Quote of the Day:

The war on poverty is a war on work, the authors of a new book that criticizes the nation’s welfare system assert.  

–The Daily Signal


The book is “The Human Cost of Welfare: How the System Hurts the People It’s Supposed to Help,” by Phil Harvey, chief sponsor of the DKT Liberty Project, and Lisa Conyers, a policy analyst, who conducted a nationwide study of anti-poverty programs.

The Daily Signal reports on the book:

“The present system is anti-work. It’s almost a war on work. And that’s insane; at the very, very least, we ought to be helping people get out of the system and into paid employment,” Harvey said Monday as the authors discussed the results of their study at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

They said their research, illustrated by numerous interviews with welfare recipients, led them to conclude that the current benefits structure traps many enrollees in the very poverty they wish to escape.

Conyers said that despite expectations that many of the nation’s poor prefer being unemployed, the “vast majority of the people that I interviewed would much rather be working” than be on welfare.

She added that welfare programs “put people in a position where work is a threat rather than a reward.”

If income from a job does not cover the value of the food, housing, and health care assistance they receive, many “make a very rational decision, based on the incentives, to not work,” Conyers said.

“The worst thing, it seems to me, that you can do to somebody is to put them in a situation where they’re gonna be in a perpetual cycle of dependency and poverty. That’s cruel, and we shouldn’t do it,” Harvey said.

He argued that the “plethora of benefits—housing, food, etc.—is very patronizing” and public assistance programs should allow people to “make their own decisions about their own lives.”  

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. It was writing about a federal jobs training program that moved me (at the time on the far left–I toyed with joining SDS) towards conservatism.

I was writing about the Comprehensive Educational Training Act (CETA), as it was implemented in New Orleans, where I was working for a left of center weekly. What I saw was that nobody (and this low number is not an exaggeration) was being trained for work but that merely being on the program involved money and was regarded as a right. Covering public housing was similarly an eye-opener.

More recently, I saw the Democrats' war on work reflected in comments by then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when she was touting the benefits of ObamaCare:

Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance or that people could start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risk, but not job loss because of a child with asthma or someone in the family is bipolar—you name it, any condition—is job locking.

Leaving aside the concerning syntax that is so characteristic of Ms. Pelosi, doesn't Ms. Pelosi realize that most people, even those who without evidence fancy that they are artistes, benefit from keeping their day jobs–or that they did before we had an anti-work economy?