrading experience and we went to bed many nights hungry. Popcorn was a staple. Social workers came to my house regularly. They went through my closets and looked under my bed looking for signs that a man lived with me. One Social Worker made me so mad because she challenged me on how I was making it on so little money. She pissed me off so I told her I worked as a prostitute on 42nd street in order to make ends meet. She was so disgusted that she stopped coming to my house. The real story was that I sold my notes to the wealthier college students who were too lazy to take them and wanted to skip classes. I wrote good papers so I got a lot of referrals. I braided hair. I made knit and crochet hats for the other students. I was up at 5 and sold newspapers at a nearby gas station while my child slept. I rarely slept. I worked my butt off and some of the professors allowed me to bring my daughter to class because I could not afford a sitter or day care. Thing is, that leg up is harder to get these days. There are fewer people willing to help. They are too busy hating. The government is building prisons to house the poor while shutting down schools in poor neighborhoods. It is much harder to survive now because of the cost of living. It is 5 times as hard for my daughter as it was for me. There ain’t nothing pretty about welfare and I am sick of seeing that same photograph. There are an awful lot of poor people. Take some fresh photos.

  • Anonymous

    Hey I paid no federal income taxes for four years running and only owed $7 last year. Is that because I’m a moocher or because I’m a millionaire?

    Bzzzt! wrong answer! I’m a millionaire who practices -like most millionaires- tax avoidance, not tax evasion. And that’s the real reason the middle income earner is paying too much in taxes. There is far more injustice deriving from the favor given the wealthy in this country than that offered the poor.

    Don’t worry, though, for through my life, almost all my income has been fully taxable and I paid my taxes in full, and I’ve probably paid more than 90% of the population. But I’ve never begrudged having my taxes go to support the elderly, the disabled, children, the incompetent, the unstable, those down on their luck or the victim of the treachery, malice, incompetence or circumstance. What would you do, allow half the country to go begging in the streets, prostituting their bodies for whatever they could glean by suffering whatever indignities the wealthy would deign to have them suffer in exchange for moldy bread? Do you want us to return to feudalism? Do you just want them to reach the point where they have nothing to lose and rise up en masse as happened in the French Revolution?

  • Arianna

    I’m going to tell you something factual, and I hope it blows your mind as much as it did mine. In Missouri, a state that is denying itself the Affordable Care Act expansion of Medicaid, a town close to St. Louis bid with a Tax Incentive Funding…..and now has 600 living wage jobs going in. At the same time, there is a campaign going for tax reform which will reduce the taxes on the “poverty stricken” by 5% and DECREASE the taxes for the top 10% (and corporations count here) by 50%…….yes, by HALF! Oh, forgot to mention that the sales tax on Rx will go up somewhere between 7-9%. So, who does this “reform” help? Anyone???????

  • De Tocqueville

    What? I’m not ignoring it at all. It exists simply because WE allow the politicians to allow it. How are you going to fix crony socialism or crony capitalism without taking out the trash in congress and the white house? I’m talking about getting at the crux of the problem. Who is culpable isn’t the issue. Who we can hold directly accountable is.

  • De Tocqueville

    From the comments here, it’s clear to me that most of you haven’t even read the Cato study. You’re probably going only on the headline above: “Report Says Poor Americans Have It Too Good”. Which isn’t at all what the report concludes. It’s a sensational and intentionally misleading title. Please don’t stick self-righteously to the world view into which you’ve been indoctrinated. Right-wing and left-wing ignorance are ruining this country.

    Educate yourselves in History, Economics and human nature. ESPECIALLY economics, as no one can come remotely close to understanding the effects of policy without a VERY strong grasp of economics. And the problem with that is that there are biased economists, and finding the truth is a long, arduous process that few will undertake.

  • Dave

    This is also mind blowing? My insurance premium went from $940 to $279 per month.. Of course because i’m a 1099, that’s a contractor my federal tax rate is on average 39% and has been since George Junior took office.. But, I will keep you posted if my federal tax rate starts climbing.. You want to employ the population part time at minimum wage, charge the average American family $16000 per year for health insurance leaving average families $20,000 a year to live on.. Awesome.. If your a corporation or an insurance agent..

  • Anonymous

    Thank-you!!! I would have never thought of that!!!!

  • cgmcle

    Profits are at an all-time high as a percentage of GDP, while wages are at or very near all-time lows. Employers have accumulated more and more power over the past few decades, especially with the demise of unions and the blatantly close relationships between governments, both federal and state, and corporations. (The latter, by the way, is a core feature of fascism.) Consequently, corporate CEOs and executives unashamedly scoop up as much of the profit as they can, leaving just the scraps for their employees. This explains how a single family, the Waltons, can accumulate more wealth than 125 million Americans.

  • rbab

    May I share your comment to the world? You are an amazing human being! When so many say, “Get up and do it yourself!”, you remind people of the humanity and dignity of the poor. God bless you!

  • LIberal Whackjob

    Too bad they can’t spend their time and energy on corporate welfare, where the real money is. But that’s because the Cato Institute is built on corporate welfare money.

  • LIberal Whackjob

    I’ve read plenty of stuff on Cato and the Heritage Foundation and the rest of them.. No need to read another line to know what their perspectives are, as they are always the same contrived conservative talking points rehashed, refitted, and regurgitated ad nauseum. Why would I waste my time reading propaganda when I know it is propaganda to begin with, and I know what they are going to say and why? Finding the truth is only a long, arduous process when you don’t understand the rules being imposed on the game. Try removing the beam from your own eye, De Tocque, it’s infringing on the space required by a healthy brain.

  • Eva Marie Woywod

    I’m living the life of a single mom with 2 kids – I don’t need CATO to tell me what I should know about poverty and the system – furthermore I work/volunteer on a daily basis with the homeless and domestic violence victims – working and having lived in the trenches after a once middle class life, tells me everything I need to know on the whys – additionally, my opinion is not bought and paid for – it’s free

  • Max Power

    But in a lot of cases, the minimum wage jobs are being supplemented to be living wage jobs. The employer pays the minimum wage salary while the taxpayers pick up the rest of the costs associated with keeping that employee alive, housed, and fed.

    The real cost of the labor, if you are so inclined to think having employees living in real accommodations rather than cardboard boxes may be better in the long run, is closer to $20 per hour. It’s also probably beneficial for the employer to not have to replace regularly dying employees.

  • Cat Sullivan

    Actually AZ has lowered the lifetime limit to 24 months and other states are following Maine lowering their limit to 48 months. Other states are tightening their reasons to allow any extensions. Most states will admit that over 80% of their TANF recipients who continue to need assistance are families with serious barriers. To name a few barriers such as being disabled, having a disabled child, living in a community where jobs are scarce, no childcare, no reliable transportation, being homeless, or having poor credit (and yes even low wage jobs do credit checks and deny employment because being poor means not being able to make ends meet for necessities such as electricity, water, and other necessary costs).

    Until we begin to accept that poverty is an institution and not a “choice” will we begin to undo and eradicate poverty. Institutions remain in place because they benefit someone in spite of their horrible damage it does to others. The Poverty Institution is based upon racism, sexism (including LGBTQ), ageism, and disabilities ~ and I will include “classism” within the reasons this institution is ensconced within our society.

    Here is a definition from Webster’s for “institution”:

    In-sti-tu-tion [in-sti-too-shuhn, -tyoo-]

    a well-established and structured pattern of behavior or of relationships that is accepted as a fundamental part of a culture, as marriage: the institution of the family.

    any established law, custom, etc.

    While it is illegal to discriminate against most of these “isms” it is *not* illegal to discriminate against someone because they are poor. Therefore while someone may hate anybody under any of these “isms” they can pretend their hatred and reason to discriminate is based on poverty and not because their malice is because someone is a person of color, disabled, a senior, or a woman/LGBTQ. Therefore they can rely on this Institution of Poverty in order to disenfranchise and deny housing, employment, medical care, public transportation, or for any other reason. They can even blame and detest the poor person for being poor because of their own refusal to recognize their own established pattern of behavior. This kind of discrimination is common and quite accepted, as you may see on some of these comments here.

    People in poverty are not a “problem”, indeed they are the very basis for which the other classes rely upon in order to maintain their own postitions, particularly the rich. The upper classes use the poor for things like low wages, for their own employment as “gatekeepers”, for mega-nonprofits from which they use as their personal Cayman Islands, with financial institutions, as well as the greater proportions of taxes the poor pay in every state. I could write all day about how these ways enrich the upper classes, but suffice it to say in every one of these are a great financial incentive to keep poverty in its place as an institution.

    TANF itself is a prime example as to how it enriches other classes far more than the funding actually assists the poor. For instance, over 1/3 of TANF block grants states receive from Congress, is diverted into paying for foster care and adoption alone. You can include adoption and foster care as being in line to take the same and more of the amount of handouts from Medicaid, SNAP, and housing in this diverting of funds from those in poverty. Even though it is well known that children have a 5-7X more likely to be physically and sexually abused in foster care and adoption, and they will thrive far better if they remain in the family than in foster care, the System will routinely deny access to necessitates to impoverished families and then go in and take their children.

    Even though it is illegal in most states to take kids because the family is in poverty, States use “other reasons” in order to keep themselves at the trough for the $Billions in funding coming in out of TANF. Medicaid, housing and SNAP. Illegal it may be to take kids because of poverty, the way around this law is when the government routinely uses legal reasons such as “maltreatment and neglect” rather than assisting the families. They use the conventions under these laws in order to destroy families because of the poverty of the family they refuse to assist. Those who cannot afford things like energy costs for the home, have food insecurity, need
    medical care, or are homeless, are accused of “maltreating and neglecting” their children as well as putting their kids in “imminent danger”. “Imminent danger is the most egregious of these accusations as even if they find no abuse, the child might be abused in the future. “Imminent danger” undermines any legal defense for anybody under the law since it is based of the “feelings” of contracted and government workers who stand to profit off these “feelings”. Who can say what the future holds except for the the feelings of people relying on their own jobs and funding that becomes legal “fact” in court? As a matter of fact they actually make money off these legal maneuvers, indeed it actually costs 1000% more to put children into adoption and foster care than the far more successful and 1000% LESS costs to assist the family. But this translates into $Millions for contracted services, foster home care, adoption services, legal services, court costs, and mega-non-profits, creating massive employment for middle and upper class professionals as well as enriching upper income business owners and giving huge tax breaks in those contracted services.

    The point here is, that poverty is far from a “problem”, it is the very basis for the the upper income in order to maintain their own positions. Poverty is an institution it is not a “choice”! This does little to eradicate poverty by blaming the poor person personally for making the “choice” to be poor rather than facing the massive dependence on that spider’s web of poverty for the upper class’ own welfare. This institution allows them as an accepted and routine thing to take these funds literally “out of the mouths of babes” for their own enrichment. They can then pat themselves on the back for somehow having “empathy” when in fact they themselves depend on this blame rather than admitting this personal dependence upon poverty for their own benefit As long as this kind denial continues while subverting and using the hatred and blame for the poor making a “choice” to be poor, this WILL keep the Institution of Poverty in place.

    Here are some links for consideration as to what I write here and there are more:

    The diminishing of the safety net: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3498

    Taxes and the harsh burden for the poor: http://www.itepnet.org/whopays/

    White paper on successful programs that assist families rather than destroy them as well as contact information about these programs: http://www.nccpr.org/reports/twelveways

    Cat in Seattle

  • plumwalk@msn.com

    Thank you. Share it wherever you like.

  • Anonymous

    They are double counting many things, such as work subsides and welfare, can’t get both CATO

  • Fed Up With It All

    It’s not just the Republicans – red and blue are simply two sides of the same coin. Stop falling for the Globalists’s “divide and conquer” strategy. The banking/corporate elite want us to fight with each other so that we cannot turn on them. Presidents are puppets, selected rather than elected, and include both parties.

  • Betsy Singh-Anand

    Seriously????

  • Betsy Singh-Anand

    And it is getting ready to be unleashed, too ….. I know at least one person who will NOT be getting into the bus/truck/train car!!!!

  • Cat Sullivan

    While it can be said that many institutions may have certain biases, the Cato Institute (and the Heritage Foundation) is especially well known for its tendencies to cherry pick information for its own agenda, especially when it comes to poverty. Their “studies” are done by mostly white and upper class men being paid by a well financially oiled white elite who expressly created this institution for their own benefit. These “studies” are done by those who often do not have a clue about the true nature of poverty while accepting assumptions that are far off base as the foundation for those “studies”. It could be said that in order to maintain credibility, institutions who do have “agendas” are not afraid to post data contrary to whatever the reasons they are there to be.

    It is not that people have not read the Cato study, although this may be since it is hard to respect anything the Cato Institute says when we already know about the agendas woven into every one of them. We know the underlying agenda is, “How can we use (or hide) this information and impose our analysis on it in order to continue to enrich ourselves no matter what damage is being done to the rest of the population?”

    Therefore with this agenda it is hard to give any credibility to these institutions or any of their “experts” when we know they will use whatever thing they can to rationalize that a few have the “right” to keep all the world’s resources and to justify unfettered greed that the rest of us know from common sense does little except for those who are hoarding them.

    Just sayin’ …

    Cat in Seattle

  • Anonymous

    Unbelievable on numerous counts. But then, Cato Institute has been like a cancer on the public for too long. I think most surprising is that anyone would bother to dig the old “work disincentive” file out of the trash heap. Since 1996, of course, able-bodied people don’t have an option about working. But before that, the only incentive to staying on welfare was medical coverage — something that those with children couldn’t risk losing. Something our poorly informed middle class couldn’t grasp, but that every welfare recipient understood — They were far better off with a minimum wage job than welfare benefits. Everyone gets those wild and crazy urges to go on shopping sprees, buying luxuries like wash cloths or a new mop, maybe even a thrift store dresser or chair, and US welfare benefits were so low this this was exceedingly difficult. Our “high, generous” welfare aid was, in reality,well below the poverty line.

  • Anonymous

    Cato has a long, consistent history of reactionary conclusions. Beyond that, there is cause and effect to consider. In a nutshell: I read that some 80% of middle classers support mandatory, bottom wage workfare replacement labor. Who do they think are being replaced? This is one of several key policies that have served to significantly suppress wages, causing more poverty, meaning fewer consumer purchases, so fewer workers are need to produce and sell those products — and the poverty snowball keeps on rolling. Cato restricts the discussion to bit and pieces to “prove” a point. When it comes to government policies, we need to look at the bigger picture, understanding how the conditions that impact one chunk of the population inevitably effect the next.

  • Sean D Ferris

    Selfish people make me sick There but for the grace of God go I

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wasylyk/529203693 Joe Wasylyk

    In general welfare programs around the World are basically income sources of last resort. They already represent the bottom of the barrel and there should never be a government policy to legislate more cuts to these meager income programs. At this stage of the game it becomes a moral issue. If you are an older welfare recipient you are likely to fall through the cracks. Furthermore; I think that in order to eradicate poverty it doesn’t solve the problem to tell the welfare recipient to take ANY job. Social workers must be trained to have the skills to collaborate with their clients in a way that helps them startup a second career or a small business. This could be a Win-Win situation where both sides are happy and prosperous. And as a result, this action will probably take a huge step towards eradicating poverty.

  • David Fredericks

    I grew up (40s and early 50s) in a Chicago Southside rat and roach infested tenement building then in a 24 sq.. ft. shell home, sans plumbing or interior walls outside Chicago. My poor father lugged home groceries and water for miles. I don’t think many people today could relate.

  • Anonymous

    Well there IS need for reform, and of course they would represent the genuine policy and effort towards the design by placing a photo of some fat cow who obviously is not starving,. But what about those as in my case, just got my hip ripped out and replaced, live alone with small support groups to help, and I don’t doubt it a bit if hypothetically DFS takes and deducts 4 days from my monthly food benefits since the Hospital fed me and they paid for the meals?

    Last 6 years, when everybody else got their COLI’s cost of living increases, I got mine, around $20, then had my food benefits lessened because the same government but different department from a separate office gave me a living raise.. $20 turns into a deduction of $6.70 = ‘ing a <$12 raise and they spend thousands in mailing fees to tell you about it in details in snail mail. By the time they excuse their policies to you and given that you have no power to change the course of political stupidity, they have given then shortened your quality of life. and the raise ends up amounting to $0.0328767123287671 cents a day to help with grocery costs, in an era where milk is as expensive as gasoline, and hamburger is near the price of steaks per pound.

    Downsizing, and increased pricing takes a big chunk out of our monthly living expenses, and this raise is a joke.. Why doesn't the Republican Party talk about limited funding increasingly, continuously, frequently cutting chunks out of and reducing needed services for the many who truly need it, instead of portraying the needy, especially the ELDERLY and DISABLED who need it most, as some form of thieving poverty clowns..

  • A working taxpayer

    The study has some merit, but for the wrong reason. Since business no longer pays fair wages, the gap between working and being on the dole is very small. The problem should be address by paying better wages, so that the gap would widen,so that peopel whow work , would have it better then those who live off of government programs.

  • Anonymous

    What is a phony mental illness? Are you a psychiatrist who can diagnose such a thing? Many illnesses are “hidden”. Just because you can’t “see” it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. As far as having multiple children to get more money, it doesn’t happen after the first two, not to mention most assistance is limited to 2 years (some states as much as 5 years in a lifetime) for your lifetime. After that your on your own. Get educated more on the subject.

    The poor actually pay more of a percentage of their income in taxes than anyone else. The taxes paid are: Payroll, FICA medicare, state income taxes, local income taxes, sales taxes, etc. And all of the so called “FEES which are also taxes like: licensing of a car if they have one, drivers license, professional licenses (low paid social workers comes to mind), property taxes (yes, the landlord passes it on to the renters), parking fees, tolls, etc.

  • Anonymous

    Shut up you piece of sh(7)it!

  • Ranger6

    Did you actually say anything here?

  • THOMAS

    I am all for welfare reduction let us start with corporate’s be it defense contractors or oil producers, big scale corn producers(which does nothing but add to obesity)-then tackle welfare for the poor. After all we spend more on the corporate citizens than on living breathing humans

  • Tool guy

    You mean do away with corporate welfare? A Canadian politician tried that once. Didn’t get power funnily enough! No creedence should be given to these so-called studies but rather the agenda of the funders and organizations should be exposed.

  • JonThomas

    Everyone see this article on Yahoo!?

    finance.yahoo.com/news/10-largest-employers-america-103810924.html

    They tend to take down articles after a while so…

    Yep the largest employer of American workers is Walmart!

    2nd largest? Yum Brands (think fast food…KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut)

    3. McDonald’s

    4. IBM …Finally… 3 million+ workers later…and now we’re getting somewhere.

    5. United Parcel Service…not too bad.

    6. Target…Oh well, couldn’t last.

    7. Kroger

    8. Home Depot

    9. Hewlett-Packard

    10. General Electric

    So much for the minimum as a “starter wage” concept.

    Yes, my comment is in brief…read the article for basics about salary vs. hourly wage earners, but keep in mind it’s Yahoo!, and in-depth reporting is definitely lacking.

    There is a lot of room for more information.

    It would be good to know how long the average person stays at these jobs, as well as a scaling metric of how long each percentage (10%, 20% etc.) stays on with the low wage employers.

    For example(these are made up statistics for illustration)…10% stayed on for 20 years, 5% stayed on for 15 years, etc…

    I’m sure that a fairly good number do move on to higher paying jobs, especially into smaller businesses that aren’t on this list, but this info is definitely telling, and does provide insight into the trends.

    4 Million low wage employees on this list :: 1.4 Million average to higher paying employees. (this was done in my head and based solely on my own mental reckoning of these employers reputations (it will obviously be skewed by the details of what individual jobs and positions pay.))

    It would also be interesting to know the percentage of workers who start out at these low wage jobs and do actually move on to higher wage positions later in life. Also, if they tend to stay at these pay levels.

    I think It would be beneficial to more research in this area, hint hint Mr. Moyers & Comp. (yep, I can use a job lol. )

  • Anonymous

    Redefining corporations as persons was preceded by redefining persons as “resources.” Remember when the Personnel Department became the Department of Human Resources? That was the official announcement. It was decades ago.

  • Cin5456

    I’m not sure of the numbers, but after watching a documentary on what happens to small town business when a Walmart moves in, a good portion of those low wage jobs were, at some time in the past, taken by prior small business owners who no longer have businesses due to Walmart moving in and taking all their customers away. Now they work for Walmart permanently until they retire (at ages 70 or 75 without pensions). These workers never move into higher paying positions because in small towns, there are none. When you factor in the fact that the majority of Walmarts are located in small communities far from the cities and suburbs, that means a significant number of employees do not have an opportunity to “move on” to better paying work. That will skew the stats in the direction of permanent poverty for older Walmart employees.

  • Cin5456

    I think social welfare people may have, at one time, been idealistic enough to think they would be helping the poor, but nowadays, the majority of social welfare government workers (usually employed by the state, not the feds) are so callous that “helping” has become an assembly line production. Fill out forms, tell them what they have to do, and what they “may” get, and shove them out the door for the next one to come in for the same callous treatment. So many just don’t care anymore. They were hired to do a job, not to get involved in people’s lives. That said, there are still many who do care, but don’t have the time to devote to individual families that are in dire need of more than help filling out forms.

  • Cin5456

    Here’s an interesting set of circumstances. The employer’s portion of payroll taxes on SS and Medicare matches the employee’s obligation taken out of gross pay. . That is 6.2% for SS and for Medicare 1.45% Using the base figures of $7.25 per hour, if Walmart employees (for instance) 1 million workers at minimum wage for 40 hours a week, the company’s payroll tax obligation comes to (approx) $1,153.88 per year for one employee; so for 1 million employees they pay $1.153 billion dollars for those SS and Medicare taxes. If they reduced the hours of all 1 million employees to 29 hours (to avoid Obamacare) the amount of payroll tax obligation drops to $836.68 per year per employee, for a total of $836,7 million in taxes. Forcing employees to work only 29 hours per week saves Walmart $317.2 million per year in payroll tax obligations. Last year, Walmart’s profits were over $15 billion. Next year, it may go up by 0.3 million that finds its way into the pockets of the Walton family. (These are rough figures made by estimates of number employees and reducing the hours of all minimum wage employees at all locations, which is not likely to happen. So don’t flame me. They are not meant to represent actual facts.)

  • Benjamin

    I would hope not. Some call this progress. But trust me there are people doing the equivelant of what your father did then now in our society today.

  • Robert Balogh-Robinson

    Only if you assume that Walmart is currently overstaffed. I don’t shop there much, but I assume they are not wasting money. The reality is the will increase the number of workers, keeping the total payroll exactly the same. It will probably increase the number of people who are working for their sub-living wage jobs, and may well increase the number of people who receive benefits.

  • blue in 2 red states

    I am a case manager in a Welfare Office. The Walmarts and McDonalds of the world WILL usually hire folks with no experience, but NEVER for full time hours, and NEVER for more than about $8 per hour. I think the highest wage I ever saw a Walmart employee make was about $12 an hour, and that person had worked for Walmart for over 10 years, and didn’t work full time or have benefits. But my clients are thrilled when they get these jobs, because they hate being on “welfare”. It’s hard to have self respect while on welfare. They want to be an example to their kids, and to give their kids better lives. Most of the jobs they can get don’t allow them sick days, so when they or their child gets sick, they will often lose their jobs and go back on welfare. They have child care, but you can’t take a sick child to child care, or to school. And the moms usually don’t have any medical coverage for themselves, so they stay sick longer without a doctor or meds. Being on welfare is NOT a life of luxury. The numbers in the CATO report, which I did read, are not the reality for any welfare client I’ve ever seen over many years.

  • Brea Plum

    “I think social welfare people may have, at one time, been idealistic enough to think they would be helping the poor,”

    That time having been before they landed their first actual job as a social worker, having worked at least 6 years to obtain the minimum requirement of a Master’s degree.

    “the majority of social welfare government workers …are so callous that “helping” has become an assembly line production.”

    Because when actually start work they find they are making hardly any more than their clients are, but unlike most of their clients, are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, because that’s what it took to get that graduate degree. Which is why so few are willing to do the job, which is why each person is winds up carrying the workload of three.

    So here’s an idea…how about we offer the unemployed training that would allow *them* to qualify as social workers? I know many and they all say that Master’s degree was only to get the job but way beyond necessary to *do* the job. The poor and underserved damn sure have the experience to do it, and won’t be saddled with that student loan debt.

  • David P. Turnbole

    Indeed the “welfare tramps” are just living it up with their brand new Rolls Royces, condos in Cancun, 5th Avenue NYC, and sitting on their asses doing nothing but ordering people around. Drinking champagne, eating caviar………………… ::Slaps self:: Wait, that’s the people that are creating the welfare class, not the actual welfare class. Oh Dave, how could you be so cruel? Those poor Koch boys.

  • MissouriBulldog

    As best I can remember, I can’t remember when a poverty-qualified person voted to remove assistance to the needy.

  • truthseeker

    Well first off they never said the poor had it good, they said that people on the dole make more money than people that work for a living on minimum wage!

  • Blondmyk

    Last Job I held before becoming disabled I was forced to take a pay cut from $9.50/hr (that was management pay) to $8.50 and the other employees had to take an even larger cut or they were going to lay over half the staff off. They did this RIGHT after taking a trip to Cancun. What does that tell you? You hit the nail on the head here.

  • Blondmyk

    Bah….Lay off half the staff….not lay them. Sorry…bad typo.

  • MartyB

    It’s scary as to what their perception is… they don’t live in the real world. It’s not a good thing to place “book smart” and “reality naive” people in charge of studies, and even worse when they decide on policies based on their “findings”. They have an agenda… and it’s a 2 class system, the “haves” and the “have nots”!!!

  • Anonymous

    Amerika is becoming a hateful, self-centered and scary place full losers packing guns to add inches to their Di&ks! George Washington would be ashamed of us all. We turned out to be just another empire like Rome.

  • Anonymous

    Good idea…we lost the “Free Market” like three government bail-outs ago. And how come none of the lairs in the 2008 financial and mortgage crisis are not doing time in jail like some minority who heisted a 7-11 for some Steel reserve and smokes? Stink to me….

  • Mstic

    The Cato Institute is funded by the Koch Brothers, as many know. I would like to see them try to live on what the working poor and poor do. Considering all the tax breaks and taxpayer subsidies they get, the media should run stories about that rather than picking on the have nots. Of course, they have influence throughout our economy (and media) due to their great wealth. I understand that PBS is not running an investigative report on them, reportedly so they do not lose their contributions. Very sad that we have so many people who believe the misinformation the Cato Institute manufactures.

  • Guest

    Be wary of brain trusts and think tanks. The nazis developed them, and when the war went south for them the nazi brain trusts infiltrated the US through project paperclip.

    They established a system of corporate fascism, just as Du Pont, Heinz, Colgate, General Motors, Rockefeller and Prescott Bush intended with the “business plot” to overthrow FDR.

  • Bob Chapman

    I was a Recruiter in a welfare community… hardest place I ever recruited. Generations of welfare recipuients, and they were happy enough to continue the legacy. Why join the Army? They all had the same benefits… housing, medical, food AND an income, and they didn’t have to leave home to get it.

    Those that truly need do, but there is too much abuse. Fimd a way to stop the abuse and the cost of these programs would drop by more than 50%, probably a LOT more.

  • karensc

    Not everything that our government does is outlined in the Constitution. Does the Constitution say that we should be giving $9 BILLION a year to oil companies? Is that in there? Enlighten me, please.

  • karensc

    People are turned into things. Makes it easier for corporations to take advantage of them. Soon we’ll be known by numbers only, and have them tattooed on our arms.

  • Craig Colbert

    I’m all for ending welfare…corporate welfare that is. If we are going to cut one why not cut both?

  • Anonymous

    Public welfare has never been about fighting poverty. I can think of a million creative ways to help people out of welfare, but not a single thing will be done.

  • FREEDOM

    It’s simple Obama is a demigod. He forced this horrible economy on us. Devalued are dollar more and more by government spending, and is attempting the coup de grace on the rest of the barely scrapping by middle class with Obama care. Does Obama care? He should if he had any sense? He is one of the two very smart as in he knows what he’s doing. Or he is very stupid and has know idea what this country needs. Either way we are in for a rough road

  • Bell

    I think the whole point is that those who work for a living on minimum wage are STILL poor.

  • raemayo

    Uncle Bob, what was your time like as Recruiter in a wealthy community?

  • Anonymous

    If all the people on welfare don’t want to work, then why did unemployment plumet during the dot-com era (1999)? Could it be that there are just not enough jobs around now? If the Wal-Marts could get away with it, they would drop the offered wage by a penny every month. Surely, if you would work for $10/hr you would work for $9.99/hr. Slowly this would be the norm and all of our wages, and the economy would collapse.

  • Anonymous

    St. Paul says in the Bible…”If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” He supported himself as a tent-maker, and clearly had little use for “takers”.

  • JonThomas

    You are close, but your misquote changes the meaning. Unfortunately, you also miss another poignant factor…

    The scripture, depending upon the version, alludes to a person who does not WANT to, like to, or who would not work (2 Thessalonians 3:10.) The difference between your words, and the direct quote can be summed up with… ‘given the opportunity.’

    The factor you miss, which also helps us understand the context, is that Paul took up an organized collection for ‘takers’ in Jerusalem who were suffering from a drought. The amount of work was limited. We’re talking about an agrarian society with little ability to quickly share anything, including food, over long distances. It differed greatly from today. (1 Corinthians 16:1-2.)

    When people have a ‘need,’ love can move you, even COMPEL you to help them, even if you do not know them personally.

    Notice also that the scripture in Corinthians shows that the Congregation was only really helping other members of the larger Congregation.

    This by no means states a principle that it is any Congregation’s responsibility to take over social welfare for the country at large. The Constitution’s preamble shows that one of the very reasons for the U.S. Government is the promotion of the general welfare. If it’s in the best interest of the country to assist citizens who are suffering under difficult times, then helping is a government mandate.
    .

  • Charlie Whittlesey

    Maybe they didn’t want to kill people or get shot. They’re not participating in the American Dream and you find it strange they wouldn’t risk their lives to support it?

  • Anonymous

    This “study” is so disingenuous that I am sure it will be accepted by most Republicans.

  • Jennifer Mullins

    I disagree with the idea that the average worker’s productivity increasing would necessarily mean that the average minimum wage worker’s productivity has increased just as much: it isn’t necessarily so. That is one reason we provide subsidies for the working poor: since on average society can afford to, and it is cheaper to have them provide at least part of their support than none of their support. Also not all minimum wage workers rely on their wage (and the government) for their sole support. However when we think of the cost of government programs we do need to look at the big picture: if they reduce demand for another government service, than they may be worth the investment.

  • Lothele Davis

    You know, if all “sides” would tell the complete truth and stop trying to shut down every mouth but their own, perhaps a few truths could be agreed upon! Hunger, poverty, food stamps, free anything was not a gift of the past NOR should it be a gift of the present OR the future!
    This generation of want everything but don’t want to work for it is a sad reality for the United States. I know of no other country that GIVES a child carte blanche as an infant, unless of course the parents are politicians or Hollywoodites!!
    The excesses being EXPECTED have risen to unequalled amounts because the liberals have opened the borders to the weak, tired, and unwilling to work and take care of their own responsibities people! I know of a few that have come across the border and are working their tails off! I know many MORE who are collecting every benefit possible and moving more and more people into their homes. Only one works and the rest bear more children and draw more money, but, they drive brand new deluxe vehicles! What did you say is wrong with our system???? Hmmm????

  • Lothele Davis

    Scripturally, we ARE to “help” the tired, the poor, but no where in any scriptures that I read must we forgo our own families, dwellings, cities, states and country’s freedoms to allow what is happening in the current ruling party. I dislike many politicians on all sides and believe NONE of them on all counts! I do believe they live by the old policy of “you scratch my back and I will butter your bread after you vote to support my project!! There! I think that last sentence pretty aptly describes our political parties of today. There are “wolves in sheep’s clothing” all around us and especially in the White House! HE and HIS WIFE are the worst ever president and first lady, THE WORST!

  • Lothele Davis

    Many years ago I started working for one dollar an hour and was taking care of 5 little ladies! After 20 years I was working for $30 an hour. I was just a certified nurse’s assistant. I worked 12 hour shifts, did EVERYTHING except give medicines very capably! I cleaned, I changed crappy diapers, I washed up vomit from clients and furniture. There was nothing I didn’t do. I cooked for some very elite, wealthy people. I did NOT sit on my arse and expect welfare systems to provide me and my family an education, help me afford a place to live OR get free food! I and my husband paid our utilities, taxes, bought our cars, etc., and expected NOONE to foot our bills, even during very difficult times when cancer took my son and my husband, we still took care of things inside of our family! So……I don’t except crying on the shoulder of the taxpayer for more money for the situations that are happening in our American society now! Yet, that is exactly what the crummy politicians are wheeling and dealing to bring about with their shenanigans! So, so sad!

  • Lothele Davis

    Oh, stop with the Koch Brothers! They aren’t the only wealthy family in this country! Good Lord!

  • Lothele Davis

    And perhaps that will continue as long as our borders are open for everyone to be “invited” with the “promise” all these wonderful freebies!
    Are the signs in Mexico real or fake? Hmmmm? People are coming over the borders and our laws aren’t even being adhered to about sending them back. They have been coached and invited to say they “fear for their lives” so they are not even being “HELD” until they can be checked out. They are immediately being signed up for every available dime…….FOR FREE, and sometimes, WITH LEGAL REPRESENTATION! Hmmmmmm!

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry but I must call BS on your comment. As most recruits are from poor neighborhoods. People that come from wealthy families don’t go into the military because they don’t have to. We all deal with the options that are presented to us.

  • Anonymous

    They have contributed more to global warming denial (Don’t)Think Tanks than Exxon.

    And no, together they are the wealthiest in the world.

    http://kochcash.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/ifg_report.pdf

  • Anonymous

    Fox news did 9 stories on this, all with misleading titles like this; “Welfare pays better than work”,

    including 5 videos where they made it seem like every welfare recipient makes the high estimate from the report …..

    false and unbalanced!

  • JonThomas

    Indeed.

  • Anonymous

    I am the seventh of nine children. My dad always worked 2-3 jobs. He wore surgical gloves to keep from bleeding on the punch cards when he layed concrete for another job. My dad and six of us mowed yards. He would get up at 5:30am and get home at 11pm. He nearly always worked 7 days a week. His dad, with 12 children worked for $1/day as a carpenter during the depression instead of going on relief for $2/day.

    My dad took night courses to better trained on programming computers, but had to drop them because one of my sisters became seriously bi-polar and required much supervision. Finally he had to send her to the state hospital for treatment. He nearly lost his state job because of exhaustion. I am guardian of my eldest brother, who has the intelligence of a 2nd grader. I had another sister who was cognitively impaired, bolemic and anorexic who died last year in a (medicaid) nursing home because she thought water was a complete and balanced diet. My youngest brother has had 4 disks fused in his spine and can’t work. My other brother is also congitively impaired and has worked for the only person who would hire him, his preacher, for 30 years. My mom has dementia and is in a (medicaid) nursing home.

    Except for the first year, I put my way through college and have been a software engineer for 30 years. I am fine. But a number of my siblings will never be fine, no matter how hard they work. They will never be able to earn enough to get by. Just because I can tell a good story about someone overcoming adversity doesn’t mean that EVERYONE can do it.

    I sometimes volunteer with a residential treatment center for abused and neglected children. These kids are rarely academically top-tier. They have more important things than education to deal with. It will take a lot of time and effort before they are self-sufficient.

    I am happy to pay my taxes. I would be happy to pay at the pre-Reagan rate.

  • JonThomas

    Gotta love this one…

    http://gma.yahoo.com/church-group-members-threatened-arrest-handing-biscuits-coffee-041141792–abc-news-topstories.html

    Now helping the hungry is ‘illegal.’

    N.C. is certainly out in front.

  • Seaghn White

    It seems platitudinous to me to say this, but everything that is in this reality, and is in what you read, is the inevitable product of the construct which you have, or have allowed to be, built.

    Solution: Learn to actually, truly, think for yourselves, and organize on a community level. Learn to exist as a community, educate and share,with your community, your neighborhood that is, and trade and share with others, expand your skill sets, and general knowledge. Share skill,and knowledge, not gossip, political beliefs and ideas (which are not your own), religious dicta (again, not your own, and not you).

    Cast off the yolk through self-empowerment, and the empowerment of your family, and community. It wouldn’t hurt to shrug off the Mac ‘n Cheese and the Hamburger helper, either. Just sayin’.

  • Eve Moran

    Really? How have liberals opened the borders? What year was that?

  • Eve Moran

    Luke 12:33-34

    Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

  • boxersdaddy

    as we know, fox politics (it is not news) is all about being a mouth piece for enriching the already enriched, aka the 3%.

  • G. Costanza

    Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    Matthew 25:41-46

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

    Romans 13:1-2

  • A Progressive Patriot

    Ridiculous, unfounded and anecdotal. Most poor are working (hard). Assistance is not just “given,” Assistance is ususally temporary, and it is typically appreciated, and most often used to feed children. Most people want to work, but there is little good work; most of it low paid, in the service industry, which perpetuates the cycle of poverty (even though those companies are making record profits, and their CEO’s are rewarding themseves with record bonuses). Please get the facts before you attempt to spread the standard, tired, Fox News/Corporate Echo Chamber, prejudiced, uninformed nonsense.
    If you want to talk about freeloaders, start looking at the oligarchs and corporate cronys who fight tooth and nail to avoid paying their fair share in taxes, and make their fortunes paying low wages, off-shoring american jobs, and telling their employees how to apply for food stamps.
    This generation of those in need to which you refer, is the product of an intentional, long term, corporate plot to turn back the New Deal and the Great Society, and every workers benefit and environmental protection before or since. Look up the Justice Powell Memorandum from the early 70′s.
    Lothele, you are spreading the gospel of corporate interests, and drinking the divide and conquer Kool-Aid. I’d say that you are mad at the wrong people, but Corporations are NOT people.

  • A Progressive Patriot

    Thank you!

  • A Progressive Patriot

    Inequality, poverty, mental and physical illness, crime, suicide, quality of life… all decline under conservative policies. Look it up. You should be mad at the covert corporate conspiracy that is destroying our democracy and laying waste to the middle class. Sounds like you are a fine, honorable, hard working person, but you are buying into the fear and hate that keeps us seperate, and allows the corporate interests to stay in power. They are the true Welfare Queens.

  • A Progressive Patriot

    OK, I’ll bite. What makes The President and The First Lady, “THE WORST?” Can’t wait to hear this. Facts only please.

  • Anonymous

    You cannot directly compare the absolute numbers of 20 years ago with the absolute numbers of today without including ALL of the numbers! 25 years ago, I earned $18K per year from two part-time jobs. My rent was $400. The bus pass was $25. My health insurance was $40 per month with $10 copays. Etc. Etc. Etc. It would be intellectually dishonest of me to look at a person making $18K now with no health insurance and five times the rent and ask, “Why can’t that person survive on $9 per hour?

  • Anonymous

    Also lost there – the relationships between small business owners and their employees, even if they pay minimum wage. I worked for a small, local business in early 90s. One of the employees got AIDS and the owner took him into his own home when he was sick. People rooted in communities dispensed charity in the old-fashioned sense.

  • dyannne

    Thank you for your post. It’s good to have real information from those who know exactly what’s going on.

  • Robert Alexander

    They are welcomed and recruited by many of our businesses. In fact they would not even come across our borders if the businesses did not and would not hire them! Many times the businesses actual contract with others to bring them over. The illegal activity needs to fall on the backs of businesses who neither pay the immigrant nor the American citizen enough to make a living. It is easier for them to keep immigrant labor in line because if the employer reports them they will be deported. Notice who it is who is interested in keeping them here! It is not the fault of the liberals who only want to be human in their treatment of the labor force who provide for us a much needed service.

  • Queen Alice

    well said.

  • Anonymous

    TO ECONOMISTS

    They had NOTHING from the real world.

    Charles
    Hughes and Michael Tanner at Cato used IPUMS data and surmised from
    their study of the data that some poor mothers with children receive
    much more in benefits than they would receive from working at minimum
    wage. They do not have even ONE example of this occurring. They have
    their analysis of the data.

    They
    assert they have found a serious problem. They propose to reduce
    federal and state benefits for the Poor to reduce the problem. They
    propose to eliminate the minimum wage so more people will become
    employed.

    At the bottom is what I wrote
    them, above that is there reply, and above that (and just below this) is
    what I wrote in response to their reply.

    TO
    CATO

    To: Charles Hughes
    Sent: Thursday, September 5, 2013 8:34 PM
    Subject: Re: The Work versus Welfare Trade-Off: 2013

    Thank you for your reply.

    My
    brother is a CPA. For the past thirty years, he has prepared about a
    thousand returns every Spring for about
    600 clients. He
    does returns for ne’re-do-well adult children of his clients, but has
    never had any of them receiving all the potential benefits you claim
    some may receive.

    I
    am also a CPA. I manage money and my brother prepares my returns. I
    do prepare tax returns for free volunteering here in Queens at several
    locations. I have never prepared returns for poor moms with kids who
    are receiving all the potential benefits you claim some receive.

    Obtaining
    and collecting benefits from federal and state governments is not easy
    and the vast majority of the Poor are
    ashamed of being poor. People go out of their way NOT to collect what
    is available to them. I have never prepared a tax return for a mother
    with minor children who is availing herself of all that is available.
    You assert that manipulation of the IPUMS data indicates that such a
    hypothetical family exists.

    Rather
    than determine that manipulation of the data indicates that such a
    family exists, is it possible for you or one of your co-workers at Cato
    to find just one such family, please? The payroll of Cato is in excess
    of $23 million. While you and Mr. Tanner may be above actually
    going into the field and actually talking to a poor mother with minor
    children, the funds are available to you to do so or to hire someone to
    do so, or to just ask one of the many unpaid interns at Cato — from
    very privileged backgrounds — to do so. Please do so.

    What
    your response tells me is that you do not have evidence of even ONE
    family collecting all the benefits you claim that MANY families
    collect. You have data you have manipulated to assert that such
    families do exist. You assert that benefits being so high are a
    disincentive to the family becoming more productive within our society
    because those
    benefits exceed what they can earn from minimum wage. Cato asserts
    elsewhere that we would all be better off if we did not have a federal
    minimum wage, reasoning that if pay was lower, more people would be
    employed. That appears doubtful, too.

    Once again, thank you for your reply,

    FROM CATO

    From: Charles Hughes

    Sent: Thursday, September 5, 2013 1:45 PM
    Subject: RE: The Work versus Welfare Trade-Off: 2013

    Thank you for your question, I am very sorry it has taken so long for a response, let me try to address your query.

    One
    point of clarification, while our study presumes in one scenario that
    the hypothetical family receives benefits from all seven programs in our
    benefit package, our package falls far short of including all possible
    benefits. There are
    dozens of federal assistance programs aimed at alleviating poverty that
    we did not include, and in many cases families would receive benefits
    from some of these in addition to the ones we did choose to include.

    Now
    to your question: while we did not go into the field to find specific
    families that collect benefits from the programs in our hypothetical
    family, looking at the
    Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS)
    based on census data, which allows you to control for different
    variables such as whether the person was covered by Medicaid, received
    energy subsidies, received food stamps ect., there are indeed many cases
    where people receive benefits from all of the programs in our benefit
    package. Moreover, in some of the cases, like
    WIC, Medicaid, SNAP and TEFAP, our family would be categorically
    eligible; moreover, participation rates among families with little or no
    earned income are extremely high, even higher than those closer to the
    poverty line. Both of these factors increase the
    likelihood that our hypothetical family would indeed take up these
    programs.

    This IPUMS data can be accessed
    here

    That
    being said, it is true as you say that some families similar to our
    profile household do not receive benefits from all seven programs,
    particularly housing. In an attempt to acknowledge this, we included a
    scenario
    where the family only receives SNAP, Medicaid and TANF (Table 16 in the
    study). We also exclude housing benefits from any states where the
    proportion of TANF families receiving said benefits is below a certain
    threshold.

    Thank
    you very much for your inquiry, and for your patience in awaiting a
    response. I hope this response went some way towards addressing your
    question.

    Best Regards,

    Charlie Hughes

    QUESTION OF CATO AUTHORS

    Sent: Wednesday, September 04, 2013 5:43 PM

    To: Charles Hughes

    Subject: Fw: The Work versus Welfare Trade-Off: 2013

    The
    study argues that if a single mother with children obtains housing,
    utility, nutrition, medicaid, and temporary emergency assistance for her
    children and herself, the total dollar value
    of those benefits will exceed what she could earn at minimum wage. The
    study advocates all the benefits should be reduced so that a single
    mother with minor children will have a greater inducement to work.

    The study presumes and assumes that a single mother with children will
    manage to collect ALL possible benefits. That is extremely unlikely to
    happen.

    Do
    you have any evidence at all of even one single impoverished mother
    with children anywhere in the USA collecting all possible benefits that
    may be available to her and to her children?

    This email to you is a third request. An email to Cato last week and two weeks ago received no response.

    I
    am looking forward to seeing evidence of just one person availing
    herself of all the benefits you say are possible to be received.

    Thank you for reading this,

  • DavidW

    Without options and opportunities people will be taken advantage of and I mean those on the right who buy into this divide and conquer tactic the “riches” rely on to keep us off balance and fighting with each other. We each have more in common with each other than we know. The outliers are minuscule when compared to all the good people out there who don’t cheat the system. Yes, there are those cheaters but it’s not an entire population. We’d have all been crushed to dust if that were the case.

    We also have to stop answering with, “how do you know I even have friends who are republicans,” when asked to tell your conservative friends about this. We’ve been so “trained” by the rhetoric that it becomes instinctual and automatic. The negativity we’ve all bought into will need time to evolve and change to a way of thinking about options and positive change.

    We need to all cooperate with each other realizing that there are no simple answers because when you have the needs and wants of 350 million people there is not any easy way to to choose one flavor of one ice cream to appeal to all 350 million. Compromise and Cooperation.

    Think about building a cooperative enterprise that is owned by your community, a Food Co-op or Credit Union are models on which to build our future upon, without the lords to pronounce policy over us. We can make the rich less relevant and less powerful and then we have to work with them to move this society forward.

  • Robert Long

    I am a disabled person (totally unable to work) and feel I must challenge this notion that people like myself are living high on the hog, I live on a stipend from Soc. sec., and SSI, bringing me a grand sum of $659/mo. I would challenge anyone to pay rent, bills, buy food and other necessities and still find money for high living. I live at about half of poverty level and I’d like to see any of these people to try it.

  • Tom Graham

    I just looked at my County’s numbers on the MIT living wage calculator.

    3 kids and 2 parents

    Food – $904 / month – are we eating out every day?

    Medical – $308/month – apparently I don’t qualify for Obamacare subsidies.

    Housing – $908/month – I can buy a $150,000 house and pay for monthly utilities on that. This is by no means a minimum.

    Transportation – $748 / month!!!! Since there is no childcare expense, I assume mom is staying home so we only need one car. If I buy a $15,000 car, at 6% over 5 years is $289/mo. So the extra $459/mo is gas and insurance? I must work 200 miles away and have several DUIs!

    Other? – $200/month – this must be entertainment. I like movies, xbox games, I’m already going out to eat every night.

    The MIT living wage calculator is just ridiculous.

  • Tom Graham

    Truly disabled people like yourself are not the people being criticized. In fact, I wouldn’t criticize the people at all. Everyone should do what’s in their best interest and their families, as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others.

    Thankfully I’ve never been on government assistance, but when I retire I do expect SS retirement benefits to be there for me, just as you expect SS disability to be there for you. You worked, you payed in for 10 years of more to get the benefit.

    The argument stems from the amount that people can get for the first 5 years they are on assistance. Families with dependent children can qualify for TANF benefits over $1000/mo. After 5 years they are dropped, but while on it they can receive in excess of $60,000 for staying home and taking care of their kids. I would love to be able to afford to have my wife stay home with the kids.

    SNAP is over $600/mo, plus Medicaid (worth about $500/mo), plus subsidized housing benefits ($240/month max, but only if you can get them, they are very limited). If your children are on Medicaid for 3 years, they qualify for the TIPS program which pays 100% of tuition at a community college for up to 4 years, then they also qualify for the Pell Grant for $5000/year for up to 4 years.

    All in all, this is a great deal of money and people get sticker shock before processing through that most of the programs are designed to help people in the short term with their finances, giving them a deadline to support themselves (5 years) and helping their children to break the cycle of poverty.

    I guess I don’t know what the answer is, aside from trying to educate more people about what the programs actually pay, for how long and what they are intended to do.

  • Anonymous

    That’s funny!

    Objective observers might think it is those in the think tanks have it too good, since they are the ones who appear to create and design the “public welfare” programs while ignoring their own self indulgence, encouraging Congress to do the same.

  • RKY62

    Your friends are trying to do it legally. It’s the illegal ones that are easily finding the holes in the border.

  • Anonymous

    Alice Walton is of the Walmart family.

  • Ray

    I love the demonizing of companies like WALMART because they don’t think a high skill job like oh, stacking boxes is worth $15/hour … how dare they? LEts follow Liberal idea out to its conclusion then. WALMART can suck it up and pay their people $15/hour … but many small businesses, (remember them, small businesses, the folks that employee like 6-5 of the country) cannot afford the hit. So small business has to layoff people or go out of business. Once the Small business goes under, who is left? Thats right, WALMART! You CANNOT arbitrarily say how much someone is worth. If you are concerned about people trying to raise a family of four on a burger flipper pay, maybe put some money into job training, or perhaps analyze our country’s monetary policy to see why things are so expensive in most parts of the country! That is typical Liberal thinking, don’t solve the problem of the de-value of the dollar, just give poor people more of it! Yeah! That makes sense.

  • Ray

    The RICH are irrelevant! If Warren Buffet and Bill Gates lost all their money tomorrow, it wouldn’t make any poor person better off! I am tired of this rich vs. poor nonsense … this country still has ample opportunity for those willing to go after it … sadly Thomas Edison said it best … “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Read any study on the work habits of the rich versus poor and time and time again you see those willing to work harder, tend to do better … period.

  • DavidW

    There may be equal opportunity in “your” world, but your world is only a part of the jigsaw puzzle that is the real world. Your example of the magical evaporation of the Gates and Buffet wealth overnight is “magical” and not quite real enough to be proven empirically. I take it as opinion and not fact, as is my comment.

    You are right it isn’t “Reich” versus poor. It’s control versus no access to control. I make no such unprovable hypotheticals in my comment. I state my opinion that cooperative enterprise can be a way to balance our economy and move the re-distribution of wealth to the currently wealthy back into circulation within our existing local economies.

    Opportunity can also be missed when contracts are steered to rich cronies. Opinion, not fact.

  • Manju H

    I keep hearing that if more money is given to the poor, or minimum wage is raised, then small businesses will go out of business and then the economy will fall….why is it bad for the economy to fall? if you say because then people will go hungry or because people will not be able to support themselves, then I would say, good conclusion….but lets cut out the roundabout path to the conclusion.

    Oh really? small businesses can’t afford to pay a higher minimum wage? more and more people cant afford to pay the prices those businesses charge,.

    Oh really, businesses will fail? People are already not able to afford food, clothing shelter. So, who is the government there to help? bail out failing businesses or give money to starving people?

    Another thing I’ve heard a lot is that the economy will do better if businesses have money. I say, the economy will do better if more people have the money to spend on the things those businesses sell.