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Welfare; History, Results and Reform

By Travis Snyder


Red font indicates exact quotes from a reference.  Comments are appreciated.

Excerpts/highlights summarized with accompanying news articles and (occasional) additional commentary include Summary with Chart Groups, Native Americans and Welfare, International Poverty Rates, Sweat Shops and Welfare, School Choice, African American Politics and Welfare, Appalachia, San Joaquin vs. Senator Welstone, Welfare in the Press Today, the Great Depression, Social Security and Welfare, Social Workers and Welfare, The Minimum Wage, John Kerry and Welfare Reform, Urban Institute Rhetoric, Bill Cosby and Welfare, and Poverty and Single Motherhood in Sweden, About this Research (Academic Bias), Early History of Welfare, Culture and Welfare, The Poor , The Children's Defense Fund. General news articles/links can also be found at the end of this page. 

    I first became interested in the subject of Welfare from reading various articles and commentary on the effects of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. The reforms are generally claimed as being successful, but the lack of exploration and depth in which the media and even academic papers covered this was frustrating to me. How successful were they? What was the rhetoric of opponents and proponents before and after the bill passed and as the results came in? If Welfare Reform was so successful why was Welfare allowed to continue for so long? Was Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty a success? I have read Liberal studies that say it was and Conservative studies that say it wasn't. How does this issue fit into the platforms of the major parties? The opinion pieces I read were just that; opinion pieces, containing little factual information. 

    But the main reason I decided to write this was a curiosity awakened by Conservative rhetoric in the media and interesting findings in Conservative think tanks, which seemed to support a claim that Welfare and other government incentive/disincentive programs resulted in the establishment of poverty and the breakup of poor families, especially African American families. 

    However, what I found in the Conservative media circles and think tanks was unsatisfying. It was hard to believe that anti-poverty programs caused poverty or broke up families. Sure, there seemed to be correlations, but perhaps they were spinning the numbers, or leaving out other information; information that often came to light in Liberal think tanks and in numerous academic studies that were at odds with the Conservative conclusions. It seemed to me that any reasonable person, with a little common sense, should be able to answer this question rather easily, provided the proper data was available. I promised myself I would conduct a detailed investigation and lay out whatever findings and conclusions I arrived at for others to read. 

    I start out by giving a little background information and then display a series of charts and graphs to give a visual picture of  the effects of welfare. I then write my conclusions from this information and answer some possible objections to my assertions. In this paper I try to isolate populations effected by welfare and cover Caucasian, Hispanic and Native American populations and attempt a particularly in-depth analysis on African Americans. I also examine the Swedish model. Near the end, I cover the political history of welfare, including voting records, press reports, civil rights groups, advocacy groups, and think tanks. I finish with a contrast to Education Reform and Social Security. Despite including 65 charts and graphs (and one especially humorous picture) and 257 citations, I have tried to make things as simple and strait-forward as possible. Enjoy!

Historical Analysis    


    For the greater part of American history there was no federally funded "Welfare" program. The poorest of the poor were aided by private organizations, churches and occasionally by small state programs.

    In 1935, a bill containing the original provisions for "Welfare", AFDC (Aid For Dependant Children, after Welfare Reform called Temporary Aid for Needy Families: TANF), was signed by president Roosevelt and created the basic structure of the modern "Welfare" program. The bill allowed $18 per month for one child and $12 for each additional child. The bill expanded on the infrastructure of state programs that had been set up as 'widows funds'. Only single mothers received funds. At this time, just about 50% of those receiving AFDC were children supported by widows, 17% were children with an incapacitated father, 21% were supported by a woman who had been abandon by her husband and just 2% of children on the welfare rolls were supported by women who had never married. (click here for more on the Great Depression)

    In any case, let us then view the history of AFDC/TANF (remember AFDC [abolished in 1996 by Welfare Reform] became TANF so they are basically the same program in that they both gave cash to poor families) in terms of total families receiving cash welfare during a given month, starting from welfare's conception and the percent of the total US population on welfare. (a large number of those on Welfare are children, 14% of all children in 1993 were on Welfare)

            Total Families Receiving Aid (millions of families)       % US Population Receiving Cash Welfare                                 1936-2003     Chart 1, (3), (4)                               1960-2000    Chart 3 (231), (232):


             Unfortunately, the graph on the right only goes back to 1960, but both graphs follow similar patterns. What accounts for odd shape of these graphs? Let's look at spending patterns. 

    How the states and the federal government paid for each welfare check varied, but they generally mirrored each other and are roughly equal (17). The graph below on the left is a graph of the total federal spending on cash welfare (ADFC/TANF) in red and food stamp spending in blue. Cash and Food is shown in both constant and current dollars (I know... I need to fix up this graph). Doubling this (by adding state money) will give approximately the total cost. The graph on the right shows the growth of all welfare/social programs. Keep in mind that in this graph roughly half of total welfare spending goes to families with children, most of which are single parent households. The other half goes largely to the elderly and to disabled adults (14). Pay special attention to the dark blue part, a large portion of this money goes to welfare families. 

(Constant $2002 adjusts for inflation) Total Federal Spending Chart 2 (12):                                    Chart 7 (14):   

        Both of these graphs show big increases in spending in the late 60s early 70s, when we saw the large increase in the number and percent of families on welfare. But these graphs are quite untidy. The graph above on the left is Federal spending only and the one on the right is all social spending. What we need is to isolate the spending.

                                                                                                   Total Federal and State Welfare Spending on                                                                                                          Cash, Food  And Housing Aid                            Total Families Receiving Aid (millions of families)              Per low Income Person (lowest Quartile)

 .                 1936-2003  Chart 1, (3), (4)           (1993)                                    1930-1993        Chart 40 (55):


    Thus far, spending and persons on the welfare rolls seems pretty closely correlated (unfortunately the right graph ends at 1993). What were the political developments at this time?

    The dip at the end (above left graph) coincides with the 1996 Personal Responsibility Act (from here on referred to as Welfare Reform) passed in a compromise between President Clinton, the Senate, and the Republican House. The impetus for reform came out of moderately successful state driven reform movements (that had begun a few years earlier in 1992 (11)), the Republican House "Contract with America", President Clinton's promise to "end welfare as we know it", and the rightward shift in the political center of the country following Ronald Reagan's presidency. 

    The increase of the welfare rolls in the late 60's and early 70s mirror the 'War on Poverty'/'Great Society' increase in spending and loosening of welfare eligibility under President Lyndon Johnson and the Congressional Democrats. 

    The growth of the rolls in the late 80s, and early 90s came at the same time as big funding increases for a variety of other government entitlement programs for the poor such as food stamps, Medicaid, public housing etc.. President Bush (Senior) and the Congressional Democrats presided over this.

    As the next graph shows, cash payments per family have been decreasing steadily since their high in 1969. In order to carefully measure the effect of this, we need to take into account  the number of children per family and the average family size.  The graph below on the left is color coded. The yellow line is  the average monthly payment per AFDC/TANF family,  the pink line is the average family size of AFDC/TANF recipients, and the blue line represents the average children per AFDC/TANF family. The chart on the right shows the national average children per family.

   Chart 4 (8), (9), (6), (7)                                    Average Monthly Payment per Family                   Chart 5 (10):   Average Family Size/ average Children                         (2002 Constant $)                                                   

         The average family size stays close to one unit more than the average number of children. This because ADFC was originally created to aid single mothers with children. In comparing the average sizes of families and children to the monthly payments, it appears there is some correlation, but we would expect there to be because the government conditionally increases the payment per extra child. The odd thing is that they don't seem to be perfectly correlated and they aren't scalar. Something else is going on. The average monthly payments increases faster before the other two lines, but also decreases a bit after the other lines.

If we compare the four different lines from Chart 4 and Chart 5  we have four different peaks: 

1. National average children per family peak:                   1957

2. Average Payment per family peak:                               1969

3. Average ADFC/TANF family size peak:                      1965

4. Average children per ADFC/TANF family peak:          1965

       Why are the blue lines closer to the average payment per family peak than the national fertility peak? Could it be these ADFC families are influenced by government checks? Just based on this evidence we can't make any solid conclusions, but it is a question worth considering. Chart 57 (233):

    The above graph seems to show that the higher cash payments shown in Chart 4 may have had a slight effect on the number of children that Welfare mothers had, but no real evidence supporting the proliferation of "welfare queens". On average, in 1996 welfare mothers had less children then other mothers in poverty. 

    Recall that I considered the fact that the average family size was close to 1 unit more than the average number of children (as shown by Chart 4) and pondered how many single mothers were on ADFC. As we might expect, the vast majority of welfare recipient families are headed by single mothers.  Chart 6 (13):

                                        AFDC/TANF Families Receiving Income Assistance

Figure TANF 1. AFDC/TANF Families Receiving Income Assistance.

        Basic families are single parent families. Almost all of these are headed by a single female. UP families are unemployed two parent families. The unemployment fund was created in 1961. Total families combine both types. Pink represents a period of economic contraction. Unfortunately, I could not get statistics before 1959, but one would guess it would look similar to Chart 1

         Notice that there is little correlation between economic contractions and growth of the welfare rolls. There are numerous instances where the welfare rolls grew during periods of economic growth! A much better correlation of this growth is seen if we return to Chart 2 and Chart 4: the largest rise in government cash comes where the slope of growth is strongest from about 1968 to 1972. 

    Let's stay cautious and just note that at three different points the number of families on the welfare roll changed dramatically: 

1. In the late 60s, when eligibilities are lowered and there is a large increase of cash payments per family, rolls surged.

2. Starting with state welfare reform in the mid 90s and cumulating with the 96 federal law cutting off cash benefits, rolls plunged.

3. More ambiguously, rolls rose in the late 80s and early 90s as spending for other non-cash programs surged.

  The Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty found non-cash payments, especially food stamps, can be significant. :

The decline in AFDC [cash] benefits was in part offset by food stamps. The food stamp benefit is based on income from all sources, including AFDC. As a result, when AFDC benefits go down, part of the decline (about 30 cents per dollar) is offset by increasing food stamps. Food stamp benefits are indexed for price changes, and benefits change to adjust for prices at the beginning of each federal fiscal year (October 1). If food stamps are added in, the decline in median benefit between 1985 and 1994 is reduced to about 5.5 percent, from $696 to $658 in constant dollars. (69)

          These three conclusions have been backed all of them up with references, graphs and background information. However, there are still pictures of the puzzle missing. Where did all these single mothers come from? Let's examine these single mothers more closely. Chart 9 (16), (17), (18):

%                Percent of all Children in families headed by Single Mothers (1960-1998)

    What percent of these female households are receiving cash welfare benefits (AFDC/TANF)? The data is spotty, but a study done at Harvard contained a very interesting graph. The table on the right is from a different source and is discussed below.

                                                                                                                AFDC participation rates among                                                                                                                              Female heads of Families with                .                                                                                                                        Children, Chart 58 (20):                 

Chart 10 (19):

    The high rate of 70% in the late 60s early 70s can be accounted for by either welfare families increasing or single mothers decreasing (relative to each other). Since we know that welfare families and single mothers are both increasing, this leads us to believe that an increasingly large percent of existing or new single mothers are going on Welfare. It turns out the above graph fairly accurately depicts the percentage of single female mothers on welfare (the graph is a few percentage points higher at most). A University of Wisconsin study backed up these findings (chart upper right), although the scope was narrower (20).  

    It is amazing that these numbers are so high because there are an awful lot of divorced and widowed women out there, many of whom do quite well financially. Considering Chart 9 and Chart 10, there are only three possible ways to account for the large increase in single female family headship and the resulting increase of female headed families on the welfare rolls:

1. More women are being widowed.

2. More women are getting divorced.

3. More women are having kids out-of-wedlock. 

      We can immediately discount the first option by just using common sense, a massacre of this proportion would be beyond any national tragedy we have ever known. Referring to Chart 1, some 2 million men would have had to be slaughtered in about 5 years for the numbers to add up! It is true Vietnam was taking place at this time, but there were only 47,000 battle deaths and most of those were unmarried draftees (21). Also, life expectancy and medical care were advancing not declining. 

       At first glance, the second scenario looks plausible. Divorce rates did soar in the late 60s early 70s, as demonstrated by Chart 11 (22), (23)

        This chart might make one wonder if women, realizing they would be making more money on welfare, divorced their husbands! It is difficult to measure exactly how many women did this, but this sharp peak is hard to ignore. The so-called 'marriage penalty' also fell on those in the middle and upper classes, as a result of the convoluted tax system. Remember the couple, the Boyters, that became famous for divorcing every April (before tax filing) and then remarrying every May? 

The Boyters generated national publicity and media attention (as well as some negative attention from the IRS) in the 1970s by marrying and divorcing three times in order to avoid the marriage penalty. After each divorce they used the money they saved in taxes to pay for a Caribbean vacation. (56)

    After the IRS set new regulations preventing the Boyter's antics, they just stayed divorced. Here is some of their somewhat humorous testimony before the Senate Finance Committee in 1980:

Senator Dole: "You are divorced now?"

Mr. Boyter: "We are divorced now and have been for several years."

Senator Dole: "You live together, though?"

Mr. Boyter: "That is right. The IRS told us that that was preferable to getting remarried every year and divorced."

Mrs. Boyter: "My mother did not think so, but the IRS did." (57)

    Getting back on may have been true that some women would make more money being on welfare than with their husbands, but we must also take into account that some of these women who divorced soon remarried. [Chart 56 further down sheds more light.] Our next chart, Chart 12, leads us to a possible conclusion....(24) (65 corroborates):

        Here we see that the group increasing fastest is the never-married parent. This (loosely) suggests that the third option, women having kids out of wedlock, was a driving force (along with rising divorces) behind the increase in welfare families (Chart 1), female headed families (Chart 9) and female headed welfare families (Chart 6). Taking this conclusion one step further, we might assume that the majority of these out-of-wedlock births would be to younger women (who generally are already unmarried). Sure enough, looking at Chart 13 (14):

Figure BIRTH 1.
Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women, by Age Group: 1940-2002

Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women, by Age Group: 1940-2002

      This is the first time we don't see the characteristic dip after 1994-96 and the slope doesn't seem quite as sharp around 1970 as some of our other graphs, but the general increase is still there. We must realize that these figures may be somewhat skewed because women are steadily marrying older, which means less married births for younger women, which results in a higher percentage of unmarried births. 

     What could be the cause of this sudden increase in single motherhood? Was it coincidence that this took place right at the time when welfare spending was shooting up, or might it be due to a variety of causes?

     A 1997 study done at the University of Wisconsin contained the following table, which demonstrates the short term economic gain young women received from welfare. Chart 14 (25):

    The money listed in the columns is in 1976 dollars,  the study compiled this data from 1968-1985. 

     It appears there is a financial advantage for having a baby as a teen up to age 20. The government gives you more than you would otherwise receiving working, and you don't have to work. Unfortunately, the youngest age looked at on the above table is 19. If we were to look at a 14-16 year old we would doubtlessly see an even more slanted pattern, with an accumulative windfall totaling thousands of dollar if the birth occurred at a very young age. Obviously some of this money is spent on raising the baby, but Medicaid and food stamps would pay for medical care and such things as baby food etc... Imagine yourself in the shoes of a young girl; you have the chance to be thousands of dollars richer then your friends by age 20 - all without working.  But after 20, this short term gain turns into long term ruin and earnings are reduced. 

    The study found:

Interestingly, the gain from not giving birth as a teen is far greater for whites ($47,732) than for African Americans ($15,575). (25)

    Why would this be true? At this time, 1968-1985, more Africans Americans were poor or in poverty. Remember, desegregation, civil rights, and equal employment laws were recent events or, in some places, still ongoing. Racism and discrimination were still widespread, especially in the 60s. So, although their 'gain' from normal work was reduced, welfare checks never 'discriminated' (at least during this time period), thus the added incentive for African Americans to enroll in AFDC.  

    If this is the case then one would think think we would be able to see the effects of welfare most clearly through the African American community. For example, let's examine the out-of-wedlock birth rate for young African Americans girls (notice the uncanny similarity to previously shown Chart 10). 

                                   Percentage of All Births to Unmarried Teens        
                                 Ages 15 to 19, by Race and Ethnicity 1940-2002

Chart 15 (26):                                                                                                                            Chart 10 (19):

    The pattern of non-white/black births matches the reoccurring pattern we've been seeing almost perfectly. Indeed, breaking down Chart 58 (20) by race confirms that a large percentage of African American single mothers were on Welfare. 

   Returning to the findings shown by the table in Chart 14, we would predict that if we could flesh out this 15-19 year old group even further, the findings might be even more pronounced in the younger age group. Chart(s) 16 (26):



Figure BIRTH 3a. Births per 1,000 Unmarried Teens Ages 15 - 17(a) and Ages 18 - 19(b) by Race: 1960-2002

     All of these Charts, especially the younger 15-17 age group have significant drops right around the time Welfare Reform kicks in. How did these events effect the black family?

     The following two graphs show the rise in African American single motherhood. They don't match exactly because one is measuring percentages of female householders and one female headed families (which are defined slightly differently by the Census Bureau), but for all intents and purposes they show the same thing.

 Chart 17 ( 28)                                                                                        Chart 18 (18):


    In sum, we see the same pattern here again, a sharp increase in the late 60s early 70s and then a decline after Welfare Reform.  Unfortunately, the above graph on the right ends in 1998, perhaps the decline would be even more pronounced if we had more current data.  It is pretty amazing to see an increase from 20% of all black children living with a female mother in the 50s to over 50% in the early 90s.  The charts below corroborate the two charts above: 

Chart 19 (28):      (ends 1994)                                                                         Chart 20 (58):   

    Returning to the divorce rates, when we isolate them by race, we see a clearer trend in the Chart below. Again, we see a rise in the late 60s early 70s and a fall in the mid 90s. 

Chart 56 (202):

    So far we have shown that young poorer girls, especially those of color, had the most incentive to go on welfare. We have also shown the rise in out-of-wedlock births, especially amongst African Americans. We now need to tie all of this together. The following graph below on the left is from a hodgepodge collection of data sources, which attempts to document the percent of AFDC/TANF caseload families that are African American.                           

%  Percent of total AFDC/TANF caseload that are African American                                 Chart 22 (34):

Chart 21 (30), (31), (32)

    Keep in mind when viewing both Chart 21 and Chart 22 that African Americans made up only 10-13 percent of the entire population. This is why the effects of welfare are seen so clearly through the prism of the black family. 

    On the left graph, the dip after 1990 is partially due to the growing number of Hispanic participants. Notice that when the rolls went up by some 2.5 million people in the early 60s, late 70s that the percentage of African American recipients stayed the same. 

    When Federal welfare was first established it was difficult for minorities to get on the rolls because of prevailing racism, although some of the Welfare type programs that were created before and during the Great Depression existed for far more insidious purposes, as we will discuss later. Money earmarked for counties and states was often controlled by those with prejudices and often fell under sway of local politics. As this 'discrimination' began to be corrected with tougher federal laws and social activism, the rolls consumed a larger and larger portion of the African American population (31). (discrimination is in quotes here for reasons that will become apparent later)

    The chart on the left illustrates the percentage of black families on welfare at any given time. The percentage of black families with children would be even higher. This data ends in 1980. It is interesting to compare this to the Chart on the left.

Chart 24 (31):                                                                                                        Chart 17 ( 28)

    The data is poor, but it seems the numbers generally continued their slow decline, perhaps following the standard pattern. The U.S. Bureau of the Census reported in 1995 that 25 percent of black mothers and 7 percent of white mothers between the ages of 15 and 44 received payments from AFDC (36). In just eight years, the percent of black families on welfare increased from 10% in 1965 to over 30% in 1973! 

    The Welfare system was especially punishing because once one began receiving benefits it became very difficult to get out of. We have all heard of the so-called 'cycle of poverty'. I'm not sure what the official definition is, but 'cycling' occurred because the welfare system effectively punished those seeking to escape it. Benefits, [cash, food stamps, housing and Medicaid], were often cut off if the mother went to work and made over a certain amount. This often drove welfare mothers seeking employment to look for it under the table, so as not to report it and loose their benefits. Incredibly, a welfare mother could actually loose money or break even just by taking a job! This gave rise to 'cycling', an attempt to break free from poverty, only to be overwhelmed by the unpaid bills that came when the welfare checks stopped coming. 

     The Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan did a study which illustrated the sheer pervasiveness in which children, especially in the black community, were effected by welfare. The study looked at children born in the late 60s and early 70s and examined their records up to 17 years of age and attempts to measure how many of them were touched by different forms of welfare during their youth. The study defines welfare rather broadly and includes, AFDC cash, food stamps, Social Security and other welfare, including local general assistance (some of these programs can serve two parent families). Chart 25 (35):

    A high of 43 percent of total children and 88 percent of African American children received some form of public assistance and 30% of African American children spent 11-16 years of their 17 child years on Welfare. As shown by the above chart, most people who utilized welfare were not on it for any long period of time, but a sizeable number became permanently dependant on it. Others remained in the vicious cycle described in the previous paragraphs. This burden again fell most harshly on African Americans who were most tempted to remain on welfare because of the more formidable cost/benefit barrier they faced. This was especially difficult for those previously mentioned out-of-wedlock mothers, a growing number of whom dropped out of high school. Chart 26 (37):

    In fact, before welfare became entrenched in the black community, black women, including those with only no more than a high school education worked more than their white counterparts. Chart 27 (38):

    The Hispanic work rate for women is low because of cultural emphasis on stay-at-home mothers, although there are also a significant number on welfare. Notice that after welfare reform black female employment is statistically equal to white female employment. In comparing this graph to Chart 24, notice that in 1969 when 65.8 percent of black women with no more than a high school degree worked, only about 15 percent of black families were receiving AFDC, while in 1975, when the white employment rate passed the black rate, over 30 percent of black families were receiving cash welfare. In breaking down the female employment rates, we might predict never married mothers would have the lowest employment rates (as one would think they would constitute a significant portion of those on Welfare). This is the case, as shown by Chart 28, (40):

    This is a good illustration showing the barriers and incentives against work for single mothers and how young never married mothers become 'trapped' in the cycle of welfare. When work requirements were added after Welfare Reform, never married mothers increased the most. 

    In fact, if we look at unemployment over the entire period: 

 Chart 41 (60):                                                                                     Chart 29 (41):                           

    The stagnation of employment of those on the welfare rolls is shown on the chart to the right. Even after welfare reform, when standards were changed so that people could remain, for at least some time, on the welfare rolls while employed, only about a quarter of all adults worked. Welfare Reform gave a person two years of consecutive public assistance and a 5 year lifetime guarantee before being cut off. Also, the number of unemployed two parent families (remember this feature was added in 1961) receiving welfare increased as a percentage of total families receiving welfare because single parent users (especially long term users) were forced off. 

        Returning the employment charts,  (3 charts up - Chart 27), notice the drop in employment among black males with no more than a high school degree. In 1968 there was no statistical difference between these black and white employment rates and the graph shows Hispanic employment was never any different than white employment. After 1968 we see a sharp drop in black employment. Was this a secondary effect of welfare? We all hear the jokes about married men 'settling down' and the 'moderating' influence of a wife and children. Benjamin Franklin once said, "One good Husband is worth two good Wives; for the scarcer things are, the more they're valued." (230) :)

    The resulting emotional attachments and added responsibility of providing for a family and raising children can only be, with small exception, beneficial for a young man. With the rise of single motherhood, what became of the men who would have otherwise been their husbands and how did the children growing up in a single parent home fare? The following chart demonstrates that right as the welfare transition was occurring, remarkable changes were taking place in the black male labor market. Chart 30 (39):

    This difference is even more interesting when one considers that the civil rights movement was in full force in the 60s and many segregationist and discriminatory practices were (supposedly) ending. One would have expected the above graph to show almost the exact opposite. It would be interesting to look at the rates since welfare reform, but no figures/charts are available. Why would these differences occur? Relieved from the responsibility of having to provide for a family, perhaps some black men worked less? I realize this is just speculation, but it is worth considering. A more likely cause might be raises in the minimum wage which, counter-intuitively, hurt the populations most people think they were designed to help. (101), (102) 

    In the mid 1950s the minimum wage laws were changed to apply to all sectors of the economy, not just manufacturing (251), and were drastically raised, until they reached their peak in the late 1960s (ironically, right around the time when Welfare spending and payments were also at an all time high). When employers are required to pay their employees higher wages then they are less likely to hire, and more likely to fire, leading to higher unemployment (example: present day Europe (252)). Worse, the lowest wage earners, stereotypically young unskilled African Americans in high crime areas, are priced out of the job market because any employer that hires them takes a 'loss' every hour they are on the job because the employer is forced to pay them more then he/she believes their labor is really worth. Eliminating these 'entry level' type jobs also eliminates opportunity for future advancement and skill learning. This is more clearly seen by contrasting the following 4 Charts:

Chart 30 (39):                                                                       Chart 61 (253):

Chart 62 (254):                                                                     Chart 63 (255):

        Around 1980, when the minimum wage begins to decline, the rate of black unemployment begins to move back towards the rate of white unemployment. Notice the white teenage employment rate is also adversely affected (Chart 62) and that, as we might predict, the effects are most pronounced as the age of the worker declines (Chart 30). In 1999 black and white teenage unemployment reached at a 30 year low and the income gap has narrowed (can't find exact statistics for the present). (258)

    But, what about the children of these young (or divorced) single black mothers? Judging by the past charts (Chart 17 and Chart 18, we see that from 1965-1975 the largest number of African American single mothers were forming. So, the children of these mothers would be 17 years old from 1982-1992. Chart 25 tells us that over 80% of black children born (roughly) in this era experienced some form of welfare (recall, this 'welfare' is broadly defined) by age 17. Compare the time period when these children would be 17 (1982-1992) to the following chart on prison admissions, Chart 31, (42): 

        What explains the skyrocketing rate of African American incarceration? It is so sharp and sudden there must be an explanation. I will offer a possible hypothesis: 

    The exponential growth in single motherhood that began in the late 60s/early 70s was a double headed monster. First, the men who would have been married to these women were not tied down by family responsibilities, and did not develop strong emotional ties with their wives and children and thus led more erratic lifestyles that ended some in trouble with the law. Secondly, the children raised by these single mothers suffered from poverty that their mothers were unable to escape because of the previously mentioned work penalties imposed by the government. This was not severe poverty, because the government provided nearly everything essential, but a poverty in which there was little financial freedom. Children must also have been influenced by the mother's conflicted mental state; she hated being dependant on the government, and perhaps regretted her single mother status, but was unable to achieve financial freedom because whenever she came close, her basic essentials were snatched away en-mass by the government. This frustrated slide of self-esteem and shrinking dignity may have rubbed off on her children. Boys, who had no father figure to model, only had their peers, or perhaps they found a family friend or neighborhood figure to model. They were found it increasingly hard to find jobs, due to the rising minimum wage. Failing schools, poor neighborhoods, the proliferation of public housing units (which tended to congregate/centralize recipients of public assistance), and a broken family structure made these boys more likely to become involved in drugs, gangs and criminal activities, which often ended them in jail. A young girl, faced with the same deteriorating conditions as her brother and despite warnings by her mother, was at higher risk (some studies say between 100-200% higher (243)) for engaging in risky sexual activity and continuing the cycle with a premarital pregnancy (consider the stagnating wages of these areas and the financial cost/benefit statistics from Chart 14). 

    The Heritage foundation, using 1992-1993 data, found interesting correlations between crime and single motherhood, Chart 32 (43) :

    What has happened to the crime rates since Welfare Reform? Chart 33 (51):


    Thus far in this analysis we've left out what is arguably the most important part: poverty. Poverty was the whole reason these government programs were concocted in the first place. Despite what we've seen so far, if millions of poorer (especially minorities) were thrown into poverty following Welfare Reform we could not declare it a success. In the same sense if the spending in the late 60s early 70s lifted people out of poverty then we might declare President Johnson's war on poverty a success. But, everywhere we look we find the opposite of what we might expect. In fact, the following graphs (especially Chart 58) suggests that the poverty rates stopped dropping as government programs to combat poverty kicked in! Chart Group 1:

    Chart 58 (233):                                                                                                                    Chart 33 (45):


                  Percentage of Persons in Poverty, by age:1959-2002 Chart 38 (64):                 AFDC rolls Chart 6 (13):

    Notice the drop in black poverty from 1994 to 2000, over a 10% reduction to it's lowest level ever (Chart 33, upper right), due in large part to Welfare Reform. The small increase of 2001-02 may have been influenced by the recession (see Chart 34 below). 

Let's examine a graph of total poverty, Chart 34 (46):

    Poverty rates are difficult to measure objectively; the Census Bureau didn't officially define it as it is used today, by amount spent on food, until 1959. Below is the standard history of poverty in the United States during this century. 

Increases in real wages permitted many blue-collar Americans to cross the poverty line during the first quarter of the century, but the Great Depression reversed the gains that had been made. When Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed, in 1937, that "one-third" of the nation was "ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished," he was understating the problem: in fact, the poverty rate was probably closer to 40 or 45 percent. After the Great Depression, however, the proportion of Americans living in poverty dropped sharply: according to government statistics, the figure stood at 30 percent in 1950, 20 percent in 1960, 13 percent in 1968, and 11 percent in 1973. Although these percentages meant that millions of people remained poor (23 million lived in official poverty in 1973), they suggested that the extraordinary growth of the economy between 1940 and the early 1970s was gradually eradicating the problem. Unfortunately, this benign statistical trend came to a halt in the 1970s and reversed itself after 1980. During the depression of the early 1980s, the poverty rate rose above 15 percent; in 1988, well after the depression had ended, it stood at 13 percent, reflecting the poverty of 32 million people—8 million more than had been officially poor a decade earlier. (44) (emphasis mine)

        Ho! Why would this come to a halt in the 70s? I thought that's when the "War on Poverty" would be kicking into high gear and the "Great Society" would be forming? 

When Lyndon Johnson left the presidency in 1969, he left behind the legacy of a transformed federal government. At the end of the Eisenhower presidency in 1961, there were only 45 domestic social programs. By 1969 the number had climbed to 435. Federal social spending, excluding Social Security, rose from $9.9 billion in 1960 to $25.6 billion in 1968. Johnson's "war on poverty" represented the broadest attack Americans had ever waged on the special problems facing poor and disadvantaged families. It declared decisively that the problems of the poor--problems of housing, income, employment, and health--were ultimately a federal responsibility. (47)

    After Welfare Reform one would think that wages at the bottom would go down a bit as more people entered the job market. Somewhat surprisingly, that was not the case. An article in businessweek online (critical of Welfare Reform) lets slip:

    Recall that the full-employment economy of the late 1990s reduced the ranks of the working poor. Five years of a 4% jobless rate bid up wages across the board. That brought a healthy cumulative 14% pay hike, after inflation, to those in the bottom fifth between 1995 and 2003, when they averaged $8.46 an hour, according to an analysis of Census data by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a liberal Washington research group. (247)

    Let's do some quick comparisons with the numbers given from source 44. From the tables used to make Chart 1 we know that in 1988 there were just under 3.8 million families on welfare. Tables from Chart 4 indicate the average family size was just over 2.9. Multiplying these gives 11 million total recipients. Source 44 says 32 million people were in poverty in 1988, so almost a third of those in poverty are on welfare. As demonstrated by Chart 25, welfare families are constantly cycling on and off welfare and so it it probable that most of those in poverty have received public assistance at some point. In fact, we find the same 'cycling' pattern in the poverty rate.

    The Census Bureau did a study from 1996-1999. They found that 51% of those in poverty at some point during those 48 months were only in poverty for 2-4 months.  Only 2% of the United States population was in poverty for the full 48 months. Of the total number of full time workers in the United States, only .1% were in poverty for the full 48 months. Of the total number of part time workers, only .5% were in poverty for the full time period. Revealingly, 10.6% of all those receiving public assistance of any kind were in poverty for the full 48 months and 11.7% of all Medicaid recipients were impoverished for the full time period. Keep in mind that this is during Welfare Reform, when the rolls were falling by over 50%. (62)

    We must also consider that the poverty rate might include recent immigrants, college kids, temporary unemployed, and those who choose to be poor. But even factoring these people in, it still seems like the majority of people who remain in poverty for long periods of time are primarily those on public assistance.

    Even so, there are many discontent with the way the Census Bureau measures poverty. The Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty says:

The existing official measure of poverty has been widely criticized. Under the procedures by which the official poverty rate is calculated, only cash income is counted in determining whether a family is poor; cash welfare programs count, but benefits from noncash programs, such as food stamps, medical care, social services, education and training, and housing are not included. Taxes paid, such as social security payroll taxes, and tax credits, such as the Earned Income Credit, are also excluded from poverty calculations. Because government spending on means-tested noncash benefits and tax credits has increased more rapidly than spending on means-tested cash benefits over the years, ignoring noncash benefits is an increasingly serious omission if we want a broad picture of the impact of government programs on poverty. (48)

    This raises serious questions about the true plight of those in poverty. The Heritage Foundation did a study of those considered poor (61)

For a more accurate assessment of poverty, let's turn to the Heritage Foundation (a Conservative think tank):

    But what is more remarkable is the story behind the Census figures: The actual living conditions of the individuals the government deems to be poor. For most Americans the word "poverty" suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing and reasonable shelter. But only a small number of the 35 million persons classified as "poor" by the Census Bureau fit that description.

While real material hardship certainly does occur, it is limited in scope and severity. The bulk of the "poor" live in material conditions that would have been judged as comfortable or well-off just a few generations ago. Today, the expenditures per person of the lowest income one-fifth (or quintile) of households equal those of the median American household in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation.

The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:  

·  Forty-six per cent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one and a half baths, a garage and porch or patio.

·  Seventy-six per cent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago only 36% of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

·  Only 6% of poor households are overcrowded. More than two thirds have more than two rooms per person.  

·  Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30% own two or more cars.

·  Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television. [by the way, I don't own a color television or any television for that matter] Over half own two or more color televisions. Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player. Sixty-two percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

·  Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens; more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.

Chart 64 (61):

·  The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens and other cities throughout Europe. (Note: These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries not to those classified as poor.)  

Chart 65 (61):

As a group the poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children, and in most cases is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100% above recommended levels. Most poor children today are in fact super-nourished, on average growing up to be one inch taller and ten pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.

Still, "poverty", even as defined by the broad standards of the Census Bureau, can be reduced further, particularly among children. There are two main reasons American children are poor: Their parents don’t work much, and fathers are absent from the home. In good economic times or bad, the typical poor family with children is supported by only 800 hours of work during a year—that amounts to 16 hours of work per week. If work in each family were raised to 2,000 hours per year—the equivalent of one adult working 40 hours per week through the year—nearly 75% of poor children would be lifted out of official poverty.

Not having a dad around is another reliable pathway down into poverty. Nearly two-thirds of poor children reside in single-parent homes. Each year an additional 1.3 million children are born out-of-wedlock. If poor mothers married the fathers of their children, almost three quarters would immediately be lifted out of poverty.

While work and marriage are steady ladders out of poverty, the welfare system perversely remains hostile to both. Major programs such as Food Stamps, public housing, and Medicaid continue to reward idleness and penalize marriage. If welfare could be turned around to encourage work and marriage, remaining poverty would drop quickly.

    Two things catch my eye in the Heritage analysis. First, each family in poverty is only supported by 16 hours of work a week! I realize this figure might be higher if one considers that some work might be done 'under the table', but even so, this doesn't represent the single mother working three jobs trying to make ends meet that is often portrayed in the media. Second,  in the rush to portray European countries as more 'caring' and 'civilized' and, especially, more 'equal', we often forget how much more prosperous then Europe we are.
Because 76% of those in poverty have air conditioning (those that don't probably live in the northern states) we would never see a story like this one, seen in the Associated Press during the Summer of 2003 (49)

France's longest and hottest heat wave, with temperatures that topped 104 in the first two weeks of August, probably caused about 10,000 deaths, said Hubert Falco, secretary of state for the elderly.

While other European governments have not reported the huge death toll of France, signs are emerging of significant spikes in deaths in several countries.

The Central Bureau for Statistics said the heat claimed 500 to 1,000 lives in the Netherlands, and Portugal's Health Ministry estimated more than 1,300 dead.

        Italy's Health Ministry has refused to give figures, but calls to several major cities found marked increases in deaths compared with last year. Genoa had 693 in the first 18 days of August, compared with 475 in the whole month last year. In Turin, 732 died, more than 500 of them over 70, compared with 388 last year. (49)

    The Heritage study also notes that two thirds of children in poverty are in single parent homes. The following graph illustrates this and also shows that back married families, have close to the same poverty rate as white married families. The larger difference between the poverty rates of single mothers is probably because a larger proportion of black single mothers (around 60% - see Chart 58) were 'trapped' on welfare. The last year shown is 1995. Chart 34 (43):


    In many of our charts we've seen positive developments since Welfare Reform, falling unemployment, falling out-of-wedlock births and falling poverty. Are they all due to Welfare Reform or something else? The following graphs take a closer look at Welfare Reform. Remember state reform was implemented around 1992-1994 and national Welfare Reform passed in 1996. Chart Group 2:

Chart 63 (source unknown)

 Chart 35 (50):

       Income, Earnings, Welfare Use, and Poverty for all Female-Headed Families: 1990—1999

 Chart 37 (29):                                                                                                Chart 39 (54)

                  Chart 59 (231):                                                                                   Chart 51 (137):

    I hesitate to equivocally declare the charts below 'Welfare Reform successes' because of their limited time frame. The 1996 Welfare Reform Act was designed to toughen child collections. EITC (earned income tax credit) is a special tax credit low income people can acquire only through work. The generosity of the EITC was substantially increased in 1986, 1990 and 1993. (235)

Chart 36 (59):                                                                                            Chart 60 (232):

    Let us now pause and look at some conclusions from all of this. Obviously Welfare Reform has been a great success, especially for African Americans. But more vexing problems emerge when we examine the reason for it's success. After all, what did Welfare Reform do? The funny thing is that it didn't specifically do anything to help poorer people! It didn't give poorer people anything of value - it took away things of value, by setting strict time limits. Sure, there was some childcare and job training money mixed in, but it was more or less just a substantial repeal of the old Welfare system. The next obvious question is - how in the world can poor people benefit when a program designed to help them is taken away? The ironic truth is that the Lyndon Johnson and the Congressional Democrats of the 60s, in the throes of liberal compassion, subsidized poverty and created what they sought to eliminate. [contrast Group 1 charts to view this]

    What about the rise of single motherhood, especially in African American families? Where did all these single mothers that needed support come from? Isn't it a good thing we increased welfare spending at this time - so no single mothers would fall through the cracks? Well.... the research I have done has led me to the sad and horrifying conclusion - they came, in large measure, from nowhere. That is, they did not exist in any significant number before the very programs that were designed to help them, created them. They were molded from the most vulnerable; the youngest and poorest girls and mothers in society. As seen by Chart 14, it is a simple matter of cost/benefit economics. As the government raised the payment per family, loosened eligibilities and proliferated spending, the most destitute teenage girls became enticed to participate in a short term windfall, which would become their long term ruin, creating an underclass of dependency and poverty. Let's more closely compare six of our previous charts. Chart Group 3:



                                       Percentage of All Births to Unmarried Teens        
                                   Ages 15 to 19, by Race and Ethnicity 1940-2002

            Chart 15 (26):                                                                                                            Chart 3 (231), (232):


               Chart 40 (55)  (ends 1993):                                          Chart 24 (31): (25% in 1995 and fell sharply after):

              Chart 56 (202):                            Chart 17 ( 28) (remember this rise began declining in 1994 [Chart 18]):

    Keep in mind, and this is vitally important to remember, that the reason the non-white/black populations seen on these various graphs contrast so pointedly with the other Welfare graphs shown throughout this paper is NOT because these populations are non-white/black, but because they were poorer and thus their short term welfare gain is higher [see Chart 14] (And, as previously mentioned, discrimination in earnings as job market may have played a role, especially in the 60s-70s). In other words, because a significant percentage of blacks were on welfare (because of their initial poverty) they offer one of the best populations to study the effects of welfare. We would see the same patterns in poor whites, but they are more 'hidden' by the much larger, (and initially wealthier) white population. As we will see, the effects of welfare are color blind. Further on we will attempt to examine other isolated populations in order to further illustrate these patterns. . 

    I understand many of you are skeptical about all this. I will now address some possible criticisms, objections, questions or counter arguments to assertions and/or other points of contention. 



1. The booming economy of the 90s resulted in all these things you claim are a result of welfare reform. 

    You are right the economy was grew during the 90s and it certainly didn't hurt Welfare Reform, but we had similar periods of growth in the 80s, 70s and 60s. Unlike Welfare Reform, none of these time periods coincided with as large of a caseload reduction and as large a decrease in the poverty rate. The only other large reduction in poverty we see took place in the early 60s, after the Kennedy tax cuts and before the large increase in Welfare spending. As source 44 suggests, growing the economy was lifting millions of working and married families out of poverty. Combing this economic growth with the civil rights movement was lifting a record number of minorities out of poverty and into the middle class. Welfare slammed the gate shut on all of this progress. How ironic that just as they begin to break free from the bitter legacy of slavery and discrimination, African Americans are stomped back into the dirt by the boots of well intentioned liberals (I say liberals because that was the ideology of the politicians who set the system up and perpetuated it). 

    Any lowering of the poverty rate due to welfare was temporary and certainly not worth it's terrible toll. Return to Chart group 1 and compare the recessions to the poverty rate to the number of welfare families. There is little correlation. Welfare rolls grow and fall as a result of government spending, economic fluctuation have only small effects. For example, despite a growing economy and increased prosperity for most of the country:

In a typical month in 1980, about 1 child in 10 lived in a family receiving AFDC; by 1993 the odds had increased to 1 child in 8. Almost 14 percent of American families with children received AFDC during an average month in 1993; a higher proportion received such benefits at some time during the year. (69)


2. The great migration of African Americans to the cities around this time period accounted for the problems you are describing in the African American community and family structure.  Can't this just be explained by cultural differences? Aren't out-of-wedlock births accidental? I don't see how can teenage girls be cognoscente enough to weigh these options.

    I'm not sure what your getting at. Millions of people moved to the cities during the industrial revolution with no overtly ill effect. Millions of Italians, Irish, Brits, Scots, Eastern Europeans and Asians resided in cities when they first arrived in the United States. They were poor, but kept their family structure intact and through hard work, brought about by the necessity for hard work, moved out of poverty. If a few million impoverished, say.. Italians, had arrived in the mid to late 60s - early 70s and had access to welfare and other social spending benefits, I would predict the same fate would befall them. 

    No, I don't believe the single motherhood rates are caused by 'accidents'. Individual accidental pregnancies occur all time, but I don't believe a jump from 7.5% to 25% in African American teenage pregnancies is random luck. People may not set out to have children, but because there are no consequences, or the consequences are beneficial (in the short term), they might not take the precautions that they otherwise would. If there was a 10% chance of getting cancer a month after starting to smoke do you think kids would smoke? How about if the rise in cancer rates among 20-30 year smokers was seen after only 10 years? Would that have an effect on the teenage smoking rate? 

    As far as teenagers being cognoscente, I am sure teenagers never sat down with a calculator and added up all the money they were going to make. I recently read an article on the remarkable business savvy of street children in Rio de Janeiro. It described how the children, who often make their living peddling goods, understood economies of scale, bartering, and complex business logic, despite the fact they had no math skills and were illiterate! The point is that people are good at seeing the 'big picture' and although they might not consciously analyze things, they are able to pick up clues from their environment and adjust their behavior accordingly. 

    I also don't believe the disproportionate out-of-wedlock and single motherhood births fall on poorer folk and/or African Americans for cultural reasons. To me this view is condescending and borders on racism.  This reminds me of a view I addressed in my review of Fahrenheit 9/11, the liberal view that democracy should not be imposed on Iraq because we must respect Arab cultural differences. Of course, this view echoes what was said about Japan, Germany, and South Korea and incorrectly places, what is thought to be culture, on a higher pedestal then the natural human yearnings and desires for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which exist regardless of religion, sex, race, or culture. As we will see, the rise out-of-wedlock births is no laughing matter either, and certainly nothing to be appreciated as a 'cultural' phenomena. Later on we will visit other populations where the same thing is occurring.

    It has been said that the whole era of the 60s was a 'sexual revolution' and a time when cultural mores were shattered. Divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing were previously frowned upon. This may be so, but what came first, the chicken or the egg? Perhaps, through the incentives/disincentives put in place by the Federal government, a critical mass of persons entered into this 'taboo' population that resulted in the shifting of these stigmas and acceptance of behaviors. It might well be the case that this broad shifting cultural trend did have some independent influence on birthrates and out-of-wedlock birth, but I don't see how it can account for a majority of the effects we are seeing here. It is also notable that abortions were becoming wildly available and that the number of these performed increased greatly during the 70s almost 7 fold (234). One might think this and access to other birth control methods would improve teenage pregnancy rates...

    In a similar sense, it seems a stretch to blame the Hip-Hop / rap / gangster rap / inner city culture for the rising incarceration rates and out-of-wedlock pregnancies of African Americans. Kool Herc, father of Hip-Hop, debuted in 1973 and, although he was influenced by earlier figures (244), this time frame was after the familial changes had commenced. This music may have originated from the changing culture, or developed independently. Most likely, this style emerged as a combination of culture and natural musical progression. It is hard to believe 'gangster rap' could have evolved without gangsters, or songs about 'the projects', guns and drugs become so popular if they weren't based in reality. For example, Biggie Smalls's lyric, "I see some ladies tonight that should be having my baby, baby", might not have been composed if out-of-wedlock births weren't rampant in the inner city public housing units. If the rise in crime rates and other social changes were triggered, directly or indirectly, by these means-tested anti-poverty programs (see objection 9 for more detail), then we can assume any arising cultural changes played, at most, a secondary or amplifying role. After Welfare Reform we see progress in many areas (crime, out-of-wedlock births, poverty) without the demise of music or culture. In fact, this music and culture must have some universal aesthetic qualities because nowadays the largest fan base is found outside of the inner cities, in suburbia (I'll admit I'm an 'old school' rap fan :) ). Some of the other populations we will examine, (Appalachia, Indian reservations etc..) are smaller, more isolated, and are in different settings (rural vs. urban). These factors may have made the development of cultural changes large enough to effect mainstream society more difficult.


3. What about the homeless, disabled, mentally ill, drug and alcohol addicts and foster children? Don't you think the government should play a role in supporting them? What will they do without any help?

    You are assuming that because I am against welfare and social spending I am against all government programs. I fully support funding (preferable funding by the states because I believe in the old fashioned notion that people who live somewhere know best how to help people in their area [look what state waivers did for Welfare Reform {Chart 10}]) for foster children and the disabled and clinics to aid the alcohol and drug addicted and the mentally ill. In fact, programs to assist all these people exist. Most homeless fall in one of the other categories. It would be nice to get the private sector involved too, Americans are very generous people and those who donate want to see results for their money. As we will see, unfortunately, government programs tend to worry more about their funding than their results. As Ronald Reagan rightly said:

    Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence. (66)

    The size of the federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern. (67)


4. I don't buy it. I've read that only a small percentage (about 2%) of AFDC/TANF families are headed by teenage mothers (54). Only around 1% of our GDP is spent on welfare (53)!

    That's true, but they don't have statistics for percentages of teenage mothers before 1979 (that I have found) (54). Also, you must consider that teenage mothers soon become 20 at some point. Although the percent of teenage mothers at any one instance might not be very large, the accumulative effect means that a large number of never married single mothers on welfare were once teenage mothers. If I could find the statistics I bet I could show that the percentages of teenage mothers receiving AFDC was highest between 1968-1975. Also, once snared by the welfare system, it is exceedingly difficult to get out because all the benefits;  health, rent, food and the monthly welfare check are yanked away all at once. The welfare cycling and the chronic dependency resulting from it, make it not surprising that a relatively small percentage of families on AFDC are teenage mothers. The employment figures from Chart 28 suggest that the welfare rolls contain a significant number of never married women. This is backed up by Chart 42 (53) (focus on percent of never married women) (this is really just a confirmation of Chart 12):

    You are also correct that welfare spending (consisting of AFDC, food stamps, EITC [earned income tax credit, we'll discuss this later] and Medicaid) has historically been equal to between .9 and 1.4% of our GDP. This doesn't include total welfare spending such as housing, childcare etc.. (53) To give some proportion, in the past 10 years our military spending per GDP has been between 3-4% of GDP. I think this is an incredible waste of our nations resources we are, in effect, utilizing to shoot ourselves in the foot. I wouldn't recommend this spending if it were free (or even if we made a profit on it!) because of the terrible toll it enacts on it's recipients. This graph from the (conservative) Heritage Foundation might offer some more perspective. Graph 57 (203):



5. Seems interesting, but how do you know all this and how do I know that you and/or your sources aren't biased or twisted? 

    Well, I spent a great deal of time researching and reading up on this subject and tried to do it with an open mind. I wrote in the beginning that my reason for researching and writing this piece was to find the truth and brush away the rhetoric from all sides. Almost all of my sources are from non partisan government agencies. I have every chart and graph linked at the bottom of the page and have tried to fully document the sources for the charts I have had to create. 

    The most frequently cited source, besides the Census bureau and other government data sources was the Wisconsin Institute on Poverty, which posses a vast array of academic studies and papers. In my review of their papers I found many differing points of view. I believe in the past they were considered to have liberal leanings.

    I have used some studies and charts from Conservative groups, such as the Heritage Foundation, but these generally have a good academic reputations (although, of course, this depends on who you ask :) ) and come down hard on both Republicans and Democrats. I often collaborated their findings with other sources. Sometimes a source will 'put into words' or 'put into picture', or provide an example of a point/concept that captures what I had been trying to express in this paper. 

    For example, the Heritage conclusions that most poor people don't work much (the typical poor family with children works only 16 hours a week (61)) is an established fact, but one that is almost never reported - or skewered by a misleading statistic like this recent statement in BusinessWeek online: Overall, 63% of U.S. families below the federal poverty line have one or more workers, according to the Census Bureau. (247) Remember that, according to Chart 34, about 60% of black households headed by a single woman and about 40% of white households headed by a single woman fall below the poverty level. The chart below is directly from the Census Bureau. I bet the difference would be even starker if they broke down the work into full and part time employment.  Chart 42 (63):

    I'd also like an answer to this question: Of all female headed households in poverty, what percentage work 40+ hours a week?

    In my research I used left of center sources, such as the Brookings institute and Urban Institute, and have found that they generally agree with my basic premises, like the success of Welfare Reform (although, as we will see, they didn't support it at the time). I treated these sources the same way as my more Conservative sources: Trust but Verify. 

     I always have found it annoying when quotes are selectively snipped and so I have refrained from doing this even if the rest of what someone is saying is unrelated. If you find I am selectively quoting sources or misrepresenting any findings please leave a comment and, if your point is valid, or I am unclear in an explanation, I will change or modify your particular concern. If I relied on that specific concern to make conclusions, I may reevaluate those conclusions in light of the new evidence. As the notoriously flip-flopping economist John Maynard Keynes explained:

When my information changes, I change my opinion. What do you do, Sir? (68)

    But, if my conclusions or 'tone' seem to tilt toward the Conservative view of welfare, I make no apologies because that is where the facts point, in my opinion.


6. According to Chart 15 in 1940, before Welfare spending really took off the rate of black teen illegitimacy was still more than 4.3 times the white rate. How do you explain this? 

    I am more concerned with what happened after the large increase in welfare spending, which is clearly visible in Chart 15. There may be a variety of reasons why the rate was higher before, but keep in mind that African Americans had already been exposed to welfare long before 1940. 

    I ran across a 2001 dissertation on the life of Forrester Blanchard Washington, a noted black social worker in the 20s, 30s and 40s and bitter opponent of dependency welfare. Washington had fought all his life for equal employment, education, equal wages and economic sufficiency. In 1933 He was appointed by President Roosevelt to a top position at FERA (Federal Emergency Relief Agency) and reported to Harry Hopkins (97)

His article [Washington's] was based in part on 1933 data from from a FERA [another Relief agency during the Great Depression] survey which showed although Negros constituted 9.4% of the population, they made up 18.4% of the citizens receiving relief, this trend had begun before the great depression. Washington explained that only the Federal government, which was responsible for this circumstance, could remedy it. The government had become a "subsidizer for southern and northern, rural and urban, employees of Negro labor during the off-season in the industry." 

    As Washington explained: In the South many plantation owners have deliberately placed the Negro on the relief rolls during the "lay-off season", when plowing, chopping and cotton-picking were over and in the North, as well as in the South, manufacturing concerns have forced him on the relief rolls by instituting a color bans, either in the open or under cover, when they think public opinion is opposed to the employment of Negro labor, while white men and women are out of work (Washington 1933, p. 178). (97)

    Washington clearly saw:

"The danger of making the Negro, as a race, a chronic dependant." (97)

    The dissertation concludes that:

In his FERA position Washington began to have deeper appreciation for the controlling effects of the socio-economic structures and recognized that African Americans were becoming pawns in a system that was destructive of their social welfare and future. (97)

    He correctly perceived that empowerment of the African American people was not an agenda of the Roosevelt Administration.  

Moreover, he could not be parity to a political processes that were creating dependencies in African Americans and putting them in the position of being blamed for a fate over which they had no control. 

He made a moral decision to leave his position after about 7 months. (97)

    A dissertation from the Miller Center at the University of  Virginia published a lengthy legislative history of welfare confirming this (108):

Because cotton remained the least mechanized agricultural product until the 1960s, the demand for plentiful and steady cheap labor was higher in the South than, for example, in the agriculture-rich West, and a system of paternalism, or clientelism, evolved after the abolition of slavery as the most inexpensive way to retain a steady and loyal labor supply.

"recipients are made to serve as maids or to do day yard work in white homes to keep their checks. During the cotton-picking season, no one is accepted on welfare because plantations need cheap labor to do cotton-picking behind the cotton-picking machines."

The development of a national welfare system in the 1930s threatened to provide a substitute to, and thus undercut the value of, the benefits of paternalism to workers. For this reason, southern congressional representatives were vested with the responsibility of ensuring that social welfare programs were either limited or under local control. Local control was important for many reason, among them was that benefits could be made to function in tandem with the seasonal needs of agricultural In short, voting for expanded welfare with greater local control, southern representatives were able to supply key constituents with discretionary resources. (108)

    So we find white farms and industrialists using welfare for economic advantage, so they could pay African Americans the absolute minimum for a shorter amount of time while making sure they wouldn't leave and find a better paying situation.  

    The African American family also suffered during the dark days of slavery, where families were broken up and marriage was outlawed. Sometimes to keep slaves in order owners would threaten to sell a family member. But the family ties still stood strong; after the civil war it was reported:

African Americans also traveled in search of family members separated from them during slavery. One man walked 600 miles from Georgia to North Carolina to find his family. To locate relatives, people placed advertisements in newspapers. The Freedmen's Bureau helped many families reunite. A Union officer wrote in 1865, "Men are taking their wives and children, families which had been for a long time broken up are united and oh! such happiness." Freedom allowed African Americans to strengthen their family ties. Former slaves could marry legally. They could raise families without fearing that their children might be sold. Many families adopted children of dead relatives and friends to keep family ties strong. (94)

    Isn't it an amazing thing that despite every effort by the southern racists to separate and destroy the black family, using physical force, they were unable to accomplish in hundreds of years what the scourge of welfare has done in a few decades. 


7. What about other academic research? Has anyone else come to the same conclusions as you independently?

    Yes. The general themes in this paper have been argued in other literature for some time, but there is a noted air of caution in academia, which exists for a number of reasons. 

    First, without the stark results of Welfare Reform you only see 'one side' of the rising curves, which makes it easy to argue that other factors are involved. Only recent papers can show the new effects. I have been somewhat hobbled by this, as you might have seen, many of the graphs I found ended before the effects of Welfare Reform could be shown. 

    Secondly, for unknown reasons, much research seems to concentrate on limited time periods and attempt to certify specific correlations and thus ignores the 'big picture'. A number of papers have been written comparing state programs and contrasting single motherhood with benefits, but these have limitations, as I discuss later. The Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty found:

The attention given to the issue of births outside of marriage in the political debate over welfare reform is growing, but its relevance is controversial. Shortly after the passage of WRA (Work and Responsibility Act)  in June 1994, a group of 79 prominent scholars in fields related to poverty and welfare reform issued a statement denying that welfare programs are among the “primary reasons” for trends in out-of-wedlock births. They argued that the link between welfare and such births is belied by two facts: (1) nonmarital birth rates have been rising as welfare benefits have been falling, and (2) state-to-state variation in AFDC payments is not closely linked to state-to-state variation in out-of-wedlock childbearing. (69)

    Thirdly, the subject is controversial and I am free to be as blunt and plain spoken as I desire without worrying about who I offend. I can draw conclusions that other researchers might believe, but can't publicly state without overwhelming evidence. This is one of the reasons why I often cite multiple examples and may sometimes go into more detail then the average reader thinks is necessary - I want to make my reasoning and conclusions as solid as possible. 

    Fourthly, reducing the language and methods of this paper to simple terms and writing for a general audience, may offer advantages arising from this new perspective (neoperspective). Being able to cut through the perquisite red tape and goggly glooup found in academic papers was refreshing. This freedom also enabled me to pull together disparate examples of welfare having the same effect on different groups (more on this further on). 

    Fifthly, the well documented leftward tilt (politically) of researchers, academics and social workers may dictate where their investigations take them. I cannot imagine such strong conclusions would be very popular in some quarters. 

    Currently, many researchers do agree with my general findings, but unlike myself, are not prepared to say that welfare was almost solely responsible for the gradual dissolution/breakup of poorer families. The previous Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty study added (69):

    The independent role of AFDC as a cause of rising single parenthood is a much discussed issue. Based on a literature review, Garfinkel and McLanahan estimated in 1986 that the increase in AFDC benefits which occurred in the 1960s and early 1970s caused between 9% and 14% of the increase in female-headed families over the same period. Some consensus around this range has since developed 30 among researchers, but Garfinkel and McLanahan were assessing only the effect of variations in welfare benefits over time and among states. The impact of the existence of welfare programs is much harder to calculate.

      Also, as Garfinkel and McLanahan note, even the 9%–14% range generated by the variation studies is not trivial. Because any welfare influences presumably do not affect people in the upper half of the income distribution, the growth in welfare benefits in the 1960s and early 1970s may have accounted for as much as 28% of the increase in single parenthood among those in the bottom half of the economy. In addition, because children of single parents are more likely to become single parents themselves, even a small initial effect from welfare can grow over time. (69)

    Dr. Liz Dunn, a professor at the University of Oswego states: 

It has been estimated that welfare benefits caused a 10 to 50% reduction in work hours among recipients;


8.  I think your a conservative bigot. You've just twisted these statistics around to fit your designs to cut funding to leave millions of families impoverished so that the rich can get a tax cut. Moreover, this paper's focus on African Americans makes me think your nothing but a right wing racist.

    "It is amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them. Using this kind of reasoning, you can believe or not believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic."
. - Dr. Thomas Sowell

    Ok. Well, name-calling/labeling won't get you (me?) anywhere. My ideology shouldn't have any bearing on the facts of this paper. Neither should the fact that I have worked with some of these populations I discuss. If your curious, I am a relatively recent convert to general conservatism, although I still hold some liberal views and disagree with a few conservative views. The reason I switched sides is because I realized, incredulously at first, that conservatism is actually the best policy for the poorest of the poor - which is where my primary focus was and is. You see, conservatives and liberals really both have the same goal, they just have different approaches to achieving it. Certain members of either side might operate on the basis of pure self interest, or mindless tradition, but the underlying philosophy of both sides is to achieve the greatest common good. When discussing politics, or ideas about governance and economics it is always important, at least initially, to assume your opponent holds the best of intentions. However, I have come to believe that as tempting as some of the ideals of liberalism are, nothing is actually more dangerous to the success of our nation, the ideals and values it represents and the lives of our poor. Perhaps by viewing this through the single issue of Welfare Reform you can see this too. 

    As far as race, I think I've thoroughly explained the reasons for my emphasis on African Americans. The scourges of welfare are color blind, but because African Americans happened to be poorest at the time of it's enactment, it hit them the hardest. I've described the reasons for their poverty before the surge in welfare spending; existing welfare, segregation, discrimination and the scars of slavery. The reason a higher percentage of Africans American continue to languish in poverty can be directly attributed to the effects of welfare, especially it's destructive effect of family formation. Luckily, data exists for African Americans, which clearly isolate the welfare effect I was seeking to portray. Other examples of welfare's detrimental effects on the very people it seeks to help are more difficult to prove because of the lack of categorized data. However, I have found some other examples. First, let me share some data that helps demonstrate that there is no difference amongst blacks and whites when it comes to the scourge of welfare, Chart 43 and Chart 44 (70):


    These graphs suggest that the rate of single motherhood is correlated with a particular state's cash welfare benefit. Notice the similar results for poorer white and black women. But because these charts don't consider total social spending and don't take into account different living expenses in different states, one has to take the actual data with a grain of salt. For example, further on in this study they find little correlation between changes of benefits and changes in single motherhood (70). My purpose in using these charts to show equality among whites and blacks that is difficult to show elsewhere. 

    In a similar vein, the following chart shows little racial disparity among those who rely on a large portion of their income (over 50%) from various welfare programs. Among those very dependent (receiving over 50% of income from welfare), 70% are unable to lower their dependence on the government in a years time. Chart 45 (71)

         Dependency Status in 1999 of Persons Who Received More than 50 Percent of
                    Income from Means-Tested Assistance in 1998, by Race/Ethnicity

Figure IND 6. Dependency Status in 1999 of Persons Who Received More than 50 Percent of Income from Means-Tested Assistance in 1998, by Race/Ethnicity.

    I attempted to look at Hispanic data, but the statistics are, again, shoddy, and there are a number of variables that cloud the picture. Hispanics weren't here in great numbers during the 60s and 70s (when welfare spending was being cranked up), they include a wide variety of ethnic groups that vary in their financial status (such as wealthy Cubans fleeing Castro after 1959) and many were and are illegally in the country. In any event, as we see from the above graph, they can still be 'trapped' the same way. [further on I discover an area of Hispanic concentrated population that is effected by Welfare in the same way as African Americans]

    I then turned to look at Native Americans. I was initially intrigued by their high rate of single motherhood, only 54.4% of children were in 2 parent families in 1990 (72). Also, Native Americans offer an exciting research base because each tribe is geographically separate and, although certain general similarities exist, each tribe has different relationships with the local, state and federal government. This chart breaks down single mother rates by various tribes (the list is not exclusive) Chart 46 (72):

Percentage of Children Under 18 Residing with Two Parents





Total U.S.




U.S. Indian








Oklahoma TJSA




Alaska NVSA








Pine Ridge




Fort Apache




Gila River








San Carlos




Zuni Pueblo
















     If there are any of you people out there who still believe high rates of single mother hood are a result of 'sensitive cultural differences, which we must 'respect and cherish', I would love to hear you explain the above chart. Similarly, if there are of you 'Eugenics people' reading this then please tell me what genes are at play here. As we will see these difference appear to be directly caused by the degree of dependence and intrusiveness by the government. 

    In comparing this to Chart 18, 50% of black children were in a two parent family in 1990, which is just slightly less than the 54.4% for Native Americans. Some tribes have rates far below this. What I wanted to do was tabulate the total social spending per capita on each tribe, or even the percent of each tribe on welfare (which would strongly correlate with the number in poverty because welfare keeps people poor), and see the correlations to rates of single motherhood. But, I was unable to find this information. If anyone else knows where to get this please leave me a comment

    I did find a table that was quite interesting which showed the rates of never married women. This is a rough estimation of never married mothers, which may correlate strongly with welfare because welfare often creates them. Chart 47 (82): 

Percentage of Women Aged 15+ Who Were Never Married, 1990



United States


U.S. Indian




Oklahoma TJSA


Alaska NVSA




Pine Ridge


Fort Apache


Gila River




San Carlos


Zuni Pueblo








    Compare Chart 47 with Chart 46. The higher rates of never married women roughly equivocate with poverty rates.

    I decided to investigate the Pine Ridge tribe first because they had the lowest percent of children living with two parents, 35.2% and the third highest rate of never married mothers. To my surprise - I swear I'm not making this up - one of the first things that popped up in my search was allegations of voter fraud! Some Republicans were crying foul over a close Senate race, one decided by only 524 votes, between Democrat Tim Johnson and Republican John Thune. The (conservative) National Review reports (73):

According to an Associated Press report, early on Wednesday morning, when 838 out of the state's 844 precincts had reported (99.3 percent of the total), Thune led Johnson by 166,588 to 165,639 votes. It was close, but Thune led by nearly 1,000 votes with just six precincts left to count.

One of those precincts made no real difference in the vote; the delay was the result of a mechanical problem in a county that had experienced no irregularities. That left the last five precincts, all in Shannon County [Pine Ridge Native Americans make up over 94.2% of Shannon county residents (77)], as Johnson's last hope of victory. And Shannon came through. Johnson won 91.4 percent of the county's vote — an unusually high percentage even in that overwhelmingly Democratic area — and pulled ahead as the last precinct was counted. 

 Still, Thune broadly hinted that something had gone terribly wrong on Election Day. "Are there questions that need to be answered about the outcome of this election?" he asked. "I believe there are. Did things happen that shouldn't have in some polling places around the state? I believe they did." (73)

    To be honest, I didn't find the (conservative) National Review's findings very convincing. The South Dakota Republican Attorney General slammed the allegations as, "shoddy and irresponsible and sensationalistic and garbage." (73)

    But I wasn't looking up the Pine Ridge tribe to determine their voting record or to pass judgment on these fraud allegations. Continuing my search, I was shocked to learn that Shannon county was the poorest county in the United States in 1990, and is now the second poorest county (2000)! The poorest county 'honors' now belongs to Buffalo County in central South Dakota, a reservation inhabited by the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. (76) 

    The Census Bureau states that the per capita income of Shannon county is $6,530 (1999) and unemployment was 51% (2000) (75). However, other sources cite figures even lower ($3,400 per capita and 70-85% unemployment), stating that statistics can't be accurately recorded and that the unemployment figures are skewered low because many jobs are only part time and that many many residents have stopped looking for jobs (74), (77), (78). Diabetes and alcoholism is widespread. The Creek Sioux tribe suffer similar statistics to the Pine Ridge tribe.  

The large disparities in unemployment estimates are most likely caused by the fact that, without employment opportunities, Pine Ridge residents reduce their jobseeking efforts and become “discouraged workers,” who are not counted among the unemployed. In Shannon County, only 48 percent of adults over age 18 are counted as within the workforce. (79)

    Regardless, in these poorer Native American Reservations we see the same pattern we saw in the African American community; high unemployment, high poverty and widespread female headship. What always accompanies these patterns? High rates of government assistance. As I began to investigate the extent of government assistance I was surprised by some of the harsh political rhetoric of those railing against how the reservations were run. The Society for Threatened People (a NGO) railed (77):

More than 60 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty level. 

Here where cradle-to-grave socialism, the Democrats' fantasy state, is realized, more than half the reservation's adults battle addiction and disease.

    An April 7th column at (conservative) reports (78):

Whalen, the Shannon County GOP chairman, believes that Democrat-backed government programs that dole out entitlements to Indians are the root of the problem. 

"I see how the social programs are devastating the people around here," Whalen, a 41-year-old college student and Lakota Sioux Indian, said during a recent break from classes at Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota College. 

"I mean it's pure communism, and it's an abject failure. Just like it was in the Soviet Union. It's failure. You've created a dictatorship by the Bureau of Indian Affairs," Means said. (78)

    Was it really so bad?  The Housing Assistance Council (another NGO) did a case study of Shannon county and found (79):

In 2002, as in 1990, the largest single employers on the entire Pine Ridge reservation are public entities like the tribal government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

  An estimated 11 percent of Shannon County’s population received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash payments in January 2002 (almost 5.8 times the national rate (80)), and approximately 36 percent received Food Stamps (5.5 times the national rate (80)). [keep in mind that this is only for one given month]

Another federal assistance program, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, is headquartered in a large warehouse in the village of Pine Ridge from which a wide variety of food commodities are dispensed to local residents. Recipients must qualify for benefits each month, based on family size and income. Many families on the Pine Ridge reservation participate in this program as an alternative to the Food Stamp program because there are few privately owned food stores at Pine Ridge. (79)

    Now, this is truly amazing... the food stamp program isn't being used because of a shortage of private food stores. And why should there be any? They would be undercut by the free Federal food!

Low-cost HUD-funded rental and ownership units constitute the most affordable type of housing on the reservation. All of them provide water, sewer, and electricity. (HUD stands for Housing and Urban Development, a huge federal housing program)

Like Native Americans on reservations throughout the United States, Pine Ridge residents have little access to private credit. According to local housing practitioners, the possibility of obtaining a mortgage is further complicated by the legal complexities of tribal land ownership structure. (multiple individuals often own the same land - by the way, lack of land deeds and ownership is considered one of the biggest barriers to third world development)

Another indication of the extent of the tribe’s housing need is the tribal housing authority’s waiting list of 1,200 names. Furthermore, in an effort to quantify some of the tribe’s housing requirements, the housing authority has identified a need for 4,000 additional units on the reservation. (79)

    The study concludes:

The poverty on the Pine Ridge reservation, and its population’s subsequent high dependency on public assistance, are emblematic of a dire absence of economic opportunity. The primary barrier to construction of roads and other infrastructure, he adds, is the lack of a strong economic base that could foster private investment, yielding a tax base for the tribal government. (79)

    What else needs to be said? So the government pays for food, housing and utilities. I am sure Medicaid or some other federal program pays for health...  The Shannon County GOP head's declaration that conditions on the reservation resemble "pure communism" is hard to dispute. Conditions have been stagnating on similar Indian reservations around the country.  The HAC case study says that the average TANF cash recipient stayed on the doll for only 5.1 months (79). However, we can be sure the same 'cycling' patterns we've seen elsewhere occur here too. Unfortunately, I could not find the information to verify or elaborate on this. Unlike African Americans, things won't get better for these Native Americans because Welfare Reform isn't having the same effect here. Amazingly, the rule for South Dakota is:

When unemployment rates exceed 50 percent in their areas, Native American families living on reservations in South Dakota are exempt from public assistance time limits while they are within reservation boundaries. (79)

    This is pretty unbelievable. What do these government officials, bureaucrats, whoever they are, think causes unemployment to be so high in the first place? For 60+ years these perfectly capable, creative, intelligent people have rotted on this reservation under the iron fist of the 'kind and caring' federal government and when the system is finally reformed in the rest of the nation they remain subjugated! And ... unemployment is at 51%...

    So, after looking at the tribe with the lowest rate of children with two parents (35.2%) on Chart 46, I then turned to the highest, the Oklahoma TJSA tribe in which 65.8% of all children live with two parents, a rate just slightly lower than the national average (70.2%). Interestingly enough, TJSA isn't a tribe and they don't live on reservations.  

The Oklahoma TJSA population includes all American Indians who live in areas delineated by federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma without reservations (only the Osage in Oklahoma officially have a reservation), for which the Census Bureau tabulates data. (80)

    The Oklahoma TJSA are the only Native American group with a lower rate of never married women over 15 years of age, (21.7%) then the regular population (23.4%). The unemployment rate is 12.4% (2 times the national rate), and the poverty rate is just under 30% (2.2 times the national rate). (83) While these rates are still high, the Oklahoma TJSA have not suffered the family collapse and destitutions that has hit some of the other Indian tribes. By not living on reservations they may have escaped the 'help' of the federal government. They are not a small isolated group; they are the most numerous of all the tribes/groups listed in Chart 47 and Chart 46. If I find more information on their rates of public assistance I will post it, but my guess is it is amongst the lowest of all the Indian groups/tribes. 

    So, we have found the same general patterns of family breakup and destitution amongst Native Americans as we have seen among African Americans. In fact, through the Pine Ridge Indian tribe, we've been able to isolate the devastating effects of welfare to an even greater extent than with African Americans. 

    Let's look at one more group before moving on. So far we've only looked at the United States, but Europe, especially the Scandanavian countries, are infamous for their extensive welfare system. Wouldn't we have to see the same pattern there? The following Chart roughly illustrates the percent of money redistributed to segments of the population through government programs. Chart 48 (84):

    Wow, look at Sweden. What effect does all that welfare, government assistance etc.. have on Swedish family structure? Chart 49 (85), (corroborated) (237):

      Percentage of Births to Unmarried Mothers            

    The same pattern holds. According to, Sweden also has the 2nd highest divorce rate in the industrialized world (236). However, there are some key differences in the way the Swedish system works. Sweden is a 'Welfare State' and practices what is known as Institutional Welfare:

An institutional system is one in which need is accepted as a normal part of social life. Welfare is provided for the population as a whole, in the same way as public services like roads or schools might be. In an institutional system, welfare is not just for the poor: it is for everyone. (86)

    For this reason we don't see the same high levels of unemployment and poverty as those exhibited by welfare 'beneficiaries' here in the United States. People aren't punished for working, benefits aren't taken away as soon as one begins to pull out of poverty. Neither poverty or single motherhood is subsidized by the government. Healthcare, childcare are provided free to all, and every family with children receives a monthly check from the government. There is generous government unemployment insurance of up to 80% of the former salary, but this can only be accessed if one was previously employed. But there is a small catch. Single parents receive an additional payment for each child and there are some programs that are means tested (based on income) (87)

    It is curious that Swedish rates of teen pregnancy is amongst the lowest in the world. A large percentage of these older never married women with children live with the father of the child. Cohabitation rates are very high in Sweden and women often marry sometime after the birth. We can only guess that the cash benefit is not sufficiently tempting for young Swedes, or perhaps the extensive network of counselors and support groups present in the high schools and other local programs discourage this activity. Sweden has a population of 8.8 million, ranking it in between that of New Jersey (7.7) and Michigan (9.3) (21). Having more local control and operating on a smaller scale, doubtlessly gives Sweden advantages in efficiency over the lumberings of our Federal Government. In fact, as we saw from the various charts (most notably Chart 10), when states were given more flexibility in running their own programs (1992) and when block grants were utilized during Welfare Reform (1996), progress resulted. Which makes sense, just like in business or in the military, people who are face to face with the situation, often come up with the best solutions. Of course, this is assuming that situations of prejudice and discrimination aren't occurring in local communities. As previously stated, this occurred in equal and opposite ways in the 30s with blacks being targeted for welfare by white farmers and industrialists and unfairly denied in other situations. 

    One other possible explanation for the odd combination of low teen pregnancy rates with high never married motherhood birth rates might be that the financial and social benefits of the welfare state eliminate the financial need/security of a husband. In other words, because the state pays for all the costs associated with childrearing, the need for another (or just a single male) paycheck has declined. The state has become the pseudo dad. While some may argue that women's independence from being 'financially pressured' to marry is a good thing, studies continue to show, even in Sweden, the overall mental health and standards of living are lower for children of single parents. In fact, perhaps a significant portion of the rise in divorce rates and single motherhood in the United States (and in most parts of the world), might be attributed to rising standards of living, which enable single mothers to do well enough financially to raise their children without the necessity of a father. While some may find this troubling, one would think it would be better for this to occur because of rising prosperity then through 'state Dads'.

     In any case, the main argument of this paper is against the United States government sanctioning/subsidizing poverty, unemployment and teen births. In Sweden, even if out-of-wedlock births are still sanctioned, it is still exponentially better than the incentives and disincentives present in our welfare system. So should we then adopt parts of the Swedish system as an imperfect yet necessary way to combat poverty? Not so fast. If people can raise themselves out of poverty, as is happening in welfare reform, what need is there for sweeping, expensive and burdensome state welfare programs? The Swedes pay a high cost for their style of living:  

....they also have one of the heaviest tax burdens in the world. Today, an average Swedish working family pays about half its earned income in national and local taxes. Swedes also pay taxes on investment income. In addition, Sweden has a national 25 percent sales tax that is built into the price of consumer goods. Beyond this, employers must pay corporate taxes and make payments into government pension, unemployment, and other social welfare funds. The resulting tax burden is so heavy that Swedes have a special word for it, skattetrat, which means "tax tiredness." (87)

Government spending currently equals about 60 percent of Sweden's gross domestic product (the value of all goods and services purchased in a year). U.S. government spending by contrast accounts for about 20 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. The Swedish government's fastest growing spending areas are health services and old-age pensions. Furthermore, public employment has rocketed to account for about one-third of all jobs in Sweden. (In the United States, the government supplies less than 5 percent of all jobs.) (87)

    The (Libertarian) Cato institute offers this historical analysis of Sweden's economy (88):   

 Recall that by the early 1950s Sweden was by far the richest country in Europe. Its per capita GNP was twice the European average and 25 percent above that of Switzerland, which ranked second.

Sweden's dismal economic performance from 1970 to 1990 was no less striking than its high growth from 1870 to 1930.

After the collapse of communism, some Swedes (especially the Social Democrats) thought the Swedish model would be an attractive choice for the newly emerging democracies of Central Europe. But it has not been. Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia have wisely chosen to look for free-market solutions. Other nations in that region show little interest in the Swedish model.

What should be recommended to anyone who hopes to succeed with the Swedish model? Follow the first hundred years of capitalist growth and avoid the subsequent mistakes. (88)

    Today Sweden has lower per capita GDP then the European counties of Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, San Marino and Luxembourg. The United States ranks second amongst all countries in the world with $35,991 per capita GDP. Sweden ranks 21st with $25,985 per capita GDP. So, despite the fact that the US government creates an underclass of destitution and poverty in this country, we are still, on average, much more prosperous then the Swedes. (89)

    Despite the effusive praise by some praising of the 'equality' and the 'elimination of poverty' in Sweden, the remarkably low poverty rate in Sweden might not accurately described the conditions there. A Syracuse University study explained (90):

For example, the European Union has chosen an official line equal to 60 percent of the mean income for measuring poverty (Eurostat, 2000). However, the approach of using the average to establish a poverty line means that changes in the incomes of the richest persons affect the poverty threshold, which many scholars reject on theoretical grounds (Jäntti and Danziger, 2000: 327). Therefore, many researchers prefer using the median to establish a relative poverty line. For example, the most widely used definition of a relative poverty line establishes the threshold equal to 50 percent of the median income (Rainwater, Smeeding and Burtless, 2002). Regardless, a clear consensus is lacking and relative poverty rates based on various fractions (40, 50 and 60 percent) of either mean or median income are often reported. (90)

    The international poverty figures we hear cited all the time do not measure poverty at all! (245)  The only thing they measure is inequality. For example, by calculating the percentage of people below 50% of the median income (median is middle not average [mean]), the Syracuse study found poverty rates of 6.6% for Sweden and 16.9% for the United States. But this says nothing about what the median income is! For example, if the median yearly income is $10,000 in Sweden, but $100,000 in the United States, which country suffers the most poverty? Perhaps this is why that Heritage study showed that our 'poor' citizens are better off than the average citizens in some countries (who probably have lower 'poverty' rates!). [note: the Census Bureau's poverty figures are not measured this way; as Chart 34 shows the Census Bureau's poverty rate is 12.1. It would be interesting to measure poverty rates of other countries using the Census Bureau's methods.]

    The Australian treasury department did a study which looked at world per capita income levels Chart 50 (91):

    Using the commonly used poverty standard, more impoverished people exist in 2000 then 1900. This is a ridiculous notion, and the study warns: 

If the erroneous belief that international inequality is still worsening is not contested, it can damage confidence in open global markets for trade and investment. History has shown open markets to be the best vehicle for accelerated global and regional growth in income and living standards for the poor, and thereby for improvements in Australia’s own security and living standards. (91)

    But even so, inequality is nothing to run away from (99). It is the natural result of human progress. This is why it has been said 'a rising tide raises all boats'. The richest societies are, almost by definition, the most unequal: 

From the dawn of human history to the mid-18th century, the world was a much more equal place than today. Productivity levels across the world were very low and fairly uniform. (91)

    Economist Jane Jacobs once said: 

    "Poverty has no causes. Only prosperity has causes... Poverty can be overcome only if the relevant economic processes are in motion." (92)

    Economist Nathan Rosenberg proclaimed:

"The perception of poverty as morally intolerable in a rich society had to await the emergence of a rich society." (92)

    And Winston Churchill once profoundly stated:

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries. (93)

    Perhaps this is what we are seeing take place in Sweden...

    Although this was a long answer to the question/statement originally posted, there are two other points left to counter. The first is that millions of families will fall into poverty. Obviously this hasn't happened, in fact, the exact opposite has happened, millions of families have been lifted out of poverty since Welfare Reform. The second is that to be against Welfare Reform and other social programs one must be racist or uncaring about the poor. Again, I would counter it is exactly the opposite. Who is more racist and/or uncaring, the person who believes that people have the capability to excel, improve and, through their innate capabilities as human beings, work their way not only out of poverty, but into the middle and upper classes? Or the person who believes that a group of people are unable to excel and must be given assistance at every possible point and are incapable of managing their own lives? Which vision is more positive? 

    As I have made clear, welfare is color blind in it's destructiveness. To believe certain people need the help of government to achieve their goals and live their lives is to subscribe to what President Bush has termed, the 'soft bigotry of low expectations'. In a sense, these ideas are more dangerous then the more open abominations of discrimination and racism because it legitimizes such derogatory beliefs and hides them in a veil of 'compassion', making them exceedingly difficult to root out and confront. Maybe this is why welfare went unchallenged, after the southern slave owners were soundly defeated... 

9.  Single mothers are, naturally, poorer! How do you propose to raise all these welfare recipients out of poverty?

    Across the world, in economic conditions that would horrify Americans, married couples try to make ends meet and there are very low rates of single motherhood. From my research, poverty and single motherhood only correlate in America and other countries that have similar welfare systems. It has been difficult for researchers to distinguish between the single mothers created from Welfare (both means-tested [USA] and universal [Sweden]) and the non-welfare related single mother increases resulting from the economic dependence of women due to the general increasing prosperity (perhaps some cultural influence here too). In my mind, despite these difficulties, the differences and correlations are too large to pass off as anything else. 

    On your last point, I don't propose to do anything to lift former welfare recipients out of poverty. They are doing it themselves! As Fredrick Douglas once said, " Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us!" (229) What is happening with former Welfare Recipients and will surely continue to happen can be compared to what initially occurs overseas, as poorer countries are transformed to first world countries. 

    Third world countries have one great advantage: cheap labor. You may read the press whining about 'sweatshop labor', but keep in mind Adam Smith's golden rule of economics: a transaction will only take place if both sides mutually benefit. So, it is obvious that these people working for these companies improved their conditions by working for them, or else they would choose not to work there. Now, as more and more companies move into the area to take advantage of this cheap labor a few things occur. First, the people they are employing have more money then before (if they didn't then why would they take the job?). Second, the new factories requires construction, electricity, and transportation of their exports. Third, foreigners, who are used to high standards of living, must be brought in to supervise the investment and they must be housed and paid. Fourth, the companies have to pay taxes.

    All of this translates into more demand for local companies and more spending in the local economy. Also, the new tax revenues are invested into schools, roads and infrastructure. Perhaps some local people are promoted to positions of authority in the foreign investment and they learn new skills. Since the schools are better funded, due to the increasing tax revenues, more students graduate and more go to college. We might also think that kids won't have to start work as young and work as hard as they used to because their parents are making more money - either working for the foreign companies, or from the general cash influx into their normal occupations. But how can this be? 'Sweatshops' and foreign investment = more educated kids working less when they are younger? This is different then the hysteria we often hear. 

    At any rate, as the population becomes more educated and infrastructure continues to improve, some of the foreign investors might think, "hmmm.. we can do something with a little more skill over here too and pay the people here less then at home!". Then we have a situation similar to India, where jobs open up in software developing, technical assistance, and more advanced manufacturing operations. Eventually, the price of labor has risen so much that the low wage manufacturing centers have to leave the country - people won't work for a price that is profitable to the company. As the 'sweatshop' manufacturing center pulls out of the formerly third world country what does it leave behind? Despair and destitution, or a skilled educated workforce and a humming modern economy? This is how prosperity advances. (246) [check out this great article on this in a Washington Post article on China]

    Our inner cities (and Indian reservations) didn't experience this prosperity because private sector wages couldn't match what the government was paying people not to work. On top of this the government never considered itself an employer of these millions people, so it paid no local taxes. But the worst part was that the government's ever expanding public housing units concentrated welfare recipients and, since the government never considered itself a homeowner, it paid little or no property tax on it's these units, further devastating local treasuries and contributing to the crumbling local schools and infrastructure. High minimum wages worked to price the lowest income earners out of the labor market, thus benefiting Unions by eliminating their low wage competition. Private companies obviously avoided these areas like the plague, but some more sinister industries saw clear advantages in these areas. They saw an idle, restless, uneducated populace which, in order not to loose their cash, food, housing and medical benefits, could only engage in economic activity that was unreported to the government. Prostitution, gambling, drugs, gangs and other criminal enterprises were given the equivalent of a tax break to set up shop in these areas. Natural human ambition and the entrepreneurial spirit was not be stopped - even by the Federal government. It was merely molded into a more insidious force. 

     With Welfare Reform, much of this began to change. The demand for work brought companies back to the inner cities. There were no longer as many 'tax breaks' and other incentives for shady criminal activity. While the jobs the private companies offered may initially be low paying, a gradual transformation will occur as people strive for better lives and more local money and taxes flow into the striken areas. Problems still exist and the reforms need to be continued. President Bush has proposed setting up 'economic zones' with tax breaks for companies in poorer areas. This will only work if people have a need to work - more government social programs must be reduced and/or eliminated.

10. Everything your saying makes sense. You have documented all these happenings with great thoroughness and clarity. My one question is, how come I didn't know this and why isn't it being reported? And you haven't covered the politics of this. Who was right and who was wrong? Who finally reformed welfare? 

    Too often in Congress and/or in the media, there are titanic battles fought, and opinions bitterly expressed, but then the public and the press forget (or ignore) what politicians or media figures previously stated and what the outcome of their policies actually is. They are not held accountable for their votes, views and changing positions. I intend to thoroughly analyze the political history of welfare, especially as it relates to Welfare Reform and use it as a microcosm to view the political arena and understand the two political parties and the news media.  But first let's pause for some conclusions... 




    Now that I have finished answering possible objections, let me write my 10 final conclusions for the data analysis section. All of the charts and graphs I have posted and all my research has led me (and hopefully you too) to the answers I was seeking when I set out to write this paper. I believe the following ten conclusions are solid and carefully backed up by all the data I have accumulated: 

1. Means-tested (<- if it is only given to the poor) Welfare and other social spending programs, not only discourages people from working, but actively penalizes any attempt to work by taking away the basic necessities they have come to rely on. 

2. Means-tested Welfare and other social spending programs did not and do not bring people out of poverty; to the contrary, they actually increase and/or perpetuate it. Any uplifting of people over the poverty line via welfare or other social spending programs is transparently fake and temporary because the earnings recipients themselves produce are more likely to decrease then the earnings of someone not receiving any 'assistance'. Even if their earnings stayed the same, it is unclear what the purpose of governmental supplemental income would be in the long term. 

3. Those in poverty today are relatively well off, by both historical standards of this country and compared to the average citizens of other countries.  

4. Means tested Welfare and other social spending, especially cash welfare, is largely responsible for the increase of out-of-wedlock births and the rise of never married single mothers, especially amongst the youngest and poorest girls. 

5. The main reason people remain in poverty is primarily because they aren't working and secondarily because they aren't married. It is condescending to believe that people who are already in this country can't succeed when penniless immigrants have for centuries risked life and limb to come to this land of opportunity and always succeeded. 

6. The best way to reduce poverty is to reduce single motherhood [by reducing out-of-wedlock births], promoting marriage, and increasing employment, all of which are accomplished by eliminating and/or reducing the welfare rolls and the number of those receiving other social spending. Following smart economic policy and growing the economy is the surest way to create new jobs and better paying jobs and raise the standard of living. Companies will find it profitable to invest in poverty stricken areas if the government would eliminate it's hurtful meddling in those areas. Minimum wage laws have further impoverished young poor people, with the hardest hit being young black teenagers. 

7. The increase in welfare spending per family may have resulted in a shifting of the fertility rate and a slight increase in family size by welfare families, but this is unclear and, in my opinion, unproven. Also, there is little evidence regarding the existence of 'Welfare Queens' - those having large numbers of children for cash. Any documented incidents of this are probably isolated cases. 

8. The data suggests that welfare and other social spending incentives/disincentives resulted in more single mothers on welfare through divorce. It is unclear exactly how large this effect was, but trends are comparable when broken down by race. 

9. It is clear that welfare and other social spending programs were, in large part, responsible for the disruption of family formation, which led to the decline of marriage and, (combined with the increasing divorce rates) eventually, resulted in catastrophic changes in the family structure of poor families, especially African Americans. Secondary effects of this may have included, increases in the incarceration rates of poor people (especially African Americans), rising crime rates, deterioration of the inner city, the spread of HIV and other STDs, failing schools and high dropout rates, and rising rates of drug and alcohol use. The word 'may' in the preceding sentence is emphasized because, although the evidence strongly suggests deteriorating family structure and stagnating incomes played a large roll in some of these phenomena, I realize I have not offered much evidence to support this besides my own commentary. Some of these topics were not covered either because of the lack of data available, or because I was unable to find room to introduce them in a meaningful way and was trying to limit the length of this paper as best I could. 

10. The lowering of welfare eligibilities, the rise in welfare spending and the rise in spending for other social programs was a folly of unprecedented proportion. The 'War on Poverty'/'Great Society' was an idealistic disaster. For over 40 years the 5-6 trillion in welfare and other spending accomplished the exact opposite of it's stated purpose. Moreover, welfare and other social spending are inherently racist because their ill effects fall predominantly on minorities, especially African Americans and  Native Americans. If the poor must be helped then it is best to create universal programs such as the Swedish model. However, the prohibitive cost of such models means that the new system might severely limit the prosperity of the country and may still lead to trouble in family formation and higher divorce rates. However, it is unlikely to reduce work incentives and subsidize poverty or unemployment. In my opinion, creating such a system would work against the economic growth, which traditionally has lifted all Americans (better said - they've lifted up themselves through creating the economic growth) out of poverty. Such a system should be left to the prerogative of the states because if it fails, businesses and people can always flee the state and punish that state for it's failure. 






    We've already described how this huge increase in welfare and other social spending ramped up during Lyndon Johnson's administration. Some Republicans supported Johnson's programs, most did not. It is unclear if they opposed the programs based on pragmatism or knee jerk politics. Not that it mattered, both the House and the Senate were controlled by Democrats. In fact, during this entire time period, the Democrats controlled Congress. 

Despite frequent Republican success at the presidential level, Democrats controlled the House uninterrupted for the forty years before 1994, and likewise the Senate for all but the first six Reagan years of 1980-1986. (98)

    So much of the blame for the continuation of these terrible programs clearly lies with the Democratic party. But going back, even to the Great Depression, the most ardent proponents of welfare were the social workers themselves. As their funding grew, social workers became more entrenched and began to organize. A mind boggling array of social work organizations formed. I'm not going to list what they stand for but here are the organizations in their order of formation, as listed by the Social Work Dictionary: NSWE, AAHSW, AAMSW, AASSW, NASSA, CSWE, COS, FSA, CWLA, AASW, AAPSW, CASW, [ICSW, IASSW], APWA, FEPC, AAGW, ASCO, SWRG, NASW, [IFSW, CIP], ACSW, NABSW, NAPRSSW, AASW, NISWA, NFSCSW, ELAN, VISTA, PACE, RSWC, GADE, AASSWB, AASWG and ACBSW (103). [international organizations in brackets]

     Upon their formation, these organizations often began (and still do) to lobby Congress for more funding and expansion of their programs.

In 1954 AASW appointed a Washington lobbyist, as did NASW two years later. Other social welfare organizations such as the APWA and the NSWA, were a constant presence in Washington throughout the early cold war period. (31)

Professional social work organizations such as NASW and CWSE, spent a good deal of time lobbying federal legislators for assistance with social work training. (31)

    Almost without exception these groups lean(ed) to the left in their politics. Some were accused of being communist or socialist. In 1952, the Federal Security Agency decided to cease publication and destroy existing copies of Charlotte Towle's training text for public welfare workers, Common Human Needs (31). In the aforementioned Social Work Dictionary, under the title, "Milestones in the Development of Social Work and Social Welfare", there are a few curious things which they consider "Milestones":

(1916) Margaret Sanger publishes Family Limitation, the first book on birth control. (103)

(1942) The Beveridge Report is issued in Great Britain, recommending an integrated social security system that attempts to ensure cradle-to-grave economic protections for its citizens. Many of the report’s recommendations go into effect after World War II.

(1944) The Marsh Report is issued in Canada. Based partly on Britain’s Beveridge Report, it establishes the guidelines for the Canadian social welfare system.

(1966) The U.S. Supreme Court issues the Miranda decision, requiring that police inform a suspect of his or her constitutional rights before questioning.

(1985) The Canadian Health Act is established to provide universal comprehensive health care.

(1993) The Brady Bill (Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, P.L. 103-159), to limit access to handguns in the United States, is passed. (103)

    Now, I know I am a mere uneducated citizen, but what does birth control, socialized health care, criminal  rights, socialism, and gun control have to do with social work? 

    In reading through histories of social lobbying, especially Construction of "Dependency" (31), it appears that Congress, under the guidance of social workers and their lobbyists, would always pass bills that they (social orgs and their lobbyists) would tout as reducing welfare dependency, only to have the rolls grow even more. This would often lead to supposed 'bitterness' between Congress and the welfare agencies, who were otherwise ideologically similar. This cycle would repeat itself every few years. 

Rather from 1962 to 1966 the number of AFDC recipients rose by almost a million, despite a relatively strong economy.

Given the failure of the 1962 amendments to reduce caseloads, the social community and it's service philosophy increasingly fell out of favor with congressional leaders. (31)

    Ironically, during these 'reform' periods social workers would often acquiesce to limited budget cuts in return for assurances of increased funding for alternative programs elsewhere (like childcare). It was sold to Congress and the press as a way of compensating recipients for the 'harsh cuts' and 'easing them into work'.

As Chapter one discusses, this [raising of payments] occurred incrementally throughout the postwar period. When standards [payments] were raised, social workers rejoiced. (31)

    Did the social workers who were pushing the growth and expansion of their programs know what the results of their policies would be? In the late 50s the Commissioner of Social Security (under which was the Bureau of Public Assistance) employed a well known social researcher Alvin Schoor to study some of the criticisms the welfare agencies were under. But he didn't like the answer he got!:

But the BPA was displeased with Schoor's critical perspective and sought to stifle publication in the Administration's Social Security Bulletin. Banned from the Bulletin, Schoor eventually published his findings in Social Work (1960).

Schoor argued that ADCF encouraged female-headed homes by assisting only female-headed families and discouraged work by automatically reducing grant monies when mothers were employed. (31)

    The Bureau continued to deceive, mislead and/or display incredible ignorance over the changes taking place in America under the current policies. 

    In 1961 the Bureau of Public Assistance issued it's congressionally-commissioned report entitled "Illegitimacy and it's Impact on the Aid to Dependent Children Program". The report summed up the long standing sentiment of the post war social work community in it's conclusion, "The problem [illegitimacy] long preceded the establishment of public assistance programs, and it's causes are deeper than the mere availability of financial aid. (31)

    However, it is easy to Monday morning quarterback. We must assume that most social workers were just doing what they thought was best for their clients. Individual social workers did and do valuable and selfless work. I greatly admire their courage and sacrifice. But unfortunately the leadership of their organizations had in mind the best interests of social workers, not the best interests of the poor. 

    What is more interesting is the hidden condescension ('soft bigotry of low expectations') that gradually developed in some social worker mindsets. Poorer families were seen as having some kind of mental mindset. "Neurotic" and "Pathological" are some of the words used to describe various welfare clientele. 

In one of his several articles on casework with public assistance recipients, social work educator Kermit Wiltse (1958s) argued, "the social workers responsibilities to the client family are functions normally attributed to the role of a parent in relation to his child" (p16). The function of casework, in Wiltse's (1958a) schema, included:

                1. To give consistent warmth of feelings and concern to each person, in other words to love 

                2. To offer oneself as an ego ideal

                3. To teach by precept and example

                4. To supervise and set limits (31)

    Social workers used the fact that many African Americans were on the rolls to attack opponents of reform. A 1959 article in "Social Service Review" asked:

One wonders how much criticism of the AFDC program stems from misplaced racism. (31), (33)

    How ironic....Social Workers criticizing 'racists' for condemning an innately racist welfare system that once excluded (and/or insidiously included) people by race. It would seem more logical for the Social Workers to demand the abolition of the racist welfare system, while the 'racists' demand it stay operational. Of course, at this point it was more difficult to see the effect the welfare system was having on poorer people and the black family structure, but the whole thing does seem a bit juxtaposed. 

    Social workers did not seem worried by the problem of single mother dependency:

According to the authors, "Experience, however, indicates that the mother herself is usually the best person to decide whether or not she had the strength and ability to work outside as well as in the home (Choate & Gallagher , 1961 p. 41) (31)

    In an article for Social Casework, Jay Roney (1958) head of the Bureau of Public Assistance wrote:

When administrative policies result in forcing mothers to work, contrary to the mother's judgments about how best to meet the needs of their children, the objective of the program is defeated (p154-145). (31)

    Taking a step back, it is uncanny how the histories of all the various welfare agencies and the history of social worker organizations follow the theories Nobel Prize winning economist and Presidential advisor Milton Friedmen described in his 1980 classic, Free To Choose.

    Friendmen noted that the growth of government programs (or even some outside organized groups with common economic interests) often play out in predictable patterns. After forming, the government program will immediately put pressure on Congress for more funding, seek to organize itself for survival and expansion purposes, and recruit lobbyists and allies in Washington. The agency will commission studies which demonstrate the vital need for the agency and develop public relations with the press to express these 'findings'. The solution to all problems faced by the government agency will always be to 'fix' the problem by expanding the agency in an appropriate way to address the concern. The agency will also seek powers of regulation, which enable it to acquire more power and funding and, if applicable, increase the rigors of training and certification, which ostensibly provides higher salary to the members and contribute to the exclusiveness of the group. A government agency will never voluntarily accept or request reductions in funding and will never recommend it's own elimination. 

    We've seen this very path followed by the various welfare and social spending agencies and the organized social worker groups. They testified before Congress on the importance of their work, commissioned studies that backed their efforts and in at least one case tried to suppress critical information. They lobbied for increases in funding for their programs and for their clients. They argued for increasing certification requirements for social workers and sought and received federal funding for worker training. Other 'Milestones' of the Social Work Dictionary were:

(1934) Puerto Rico passes a law regulating social work practice. This is the first time social work is legally regulated in any U.S. state or territory. (103)

(1961) Rhode Island becomes the third jurisdiction to pass a regulatory law for social workers.

(1969) Membership in the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), once restricted to people with master of social work (MSW) degrees, is opened to social workers with qualified bachelor’s degrees. The NASW Delegate Assembly approves the resolution to pursue licensing of social work practice within each state.

(1977) The Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE) is formed.

    (1979) The American Association of State Social Work Boards (AASSWB) is incorporated to coordinate the procedures and activities of state licensing for social workers. (103)

   In the 50s, 60s and up until present day, when faced with the accusations of dependency, amplifying poverty, and creating single mothers, social worker organizations followed the standard procedure: deny, counter accuse and offer expansion as a solution. They denied that there was a problem, or that they were causing it, accused their opponents of being uncaring, racists and/or greedy, and proposed costly solutions that often just amplified the problem. 

    For example, social workers organizations first pushed for childcare funding (daycare and other programs) to be available. This, they said, would assist in solving the problem (illegitimacy) that they didn't acknowledge even existed! The first childcare funding was passed in '56 and another greater splurge in '62. This funding continued increasing up to and including the Welfare Reform bill of 1996. Next, they pushed for funding for poor married families too, reasoning this would give less incentives to single mothers. This was passed as unemployment benefits in 1961 and has continued growing. Today, in most states, even childless, unmarried adult singles who loose their job (no matter how wealthy) are eligible for unemployment benefits (100). Sounds like Sweden! Of course, if you have the foresight to buy unemployment insurance then you are not eligible for the government unemployment benefits. Sounds like those selling private insurance might want to learn the lesson of the private food stores on the Pine Woods Indian reservation... These same Social Worker organizations are now pushing to make Medicaid available for poorer two parent families to stop single mother 'dependency'. 

    Of course, none of these added benefits solved anything, so then social workers pushed for family allowances. Every American family with children would get a certain amount of money per month. In fact, the social workers, their lobbyists and liberal allies cited the 'successes' of the Scandinavian governments as evidence for this policy. Luckily, this last measure and variations of it was ever enacted. President's Nixon and Carter both tried their hand at it:  

Nixon revealed FAP in a nationwide address on August 8, 1969. Heavy criticism followed. Welfare advocates declared the income level Nixon proposed -- $1600 per year for a family of four -- insufficient. Conservatives disliked the idea of a guaranteed annual income for people who didn't work. Labor saw the proposal as a threat to the minimum wage. Caseworkers opposed FAP fearing that many of their jobs would be eliminated. And many Americans complained that the addition of the working poor would expand welfare caseloads by millions. A disappointed Nixon pressed for the bill's passage in various forms, until the election season of 1972. He knew a bad campaign issue when he saw one, and he let FAP expire. (104)

(1977) President Jimmy Carter proposes a thorough revision of the nation’s social welfare system with a Jobs and Income Security program, which fails to gain approval in Congress and is abandoned when he is not reelected. (103)

    In all this, the truth of the matter was that social worker organizations themselves and their worthless, hurtful programs were the problem. The simple solution was to just get ride of the problem; fixing and tinkering with a rotten apple won't fix it's core. Many Republicans railed for years against welfare, but because they were in the minority they were unable to get anything passed besides these 'watered down' (some might argue 'watered up') reform bills. However, some Republicans didn't fully understand the scope of the problem and offered solutions similar to the Democratic ones (such as Nixon's bill).

     Ronald Reagan, in all his achievements, did achieve some limited spending cuts, but his efforts only temporarily stymied growth. The 1988 Family Support Act was the first extensive effort to require recipients to attend job training, but this was generally ineffective. Exemptions from the 1988 act included mothers who had a child under three years old. This exemption was slightly tougher than a previous (less saturating) program, the Work Initiative (WIN), which exempted mothers with a child younger than six. (105), (106)

    George H.W Bush, nowadays know as Bush Sr., did nothing to reform welfare and is often accused of pandering to the Democratic controlled House and Senate. In fact, years earlier he had supported Nixon's proposals. (107)  

    The Construction of "Dependancy" concludes:

For over 50 years these welfare programs have undergone vast political assault and never raised women and children out of poverty. (31)

    I must (somewhat) concur with the Miller Institute at University of Virginia in their conclusion:

Yet, ideology alone is insufficient if we want to understand conflict and change. After all, it was a Republican president, Richard Nixon, who promoted what is arguably the most progressive reform proposal and a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who allowed welfare to end. (108)

    In his 1992 campaign Clinton famously promised to 'end welfare as we know it'. What he actually meant was that he would just tinker with it a bit, just like had been done for the past 60 years. In a chapter titled "Not Ending Welfare as We Know it" the Brookings Institute book, Ending Welfare as We Know It, describes the administrations proposal: 

These new work obligations were to be phased in gradually beginning with mothers born after 1971 and with numerous exceptions. By 1999 fewer than 170,000 out of almost 5 million AFDC were expected to be at work in a government-provided job or a government-subsidized job. (110)

    The bill also continued to allow immigrants to access welfare and contained many exceptions and loop holes regarding work requirements. It quietly died in Congress in 1994, killed in bipartisan fashion by Democrats who weren't eager to vote on a bill that could be used against them in the coming congressional election and by Republicans who thought they could get a more conservative bill after the election. (110)

    In 1994, led by Newt Gingrich, the Republicans took control in both the House (+57 seats) and the Senate (+10 seats) in a historic rout, running on what was billed as the Republican "Contract with America". (111)

    This rightward shift in ideology that permeated through Washington impacted the political landscape in a big way. Welfare Reform became a big issue, and the conservative leadership pushed hard to get their version passed. A paper in the Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty outlined (22):

Nowhere was the contrast between the Clinton and Gingrich plans more dramatic than in the statements made about the relationship between welfare reform and work. 

Here is Clinton: Our approach is based on a simple compact designed to reinforce and reward work. Each recipient will be required to develop a personal employability plan designed to move that individual into the work force as quickly as possible. Support, job training, and child care will be provided to help people move from dependence to independence. Time limits will ensure that anyone who can work, must work—in the private sector if possible, in a temporary subsidized job if necessary. (Clinton 1994: 1)  

Here are Gingrich and colleagues: The intent of the Congress is to . . . provide States with the resources and authority necessary to help, cajole, lure, or force adults off welfare and into paid employment as quickly as possible, and to require adult welfare recipients, when necessary, to accept jobs that will help end welfare dependency. (PRA 1994: 1) (22)

    The study from the Miller Center at the University of Virginia explains:

The legislation was the product of intense wrangling between Democratic President Bill Clinton and House Republicans. As a New Democrat and a co-founder of the centrist, largely southern, Democratic Leadership Council, Clinton had promised to 'end welfare as we know it' during his presidential campaign. This helped to neutralize use of the now-familiar Republican wedge issue of welfare during the campaign, but once Republicans assumed control of the House in 1994 with the Contract with America, the issue of welfare and Clinton’s campaign promise were again theirs to exploit. Between the first introduction of their bill in 1995, a draconian measure by any account, and Clinton’s signing of the bill in 1996, over 30 floor votes were considered in the House alone. Two bills reached the President and were vetoed before a compromise bill, put in motion by the National Governor’s Association and acceptable to the President, was passed and signed into law. (108)

    I will dispute the term 'draconian measure'. Why was it draconian and by whose account is the author referring? Looking back at the past 60 years perhaps something 'draconian' was in order. Ending Welfare as We Know It adds:

Passage of the Dole Welfare Reform Bill in the Senate, with the support of the President and the votes of many Senate Democrats, showed that it was possible to obtain presidential approval for a Republican-orientated welfare reform package significantly more conservative then President Clinton's own 1994 proposal. (109)

    From these different sources, it is clear that most credit lies with the Republican leadership for the tone of the bill. Clinton, facing a 1996 challenge from Republican Senator Bob Dole, could not afford to veto the bill a third time. Did he sign it for political purposes thinking that it was a terrible bill, or did he really think it would reform welfare? We will never know; Clinton barely mentions it in his voluminous new memoir, My Life. Strange isn't it, not to mention what might be the greatest accomplishment of his presidency? As this paper has documented, this was one of the most positive pieces of legislation ever to come out of Washington. It had a huge impact on millions of poor Americans, especially minorities, finally beginning to unshackling them from the chains of government oppression and dependency. What did they do when they were freed? What only the Republicans seemed to expect them to do: succeed. 

    Now, who opposed this legislation? More importantly, who not only opposed Welfare Reform, but bitterly attacked Republicans as cruel and heartless? What did the press report? What were the editorials like? These are important questions, because anyone who can be so wrong and misguided on such an important issue has severely damaged their future credibility. But the most absolutely outrageous part about this, is that the most ardent protests came especially from those who claim to represent the people the bill uplifted most! Let's start in the Senate. 

    The two Democratic Senators from California, the state in which the most people have benefited from Welfare Reform represented their constituents well:

Barbara Boxer (D-CA): 

“‘How can we be proud to vote for a bill that would take a blind, elderly woman with no other means of support and throw her out on the street?’ Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) asked the Senate. ‘How can we be proud of a bill that takes children and puts them out on the street?’” (Faye Fiore and Jeffrey L. Rabin, “U.S. Welfare Revision Could Be Costly To L.A.,” Los Angeles Times, July 22, 1996) (112)

“California’s two Democratic senators are warning that denying aid to legal immigrants as part of the GOP plan to overhaul welfare would throw millions of people onto the street and bankrupt California counties. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are trying to amend the bill so that benefits would be denied only to new immigrants, rather than those already in the country.” (Carolyn Lochhead, “Senators Say Welfare Bill Spells Trouble,” San Francisco Chronicle, July 22, 1996) (112)


Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): 

[S]ome Democrats - most notably U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein - bluntly say that federal welfare reform presents too big a burden for a state as populous and diverse as California.” (Mary Anne Ostrom and Hallye Jordan, “Overhaul Will Have Pervasive Impact Ripple Effect To Hit Taxpayers, Business,” San Jose [CA] Mercury News, December 16, 1996) (112)

“Mr. President, I am very disappointed that I must oppose the Welfare Reform Bill as presented to this body by the House- Senate Conference Committee. I had hoped that the Bill that emerged from the Conference Committee would be one that California could live with, because, I think it is clear that, with 32 million people, no state in the Union has as much to gain or as much to lose from welfare reform.” (Diane Feinstein, Press Release, August 1, 1996) (112)


Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) of Connecticut was looking out for the nations poorest:

“Mr. President, several weeks ago, during the consideration of the welfare reform bill, I came to the floor and expressed my views on that legislation. At the time, I characterized the bill as an unconscionable retreat from our Nation’s more than 60-year commitment to America’s poorest children. Unfortunately, I still believe that to be the case today.” (Senator Chris Dodd, Congressional Record, September 30, 1996) (112), (118)

In the past 60 years, while we have disagreed and quarreled in this country on some issues, all Americans, regardless of party or ideology, understood that it was in our national interest to protect the most innocent and defenseless of our people--the 9 million children who collect Aid to Families with Dependent Children. (118)

With the passage of the welfare reform bill, I believe we have abandoned that 60-year-old commitment. While the welfare reform legislation may have been, in my view, a retreat, it is by no means a surrender. A surrender would indicate that we are throwing up our arms because the struggle is over. A retreat, on the other hand, means it is a temporary setback, not the end of the battle. Unfortunately, the battle is not going to be fought in the remaining hours of the 104th Congress. But I pledge to my colleagues here that one of my first priorities in the 105th Congress will be to propose legislation that will correct what I consider to be major flaws in the welfare reform bill. (118)

Already I have instructed the General Accounting Office to begin assessing the effect of the welfare reform bill so that Congress can closely monitor its impact on America's welfare system and particularly on our Nation's children. (118)


Some stronger rhetoric came from the so-called 'Liberal Lion' Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA):

“This bill is not a Welfare Reform bill. It’s a ‘let them eat cake’ bill.” (“Senate Reforms Welfare,” The Tampa Tribune, July 24, 1996)

“This bill condemns millions of innocent children to poverty in the name of Welfare Reform.” (Senator Edward Kennedy, Press Release, “Statement By Senator Kennedy On The Passage Of The Welfare Bill,” July 23, 1996)

“[The welfare reform bill] fails to provide what is necessary to move people from welfare to work. But it will push over one million additional children into poverty. People on welfare will get a lecture, but they won’t get a job, and their children will suffer. To call this bill welfare ‘reform’ is nonsense. It’s welfare retreat. Reform means improvement – solving the problem. This bill will bring damage to countless families across America. To label this legislation ‘reform’ is no more accurate than to call the demolition of a house ‘remodeling.’” (Senator Edward Kennedy, Press Release, “Statement Of Senator Edward M. Kennedy Opposing The Passage Of Welfare Reform,” August 1, 1996)

“[The welfare reform bill] will leave many welfare recipients unemployable in the real world. It will leave their children ill-fed, ill-clothed, and ill-housed. This Republican Congress has nothing to be proud of for forcing this bill into law. By the votes we cast today, we are not improving the quality of life in America. The gap between rich and poor will be wider, the bonds which tie families together will be weaker, and the dreams of millions of children will be farther from reach.” (Senator Edward Kennedy, Press Release, “Statement Of Senator Edward M. Kennedy Opposing The Passage Of Welfare Reform,” August 1, 1996) (112), (117)


Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) offered their words of wisdom:

“Mr. President, I regret that the conferees on the welfare reform bill have decided to report out a measure that is short-sighted and punitive to children, the disabled, and legal immigrants.” (Senator Daniel Inouye, Congressional Record, August 1, 1996,)

“‘The consequences of reform,’ Sarbanes predicted when the U.S. Senate vote was taken, ‘will be such that we will rue this day.’” (C. Fraser Smith, “Sarbanes’ ‘New Deal’ Stance,” The Baltimore Sun, August 6, 1996)


Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) seemed to accuse the proponents of this bill of throwing millions of children into poverty and perhaps forcing them into prostitution! But the people of NJ forgave him for this small oversight, after retiring he was again elected to the Senate in 2002.

 “I hold a different vision of what ‘safety net’ in this country should be, and I am concerned, frightened, that this bill will leave children hungry and homeless, and I’m afraid that the streets of our nation’s cities might someday look like the streets of the cities of Brazil. You walk around there, you see children begging for money, begging for food, and even at eight and nine years old engaging in prostitution.” (CNN, “Live Report,” August 1, 1996) (112 ), (117), (119)

“When you take all of these policies together, this bill will put an estimated approximately 1.1 million children into poverty. And this is a conservative estimate. It could be higher. Mr. President, my conscience does not permit me to vote for a bill that will likely plunge children into poverty.” (Senator Frank Lautenberg, Congressional Record, August 1, 1996) (112)


    Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) echoed the talking point that over a million children would be thrown into poverty:  

This welfare bill will do far more harm than good.“I have been persuaded by the process of debate and projections on the likely impact of this bill on my State that this welfare bill will do far more harm than good. It will cause hardship to State and local governments, throw more than a million more children into poverty and hurt rather than help the Nation’s efforts at true welfare reform.” (Senator Jeff Bingaman, Congressional Record, July 25, 1996) (112)


    Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) called the bill anti-family! What gall!:

“This bill is anti-family, anti-child and mean-spirited. It is really beneath what a great country should stand for.” (David Hess, “Welfare Bill Wins Senate Approval,” Akron [OH] Beacon Journal, July 24, 1996) (112), (121)

"Children don’t vote, children don’t contribute to [politicians], children don’t get involved in campaigns, so children will go hungry," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.” (“Prez: Effect On Kids Decides Welfare Veto,” Philadelphia Daily News, July 23, 1996) (112), (120)


Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) didn't believe welfare recipients could succeed on their own:

 Changes in federal welfare law could leave state legislators swamped by service providers begging for state money to help deal with issues ranging from child care to foster care, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray predicted yesterday. In a forum for South King County legislative candidates, Murray, D-Wash., painted a dire picture of how state agencies and nonprofit social service providers would have to take up the slack if people fell off the welfare rolls.” (Stephen Clutter, “States Face Flood Of Pleas For Aid, Murray Predicts,” The Seattle Times, October 24, 1996) (112)

“Murray said she is working on a children’s health bill because she fears the new welfare reform bill will leave many children without adequate health care as their mothers lose their benefits and head to work.” (Sherri Nee, “Children Top Murray’s To-Do List,” The [Vancouver, WA.] Columbian, December 20, 1996) (112)

“No explanation came last week when Murray voted against welfare reform, likely to be the major legislative achievement of the 104th Congress.” (Joel Connelly, “Gorton Takes To The Road As Republicans Face Some Re-Energized Democrats,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 29, 1996) (112)


    I wonder if Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) had anything to do with the exemptions that have kept Native Americans on reservations throughout his state in poverty... 

“There was significant opposition from the chamber’s 46 Democrats, only half of whom voted to approve the measure. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) voted against the bill, complaining that ‘too many kids will still be punished,’ despite the changes.” (Elizabeth Shogren, “Senate Approves Welfare Reform,” Los Angeles Times, July 24, 1996) (112)

“Provisions dealing with immigrants are ‘far too harsh,’ and most states are projected to fail to meet the bill’s work requirements. ‘In my view, this bill is still too light on real reform,’ [what the heck is he talking about?] Mr. Daschle said, adding that maybe it could be improved in conference ‘if the political will is there.’” (Cheryl Wetzstein, “Senate Passes Welfare Overhaul,” The Washington Times, July 24, 1996) (112)

    (Note: source (112) is from the National Republican Senate Committee. Suspicious of this, I cross referenced many of these quotes and found them elsewhere and cited those sources. I didn't include quotations that may have been selectively quoted if I couldn't find them elsewhere. [the ones with '.....' in the middle])

    All of the Senators listed above make up the 11 out of the 21 Democratic Senators who voted against Welfare Reform and are still in the Senate today. Apparently their constituents aren't upset at their incredible ignorance concerning this matter of utmost importance and/or their accusatory rhetoric. No Republican Senator voted against the bill and only two Republican members of the House said nay:

Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both Cuban Americans from Miami. (At the time, they explained that their opposition wasn't to welfare reform broadly speaking, but to specific provisions denying benefits to non-citizens.) (122)

    As for the final vote, House Democrats split down the middle, 98 for, 98 against. Democratic Senators voted for it, 25 to 21 (123). The Democratic leadership in the house was so impressed with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) knowledge and leadership that she advanced to become minority leader in 2002. This is what she said of Welfare Reform:

"If this bill passes today it will be a victory for the political spin artists and it will be a defeat for the children of America. The cuts in this bill will diminish the quality of life for children and poor families in America. How can a country as great as America ignore the needs of America's infants and children who were born into poverty?" (114), (115)

    I was able to find this interesting tidbit on Pelosi's website. It is dated September 18, 1996:

According to Feed the Children's 1995 Annual Report, one in five American children currently live in poverty. Every day in America, 2,660 babies are born into poverty and 27 children dies from poverty. Seventy-eight percent of adults in hungry households report that they cut the size of their childrens' meals or children skip meals because there is not enough money for food. (193)

    Die from poverty? I didn't know that could be a cause of death. You mean the poverty you are creating? This is an example of the typical fear-mongering that often takes place on the left. 

    Senator Daniel Moynihan (D-NY) (now deceased) deserves special mention for his vote against Welfare Reform. CBS news reports:

As President Nixon's urban affairs adviser, he proposed a policy of "benign neglect" toward minorities that drew heavy criticism. A 1965 report to President Johnson created a major policy flap when he warned that the rising rate of out-of-wedlock births threatened the stability of black families.

Moynihan saw himself at the time as a liberal observer warning of future problems. Rather than hearing praise, he was denounced as promoting racism. The controversy haunted Moynihan for years and resurfaced as late as the 1994 elections.

    From the Washington Post: 

 He was tarred as a racist by many people and he got beyond that by showing in many other ways that he was concerned about the survival of black families [meaning he started to harm them]. His later welfare work won him praise [from liberals and newspapers like the Washington Post]. (125) (my comments)

    Of course, Moynihan was not a racist and his ideas were right. His infamous 'Moynihan Report' documented how the black family was beginning it's deterioration and his proposal of 'benign neglect' - aptly named - was exactly what was needed. In fact, the 1996 Welfare Reform bill would not even be considered 'benign neglect' because of the extensive government benefits that are still available to recipients (if not through TANF, through the many existing government programs). Moynihan was an eccentric politician, often known for speaking his mind. He voted against the first Gulf War, but was the first prominent Democrat to come out in favor of personal retirement accounts for social security. As a Senator Moynihan [was] widely considered an expert on welfare policy (130), (143).

     So what accounted for his change of heart? His remarks on August 2nd 1996, from the Senate floor, are convoluted and contradictory:

I began these remarks with a comment on language. The conference report before us is not "welfare reform," it is "welfare repeal." It is the first step in dismantling the social contract that has been in place in the United States since at least the 1930's. Do not doubt that Social Security itself, which is to say insured retirement benefits, will be next. (strange, I thought he was for personal accounts see source (239)) The bill will be called "The Individual Retirement Account Insurance Act." Something such, John Westergaard points out that this legislation brea ks the Social Contract of the 1930's. We would care for the elderly, the unemployed, the dependent children. Drop the latter; watch the others fall.

We are putting those children at risk with absolutely no evidence that this radical idea has even the slightest chance of success. (how about the evidence from his own report - from over 30 years ago?)

If we acknowledge the difficulty in bringing about the transition from welfare to work, we must recognize that putting people to work on a large scale would require a large scale public jobs program, and that would require a great deal of money.  

Let me say that Democrats were the first to fail in this regard.

President Johnson listened for a moment or two; announced that in that election year we were cutting taxes, not raising them. He thereupon picked up the telephone attached to the Cabinet table, called someone, somewhere, about something else, and the war on poverty was lost before it began. (Johnson accelerated this whole mess... Your report warned the nation about the growing dangers to this.) This legislation is even worse. (This legislation is the exact opposite of what Johnson did!) According to the Urban Institute, 3,500,000 children will be dropped from the rolls in 2001. By 2005, 4,896,000 children will be cut off. (2.9 million fewer children are in poverty than were in poverty in 1995, including 1 million fewer African American children (127))

Respected research organizations such as the Urban Institute here in Washington, and the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation in New York have, over the years, undertaken careful evaluations of various welfare reform demonstration projects. As Offner recounts, they found that welfare caseloads were reduced in only 4 of the 23 welfare demonstrations they studied. 

Dr. Offner points out that even the program in Riverside, CA, which is regarded by many experts as the most successful ever, has achieved caseload reductions of less than 10 percent. (rolls dropped almost 60% )

In our haste to enact this bill--any bill--before the November elections, we have chosen to ignore what little we do know about the subject of poverty. Just 2 days ago, on July 30, 11 of the Nation's leading researchers in this field issued a statement urging us not to do this. Among them were seven current and former directors of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin [this institute has been cited extensively in this paper] established in the aftermath of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. Scholars of the stature of Sheldon Danziger of the University of Michigan; Irwin Garfinkel of Columbia University; Eugene Smolensky of the University of California at Berkeley; and Edward Gramlich of the University of Michigan. They write:

As researchers who have dedicated years to the study of poverty, the labor market, and public assistance, we oppose the welfare reform legislation under consideration by Congress. The best available evidence is that this legislation would substantially increase poverty and destitution while doing too little to change the welfare system to one that provides greater opportunity for families in return for demanding greater responsibility.

The Urban Institute has also estimated, in a report released just last Friday, July 26, that this bill will cause 2.6 million persons to fall below the poverty line; 1.1 million of those impoverished will be children. To say nothing of those persons already living in poverty. They will be pushed even further below the poverty line. The average loss in income for families already below the poverty line will be $1,040 per year. I note that the Urban Institute's estimates are based on quite conservative assumptions, so the actual impact could well be even worse than predicted. (we will return to this Urban Institute...)

For the best part of two years now, I have pointed out that the principal, and most principled, opponents of this legislation were conservative social scientists who for years have argued against liberal nostroms for changing society with the argument that no one knows enough to mechanistically change society. Typically liberals think otherwise, to the extent that liberals can be said to think at all. The current batch is in the White House, now busily assuring us they were against this all along, are simply lying, albeit they probably don't know they are lying. They have only the flimsiest grasp of social reality, thinking all things doable and equally undoable. 

As, for example, the horror of this legislation. (130), (143)

    In other comments, Moynihan did to Republicans what was once done to him:

"The people who do this will go to their graves in disgrace." (128)

"In five years' time, you'll find appearing on your streets abandoned children - helpless, hostile, angry, awful - in numbers we have no idea." (129), (130)

"The central provision of this law [the five-year cash benefit limit] would be the most brutal act of social policy we have known since the Reconstruction." (129), (130)

"If this administration wishes to go down in history as one that abandoned, eagerly abandoned, the national commitment to dependent children, so be it. I would not want to be associated with such an enterprise, and I shall not be." (135)


    Let's return to this Urban Institute. If you have noticed, many Democratic Senators (and the media) described how children would be horribly affected and so forth. The Urban Institute's estimates were widely cited by opponents of the bill.  

As the debate over welfare reform unfolded, the loudest detractors of devolution and block grants included associations representing local administrators such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities. They were joined by advocacy and research groups based largely in New York and Washington D.C.. Groups such as the Children’s Defense Fund and the Urban Institute had emerged out of the welfare and poverty activism in early decades and had established links to both Democratic constituencies and party elites. Leaders of these groups and associations complained that the effect of devolution and the cuts in federal funds would be to increase poverty and associated problems and leave these to local governments and non-profits to manage. (108)

    I visited the Urban Institute web site to 'snoop around' and try to dig up this report that claimed 2.6 million people will fall into poverty and of these 1.6 million will be children. They have a "History of the Urban Institute" section, similar to the 'Milestone' section in the Social Work Dictionary (132):

1993-96 — Federal "waivers" from health care and welfare rules proliferate. One study examines initiatives in nine states using Medicaid funds to expand insurance coverage and health services. Early results indicate that states can gear up quickly to cover uninsured groups and to switch beneficiaries to managed care, but that such changes must be phased in to minimize confusion. Study demonstration projects in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Utah, and Vermont reveal how effectively states are moving welfare recipients into jobs.

1996 — Following passage of landmark welfare reform, the Institute undertakes its biggest research project yet—Assessing the New Federalism—to monitor and analyze the well-being of American children and families as states assume more responsibility for health care, income security, social services, and job-training programs for low-income Americans. (132)

    Their original report has been deleted. Their opposition/conspiracy/ignorance/misconception/demagoguery - whatever you want to call it - relating to the 1996 Reform Bill, about a subject (welfare) that they are supposed to have been the experts on, has disappeared. Now they call the reform bill a 'landmark'. In fact, if I didn't know better I might infer that they supported and assisted in passing the bill! 

    I was finally able to find a summary of the Urban Institute's dire predictions by a link from the (conservative) Heritage foundation. If you wish to read this see source (145). (145)

    What are they up to today? They say they are a 'nonpartisan' research group. Glancing through their 'new publications' , I see research that is never quite against, but seems to strike a tactfully disproving tone regarding personal retirement accounts, EITC (earned income tax credits) and the No Child Left Behind Act (131). All of these are, in part, conservative ideas, which is not to say they are not flawed, but it is an interesting coincidence, especially considering their latest (August 2nd 2004) publication on the progress of Welfare Reform: 

This paper reports on new NSAF analyses revealing a pattern in which male adolescents in the families of former recipients may be faring worse than their counterparts in the families of current recipients. (133)

Yet, these differences in family characteristics did not account for the elevated levels of developmental risk found among adolescent boys in former recipient families. (133)

    Even if this small nag-bit of negativism is true, wasn't Welfare Reform worth it? Why don't they study some of these Indian Reservations and present the striking findings (I'm just guessing they would be striking) to their friends in the press and lobby some those who represent Native American states, like Senator Tom Daschle, to press reform for there too? 


    How about the Children's Defense Fund?  

CDF provides a strong, effective voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby, or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor and minority children and those with disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investment before they get sick or into trouble, drop out of school, or suffer family breakdown. (134) (emphasis mine)

    Considering that mission statement, wouldn't the so-called 'experts' on all issues dealing with child poverty have been pushing for Welfare Reform for decades? They must be so happy that 2.9 million fewer children are in poverty and that over 1 million of these are African American children. Not quite: 

Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund, added to the furor, stating that welfare reform “will leave a moral blot on [Clinton’s] presidency and on our nation that will never be forgotten” (Rector and Fagan, 2001). (130)

    She wrote a highly publicized 'Open letter to the President", in which she blasted him signing the bill (136):

    I am calling for your unwavering moral leadership for children and opposition to Senate and House welfare and Medicaid block grants, which will make more children poor and sick.

As president, you have the opportunity and personal responsibility to protect children from unjust policies. It would be a great moral and practical wrong for you to sign any welfare "reform" bill that will push millions of already poor children and families deeper into poverty, as both the Senate and House welfare bills will do. 

It would be wrong to exacerbate rather than alleviate the current shameful and epidemic child poverty that no decent, rich nation should tolerate for even one child.

Neither the Senate nor House welfare bill is an example of the good competing with the perfect. Both are fatally flawed, callous, anti-child assaults. Both bills eviscerate the moral compact between the nation and its children and its poor.

If child investments are unfairly and indiscriminately cut by many billions of dollars, there is perhaps some prospect of recouping the money over time when new child suffering becomes apparent, as it did after the Reagan cuts and as it will this time as pending cuts are many times worse.

We want to "end welfare as we know it." But we do not want to replace it with welfare as we do not want to know it. We do not want to codify a policy of national child abandonment.

What a tragic irony it would be for this regressive attack on children and the poor to occur on your watch. For me, this is a defining moral litmus test for your presidency. (136)

These are harsh words, but then she echoes Senator Moynihan (and countless others) and plays the race card (136):

Both you and I know that there are lessons from American history, including the end of Reconstruction, when the immoral abandonment of structures of law and equity led to decades of setbacks for powerless Americans and battles we still are fighting today.

We cannot heal our racial divisions or prepare our nation for the future unless we give poor Black, Brown, and White children a healthy and fair start in life. (136)

    I wonder what Marian Edelman and others at the 'Children’s Defense Fund' would think of our chart?

Chart 51 (137):


    In fact, her husband - Peter Edelman - was so upset that he resigned his position as Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services (138) and published a piece in the 'Atlantic Monthly' titled, The Worst Thing Bill Clinton has Ever Done. He stated:

There will be more malnutrition and more crime, increased infant mortality, and increased drug and alcohol abuse. There will be increased family violence and abuse against children and women." (139) 

    Another Clinton Appointee, Wendell Primus, resigned from his position as Assistant Secretary in the Health and Human Services Department in protest. 

    In July 2001, Primus co-authored a study which was... well... I'll let you decide. Here are some key points (141):

Although there are undoubtedly many factors related to this remarkable increase in employment by single mothers, welfare reform, recent increases in the EITC, and a booming economy are the most important factors.

The 1996 welfare reforms that emphasized work and the dramatic increase in work by single mothers that resulted, a hot economy, and increased government benefits that support working families all contributed to the sharp decline in poverty. However, many analysts argue that child poverty would have fallen even more if working families were allowed to retain more of their cash welfare and food stamp benefits when they entered the labor force. 

Although there is broad agreement that these facts about poverty reduction are correct, many analysts think the reduction in child poverty should have been much greater given the remarkable increases in employment and earnings by low-income mothers. They emphasize data on the poverty gap (the amount of money required to bring every poor family to the poverty line) to argue that the true picture of poverty is not as bright as the one painted above.

It is the combination of increased earnings from work and the system of public subsidies for low-wage workers, both occurring in a rapidly expanding economy, which constitutes the most parsimonious explanation of the substantial progress against poverty in recent years. Working families do not always receive all the benefits for which they are qualified under these programs, but the programs still play a major role in reducing child poverty. (141)

    This really illustrates the crux of what I am getting at. Look at what this 'expert' still says despite all of this evidence. He even displays some of the same charts I use in his paper. First, he won't admit that Welfare Reform is the main reason for the drop in poverty and seems to give equal credit to, "employment by single mothers", EITC and "the system of public subsidies for low-wage workers". We've already covered the fact that welfare rolls had only slight correlations with expansions and recessions and a lot to do with spending and the eligibility of government programs. Secondly, he thinks things would have been better if families had been allowed to retain more of their cash and benefits etc... and that these programs play a major role in reducing child poverty. These programs and benefits were the problem! If you increased them to whatever he wants to increase them to, then poverty would go back up to as high as he is willing to spend. Thirdly, he says that these so-called 'analysts' - aka him - believe poverty would have fallen faster if families now qualify for benefits had more access to these benefits... Surely precisely the opposite is the case. Poverty would have fallen faster if more benefits would have been taken away and if Clinton and all the 'moderates' hadn't forced whatever compromise they did. (if there even was a compromise)

     My main point is that this illustrates a profound difference between liberalism and conservatism that can be broadly applied (although not exclusively). Here we have what appears to be an obviously caring human being, who genuinely feels for the poor and children; so much that he followed his conscience and quit a job for which he was nominated by the President of the United States; yet if his recommendations and proposals had been followed, the people he so ardently supports would have been most hurt. Even afterwards, with the facts in his hands, he unwittingly continues to plot their downfall. That is why this ideology and people in power that subscribed to it can be so dangerous. In reality, he was to his constituents, what he believed the most hardnosed Republican represented. This is the difference between idealism and pragmatism, empathy and understanding, failure and success. A results driven attitude based on progress is always preferable to blind compassion grounded in cynicism. 

    On August 12th 2001, a month later, Primus admitted this to the New York Times:

“In many ways welfare reform is working better than I thought it would. The sky isn’t falling anymore. Whatever we have been doing over the last five years, we ought to keep going.” (140)

    This statement is in conflict with the study he just authored.

    Returning to the Children's Defense Fund, what are they up to these days? We might think from their mission statement, that they would have graciously apologized to President Clinton (and I'm sure they said worse about the Republicans [I found a few such statements attributed to Marian Edelmen, but could not verify their authenticity]). Seeing the results of Welfare Reform they must have done a 180 degree shift and are now lobbying members of Congress to enact even greater reform; right? Wrong. 

    In addition to studies arguing for more gun control, the Children's Defense Fund came out with a study in May 28, 2003 titled: Number of Black Children in Extreme Poverty Hits Record High. But they don't use the poverty definition that the Census Bureau uses to measure poverty rates! They use a method that includes housing and food stamps as income and accounts for taxes and found that the number of black children in extreme poverty (50% < poverty rate) rose from 729,000 in 1996 to 996,000 in 2001. Using their definitions of income (nearcash aftercash), 883,000 are lifted out of general poverty as opposed to the 267,000 that 'fell' into extreme poverty. They don't explain why their formula had 923,000 black children in extreme poverty in 1992 (when welfare rolls were at an all time high). Using the normal Census definitions, 1,269,000 black children were lifted out of poverty and 476,000 out of extreme poverty. 

    I find this confusing because it is unclear why counting all these benefits as income should result in more black poverty. I would think that, by definition, adding any kind of income to existing income could only raise the poverty level. What does nearcash and aftercash mean? According to the Children's Defense fund: 

Nearcash income includes all cash income plus the estimated value of food stamps, school lunch, and housing benefits. Taxes include federal and state income taxes, FICA, and the federal earned income tax credit. (146)

    First, low income families in extreme poverty pay no federal income tax. In fact, they receive a negative tax (they get money) due to the federal earned income tax credit - which any working low income person receives.  FICA, better known as the payroll tax, is money that everyone pays and, to varying degrees, receive back in social security benefits and Medicare benefits (147). Since these measures were partly set up to redistribute income and ensure 'fairness' and 'equality', persons in extreme poverty will surely receive more benefit from this then they put in. So we are left with the state income tax. Obviously, this varies state to state and many states have EITC tax credits (which are like the federal earned income tax credit) and other programs to reduce taxes on the poor. It is difficult to see how this tax burden drives all these black children into poverty, especially considering that they are including all these non cash benefits - even if one (somewhat misleadingly) subtracts payroll (FICA) tax from income. 

    Perhaps they are raising the whole poverty bar, which seems foolish, or engaging in some other methodology, which they are not stating. Even more puzzling, the (conservative) Heritage foundation, which did a similar critique on the Children's Defense fund study, found that heads of households of black families in extreme poverty worked on average 405 hours a year, 7.8 hours a week, and that 60% had not worked in the past year (148). From this we might wonder if many of these families are supported by cohabitating boyfriends, or other family members, are on other government assistance, work in under the table jobs, underreport their income, or perhaps are teenagers living with their parents or students in school. The Children's Defense fund assures us:

CDF found evidence that the trends in extreme poverty were not the result of potential pitfalls in the survey data such as failure to count income from live-in boyfriends or other household members, possible underreporting of welfare income, or the presence of wealthy respondents with very low annual incomes who live off of sizable assets. Even after accounting for these and other pitfalls, the number of extremely poor Black children remained significantly higher in 2001 than in 1996. (See accompanying Technical Report: Trends in the Data on Extreme Black Child Poverty.) (146)

    We are left to wonder what they mean by 'significantly' and how they can be so certain. The Technical Report could not be located. 

    The point is that even by their own slanted figures (if they are even correct...), Welfare Reform has been a resounding success, lifting 883,000 black children out of poverty. Miriam Edelman and the Children's Defense Fund have not admitted their mistake in opposing Welfare Reform, they publish misleading research downplaying it's success, they have not apologized for the venomous slander they directed at it's proponents, and they and continue to fight the very reforms that were so helpful to poor children. In 2003, in an incredibly biased article in the Louisiana Weekly,  Marian lashed out at President Bush (149):

"He has just proposed a budget that declares war on children," said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) in Washington, D.C. "He's proposing to slash child care at a time when his welfare bill is being rushed through to make poor mothers work longer hours as they leave welfare. Who's supposed to take care of the children?" (149) (Her claims are largely baseless. Bush is placing traditional federal funding for programs under the control of the states in block grants - the ones which proved to be so successful in kick-starting Welfare Reform in 1992. He has proposed a freeze on federal child care expenditures - not a cut. He is continuing to build on the work requirements of the 1996 Welfare Reform law by requiring 40 hour work weeks.) (150) (149)

"This is one of the most revolutionary, radical assaults on children and the poor. It's a very dangerous time. We'll look up and the tax cuts will be run through, all this other stuff will be run through. But we've got to fight." (149)

    The Children's Defense Fund is a shrill, counerproductive, partisan organization. Unfortunately, it appears its very existence hurts the poorest children in America. 

   Very similar political battles took place over the minimum wage. Liberals demagogued Republicans as being out to hurt the poor, minorities, women, and children etc.. and as selling out to 'big business'. As documented previously, the exact opposite actually occurred. The Liberals harmed those they claimed to be defending. In reality the big pushers behind the minimum wage hikes were unions. The press never asked these union leaders why they lobbied so hard and gave millions of dollars to the Democratic party in order to pass laws that wouldn't even help a single member of their union directly; all of their members typically made much more then the minimum wage. What it did was decrease the competitiveness of rival nonunion companies by forcing them to raise their bids on contracts. Interestingly, businesses were hurt by the minimum wage laws too. The same good policy (a $0.00 minimum wage) helps both the lowest income workers AND 'big business'. This is true of almost every policy put before Congress, yet our friends on the left will attempt to pit one group against the other in an attempt to satisfy special interest contributors - all shadowed in a veil of compassion.

    Yet, for some reason, even today the debate is not framed in the above terms. Republicans, like President Bush, often publicly claim to be in support of raising the minimum wage, yet work behind the scenes to kill it. It is almost if they actually believe the rhetoric being spouted on the left, or are afraid of the political consequences of appearing 'cold hearted' by the media. Why don't they just call a spade a spade? And, where are the African American leaders standing up for their youth? In the 1980s the National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM) actually supported a Reagan administration initiative:

The National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM), along with other organizations, has endorsed an experimental program which would establish a sub-minimum wage for youth working in the summer months. Unemployment for all youth is a tragically high 19%. However, black teens have an intolerable unemployment rate of close to 45%. (256)

   This illustrates another notable pattern, when government officials 'screw up' policies they never admit the original policy was a complete failure, rather they attempt to further expand government in a way that fixes their mistake. Soon this fixing will need adjusting and further fixing, which will need further fixing and on and on and on...

    In the 1990s a group called 'Campaign for a Fair Minimum Wage' formed and led the successful fight to raise the minimum wage in the 1990s, thus opposing the prosperity of many young and poor Americans, specifically young African American teenagers. You might recognize the 'Co-Chairs' of this group: John Sweeney President, AFL-CIO, Anita Perez-Ferguson President, National Women's Political Caucus, Kweisi Mfume President and CEO, NAACP, Hugh Price President, National Urban League, Dorothy Height Chairman of the Board, National Council of Negro Women. (257)

    Let us view some more rhetoric in the framed terms. Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MI), who was killed in a tragic plane crash on October 25th, 2002, said this on the Senate floor on August 2nd 1996 (113):

I think, today, what we see in the U.S. Senate is a spiritual deficit because, Mr. President, I know some of my colleagues do not want to look at this. They push their gaze away from unpleasant facts and an unpleasant reality. Sometimes people do not want to know what they do not want to know.

Mr. President, the evidence is irrefutable and irreducible: This legislation, once enacted into law will create more poverty and hunger among children in America. That is not reform.

Mr. President, there will be a $3 billion cut over the next six years in food assistance, nutrition assistance, even for families who pay over 50 percent of their monthly income for housing costs. So now we put families in our country -- poor families , poor children -- in the situation of "eat or heat," but they do not get both. At the same time, my colleagues keep wanting to cut low-income energy assistance programs. This is goodness? This is goodness? (113)

    Wellstone added in other statements:

But I had taught classes dealing with welfare policy. I've done organizing with the very families that were going to be affected by it. I guess I really felt like I just knew the subject matter too well to be able to vote any other way. (142)

I am going to embark on a poverty tour in our country. I am going to bring television with me, and I am going to bring media with me, and I am going to visit these children. I am going to visit some of these poor, elderly people. I am going to visit these families. (143)

    Wellstone followed through on his promise to do his poverty tour. One of the places he spent a lot of time was in Appalachia, a mountainous rural area stretching from New York to Georgia that has been impoverished for the past 60 years. On February 9, 1998 Michael Janofsky a reporter for the New York Times wrote a lengthy article titled “Pessimism Retains Grip on Region Shaped by War on Poverty”. Here are some excerpts (151), (152), (153):

Janofsky visited Owsley County, Kentucky, and found a poverty rate of over 46 percent, with over half the adults illiterate and half unemployed. “Feelings of hopelessness have become so deeply entrenched,” he reported, “that many residents have long forsaken any expectation of bettering themselves.” For years, the government has been trying to treat the despair with welfare programs: two-thirds of the inhabitants receive federal assistance, including food stamps, AFDC, and SSI disability payments. This, it now appears, is part of the area’s problems.

“The war on poverty was the worst thing that ever happened to Appalachia,” Janofsky quotes one resident as saying. “It gave people a way to get by without having to do any work.” Local officials told him that “many parents urge their children to try to go to special education classes at school as a way to prove they are eligible for [SSI] disability benefits.” (The senior class at the local high school picked as its motto, “I came, I slept, I graduated.”)

Why did the war on poverty fail? What was wrong with the programs under which the nation spent over $5 trillion attempting to solve the problems of the poor, only to come up empty? It’s an important question to ask in these days of welfare reform. The first step toward a sound policy ought to be to identify the errors of the past.

Michael Janofsky detailed the failure of this effort in the one region that was supposed to be the centerpiece of reform. “Federal and state agencies have plowed billions of dollars into Appalachia,” he wrote, yet the area “looks much as it did 30 years ago, when President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty, taking special aim at the rural decay.” (151), (152), (153)

    On a hunch, I decided I would look up rates of single mother hood in Appalachia. I was surprised to find the rates were nearly identical with the national average. I wondered if perhaps our pattern of single motherhood, teen births, poverty, and government dependency had been broken. I then discovered that Appalachia - the Appalachian mountain region - is broken down into sections and that the north and southern parts of it have never really been impoverished compared to the rest of the nation. Only in Central Appalachia, where only 10% of the population of Appalachia lives, has there been a scourge of poverty lasting over 40 years. Appalachia, as a whole has a poverty rate of 13.6%, only one point higher than the national average. 

C = central. Chart 52 (156):

    I did a search for the poorest county in Appalachia and found McDowell county. McDowell County has the fifth highest poverty rate in the country and 60% of its children live in poverty. (157) From the Associated Press (154):

The county ranks last in West Virginia in economic sustainability and general health; first for its rate of diabetes, low birth weights, births to unwed mothers, suicide, homicide and sudden infant death. The life expectancy of 64.5 years for men is about 13 years less than the national average.

During coal’s heyday the mining companies supplied most people’s needs, from jobs to housing to sewage to medical care. With the War on Poverty, the government replaced that “coal-camp mentality” with another kind of dependency says Jo-Claire Datson, a program director with the Council of the Southern Mountains and president of the county's rural health advisory board.

“You're dealing with a population in which those who were raised with work ethics and who really want to work have left, for the most part,” says Datson, who left an analyst position with Dun & Bradstreet seven years ago to give back to her native community Those remaining here, she says, may not be against working, “but they don't know how.” (154), a regional (albeit opinionated) news site concludes:

    Join me while we explore the dark-side of Appalachia the social scientists and politicians won't talk about. Here we have the Southern plantation mentality combined with the socialist welfare state. With a population that's 97% white, it isn't people of color on the cheap labor plantation. (155)

The following Chart depicts female unemployment or non employment Chart 53 (158):

    Compare this Chart to Chart 52 and you can see that most of these high unemployment areas fall in center Appalachia - where Mcdowell county is.  Further, McDowell County has the highest birthrate to unwed mothers under age 18 years in West Virginia. (158) Women's News adds:

Since welfare reform was implemented in West Virginia in 1997, under the name West Virginia Works, the number of welfare cases has dropped dramatically, from 33,000 to about 14,000 today.

Even in McDowell County, which has the highest number of caseloads in the state, the caseload has fallen from about 1,600 in 1997 to 1,100 last January. But looked at another way, about 3,000 of the county's 27,000 residents are still receiving welfare--more than 11 percent. (159)

    Trying to find out the politics of the county, I was not surprised to find this in a press statement from the West Virginia Republican candidate for Attorney General:

"The fact that the party chose southern West Virginia for its convention is also telling.  I grew up in Welch in McDowell County. Last time I looked McDowell County was 94% Democratic.  But, the county almost went for Underwood in 2000.  I think it is wonderful that West Virginia voters are beginning to base their votes on the person and the issues, and not the party." (160)

    We can hope that Welfare Reform will help bring McDowell county out of poverty. Unfortunately, I could find no statistics on the changes that occurred since Welfare Reform, just general statements that the teen birth rate has dropped by at least 10 percent in parts of Appalachia. As I was doing this research on Appalachia county, I encountered this interesting tidbit in the migration section of University of California Davis:

The San Joaquin Valley has a teen birth rate that is double the state average, 95 births per thousand 15- to 19-year old girls in 2000, compared to 48 statewide, a result of poverty, boredom and isolation. One expert said: "If it's between having a baby and working in a packing plant, motherhood sounds pretty good to these girls." In smaller San Joaquin cities, it can be hard for girls to anonymously get contraceptives and counseling in health clinics. Tulare and Kings counties have the highest teen birthrates in California. Senator Dean Florez (D-Shafter) said the "number one commodity" of the San Joaquin Valley was babies born to teens: "We're so focused on economic development issues in the Valley, but as much money as we raise for the state, it goes out the back door when it comes to the amount of teen pregnancy." Nearly half of the children living in the Central Valley live below the federal poverty line, unemployment averages double the state rate, and in some areas the high school dropout rate is 40 percent. The California Senate's Ending Poverty in California committee held a hearing in Fresno in May 2003, and heard that only massive government intervention could head off the creation of an "Appalachia of the West." In Fresno County, 27 percent of the county's adults are on public assistance and 36 percent of county children live in families with below-poverty-level incomes. Fresno county has 15 cities, and 11 have double-digit unemployment rates. Unemployment rates have been rising, from an average annual rate of 10 to 11 percent in 1987-89 to an average annual rate of 14 percent since 2000. (161) (emphasis mine)

    This is so amazing I'll excerpt this statement again because it illustrates why the 'war on poverty', the way liberals run things, will never ever, ever be won because they themselves are creating the poverty:

The California Senate's Ending Poverty in California committee held a hearing in Fresno in May 2003, and heard that only massive government intervention could head off the creation of an "Appalachia of the West." (161)

    They will surely create an "Appalachia in the west" by trying to prevent it. Government assistance is likely already causing the problems that exist here. The reason I said 'liberals' in the previous paragraph is because California is overwhelmingly Democratic. As we have heard, that state's destructive policies resulted in the stagnation of it's economy, exodus of it's businesses and the recall of it's governor. We can only hope that, in the next election, California will throw out most of it's incumbent State Senators (especially any irresponsible liberals on this 'Ending Poverty in California' committee).

    Despite Senator Wellstone's denunciations of Welfare Reform, his publicized tour of the poverty stricken areas, most notably the Appalachia area, and his good intentions, he is (like Wendell Primus) actually the arch enemy of those in poverty . The problem is that no one judges these elected officials by what the actual results of their policies would be. After Wellstone's death, he was memorialized in newspapers and editorials around the county. It was all very respectful, as it should be - all accounts point to someone who was a kind, generous, good person and a genuine idealist who stuck to his principals. As I searched for his statements on Welfare Reform, I ran across quite a few of these editorials and couldn't help but have some thoughts about some commonalities. Here are excerpts from a typical commentary titled He was A Rare Person in Politics from the Charlotte Observer (164):

Principles set Wellstone apart from -- and above -- most of his colleagues. 

But when Wellstone died, the politicians seemed to brush off the speechwriters and speak in their own words. President Bush called Wellstone "a man of deep convictions, a plain-spoken fellow." Sen. Trent Lott said his death was "too heartbreaking for words." Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura said: "This loss seems especially cruel ... his dedication to his state and nation was profound." Here's the interesting part: Those folks disagreed with Wellstone 99 percent of the time.

Wellstone was the Senate's most liberal liberal. To get to the left of him you'd have to run off in the ditch. He voted against giving President Bush authority to use force against Iraq. He voted against welfare reform. He never saw a problem that couldn't be solved by spending more money.

He never apologized for his views. He never had to. He voted the way he believed. That made him a rare person in politics. So many politicians act like traders on the Wall Street floor. They're willing to swap their souls for a key vote or a favor down the line or (especially) a wad of cash.

We've got plenty of politicians who are good at deals. We're awfully short on politicians who have ideals. But he shared Helms' belief that you ought to have principles, you ought to make them clear, and you ought to stick to them. The politicians were so heartfelt in their respect for Wellstone on Friday.

They should go to work Monday remembering why they respected him. (164)

    I want to be clear I mean no disrespect to Senator Wellstone or any of his admirers. I am using this to illustrate, in a non-personal way, an important theme in this paper. I want to return to an earlier point regarding the 'the soft bigotry of low expectations' where we discussed how compassionate destruction via welfare and government dependency can sometimes be more dangerous then open, unbridled, more easily combated, racism. In a similar sense, men like Senator Wellstone can be equally, if not more, destructive then racists - precisely because of the aura of honesty, goodness, and conviction that they have about them. Yet if their ideas and policies were actually enacted, they would surely result in a national disaster of epic proportion. These ideas and policies can be compelling, stimulating and exciting - just like the ideas of socialism and communism are (and were, at first, to me). Conservative ideas about a flat-tax, personal savings accounts and Welfare Reform are yawners - uninspiring and boring. Yet, when we dig beneath the initial emotional gloss and really analyze, not what should be, but what will be, the results of different policies, we find that an amazing juxtaposition has taken place. Conservative ideas are suddenly positive and forward looking and our initial exuberations towards the proposals of the other side have fade to disinterest, distaste and, finally, abject fear. 

    Although we can certainly commend Senator Wellston's character, honesty and integrity, we must ask a practical question; What is the use of a moral fool?


The Media


    In turning to the media and press I want to keep my commentary to a minimum and let you, the reader, make the connections. I will simply state that Media Bias is, in my humble opinion, a fact. This is especially true in the case of welfare and was historically true in the battle for Welfare Reform. Even today, false and misleading articles continue to be published in major national newspapers. I have collected some of these, which you can read at the bottom of this paper. An example of this was when NBC's (now with CBS) Bryant Gumbel asked on the September 23, 1996, Today show:

"In light of the new welfare reform bill, do you think the children need more prayers than ever before?" to Children's Defense Fund leader Marian Wright Edelman  (171)

    Surveys, questionnaires and research studies have all indicated that reporters and the major television networks lean significantly leftward. There are many theories and reasons for this, which I will try to cover another time, but the explosion of centrist and Conservative news outlets is a hopeful sign that people will have more choice over the news they receive. There are many common misconceptions that exist in society today, simply because of the slanted reporting by the press. As I post these excerpts, keep in mind how wrong these reporters and 'senior editors' were, that they are still reporting the news today, and the similarity of their 'talking points' to those of the left leaning research and advocacy groups and the quoted Senate Democrats. Welfare Reform passed with the support of about half the Democratic House and Senate. Therefore, we can guestimate that the ideology of the majority of those who wrote these stories and editorials fall on the left side of the Democratic party and the far left of mainstream society. First, from the (most liberal) editorial board of the New York Times (all emphasis mine):


The New York Times, August 28, 1996


HEADLINE: Screening for Homelessness

    New York City's leadership is right to insure that families seeking shelter at city expense really deserve it. The draconian welfare-reform bill just passed in Washington, in addition to the declining Federal support for public housing, makes it especially vital to sort out the truly needy from those who feign homelessness to get better housing or move higher on the public housing waiting list. (165)


The New York Times, August 25, 1996


  HEADLINE: The 'Nonworking Class'

    Proponents of the draconian welfare reform just enacted in Washington say the bill will help the poor to exchange "welfare checks for paychecks." But this welfare reform will do nothing of the kind. It will terminate welfare benefits after five years -- throwing perhaps a million children into poverty -- while doing little to create jobs in distressed areas where work does not exist. Having revoked Federal support, the country has an obligation to find or help to create jobs. (165)

  * * *

The New York Times, August 1, 1996


HEADLINE: A Sad Day for Poor Children

    President Clinton's defense at yesterday's press conference of his decision to sign an atrocious welfare bill exaggerated its tiny virtues and ignored some large faults. His disappointing excuse was that the flawed bill was the last realistic chance to fulfill his campaign promise to "end welfare as we know it." Last chance? This conservative Congress longs to send him as many bills as it takes to cut welfare. . . .

    This is not reform, it is punishment. The Administration's staff estimates that such provisions will throw a million more children into poverty. The President himself criticized the harsh cut in food stamps for families saddled with excessive energy and housing bills. Even worse, the bill would prevent unemployed workers without minor children from collecting food stamps for more than three months in any three-year period -- even if they work steadily, get laid off and can find no new job.

    This bill provides no useful follow-up. It is not fair to cut parents off welfare unless they are provided an opportunity to work. It is not humane to remove a Federal guarantee of welfare aid and create the leeway for additional punitive cuts at the state level. A bill that creates child poverty is not an acceptable way to end welfare as we know it. (165)

* * *

The New York Times, July 25, 1996


HEADLINE: Mr. Clinton's Duty on Welfare

    President Clinton says he might sign welfare legislation if Congressional negotiators improve the House- and Senate-passed bills in a conference committee. He should stop shadow-boxing. The House's bill is odious. The Senate's is only slightly less so. The conferees will produce a compromise somewhere in between. That is not a place a Democratic President should stand.

    The conferees will hand the President a bill that, like the bills they will work from, will hurl more than a million children into poverty. It will slice food stamps by an average of $600 for families earning less than $6,300 a year. It will strip legal immigrants, including some elderly, of health insurance. It will, for the first time ever, tell workers who lose their jobs after years of steady work that they cannot collect food stamps for their children. President Clinton will find no honorable reason, in his own promises of welfare reform or the history of his party, to sign such a bill. . . .

    To find serious fault with the House and Senate bills is not to deny the need for reform. The welfare system discourages work, encourages dependence and can foster family breakdown. [well now, here's an admission!] But Congress's arrogance in reshaping 61-year-old institutions is shocking. No one knows how time limits and many other provisions will work out in practice. Critics say they will pummel children and many innocent parents. The G.O.P. says that time limits will force recipients to take responsibility for finding work.

    Maybe so. But there is no evidence that time limits will work as promised. If they do not, it is the children who will suffer most. If Congress were serious about reform, and not waging ideological vendettas, then it would watch what happens when states experiment with time limits and other reforms. Wisconsin has asked Washington for permission to impose time limits on welfare benefits and guaranteed work opportunities. Before Congress sets up an untested system nationwide, it might at least see whether such limits work in Wisconsin, which benefits from a flush economy and competent state government.

    The Republicans think they have cornered Mr. Clinton. Either he will alienate his liberal constituents by signing their bill, they think, or he will alienate a huge chunk of the middle class by vetoing it. Mr. Clinton vetoed two previous G.O.P. measures, contending that they would hurt children.

    With November looming, Mr. Clinton is wavering. He stopped his staff from producing a new estimate of the Congressional proposal's impact on children -- an estimate that would surely have shown that the new legislation is only marginally different from the bills he vetoed. Even without those official estimates, he knows very well what the consequences will be. He should also know he will be harming children and blemishing his record of compassion if he signs the Congressional bill. (165)

* * *

The New York Times, June 1, 1996


HEADLINE: Who Stands for Children?

    Poor children need better educational opportunities, better nutrition and health programs and communities where they can grow up free of guns and violence. Yet President Clinton and Congress have embraced welfare reform bills that could throw a million more children into poverty, and Congress has balked repeatedly at more meaningful gun control. [lol, why does gun control keep showing up?] (165)


All of this is research from staurtbuck blog. Written directly below is from this blog, not from the New York Times:

    That's not counting the many op-eds that the New York Times ran lambasting the 1996 welfare reform bill at the time. Here are a couple of quotes from the understated Bob Herbert (165) [I've included another from Frances Piven]:


The New York Times, July 22, 1996


HEADLINE: In America; The Mouths of Babies 

There is something very creepy about the welfare debate.

    The politicians have gotten together and decided it's a good idea to throw a million or so children into poverty. But they can't say that. The proponents of this so-called "reform" effort have gone out of their way to avoid being seen for what they are -- men and women of extreme privilege who are taking food out of the mouths of infants and children, the poverty-stricken elderly, the disabled. (165)

* * *

The New York Times, August 2, 1996


  HEADLINE: In America; Throw Them Out

    They should have included, in this charade called welfare reform, instructions on how you actually get these useless elderly people out of their dwellings -- these blind people, and the men and women addled by Alzheimer's, and the ones disabled by strokes or cancer or heart disease. I'm talking about the elderly disabled immigrants who, by the grace of our President and a rabid Congress, are soon to be suddenly destitute. Paying rent will be out of the question, so they will have to be evicted. Do you get stretchers and carry them out of their homes and leave them at the curb, or do you wheel them out, or do you just drag them out? (165)


From the New York Times 1996

Op-Ed: By Frances Fox Piven

HEADLINE: From Workhouse to Workfare

    If Bill Clinton, as an Oxford student, had studied the history of the poor in early 19th century England, he might not have decided to sign the welfare reform bill.

    Eminent English social thinkers developed a justification for an 1834 law that eliminated relief for the poor. Learned arguments showed that giving them even meager quantities of bread and coal harmed both the larger society and the poor themselves.

    Never mind the rapid enclosure by the rich of commonly used agricultural land; never mind the displacement of hand-loom weavers by mechanized factories; never mind the decline in the earnings of rural workers. The real causes of poverty and demoralization were not to be found in these large economic changes, the thinkers said, but rather in the too-generous relief for the poor. The solution was to stop giving relief to people in their own homes; instead, survival for the family meant entering prison-like workhouses.

    The misery and reduced life spans that ensued were well- documented not only by historians but ultimately by Parliament, which investigated the workhouses and the riots against them. England came to learn that the theory that relief itself caused poverty was wrong, and replaced the Poor Law with a modern system of social assistance.

    No matter what England learned, the United States Government is eagerly following the 1834 script by ending Federal responsibility for welfare and turning it over to the states. The arguments are the same: welfare encourages young women to quit school or work and have out-of-wedlock babies. Once on the doll these women become trapped in dependency, unable to summon the initiative to get a job or to raise their children property. Welfare, in short is responsible for the spread of moral rot in society.

    Never mind low wages and irregular work; never mind the spreading social disorganization to which they lead; never mind changes in family and sexual norms occurring among all classes and in all Western countries. The solution is to slash welfare. ``Tough love,'' it is said, will deter young women from having babies and force those already raising children to go to work.

    But slashing welfare does not create stable jobs or raise wages. It will have the opposite effect. By crowding the low- wage labor market with hundreds of thousands of desperate mothers, it will drive wages down.

    The basic economic realities of high unemployment levels and falling wages for less-educated workers; guarantee a clamaity in the making--and not only for welfare mothers It is true that the United States has a higher proportion of single-parent families than other Western countries. But since other rich countries provide far more generous assistance to single mothers, this very fact suggests that welfare has little to do with it.

    Other facts also argue against the welfare-causes- illegitimacy argument. Most obvious, welfare benefits set by the states have declined sharply since 1975, while the out- of-wedlock birth rate has risen nationwide. In addition, there is no discernible relationship between the widely varying levels of benefits provided by the states and the out-of-wedlock birth rates in the states.

    But fact don't seem to matter. We may have to relive the misery and moral distintegration of England in the 19th century to learn with happens when a society deserts its most vulnerable members. (143)


Here is the New York Times Editorial 8 years later:

The New York Times, July 7, 2004 


Headline Turning Success into Failure

    ...But none of the shortcomings of the G.O.P.-controlled Congress are more confounding than its failure to renew one of the acclaimed successes of the past decade, the welfare reform law of 1996.

    Much of the partisan angst and philosophical conflict that marked the original passage dissipated as the law sharply shrank welfare rolls by 60 percent and guided millions of recipients from the dole to low-income employment and career opportunities. In keeping with the law's emphasis, states and localities began exercising creative authority to tailor federal block grants to the particular child care, transportation and education needs of welfare recipients and the working poor. Renewal, with some moderate tinkering, seemed a no-brainer. Yet Congress has dallied for two years, leaving state and local governments suffering an uncertain future as the House and Senate fight over how much tougher the time-proven law should be made. Local officials have been unable to plan beyond the law's stopgap extensions, each just a few months.

    Of the options currently before Congress, the Senate bill, championed by Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is far the best. It would moderate the damage to the states contained in the House and Bush administration proposal, which would essentially freeze financing levels, force more labor from the working poor and concoct bureaucratic mazes that would stymie promising state and local initiatives. The very heart of the 1996 law — to be more innovative locally — is at stake in Congress's ineptitude. Once more, the G.O.P. is at war with itself: Senate moderates are resisting House conservatives who are intent on politicking as welfare hawks. (166), (165)


    Notice that this last column still holds some of the same misconceptions that the editorial board had in 1996, that government programs: "child care, transportation and education" were responsible for the success of Welfare reform and that "forcing more labor" would "stymie" reform. The reason the first reform was successful was because government programs, aid, and other disincentives were taken off the backs of capable individuals. If "renewal with moderate tinkering [code word for increasing government involvement] is a no-brainer" then why is the Times suggesting the exact opposite of what made the original reforms a success? No one is "forcing more labor" from anybody; if any labor is being forced it is from the rest of the country, which is being made to support those who don't work. Although we have to give them credit for at least admitting Welfare Reform was a success, which is more than organizations like the Children's Defense fund will admit, the Times doesn't seem to have learned anything about the reasons for the success. 

    Although it is not an editorial, the New York Times, to it's credit, ran a cautiously optimistic story on August 12th, 2001 titled 'Rise in 2-parent families follows welfare overhaul' stated (209):

    MILWAUKEE -- Five years after Congress overhauled welfare laws, with the intention of creating more two-parent families, the proportion of poor American children living in households with two adults is on the rise, two studies say. Nagging questions remain about the stability of these new households and the well-being of the children growing up in them. The most significant change in family structure has occurred among low-income blacks, the studies suggest. After a decade-long slide, the proportion of black children living with two married parents increased significantly from 1995 to 2000. An analysis of census figures shows a 4.1 percentage point jump, to 38.9 percent from 34.8 percent. A separate survey by the Urban Institute, a research organization based in Washington, found that single mothers were increasingly likely to live with unmarried partners. The increase in cohabitation has been sharpest among those who have felt the prod of welfare change, the institute said.

    From a child's point of view, the most supportive household is one with two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage, according to a growing body of social research.

    Yet, in many of the two-adult households that have been cobbled together by necessity in Milwaukee and across the country in the wake of the welfare overhaul, a primary ingredient for child development - - stability -- often goes missing.

    The confluence of positive trends includes falling rates of crime and drug abuse, the greatest decline in child poverty -- particularly black child poverty -- since the 1960s, and sharp increases in employment among mothers who head families, especially those who never have been married. In the last decade, there also has been a steady decline in the teen-age birth rate, with the steepest decline among black teen- agers. In 1996, there were dire predictions by advocates for children  [and by the New York Times Editorial staff] that welfare change, by ratcheting up stress in families where mothers were required to find work, would lead to an increase in child abuse and neglect. Yet, so far, several national studies show no increase.

    On balance, the dovetailing of positive trends has surprised and intrigued many social scientists.

    While the sustained economic boom of the 1990s probably supported all of these trends, including the increase in two-parent families, there is considerable agreement, even among skeptical policy analysts, that welfare change deserves considerable credit. (209)

Staurtbuck blog concludes:

Just to be clear, we should all change our minds, if need be, in the light of education and experience. But if the New York Times is going to say now that welfare reform is a "no-brainer," it would be nice if they included something like this: "Indeed, now that we realize the benefits of welfare reform, it makes us cringe with embarrassment to read the hysterical arguments that we regularly made at the time. Apologies to any readers that were misled by our lack of expertise." (165)

    Some Editorials from other newspapers, entered into the Congressional Record by Senator Wellstone August 2nd, 1996 (143):

Philadelphia Inquirer, July 22, 1996


HEADLINE: Reform on the Cheap

Who'll blink on this latest shot at changing welfare? And, in the long run, who'll wind up paying for it?

    Voters liked Bill Clinton's promise to ``end welfare as we know it.'' So Republicans are aching to show he didn't mean it. The result is a game of political chicken that's far more likely to hurt poor Americans than to uplift them.

    The House did consider a bipartisan plan sponsored by Reps. Mike Castle (R., Del.) and John Tanner (D., Tenn.)--a plan whose spending cuts weren't so extreme. But it died when only eight House Republicans were willing to buck their leaders and line up with Mr. Castle.

    Since Republicans seem uninterested in a sensible, bipartisan reform, Mr. Clinton should get his veto pen ready. As for the executive order he promised--every bit the political gimmick that Republicans charged--it should be loaded with conditions to protect poor families from politicians peddling welfare reform on a dime. (143)


The Star Tribune, July 31, 1996


HEADLINE: Welfare Bill--It Deserves a Forthright Veto

    For most of his presidency, Bill Clinton has tried to have it both ways on welfare. He's curried favor with both welfare's tough-talking reformers and its defenders. He's argued both for changes, such as work requirements and time limits, and for preservation of welfare's protections for poor children.

    It's understandable that congressional Republicans would want their final-offer, election-year welfare bill to force the president to show his true stripes. They've crafted a bill that ought to do just that.

    The bill that's moving toward the House and Senate floors is one Clinton might be tempted to sign for political reasons. But he should veto it, for moral reasons.. If he doesn't, he will have put the lie to all his claims of concern for the well-being of the nation's most vulnerable children.

    For all its reformist window-dressing, the bill that emerged from conference committee Monday is too hard on America's poor. It doesn't spend enough money to hold the line against hunger, or to make workable the requirement that a job take the place of welfare within two years after benefits start.

    The bill's goal of quickly replacing welfare checks with paychecks is something most Americans support. But making that happen in a way that gives poor families lasting self- sufficiency takes more than the hammer of a time limit. It takes job training, counseling, public-works jobs where private employment is unavailable, child care and transportation. Those tools cost money. This bill doesn't provide it.

    As a result, in the name of overcoming poverty, this bill would likely push some of America's least employable adults and their children into more desperate circumstances.

    And, because of the bill's big cuts in food-stamp spending, that desperation could well include hunger. Admittedly, the food-stamp provisions in the final bill aren't as extreme as earlier versions. A guarantee of food-stamp eligibility-- though not of food-stamp amounts--was preserved for families with children. No so for unemployed adults without dependents. They'd be cut off from the government's food lifeline after six months. (143)


Buffalo, NY News, July 23, 1996


HEADLINE: Don't Let Rush to Welfare `Reform' Leave Some of Needy Without Help

What if time limit is reached and there's no job to get?

    In his eagerness to outflank Republicans on the welfare issue and sign almost anything billed as ``reform,'' President Clinton should resist the urge to abandon the long- established concept that there is a national interest in helping the poor become self-sufficient.

    The states could then structure programs largely as they please, ending the national safety net and competing with one another in a ``race to the bottom'' as they cut benefits and drive out the poor.

    That's no way for an enlightened nation to lift its most vulnerable people. But the final bill that emerges from House-Senate negotiations seems sure now to take that tack. (143)


Atlanta Constitution, July 28, 1996


HEADLINE: Welfare Bills Suffer From Politics

The welfare system must be reformed, and the goal of that reform must be twofold:

    It must reinforce a work ethic that has faltered among some welfare recipients; It must protect the children of poor Americans from hunger and deprivation in an increasingly fickle economy. Unfortunately, the reform effort making its way through Congress focuses too much on the first goal and too little on the second.

    It is trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. Even though true welfare reform will cost more money in the short term, and even though entitlement programs for the middle class are far more expensive than welfare programs, deficit cutters have focused on the poor, cutting $60 billion from food stamps and other programs over the next six years.

    The bill is calculated as an election-year dare to Clinton. He has made clear his uneasiness with the bill's impact on poor children, but has nonetheless indicated a willingness to consider signing the Senate's more reasonable approach. But Republicans seem intent on forcing him to veto the legislation. As Bob Dole grumbled on the campaign trail, ``He's not going to get that bill. He's going to get a tougher bill.''

And as House Speaker Newt Gingrich put it, ``I believe we win from this point on no matter what happens.''

Welfare reform is important, but apparently less important than election-year politicking. (143)


Chicago Tribune, July 21, 1996


HEADLINE: Playing `Gotcha!' on Welfare Reform

    The House passed a new welfare bill Thursday, and the talk afterward was not of what the bill would mean for the children and adults who depend on the kindness of the taxpayers, but of a political calculus.

    ``In the end,'' said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, ``the president is going to have to make a determination whether or not he's going to sign this bill and satisfy the American people while he alienates his left-wing political base, or if he's going to veto the bill in order to satisfy the left wing of the Democrat Party and thereby alienate the American people.''

In other words, ``Gotcha!''

    And that pretty much captures what's been wrong from the beginning with the effort to legislate welfare reform. Clinton has exploited the issue to establish his bona fides as a ``new Democrat.'' The Republicans, suspecting insincerity on Clinton's part, have used it to bash him and back him into a corner.

Suffusing the entire debate have been two notions, one simply wrongheaded and the other both wrongheaded and pernicious.

    The first is that reforming welfare is a way to save money. It is not, at least initially. Done properly--that is, with the purpose of getting welfare parents into the work force-- reform will actually cost more money, for job training, child care and so forth. (And whatever else the 9 million children on welfare suffer from, it is not from having too much money spent on them.)

    The second notion, which partisans on neither side have done enough to counter, is that welfare reform is about getting black layabouts off the public dole. In fact, most welfare recipients are not black. But that continues to be the accepted stereotype and, one suspects, a substantial motivator of the welfare-reform push.

    But eliminating welfare's entitlement status is a grievous error of historic proportions. Indeed, Sen. Carol Mosely- Braum (D-Ill.) did not exaggerate when she called it an ``abomination.''

    That the world's richest nation would not guarantee help for poor children--and Aid to Families With Dependent Children is nothing except a vast childcare program--is outrageous. It represents not progress but regression. And while Dick Armey may be convinced that that's what the American people want, we are not. (143)


The Washington Post, July 25, 1996


HEADLINE: A Children's Veto

    ``I just don't want to do anything that hurts kids,'' President Clinton said as the Senate passed its supposed reform of welfare the other day. Why did the sentence strike us as yet another cynical manipulation of the welfare issue for political purposes? Because if Mr. Clinton were determined not to hurt children, he would have indicated days ago that he intended to veto this legislation or any bill remotely like it.

    An eighth of the children in the country now are on welfare. No one can know for sure how many would be affected adversely by the legislation, but the best guess seems to be that at least a million more children would end up living below the poverty line. A fifth of the children in the country already are there.

    The bills would disestablish or greatly weaken the food stamp program as well, while basically cutting off federal benefits to legal immigrants--people who are legitimately here and theoretically welcome but have not become U.S. citizens. Technically, this is budget-balancing legislation, a reconciliation bill. The noble-sounding legislation, a reconciliation bill. The noble-sounding budget-balancing process of a year ago has come down to a bill that would cut only programs for the poor, and programs on which people who are black and brown particularly depend.

    This legislation can't be fixed. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who opposed it the other day, said that even though there were only 25 votes against, he was sure that a veto, if it were cast, would be sustained. We have no doubt that's so. It is another way of saying that if only the president would take the lead and provide the political cover, instead of joining in stripping it away, he could--and should--defend to the voters. If instead he signs the bill, he no doubt will claim it as a triumph, but in moral and policy terms it will be the low point of his presidency. (143)


    Here are excerpts from an opinion piece from Colbert King, an African American member of the Washington Post Editorial board:

The Washington Post, July 27 1996

Opinion, Colbert King

Headline: Trashed by the Welfare Bill

    We streamed, we strolled, we strutted into town last fall. We pledged, promised and proclaimed. We bridged and bonded. The Million Man March was one colossal "I Love You, Man" rally.

    By sundown, we were heading out of town, empowered, reconciled, self-actualized. Our saunter sent the message: "We're bad, we know it, we're here to show it." It said: "Women, pine no more. We've atoned for our neglect. We're now regenerated companions, child providers and community builders. Sisters, we're coming home."

    You'd better, said the conservative Republican-led Congress this week as it rammed through legislation tearing apart the federal safety net that for 60 years has protected poor families and poor communities from abject impoverishment.

    History will record that the largest gathering of African American men since the nation's founding was assembled in Washington on Oct. 16, 1995. It will also register the fact that most of the marchers were missing in action when a mean-spirited Congress pulled the rug out from under 2 million poor African American families and their 4 million children.

    There are some African Americans, mainly among the middle class, who say the welfare reform fight isn't our main event. They point out, correctly and defensively, that most welfare recipients are white. That's a fact. But it's also true that the percentage of black families on welfare is three times as high as whites. Nearly 40 percent of African American children rely on Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). And when you look at the states of the Old Confederacy, where the largest percentage of black welfare recipients live, the African American proportion rises dramatically. And don't think for one moment that the folks on Capitol Hill don't know it, too. No, this was our fight.

    What's more, if legal immigrants who also are being trashed in the bill were descendants of the Old World or the Old South, do you think this Congress would be cutting them adrift?

    Now the weight and wait are on President Bill Clinton. Let Congress have its way and watch as about a million children eventually get tossed back into poverty. Let these punitive measures become law, and watch as states with new powers over welfare programs race each other to the bottom with ever-lower benefits. Watch as legal immigrants become transformed into social pariahs. Watch as urban problems worsen. The current system may not do much for work, self-respect, family or self-discipline. No argument there. However, as an exercise in the federal government finding new ways to abandon the least among us, the 104th Congress has done itself proud. What now?

    It's a tad late in the day for a repeat performance of the Million Man March. Not that poor women with children couldn't have used a little help on Capitol Hill in the past few months. But that would have called for a sustained engagement in the legislative and political process, where the yardstick of success is measured not by flamboyance, wishful fantasies and rhetorical posturing but by changing attitudes and votes through nothing less than hard persuasion and hand-to-hand lobbying.

    With any luck, Bill Clinton will deliver a high-noon-type veto. Not because a rejection of the bill would build support among progressive Democrats and his core constituents of African American voters, though it probably would. The bill should be vetoed because its flaws demand as much.

    And with a little more good fortune, men from the march will begin to use their new-found commitment and energy when and where it counts. Much remains to be done beyond striking bold poses of unity. There are families to be re-knitted together, children to be raised, communities to be rebuilt. Attitudes and ways that some of us have passed on to the next generation have to be reversed. The march was a day for paying some old dues. But now there is one added injury for which we on the Mall must also make good. In our heart of hearts, we know that women and children should never have been left in such dire circumstances where congressional bullies could treat them this way. That's nothing to strut about. (167)


    This opinion piece is notable because it emphasizes the the racial demagoguery we've seen elsewhere and is even more potent because it comes from an African American. What is most interesting is that he has also has his facts skewered. This is worrisome because journalists are supposed to be 'objective'. However, this really just reinforces the standard conservative view that most journalists are not objective; they are liberals purporting to be objective.  He says:

And when you look at the states of the Old Confederacy, where the largest percentage of black welfare recipients live, the African American proportion rises dramatically. (167)

    Let me list the states with the high percentages of children on cash welfare (AFDC) out of total children in the state. The year is 1996, when his opinion piece was written:

    District of Colombia  44.1%

    California                  20.3%

    New York                17%

    Rhode Island            16.5%

    West Virginia           14.6%

     Hawaii                    14.5%

    Illinois                      14.4%

    Michigan                  13.9%

    Connecticut              13.7%

    Tennessee                13.7%

    Ohio                        13.4%

    Of the top 10 states (+1 district) only Tennessee is in the south (a lot of which includes the 'whiter' Appalachia region). In fact, the only 'confederate states' with rates higher than the national average of 12.4% are Georgia (12.8%), Tennessee (13.7%), Mississippi (13.1%) and Louisiana (13.3%). (168)

    Of course, he was stating that the percentage of African Americans on the Welfare rolls was greater in the south. It seems to me this is being almost as disingenuous as the Children's Defense fund in the statistics he is using. Let's examine where African Americans are located throughout the country in 2002: 

3.6 million
Estimated black population of New York on July 1, 2002, the highest of any state. Four other states had black populations that surpassed 2 million: Florida, California, Texas, and Georgia.

The estimated proportion of Mississippi’s population that was black as of July 1, 2002, the highest percentage of any state in the nation. Louisiana (33%), South Carolina (30%), Georgia and Maryland (29 %), and Alabama (27%) followed. The District of Columbia, classified as a state equivalent by the Census Bureau, has a population that is 61% black.

    Colbert King doesn't say where he got his data from, but just from this raw data I found here it is clear that, at minimum, more African Americans are on Welfare in New York and California then in any southern state. The greatest percentage of African Americans on Welfare is in the District of Colombia. His attempt to disparage the south, an area which, despite being historically poorer, has lower percentages of it's children on welfare and is becoming a growing bastion of African American prosperity (probably for this reason) and then to link this to the Confederacy shows complete ignorance. Even if the Southern States had higher percentages of African Americans on their welfare rolls than the national average (which might indeed be the case) then these states have the most to gain - not loose- from Welfare Reform!

    I wonder what Colbert King would think of's analysis (170):

Survey respondents placed a high priority on income earnings potential, cost of living, housing prices, and entrepreneurial opportunities. When BE first published this list in 2001, four of the top 10 cities were in the South. This year seven out of 10 are below the Mason-Dixon Line. Five out of 10 have a black mayor, and all have a black population of at least 25%.

Atlanta, Georgia, ranks as the No. 1 city for African Americans, driven primarily by entrepreneurial opportunities, earnings potential, and cultural activities. Future job growth is strong at 23%, and Atlanta is home to a high number of black-owned businesses. African Americans make up 61% of Atlanta’s population. (170)

    Colbert King is only right about one thing: that African Americans would be the group most affected by Welfare Reform. What about other black leaders in and out of Congress? There must have been a curious alliance of African Americans, who traditionally vote 90% Democratic, and Republicans over the issue of Welfare Reform? Surely no African American leader would echo the Democrat party line against progress for their own people and constituents? African American leaders must have experienced the scourge of Welfare firsthand in their districts and be absolutely livid at the poverty and family dissolution that accompanied Welfare dependency? 

    Sadly, the exact opposite occurred. Mainstream African American leaders fought in favor of the continued subjugation of their own people. Again, this is how dangerous some of the ideas of liberalism are. It can brainwash even the leaders of the very people who have had welfare stomped on them for over 60 years, to the point where even their caring, educated standard bearers don't believe in the strength and competence of their own people. These African American leaders believed that poorer African Americans needed government help to fight their way out of poverty - that they would be unable to do it themselves. Caught up in their condescending compassion, they could not bring themselves to believe that the very help that they fought to bring their constituents, was the hopelessness and despair they sought to alleviate. 

    On July 1996 Democratic Representative Charlie Rangel whose district encompasses Harlem, NY said:

Any way that you look at this under the Senate bill originally it was 2 million people, 2 million kids that were pushed into poverty. Now under all the statistical data, it’ll be 1 million children that will be pushed into poverty and an unknown number of legal people that played by the rules, that came to this country, that will just wash off, and why not? They can’t vote. (172)

I think that our spiritual leaders would see how cruelly the lesser among us have been treated that when they get together, of course, after the election, that we could erase the whole thing. (172)

    On March 21, 2005 Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) took to the House floor against the Contract with America and paraphrased a famous statement used against the Nazis during World War II:

Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga., said that the bill would "put one million more children into poverty." He declared, "They're [The Republicans] coming for the children. They're coming for the poor. They're coming for the sick, the elderly, and the disabled." (173), (174)


    The NAACP, (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) lobbied against Welfare Reform. Despite the name of the organization, the NAACP opposed the advancement of colored people:

    As a lobbyist for the NAACP explained, "We saw this as a throwback to the issue of states’ rights, and our history tells us enough about that. It’s negative and frightening." An attorney for the Center for Law and Social Policy, a liberal think tank, explained, "The states have no obligations to the poor under the program. The governors settled for more federal funds and fewer state responsibilities." (108)


    'Civil Rights' leader Al Sharpton opposed Welfare Reform, writing:

"I believe the welfare reform bill attacked the poor and demonized them as people who did not want to work . . . . I marched in 1996 at the Democratic Convention in Chicago over the welfare reform bill because I felt Clinton's policy was unfair." (Rev. Al Sharpton,Al On America, p. 17, 2002) (175)

    Sharpton's mentor, the Reverend Jesses Jackson, runs an organization that threatens and intimidates wealthy corporations with threats of racial lawsuits. These corporations then agree to do business with black owned businesses, which then contribute large sums to Jackson's 'Rainbow Push Coalition'. Sometimes the corporations save themselves this trouble by just contributing directly to Jackson's 'Rainbow Push Coalition'. While head of his organization, Jackson fathered an illegitimate child with his secretary. At a United We Stand America Conference in 1995 Jackson said:

Let us focus on welfare and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Let us stop AFDC because it costs $17 billion a year. But what about the other AFDC-Aid for Dependent Corporations-the $230 billion that is spent on them? It is easy to pick on vulnerable women and children, but what about the corporations? Corporate welfare exceeds the support given to poor mothers many times over because poor mothers do not make campaign contributions and do not even vote because their spirits are broken. (176)

        He continued:

Contrary to media stereotypes, most poor people are not on welfare. They are mostly children. They work the hardest and the longest on the nastiest jobs. They cut up our chicken. They sweep our streets.

They are not lazy; they raise other people’s children. They work in the hospitals, they mop the floors, and they change the beds. They empty our bedpans, and yet when they get sick, they cannot afford to lie in the bed they make up every day.

Why are they in this trap? Their wages have been falling every year for over 20 years. Their conditions grow worse. Their neighborhoods are terrorized by crime. Their young cannot find work. Those who escape face extra obstacles to find loans to buy a home. 

Washington has abandoned them. You must not. (176)

    Jackson was so energized against the Welfare Reform bill that he teamed up with N.O.W. (National Organization of Women), a feminist group that has long been a proponent of left wing causes. N.O.W sent out this notice on July 15th 1996:

Contact your senators (our focus should be on the Senate, rather than the House, which will easily pass welfare "reform") immediately to tell them that this legislation makes millions of women and children poorer. It dooms families who live in areas with high unemployment to hopeless poverty. It will increase hunger and domestic violence, among many unfortunate consequences. It will negatively impact struggling families with children who have severe disabilities. It incorporates intrusive and dangerous policies which will mean that problems associated with poverty will become worse, not better. (177)

    N.O.W believes that welfare offers women sanctuary from domestic violence. To what extent this might be true I don't know. One might think that stronger families, not weaker families would work best to combat this... 

    Here is a picture of Jesse Jackson marching with N.O.W. members against Welfare Reform, along with the results of the reforms they opposed. Chart 55 (178) (this in reference to the pic):

    Jackson's son, Jesse Jackson Jr., a congressmen from Chicago Illinois opposed Welfare Reform - even the watered down Democratic version - and released the following Press Statement (179):


Statement By Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Thursday, July 18, 1996

Washington, DC

        Today Representative Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2) voted "no" on the so-called welfare reform plans proposed by both Republicans and Democrats, as well as on the Kasich-Ney amendment. Rep. Jackson said, "While the Democratic plan was slightly more humane and less mean spirited than the Republican plan, I cannot in good conscience support either."

    Of the Republican plan Rep. Jackson said, "The Republican plan was very mean spirited, and the Kasich-Ney amendment was even draconian in nature." Rep. Jackson concluded, "All of todays so-called welfare reform proposals were terrible. Thus, I voted 'no' on all of them."

    "The Republican plan was basically the same as previous ones already vetoed by President Clinton. The Republican plan still abandoned the basic federal assurances of aid for poor children and families guaranteed for the past 60 years; still made deep cuts in food stamps and SSI benefits; still jeopardized guaranteed health coverage through Medicaid for parents and older children who lose their AFDC benefits; still provided inadequate child care funding for parents who are required to work; and still eliminated almost all help for legal immigrants in need," Rep. Jackson said.

    Rep. Jackson argued, "The Democratic Plan was only slightly improved by restoring almost $13 billion in benefits to legal permanent residents, but still makes $17.5 billion in cuts to these tax-paying legal immigrants. The Democratic substitute restored $4 billion in food stamp program benefits, but still represented a $19 billion cut in assistance."

    "In fact," Jackson said, "the whole orientation of implying in legislation that poor people must be forced to work is the wrong spirit. Just a couple of years ago in Chicago a new hotel opened with about 1,000 jobs available, and nearly 10,000 people showed up in the dead of a Chicago winter to get them. It is hypocritical for legislators to insist on a work ethic for poor people without a full employment policy, jobs and day care. In recent weeks, when the unemployment rate modestly went down, the stock and bond markets reacted negatively. Many politicians got nervous because they were more concerned about the markets than they were the unemployed. In this climate, it is hypocritical to preach work and worship the market," Jackson concluded. (179)

    Again, might we think Jesse Jackson and all these other black leaders would apologize to their constituents and the Republicans they maligned and immediately insist on continuing the progress gained from Welfare Reform? You probably already know my tired answer... No, they learned nothing from their initial foolish opposition. It seems the pattern of liberals, Democrats and African American leaders opposing future reform is just as predictable as means-tested government assistance resulting in poverty, family breakup and teen pregnancy. The Black Press US Network reported on May 22nd, 2002 (180):

Jesse Jackson denounces bush's welfare reform agenda

Overall, when the copious burden of finding employment is imposed on a citizen without regard for other obligations, government dependency will be the conclusion.

The Rainbow Push coalition is in accord with the children's defense fund in pointing out that the Bush plan hinders citizens moving from welfare to work in many different areas:

The Bush plan would require that more families work more hours. Under the proposal families would be required to engage in a work activity 40 hours per week - a one third increase from the current 30 hour requirement (20 hours for a single parent with young children). In addition the Bush administration would require states put 70 percent of their caseload to work or suffer financial consequences. Currently states have one third of their caseloads in work. (180) (emphasis mine)

    There you see Jesse teaming up with our old friends in the Children's Defense Fund. Let us let the statement stand for itself: 

Overall, when the copious burden of finding employment is imposed on a citizen without regard for other obligations, government dependency will be the conclusion. (180)

    The first African American Senator, Carol Moseley Braun, fought against Welfare Reform, calling it an 'abomination' (126). On April 9th 2003, the Children's Defense fund sponsored a debate among the Democratic Presidential Nominees:


Thirteen million American children live in poverty, 13 million children. They have no votes, they have no lobbyists, but they do have a voice, and that voice is represented best by the Children's Defense Fund. I am so pleased to have been invited to join in this forum, and pleased that all of you are here to participate in this critical decision about the kind of country we will have, about the kind of people we are, because surely how we deal with children will represent our legacy as a generation to the world. I am the only candidate in this race who has not only borne a child and raised one, but borne the battle for children over the years from the very beginning of my career as a state legislator. I fought for children in the Illinois House to provide them with food. I fought to provide them with living subsidies. As a member of the United States Senate, I fought to see to it that no child's limit was cut off from living subsidies with the welfare bill that eliminated the national safety net. I believe that we have a responsibility, all of us as Americans, to see to it that every child is cared for, given health care and opportunity for an education, a secure family environment, and a chance to grow and contribute to this great nation to the best of their abilities. And that is what I will fight for as President of the United States. Third, in addition to holding mothers of kids on welfare responsible, holding fathers of kids on welfare responsible, helping them get jobs but making sure they pay their child support at the same time. (181)

    7-8 years after the fact, with piles of evidence, and yet Carol Mosley Brown still panders falsehoods to the Children's defense fund. Incidentally, the most press coverage that Carol Mosely Brown generated in her entire campaign was when she was endorsed by N.O.W. 

    The crusading, fiery leftist Howard Dean was asked this question later on in the debate. Keep in mind Mariam Wright Edelman is in the audience (181):

JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor Dean, I have a somewhat related follow-up. It really picks up on something you said earlier. You were quoted back in 1996, after President Clinton signed the welfare reform bill into law, you said: "Liberals like Marian Wright Edelman are wrong. The bill is strong on work, on time limits assistance, and it provides adequate protection for children." Do you stand by what you said?

FORMER GOVERNOR HOWARD DEAN: Are you kidding? I would never stand by that in front of Marian Wright Edelman. I wouldn't dare. This is like being on Tim Russert's show, how many years ago, seven years ago. We were the first state in the country to do welfare reform, even before Wisconsin. What we do is, we support folks for private jobs, we give them childcare, we give them daycare, we give them health care for a year after they go to work. And the folks that we put into work, work in the private sector, many of them are now supervising people, and they have not returned to the unemployment rolls. So we were the pioneers of welfare reform. In fact, we did it before Bill Clinton. It was a little different. But I think welfare reform has been an incredibly positive force. I do not, however, support the ridiculous proposal of the Bush Administration to require women to work 40-hour weeks and leave every child at home with no childcare money. That is not sensible welfare reform. (181) (emphasis mine)

    I don't agree with Howard Dean on many points, but it does give me some new respect for him. He was not only able to see the immense problems caused by welfare, but take action to reform it in his state and then to avoid the political temptations to denounce Welfare Reform in the Democratic primaries. Of course, he then reverts to false attacks against the Bush administration. 

    Let's turn to the 1996 Democratic Convention, which nominated President Bill Clinton for another 4 years. Here is a report on the activities of the Congressional Black Caucus and the African American convention delegates (182):

CHICAGO, Aug. 26 -- Urged on from a pulpit by the rousing rhetoric of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., black delegates to the Democratic Convention shouted "Amen!" to four more years of Clinton-Gore.

Meeting on the first day of the convention, Jackson and other national black leaders, including Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois, moved forcefully to suppress dissent over the President's signing earlier of a controversial welfare reform bill. They praised the Clinton administration for creating jobs and lambasted the Republican-led Congress for dismantling programs for the poor.

Sounding much like his famous father, Jesse Sr., and the preacher he trained to be, Jackson said the only way to "fix" welfare is for Democrats "to regain control of the White House and the U.S. Congress."

 The Rev. Jesse Johnson, Jr., president of the Houston Black American Coalition of Democrats, said Clinton should focus on rehabilitating criminals and expanding educational opportunities for the poor. "You've got to drop your guns and pick up your babies," Johnson warned.

Of the welfare bill, Johnson said sorrowfully, "I came to Chicago as a wounded delegate. I was excited until President Clinton signed the welfare reform. He wounded me."

But Johnson typifies a key strength for the Democrats: though disappointed with Clinton, he has no intention of voting Republican, "not even if they had (Ret. Gen.) Colin Powell" on the ticket. "I have no choice," Johnson lamented.

But other delegates were more willing to put a positive twist on the welfare debate. "We want to re-elect Bill Clinton so he can fix the welfare reform bill ... so no one in this country falls through the cracks," said delegate Glenda Swanson Lyle, a state representative from Denver.

"My name is not Liddy Dole," declared Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary, as she was given a hand-held microphone, garnering one of the biggest laughs of the day.

O'Leary ridiculed Republicans for trying to portray their party as ethnically diverse. "Excuse me?" she boomed incredulously. Voices in the crowd shouted, "Right on."

Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Fla., exhorted the crowd to "keep Bill Clinton's feet to the fire," while reminding African Americans that they stand to gain nothing from a Dole administration. "The last Republican who did anything for me was Abraham Lincoln," she thundered.

Delegate Sylvester Patten of Youngstown, Ohio said his party now needs to move beyond the welfare debate. "We can't be crying over spilt milk. I believe out of every bad thing comes a good thing," he said. He said Democrats should focus now on creating jobs for the people who will soon be off the welfare rolls.

There were 54 African American delegates at the Republican convention. About 1,100 are attending the Democratic convention, according to a spokesman for the black delegates' caucus. (182)

    So these African American Democrats were so mad at Welfare Reform that they wanted to 'fix' it as soon as they could. I wonder if they still want to. Another significant fact is the difference between the number of African Americans at the Democratic and Republican conventions. Who were in the right place? 

    Lyndon Johnson, himself a Texan, did a lot to advance the Civil Rights movement as both Senate Majority Leader and President. He also was equally responsible for the oppressing effects that his welfare policies had on the African American people (and all poor people). It is reported that: 

     Johnson didn’t stand for re-election in 1968 and ironically his last public appearance was at a civil rights symposium. When he died a few weeks later, 60% of the people who filed passed his coffin to pay their respects were African Americans. (183)

    How many African American will come to Newt Gingrich's funeral? Gingrich may not have done anything for 'Civil Rights', but what exactly is the definition of 'Civil Rights'? If Civil Rights means the 'Advancement of Colored People' (to steal the phrase from the NAACP), then is white, southern, Republican, Newt Gingrich the leader of the modern African American civil rights movement? If we judge him by his results - Yes! And why should we believe his intentions are any different then those of Reverend Jackson and Georgia Representative John Lewis? How strange then, that this man should have so little support from the African American community. We again have the opportunity to witness the contrast between overt explicit racism - met head on and defeated by Johnson, Jackson and Lewis (a real hero in this) and the subtle implicit racism of the 'bigotry of low expectations' perpetuated by the previous three men and defeated by Gingrich and the Republicans. Should we call it teamwork? I dunno... it doesn't quite fit because Gingrich isn't trying to bring back any of old civil rights laws (and Republicans helped pass them anyway), but Jackson, Sharpton, Lewis, Brown, and the rest of the black leadership, along with liberal Democrats, are trying to overturn, or 'fix', the progress that Gingrich and the Republicans have made.

     Today, some Conservatives, rather understandably, don’t often appreciate the role that the modern 'civil rights' groups still play in combating explicit racism because they see them as the front-runners of leading their people into implicit slavery through welfare programs etc… Far too often these 'civil rights' groups inexcusably play on their peoples' fear of explicit racism to advance their own agenda and brainwash voters [example 2000 Florida and 2004 Ohio recounts]. This is not to say that the African American leaders, the NAACP, and other organizations don't have a legitimate purpose in fighting overt racism where it still exists, but why can't they fight both kinds of racism? Why did (do) they support the slavery of welfare? 

     Initially, they may not have had much choice. During the 50s and 60s a great political upheaval took place across the solidly Democratic South as some Southern Democrats, who since the civil war had led the fight against the civil rights movement and desegregation, grew disgusted with the national Democratic leadership and bolted to the Republican party. Over the years various historical revisionisms have been put forth that label(ed) the Southern Republican party as the new 'party of the racists'. In truth, there were many differences between the Southern Democrats and the new leftward movement of their national party and racist attitudes were fading. Cultural issues, taxes, pacifism, and the growing religious movements all contributed to the slow exodus from the Democratic party. In the 1968 Presidential election it was a segregationist Democrat, George Wallace, who carried the South. In 1976 Jimmy Carter, a liberal Democrat (who ran as a centrist) and a strong civil rights supporter, swept the South.  

    But the fact that some leftover extremist elements entered the folds of the Republican party (where some remain today - like the CCC) was enough to cause African American groups to, understandably, choose the opposite path. Having ancestors abused as slaves and then living through the bitter experiences of discrimination and segregation drove the newfound African American political movement to embrace socialism almost by default. Old style 'moderate' Southern Democrats like George Wallace were more interested in rolling back civil rights gains then tackling the racial problems of the South, and the growing Southern Republican party was also indecisive, attempting to pander to it's many constituencies. The only place African Americans found acceptance and true outrage over the racial conditions in the South was on the far left of the American political spectrum. Early civil rights marches, especially in Washington, were also attended by labor unions. Martin Luther King Jr's SCL (Southern Christian Leadership) civil rights organization received much of it's funding from New England liberals. King was a socialist, and was accused (perhaps often unjustly) of having communist sympathies.

    Nonetheless, one can only agree that it would be better to live as a socialist then as a slave or second class citizen. Having listened to Martin Luther King Jr's autobiography (250), read Malcom X's autobiography (249), and attended a 2000 Monmouth University speech by Black Panther co-founder Bobby Searle, I can certainly appreciate the effectiveness of King's nonviolent methods in bringing change. As progress against explicit racism advanced through this method, we must then ask at what point does the harm through implicit racism (via welfare) begin to overshadow the good achieved through combating explicit racism? And did the civil rights movement have to be fought this way? How would African Americans be living today if the civil rights movement was fought using King's nonviolence, but with a conservative ideology? Would it have gotten the same support amongst African Americans at the time? The innately deceptive and ultimately destroying promises of (economic) liberalism must surely have found acceptance amongst the poorer black populations and garnered additional support for the civil rights movement. All of these questions are not easily answered. In the end, African Americans did achieve civil rights - but at what a cost! And when will this economic stagnation and family dissolution finally stop? When will an African American leader stand up and shout "Enough is enough - we are free - now let's take off these chains!"?

    The most amazing thing is that these leaders and organizations, to this day, attack conservative African Americans as "Uncle Toms". Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, the highest ranking elected Republican in the country had Oreo cookies thrown at him - black on the outside, white on the inside - during the 2002 gubernatorial campaign (238). Black leaders don't apologize and admit that conservative African Americans were right about Welfare Reform; they attack and demean them. At a recent July 12th 2004 speech, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume's reiterated the same. A San Francisco Gate columnist wrote (184):

Mfume, in his speech to conventioneers, accused "ultra conservative right wing" attackers of hiring black people to carry their message. Think of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell or University of California Regent Ward Connerly [Education Secretary Ron Paige]. 

According to Mfume, these people are "black hustlers and yes men" who "speak with their puppet master's voice. (184)".

     Here are some more excerpts from Mfume's speech (185):

Then when the ultra conservative right wing attacker has run out of attack strategy, he goes and gets someone that looks like you and me to continue the attack.

They've had a collection of black hustlers and yes men on their payrolls for more than twenty years, promoting them as the new generation of black leaders. 

They can't deal with the leaders we choose for ourselves- so they manufacture, promote, and hire new ones. Like the ventriloquist's dummies, they speak in their puppet master's voice, but we can see his lips move and we can hear his money talk. 

They've financed a conservative constellation of make-believe-black organizations, all of them hollow shells with more names on the letterhead than there are people in their membership. They are purchasing seats at the table of influence, and they're buying people for a few bucks a head. Because they know that some of us come cheap... real cheap.

Thirty six years after the assassination of Martin Luther King we still have a society where some in the Democratic party take our votes for granted and many in the Republican party still refuse to campaign for them. (185)

    How can any Black Conservatives campaign for the African American vote when they are labeled them as such? Republican pollsters have always marveled at how African American leaders continue to be supported by the black population when they seem to be so out of touch with their base. For example:

In 1992, a national survey found that 9 of 10 Americans believed that the welfare system should be changed. This opinion was held by African-Americans (81 percent) and Caucasians (92 percent), conservatives (92 percent) and liberals (89 percent), and the more affluent (93 percent) as well as the less affluent (87 percent). Republicans and Democrats responded in like fashion (both at 89 percent). (22)

    This caries over to issues other then Welfare Reform, such as education:

Polling on education shows what is going on. A 2001 study done by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies reported that 60 percent of African Americans support education vouchers. However, the same study also reported that 69 percent of black elected officials oppose vouchers. (187)

    And even such topics like gay marriage, a CBS poll found that 63% of African Americans were opposed to gay marriage (189). Interestingly, gay activist groups joined with black leaders in opposing Welfare Reform:

 In a press release on July 29, 1996 titled: Gays Speak Out Against Welfare 'Reform':

    The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the country's oldest national gay and lesbian civil rights organization, joined others from the civil rights community in voicing strong concerns regarding the current welfare reform proposals before a Senate and House Conference Committee.

    "We urge Congress to reject any welfare reform legislation that results in an increase in hardship and pain for children and their families rather than helping to improve their lives. We urge the President to continue to stand up for children, by vetoing any bill sent to him by Congress which would force even larger numbers of children and families into poverty," stated Helen Gonzales, NGLTF public policy director. (189)

    On the issue of gay marriage, the NAACP and other black leaders and groups are out of touch with their bases against [personal disclaimer: I do not support mainstream conservative positions on gay marriage. I am currently writing a piece on this and homosexuality, which will be posted shortly] Perhaps a kind of quid pro quo exists between all these fringe liberal groups; I scratch your back you scratch mine. Maybe this is why the NAACP and other black groups came out in support of gay marriage, despite the fact that a majority of African Americans oppose it. Evan Wolfson , executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of the new book "Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry", said in an online chat at the Washington Post: 

I encourage you to go to the website of the National Black Justice Coalition -- -- and learn why civil rights heroes such as Cong. John Lewis, Coretta Scott King, the NAACP's Julian Bond, and others have spoken out so strongly in support of marriage equality as a civil rights cause. (188)

       Let's do a review; we have N.O.W, the Children's Defense fund, NGLTF, liberal Democratic Senators, and African American leaders all opposing Welfare Reform. The worst part isn't that they opposed Welfare Reform, it's that they all purport to represent the groups that were most helped by it! We have a group representing women, a group representing children, a group representing African Americans, and a group that 'supposedly' represents all of these - and all are fighting to hurt their constituents as much as possible! If we were to expand the scene to encompass all the political issues of the day, we will find that all these groups support each other in everything they do, regardless of the interests of their members. This is why 'Civil Rights' leader Al Sharpton got slapped down from all angles when he initially supported President Bush's nomination of California Justice Janice Rogers Brown, daughter of a share cropper, to the D.C. District Federal Appeals court. Days later, Sharpton withdrew his endorsement after liberal groups threw a hissy fit. (191) His initial instincts, to laud a successful African American, was right. What better way to advance 'Civil Rights' then to get African American Judges appointed in high positions?  Why did the liberal groups do this? Would they have been so opposed if she hadn't been African American? Or were they so worried because she was an African American and said things like (192):

Some things are apparent. Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege; war in the streets; unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible. [“A Whiter Shade of Pale,” Speech to Federalist Society (April 20. 2000)(“Federalist speech” at 8]

"We no longer find slavery abhorrent. We embrace it. We demand more. Big government is not just the opiate of the masses. It is the opiate. The drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms; for regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmers and militant senior citizens." [IFJ speech at 3-4] (192)

    This is precisely the kind of person that would have endorsed, embraced and even fought for Welfare Reform! She would have fought for it because she knew it was in the best interests of her race, the poorest people in America and, indeed, all Americans. She is exactly the kind of person that minorities and the poor need in Washington, yet she was shot down - not by white racists, but by black liberals. This is why conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh coined the NAACP the NAALCP: National Association for the Advancement of Liberal Colored People. It's funny, but true. The NAACP, other African American groups/leaders, and other liberal groups consistently team up and destroy any Black conservative that raises a dissenting voice. Who really is the puppet and who is pulling whose strings? The Democratic party and a small group of liberal black and other minority leaders consider their primary goal, not the advancement and progress of African Americans, minorities, and the poor, but the advancement and progress of liberalism. In their minds the two goals are completely compatible. The idea that they are destroying their own people is alien to their very way of thinking.  

    Another example of the disconnect between 'leaders' and the 'masses' can be seen from a study of welfare recipients themselves. A John Hopkins University Study in 1996-1997 studied 15 focus groups with an average of 12 current and former welfare recipients in each. They varied the groups by race and sex with some intermixed. The groups discussed and studied a variety of issues and these were some of the findings (186):

*    The majority of the participants favored time limits on welfare receipt. This was true among African Americans, Hispanics, and whites and among women and men. They viewed the new provisions as providing them with the motivation to find jobs and improve their lives. Still, some people qualified their support by saying that some parents needed longer to make the transition to work and others needed long-term public assistance. And some were scared or angry.

   Participants cited many examples of abuse of the welfare system, but they dissociated themselves and other people who truly need it from the abusers.

   Participants expressed qualified support for work requirements for welfare recipients, as long as exceptions were made for parents who could not find adequate child care or had children with special needs.

   Participants emphasized the importance of the non-cash benefits that welfare recipients receive, notably Medicaid and child care assistance. Many even argued that the non-cash benefits were more important than the cash benefit.

   A majority of the participants favored “family cap” provisions that deny increases in cash assistance to mothers who have an additional child while already receiving welfare.

   On balance, the predominant tone of the focus group interviews was cautious optimism—surprisingly so, given that welfare recipients face the threat of time limits and sanctions. Although many participants were concerned that they would not be able to move into the work world, they seemed willing to try if government agencies would provide them with what they viewed as necessary assistance. (186)

    In my research I found no evidence for 'welfare queens', so it is interesting that these Welfare recipients favor the 'family cap' measures. Perhaps more studies needs to be done on this. Also, notice that the Hopkins group is surprised at the participants' optimism. Why would this be? Perhaps because the Hopkins people have been reading all these inflammatory editorials in the press, the shrill statements of liberal Democrats, and the railings of African American leaders and advocacy groups! If you didn't know better you might think that these findings were from questionnaires given to Republican members of Congress! 

    Although this study didn't ask this, imagine what the response of these recipients would have been if they had been asked who they would vote for? We already know the answer from the examples in this paper; from Shannon County South Dakota, to McDowell County West Virginia, to San Joaquin Valley California, to the inner city ghettos across the nation, it doesn't matter if you are Red, White, Brown or Black - your voting for the Democratic ticket that kept you in poverty in the first place! It really defies explanation because the lawmakers they would most agree with, in at least some cases, seem to be Conservative. 

    I will offer my perspective, which I admit had changed since I began my research for this paper. You see, the representatives of these communities all have a few things in common. They all realize there is something wrong with the situation that their people are in. They know that the people they represent are just as good and just as capable and just as intelligent as those in mainstream America. So they know that there is not a level playing field. This is where I am in complete agreement with these leaders. However, at this point we diverge, they - the so-called leaders of their communities - begin laying the blame elsewhere, which differs by each community. They are correct in this. What they know in their hearts is true. The people in their communities are just as capable and normal as any group in mainstream America. Outside forces are to blame for what is taking place. But they lay the blame in the wrong places. The Federal Government's welfare system is to blame for what was happening and this they don't see.  

    Take the African American community. Many African American leaders and Liberal Democrats believe that more blacks are in poverty because of past white racism. This was true in the past, and racism still occasionally rears it's ugly head, but by and large racism is not the main obstacle to the advancement of African Americans. America is a big melting pot of equal opportunity for all people. African American leaders, as they try to cast their blame on mainstream America for past crimes, and grope for reasons to explain the relative lack of success of their people, become more and more desperate in their search. Some begin to make ridiculous arguments for slave reparations, others campaign for more and more government aid and programs like affirmative action. I think some begin to loose faith in their people. They begin to believe the liberal line that 'cultural issues' are holding their people down, or perhaps it is the unfair police brutality that lock so many young African American men up. I am not necessarily against affirmative action, but let's be clear about the reasons for it. At present, it should be affirmative action from the scourges of excessive welfare dependency, not from racism, discrimination,  or any of these other reasons. Affirmative action should, if it's going to be used, be given to those in historically welfare dependent areas, not just African Americans. As we have seen, it is not just an African American problem.  

       Now, why isn't this broadly accepted in these communities? We would, again, think that the poorest communities would be ultra conservative Republican strongholds, recognizing the need to get rid of these crushing attempts to help them. In fact, why don't poorer people just refuse welfare altogether? No one wants to be dependent, so why don't we see no one signing up?  Then the government agencies and the liberal representatives would get to spend all their money on advertisement and overhead (which they spend a great deal on anyway). No, it never works this way. It is almost like a young child and an allowance. The child is going to take as much as you will give him/her, but the more he/she has the less regard he/she has for money and total excess can eventually lead to destructive development of the child. Natural human temptations for handouts are sometimes too much to resist. Why turn away something that is free?

    Life is often a series of ups and downs and during these difficult times, instead of leaning on friends, family, church or local organizations, which really do have an individual's personal well-being utmost in mind, it can be easy to get hooked on a federal agency in far away Washington. If no one uses the agency it doesn't have a purpose to be, so it must find people that need help. Almost like drug pushers offering that first hit and cigarette companies giving away free cigarette packs, welfare agencies will send that first monthly check. As we have seen, the strongest lures are to poor, young, teenage girls.

    Once a large part of a community is on welfare, poverty begins to set in permanently; single mothers proliferate, crime might rise, schools might fail, and the middle class begins to move away. At this point, the impoverished are offered two choices. 

    1. If you don't vote for us your health, housing and monthly checks will be taken away. You might starve or become homeless. We will try to increase funding of existing programs to help you escape poverty and create new ones that address specific needs. Republicans are only interested in helping the rich by taking away from the poor. They are also against programs like affirmative action that helps our race (if the community is a minority community) and have a dark past of discrimination. They are the cause of rising inequality and are taking this country down the path of greedy and reckless capitalism. Things will be terrible if you vote for them. We represent the poor.

    2.  If you vote for us, we will try to reform these programs and try to eliminate government dependency. We are for tax cuts and smaller government. We are (somewhat) against affirmative action because we believe that all people are equal. We are the party of Abraham Lincoln. 

    Now, imagine you are a welfare recipient. The Republican message almost reinforces the fear mongering of the Democratic message. The Republicans are going to cut the programs and then use that money for tax cuts. Not only do the Democrats say it, but the Republicans seem to admit it in their message! Left unsaid is that tax cuts stimulate economic growth, which encourages new hires, which can help former welfare recipients work. Since the money spent on welfare is hurting the people getting it, how can anyone be mad if it's cut? But none of these things will cross your mind if you're a welfare recipient. You might recognize the fraud and dependency around you, but at the same time the message of class warfare resonates. You are poor, so you want the help of the party that represents the poor. You might want programs to help your race and favor other specific programs to help the poor (such as promises of health care). You realize you and others are capable people. You know there is a reason why this poverty and destitution exists. And so some of the messages about police brutality and past racism and discrimination strike home.  It is counterintuitive to believe that programs designed to help - hurt - and that the good people who are trying to fix - destroy. Sadly, you might loose confidence in yourself and believe that your 'culture', your 'people', or just you, on an individual level, don't have the innate ability to be successful. You might come to believe you are a failure. It is the emotional appeal and initial 'packaging of ideas', along with resounding messages of fear mongering and class warfare, that completely win the hearts and minds of these desperate communities. One might more accurately call it "Pure Propoganada" - because it is all untrue; made even more believable because the people that are telling it believe it themselves. 

    This is not to say conservatives didn't use play on emotions either. This was Ronald Reagan at the Republican Convention in 1964: (194)

    But seriously, what are we doing to those we seek to help? Not too long ago, a judge called me here in Los Angeles. He told me of a young woman who had come before him for a divorce. She had six children, was pregnant with her seventh. Under his questioning, she revealed her husband was a laborer earning $250 a month. She wanted a divorce so that she could get an $80 raise. She is eligible for $330 a month in the Aid to Dependent Children Program. She got the idea from two women in her neighborhood who had already done that very thing. (194)

    Regardless of whether this individual story was true, Reagan and other Conservatives repeatedly built up this myth of 'welfare queens', which, in my opinion, there is little evidence for. There is evidence that divorce rates increased. (Chart 4, Chart 5)


Campaign 2004, Bush or Kerry?


    What about the future? We have a Presidential election in a few months. Although, it's been scattered throughout this paper, mainly to show people attacking it, President Bush has continued to build on Welfare Reform. In June 2003, President  President Bush signed the Welfare Reform Extension Act of 2003, which extends the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant program and certain related programs. Key provisions in the program include (195):

·  Help more welfare recipients achieve independence through work The President’s plan requires welfare recipients to work 40 hours per week – either at a job or in programs designed to help them achieve independence.

·  Increase the welfare-to-work resources available for families – The President’s plan will provide an average of $16,000 per family in federal and state welfare, childcare, and job training resources, compared to $7,000 per family available in 1996 when welfare reform was enacted. Although welfare caseloads have declined by more than half, President Bush proposes to fund the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families programs at the fully authorized level of $17 billion to ensure that struggling families get the support they need to move from welfare dependency to work and self-sufficiency.

·  Protect children and strengthen families. The President proposes to continue historically high levels of support for childcare ($4.8 billion per year) through the Child Care and Development Fund. The President’s welfare reform plan also provides states financial incentives to give more of the past-due child support payments they collect to mothers and children.

·  Empower states to seek new and innovative solutions to help welfare recipients achieve independence. The President’s plan establishes a Ticket to Independence program to encourage state and local innovation. Under the President’s plan, state and local governments will be able to consolidate a range of welfare programs (such as food stamps, housing, workforce programs, and adult education) to eliminate conflicting requirements, reduce red tape and improve their effectiveness for the people they serve. This new flexibility will help states design better programs that could significantly improve service delivery for Americans in need. (195)

    I don't agree with President Bush's proposal's entirely. I think by keeping the TANF funding 'fully authorized' at the 1996 levels, we will just keep poverty levels where they are. It doesn't make sense to keep the same funding levels when the caseloads are nearly 60% reduced. 


    Let's turn to the Democratic Presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry. Kerry missed the 2003 vote, due to campaigning. Kerry did vote for the final passage of the 1996 Welfare Reform bill. reports:

How did Kerry vote? He did vote for the 1996 reform bill on final passage, but in the Kabuki procedures of the Senate, the final passage vote is often for show, and that was the case with welfare reform. The final vote allowed senators who needed to be seen as supportive of the bill--especially senators up for reelection like Kerry--to go on record as voting for it. The actual crucial votes that determined the legislation's fate and shape came earlier, when the spotlight was off--votes on amendments designed to gut the bill, toughen the bill, or substitute an entirely new bill.  I do know that Kerrry voted for both major Democratic substitutes to the GOP-supported bill that finally passed--the Daschle substitute and the nominally-bipartisan Biden-Specter substitute--as well as for a defeated Breaux proposal that would have created a non-cash voucher scheme to replace cash welfare when the cash was cut off. (196)

    The Washington Times wrote an editorial on June 28th 2004 (197):

    Like Bill Clinton in recent days, the liberal Sen. John Kerry has spent the past few years bragging about his support for the historic 1996 welfare-reform bill. But neither is likely to admit that welfare reform, which has proved to be one of the most successful social-policy legislative acts in U.S. history, comprised a central plank in Rep. Newt Gingrich's 1994 "Contract With America."
    Welfare reform ultimately became law in August 1996, less than three months before Messrs. Clinton and Kerry faced the voters. At the time, a vast majority of Americans had become thoroughly disgusted with the self-destructive welfare policy that Democratic liberalism had embraced for decades, even as its direct consequences of social catastrophe were clear for all to see. The fact that real welfare reform had finally become law within months of the 1996 election was hardly coincidental. Mr. Kerry, who had spent years fighting real reform, strongly supported Mr. Clinton when he vetoed two solid, Republican-initiated welfare-reform plans in late 1995 and early 1996. Because their Republican opponents and voters had rightly understood their opposition to be little more than liberal obstructionism, the issue was causing Messrs. Clinton and Kerry grief in their 1996 campaigns for re-election.

    Indeed, Mr. Kerry revealed his aggressive hostility to welfare reform in 1988. Then-Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole introduced a "workfare" amendment. The Dole amendment would have required — by 1994, six years later — at least one parent in a two-parent household receiving welfare to work a minimum of 16 hours per week. By any standard of toughness, this was a very weak requirement. But it proved to be too draconian for the liberal standards of Mr. Kerry, who voted against the amendment, which passed with bipartisan support. During Senate debate, he complained that the 1988 welfare-reform bill "contains provisions troublesome to me, such as the 16-hour weekly work requirement for two-parent families." During his 1996 Senate re-election campaign, when his opponent, then-Gov. Bill Weld, attacked him for his 1988 vote, Mr. Kerry incongruously argued that he opposed the work requirement for two-parent welfare families because he favored work requirements for single-parent families.
    Having voted against the workfare amendment in 1988, Mr. Kerry in 1992 opposed "learnfare," a reform that would have permitted states to withhold welfare benefits from parents whose children failed to attend school regularly. Two years later, his hostility to reform continued. After numerous press reports revealed the widespread abuse of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability payments to alcoholics and drug addicts whose only disability was their addiction, the public demanded reform. On Sept. 8, 1994, however, Mr. Kerry introduced two amendments to a Senate welfare-reform bill that would guarantee to continue to "provide Supplemental Security Income benefits to persons who are disabled by reason of drug or alcohol abuse."
    During the 1995 welfare-reform debate, Mr. Kerry voted against the "family cap" provision, which would have prohibited states from raising a welfare recipient's cash benefits for having additional children while collecting welfare. He also voted against an amendment that would have required most able-bodied, non-elderly food-stamp recipients to work 10 hours a week. Mr. Kerry eventually voted against the 1995 welfare conference report.
    After fighting in 1994 for SSI benefits for crack addicts, in 1996 Mr. Kerry voted against random drug-testing programs for welfare recipients. He also opposed an amendment with bipartisan support that would deny welfare benefits to legal immigrants. In yet another vote to encourage immigrants to go on the dole, he voted to delay for two years a provision that would have denied Medicaid benefits to immigrants for five years.
    After being relentlessly pounded by Mr. Weld
[his Senate opponent for reelection] throughout the first half of 1996 for voting against two conference reports containing real welfare-reform plans in 1995, Mr. Kerry reversed years of hostile opposition to welfare reform and finally supported the 1996 bill. By contributing to his very narrow November victory over Mr. Weld, that vote probably saved Mr. Kerry's political career. More than anything else, that no doubt explains why he cast it. (197)

    From Kerry's website (this is responding to an ad by the Club For Growth accusing him of being wishy washy on Welfare Reform): 

   That’s Right, Kerry is FOR Welfare Reform When It Puts People Back to Work. In 1996 John Kerry joined a majority of Congress in supporting the Clinton welfare reform bill —their support resulted in remarkable success for the program and for many thousands of Americans. (198)

And Kerry is AGAINST Welfare Cuts When They Hurt Children & Families. John Kerry strongly opposed the Gingrich/Dole plans to slash welfare spending and he voted against measures to force families off food stamps. Kerry voted against the Republican plan to cut welfare spending by $65 billion and opposed the attempts of Jesse Helms and John Ashcroft to take away food stamps from those that need them. Instead, Kerry supported more funding for child care, guaranteed child care for welfare recipients who are required to work and increased funding for job training and job placement. Additionally, Kerry voted for the Moseley Braun Amendment to require states to provide work experience, assistance in finding employment and job training before denying welfare benefits to adults. Finally, in 1995, Kerry joined all but one Democrat in voting against the welfare reform package pushed by Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole which would have devastated thousands of families by ending the entitlement status of Aid to Families with Dependent Children and some related programs and replace them with block grants to the states. Although the drastic cuts in this welfare reform package passed Congress, it was promptly vetoed by President Clinton. (198)

    A few things of interest. Notice Kerry calls the plan the 'Clinton Welfare Reform bill'. From Slate and CNN:

Why did Clinton sign? Did he think, as Time reported he said at the time, that it was a "decent welfare bill wrapped in a sack of s---"? Did he trust states to take over welfare because he'd been a governor? How much politics was involved? (199), (200)

    I had also thought, from past quotes from Liberals opposing the bill in this paper, that the bill that passed was similar to the two that Clinton vetoed. From sources already cited in this paper:  

From Jesse Jackson Jr.: "The Republican plan was basically the same as previous ones already vetoed by President Clinton." (179)

    From the July 25th, 1996 New York Times editorial: He stopped his staff from producing a new estimate of the Congressional proposal's impact on children -- an estimate that would surely have shown that the new legislation is only marginally different from the bills he vetoed. (165)

And from the N.O.W notice:

Floor votes are scheduled for this week, with a promise from President Clinton to sign a bill. There is little difference between the welfare bill (H.R.4) which the president vetoed in January and the new plan H.R. 3734/S 1795. (177)

Ending Welfare as We Know It:

Passage of the Dole Welfare Reform Bill in the Senate, with the support of the President and the votes of many Senate Democrats, showed that it was possible to obtain presidential approval for a Republican-orientated welfare reform package significantly more conservative then President Clinton's own 1994 proposal. (109)

The Miller Center:

Two bills reached the President and were vetoed before a compromise bill, put in motion by the National Governor’s Association and acceptable to the President, was passed and signed into law. (108)

Republican Senator Nickles, was asked by a PBS reporter:

MARGARET WARNER: Well, Sen. Nickles, as I think you know, if you watched the President today, he--he said he’d been completely consistent, there were certain principles he’d always insisted on in welfare reform, and he took a lot of credit for essentially making this bill what it is today. Do you think that’s true?

SEN. NICKLES: No. I don’t, Margaret. Frankly, I think if you look at this bill, you look at the bill that passed in the Senate last January, he vetoed a bill, the early part of January this year, he vetoed it late at night, hoping everybody was out of town, trying to almost hide the veto. But the facts are that bill passed with 87 votes in the Senate. This bill is not all that dissimilar from the Senate bill before. I think the difference is we’re talking about election time. (172)

    It seems to me, useless speculation, to comment on whether or not any President or Senator did something because of looming elections or political expediency. However, Kerry's campaign statement that it is 'Clinton Welfare Reform bill' seems to me a bit of a stretch, although we can certainly commend Clinton for signing it. It does seem strange that Kerry and Clinton would vote against the first two bills if they were so similar to the last one and then, when the final one passes, laud it as their own accomplishment! [I have read that there was more childcare funding in the final bill than any of the others, and that both Clinton and Kerry cite this as their main reason for their change of heart. At present, I have been unable to find to what extent this was true.] (207)

    Clinton returned the favor, saying at the Democratic Convention last month:

The bravery that men who fought by his side in battle, that bravery they saw in battle, I have seen in politics. When I was president, John Kerry showed courage and conviction on crime, on welfare reform, on balancing the budget, at a time when those priorities were not exactly the way to win a popularity contest in our party. (201)

        In any event, those are your choices this November. You decide. 



Looking Forward and Comparisons


    Continuing to look forward, it appears we can only expect more of what we have seen throughout this entire paper. Lessons just are not learned. 

    Our old pall Peter Edelman (husband of Mariam Edelman) came out with a 2003 book titled: Searching for America's Heart: RFK and the Renewal of Hope. The editorial review describes it as: 

Peter Edelman intends to ignite what he calls "the new progressivism," which he believes is in keeping with RFK's legacy. He still wants to fight and win the War on Poverty. His views are suited for the left-wing of the Democratic Party: some will consider them a return to the failed past; others will think they offer hope for the future. Whatever the case, Edelman is probably correct when he writes that much is up for grabs right now: "This is a time of particular opportunity. The prosperity of recent years, the ensuing surpluses, the increase in local activism, and the effect of the new welfare law in deflating anger at the poor come together to offer opportunity." (204) (emphasis mine)

    The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) rates the votes of law makers. In judging the 107th Congress, 37 Senate Republicans have scores of 0. 17 Senate Democrats score 100. John Kerry scored an 88. (205)

    Tom Daschle, is in a tight race for a Senate seat this November. He offers familiar promises:

Daschle said that people on reservations would like to be on their own but that that was not possible without help. Treaty obligations require the government to provide health care, education and housing, he said. (78)

"We have Third World conditions," Daschle said. "Those treaty obligations ought to be respected and fulfilled." (78)

Daschle agreed Indians will play a big role in this year's Senate race. But he said a Democrat is better suited to represent them in the long run and help with issues such as health care, law enforcement, and housing. (78)

    Speaking of Pine Ridge, Clinton visited it 3 years after Welfare Reform and still believed that government programs were responsible for the plight of the people there. Whoops! If he said that he would be right. I mean, he believes that the reason the people are in poverty is because of under funded government programs: 

Former President Clinton waltzed through Pine Ridge on a lip-biting tour with Tom Daschle and then-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo in 1999. "You have suffered from neglect, and you know that doesn't work (condescending?). You have also suffered from the tyranny of patronizing, inadequately funded government programs, and you know that doesn't work," Clinton thundered in a speech promising to create "new markets" for the poor and clean up the squalor in Tom Daschle's South Dakota. (77) (emphasis mine)

    Has any of this helped? Minnesota Public Radio says (76) :

In 1990, South Dakota's Shannon County made news when it was the poorest county in the nation. That ranking put the Pine Ridge Reservation in the federal government's Empowerment Zone. That gave the county millions in federal dollars for economic development. Even President Bill Clinton visited the reservation, putting it in the national spotlight.

Most of the federal and casino money go toward welfare, health care and housing needs. Economic development falls to the bottom of the priority list without allocating any money. Kirkie says the national ranking could help them get some federal money

Shannon County showed some income growth in the last ten years. But it still ranks as the nation's second poorest county. (76) (76) [What went wrong? Sadly, the solution is still the same: increase funding.]

    Other parts of the world, France, Germany and even Scandinavia are cutting back social spending and attempting to lower taxes. Asian nations have been quietly mocking the West for some time. A University of North Carolina study found:

In Singapore, former President Lee Kuan Yew and the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) seldom passes up the opportunity to re-assert the superiority of his "Asian values" over the Western disease of "welfarism." His successor, President Ong Teng Cheong repeated the PAP sermon thus, when opening Singapore’s Parliament in 1994: "Developed countries in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada once proudly called themselves welfare states. Now they have to revamp their welfare systems in order to remedy the disastrous side effects of state welfare: weakened family bonds, diminished incentives to work, and impoverishment of the country’s finances .... Their problems confirm that we have chosen the right path." (206)

    The NAACP and other African American groups continue their fiery rhetoric against the President and other Republicans. The various counties I described throughout this paper continue to vote up to 90% Democratic. On August 9th 2004 the Native Times, which bills itself as the largest source of Native American news, wrote an Editorial titled, "Bush Stumbles over Key Native Concept". The entire Editorial (210):

When President George W. Bush spoke to Native reporters at the UNITY conference in Washington DC last week, he spoke with some awkwardness and clumsiness over his definition of sovereignty.

Clearly, it is not a concept which rolls off his tongue with any ease. He seems to have a problem with foreign and domestic sovereign nations. It may come down to respect.

Bush has lost whatever goodwill this country possessed after the last administration from the world community. People looked at America and thought here was a place where concepts of mutual respect grew and prospered. That image of the United States has been replaced with a great deal of anger over our presence in the Middle East. It is undeniable that our stature as a crucible for good is tarnished.

Bush has visited with tribes once since he took office, and it was done off Indian land with the Pueblos of New Mexico. Bush fought against Texas tribes from seeking recognition and questioned the whole concept of tribal sovereignty while serving as governor.

Kerry promised Native American Journalist Association leaders that he would visit an Indian reservation and invite Native reporters on the trip. Kerry made good on the promise in less than four days. Today Kerry is visiting the Navajo reservation and true to his word there are Indian reporters along for the ride.

The importance of understanding what sovereignty means and making good on promises are important campaign issues for Indian people. Kerry and Bush both demonstrated their unique capacity for understanding both.

    Irregardless if what they say about Bush as governor of Texas is true, recall that we found that the Native American group with the lowest poverty, unemployment and single motherhood rates (in a sample group of tribes) were the Oklahoma TJSA, which didn't live on reservations and were a mix of tribes. Perhaps Bush is onto something... I question whether this Editorial staff and other Native Americans leaders have succumbed to the same seductive ideology as have some African American leaders. 

    But there is hope for the future. Conservative thinkers from minority groups are proliferating. In the African American community, leaders like Colin Powell, Condoleezza  Rice, Clarence Thomas and Rod Paige have some support among average African Americans, if not from their liberal leaders. Conservative authors and thinkers such as Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams are read widely. Thomas Sowell said in a recent interview (211):

But there are pockets here and there of people fighting back. Among blacks it is quite clear there are countertrends, though the crazies are still in charge. Someone teaching a high school class recently asked me for writings by black conservative authors so his students could hear both sides. Thirty years ago that would have been an easy question to answer because it would have been Walter Williams and me, but today there are more black conservative writers than I could possibly keep track of.

There are black talk show hosts all across the country, from Armstrong Williams in Washington to Ken Hamblin in Denver to Larry Elder in Los Angeles and all kinds of people in between. And these are typically younger individuals. I don't see many new Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons coming along. In the long run there's a good chance for a turnaround. On the other hand, between now and then, a lot, probably millions, of young blacks will go right down the tubes because of bad ideas promoted by today's black leadership. (211)

    African American author Star Parker wrote a successful book titled "Uncle Sam's Plantation", (conservative) Newsmax reports (212):

Before Parker became a successful writer, she was a burglar, a drug addict, a victim of domestic abuse, and a woman who had undergone four abortions. Now she is popular speaker and writer and promotes CURE, the Coalition for Urban Renewal in Education, which helped her turn her life around.

Today she warns against the dangers of a federal smorgasbord of social programs that enslave the impoverished and create more poverty.

"Slavery still thrives in this country," Parker writes in her book. "But today, the poor are the slaves, and Uncle Sam is the 'massa.'" (212)

    Another Civil rights group, CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) is airing television commercials in North Carolina, home of Democratic Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards in protest of Edwards blocking the nomination of California Justice Janice Rogers Brown. From the Associated Press (213):

CORE is out of step with most civil rights group in supporting Brown - the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Congressional Black Caucus both oppose her, with opponents citing her opposition to affirmative action, among other stances.

But leaders of the more conservative Congress of Racial Equality say Brown is a black role model who deserves a seat on the federal bench, and they're challenging Edwards on his home turf to support her. The ad also names Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, a fellow Senate Judiciary Committee member who has helped lead the fight against Bush judicial nominees.

"Judge Janice Rogers Brown is the daughter of sharecroppers and an American success story," a female announcer says in the ad set to air for about a week starting Wednesday on cable and network news broadcasts in North Carolina.

"Frankly the fact that we're doing this in the heat of a political season when the whole world is watching, is a good thing," said Innis, a registered Republican. "We're not affecting the election, it's John Edwards' timidity and cowardice in dealing with this question, it's the Democrats' filibustering tactics that could affect this campaign. We just want to let black Americans know what is happening within the Democratic Party."

Spokesmen for Edwards and Kennedy defended the senators' opposition to Brown, contending she has voted against civil rights, workers' rights and environmental protections.

"Sen. Edwards feels a strong obligation to lead on issues of civil rights. Supporting Justice Brown would be turning his back on that responsibly, which is something he would never do," said Edwards spokeswoman Kim Rubey. (213)

    Bill Cosby has been getting a lot of (negative) press attention lately for some of his comments that seem to have struck a chord in the black community. The Washington Post reports (214)

"For me there is a time . . . when we have to turn the mirror around," he said. "Because for me it is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us. And it keeps a person frozen in their seat, it keeps you frozen in your hole you're sitting in."

Cosby elaborated on his previous comments in a talk interrupted several times by applause. He castigated some blacks, saying that they cannot simply blame whites for problems such as teen pregnancy and high school dropout rates.

"Bill is saying let's fight the right fight, let's level the playing field," Jackson said. "Drunk people can't do that. Illiterate people can't do that." (214)

    If we didn't know either of them, we might think that Bill Cosby is wrong and that Jesse Jackson is right. The playing field is not level. Even with Welfare Reform, too many African Americans are still relying, on one form or another, on government assistance. The scars of welfare run deep and 8 years is not enough time to wash them away. 

    In reality both are wrong. Jesse Jackson, in trying to 'clarify' what Cosby said, is really just trying to add his own spin on it. "Leveling the playing field", is not referring to getting rid of government programs and continuing Welfare Reform; it is implying more government assistance, or something like affirmative action, is needed to level the playing field. Conservative news outlets, which have been hailing the comments and many of the African Americans who applauded or heard and agreed with what Cosby said are wrong too. True, it can't hurt for African Americans to look in the mirror and take personal responsibility for some of their problems, but this is just generally helpful in any community. My main point is that African Americans should not "have to turn the mirror around", because the problems they are facing do not come from within. Their problems do come, in part, from the 'white man', although (unfortunately) it isn't considered racism. Their problems do come from the Federal government. More accurately, their problems stem directly from the policies and programs of Liberal Democrats. The hard truth is that for the last 60 years Liberal Democrats have taken the place of the Southern farmers and Northern industrialists in keeping the African American subjugated and impoverished, but instead of gaining cheap labor, they gain cheap votes. Even worse, most Liberal Democrats and African American leaders are completely oblivious to this analogy and desperately fight to keep the present system in place. 

    In final conclusion, I hope I have been able to lay out a clear picture of welfare. I admit, when I started this research I had meant to just focus on cash welfare, but it soon became apparent that other forms of welfare were just as injurious. Some may think that I made a questionable leap from welfare programs to any government program to the Conservative agenda. I did not mean to do this either, but it just evolved of itself. Although it was not my intent, I don't apologize for it. The evidence from these findings is just too damming to say, "well the Liberals may have been wrong in this respect, but on most everything else they're right". Subjugating poorer people, Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and Native American to destitution and family dissolution for over 40 years (or longer) is a colossal, almost criminal, act. Spending almost 6 trillion in taxpayer money to finance this horror, and cutting economic growth in the process is an error of such magnitude, one would think this party and their platform would be discarded and stomped on by the American electorate. Yet because of their willing accomplices and sycophants in the press, the emotional, idealistic and compassionate nature of their platform and the innate inaccessibility of the counterintuitive truths found in Conservative thought, the vast majority of the people of the United States are totally unaware of this hidden tragedy. 

    I'd like to correct something I wrote earlier:

I must (somewhat) concur with the Miller Institute at University of Virginia in their conclusion:

Yet, ideology alone is insufficient if we want to understand conflict and change. After all, it was a Republican president, Richard Nixon, who promoted what is arguably the most progressive reform proposal and a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who allowed welfare to end. (108)

    Republican and Democrat labels are not always helpful because, in this case, Nixon acted more 'liberal' then Clinton. But what do these labels, "Conservative" and "Liberal" really mean? One theory proposed using a circle as a model. The circle starts as 'Moderate' with Conservatism and Liberalism growing on both ends. Where the two sides meet again, Liberalism turns into Communism and Conservatism turns into a Dictatorship. This was always somewhat unsatisfying for me because dictatorships can be run quite differently and pure communist theory never envisioned dictatorship. It is also difficult to fit in smaller, but very interesting platforms such as Libertarianism. A much better theory discards the antiquated notions of Liberal and Conservative and constructs a model that most accurately fits what we've discovered in this paper. Ronald Reagan gave a speech at the 1964 Republican Convention: 

You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down--up to a man's age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order--or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course. (194)

    Broadly speaking, "down" is increased government control and intervention and "up" is freedom from government programs and restrictions. In our current political climate, and over the past 70 years, the Democratic party has been doing it's utmost to trip us up and roll us back down towards the 'ant heap'. 

    You may wonder why I quote Ronald Reagan so often in this paper, despite his failure to reduce the welfare rolls. He has famously put into words what I have been trying to express and the similarities in what Reagan was trying to do to the country in 1980 is strikingly similar to as the battle for Welfare Reform played out. People forget that this country was in dire straits before he took office. In the same fashion as Welfare Reform, Reagan was demagogued by the left:

"Well, back in 1980, when I was running for president, it was all so different. Some pundits said our programs would result in catastrophe. Our views on foreign affairs would cause war. Our plans for the economy would cause inflation to soar and bring about economic collapse. I even remember one highly respected economist saying, back in 1982, that "the engines of economic growth have shut down here, and they're likely to stay that way for years to come." Well, he and the other opinion leaders were wrong." (215)

    This was not a time for gradual change in 1980, nor was Welfare Reform something to be 'tinkered with'. The system was so screwed up that it needed to be completely torn apart and revamped (if not eliminated). 

"The fact is, what they called "radical" was really "right". What they called "dangerous" was just "desperately needed." (215)

    Although Reagan failed to change welfare, he succeeded in many other regards and lit the fires that would eventually lead to Welfare Reform. Reagan really did bring the country back. The 'Reagan revolution' brought the country more than a few more notches back "up".

But back in the 1960s, when I began, it seemed to me that we'd begun reversing the order of things - that through more and more rules and regulations and confiscatory taxes, the government was taking more of our money, more of our options, and more of our freedom. I went into politics in part to put up my hand and say, "Stop." I was a citizen politician, and it seemed the right thing for a citizen to do.

I think we have stopped a lot of what needed stopping. And I hope we have once again reminded the people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts. (215)

    Two of Reagan's most famous quotes ring with truth when applied to Welfare Reform.

Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.

Government is not the solution, government is the problem. (67)


    How else can we take what we've learned about Welfare and apply it in a broader sense? Take Education. America's public schools have been under-performing for the past 50-60 years. Nothing has been done and Democrats in Congress and teachers unions block every attempt at reform. Charter schools and voucher school are popular wherever they are implemented and often cater to the most disadvantaged students. Washington D.C. spends the most (depending on the time period, some sources say 2nd most) per pupil in the entire country and have the worst test scores (218), (219), (220). On December 23, 2003, from the Associated Press (on CNN)  :

President Bush wants to use Washington as a test case for using taxpayer money to send children to private and religious schools. Under a five-year plan pushed by Republicans and agreed to by congressional negotiators, $13 million would be provided to let at least 1,700 poor children attend private or parochial schools. In return, D.C. public schools would get an extra $13 million in federal funds. (why are they so afraid?)

Board of Education member Dwight E. Singleton opposed the idea.

"Charter schools and private school vouchers are instruments of exploitation and experimentation that members of Congress are reluctant to impose in their home states," he said.

Singleton and some other board members said Congress does not spend enough on the capital's schools. And they want more time for the board to implement changes made in the last two years. (216) (emphasis and underlining mine)

    What do we find? The same tired old story; teachers unions and education associations, who one would think would place the success of their pupils in the highest consideration, are actually doing their utmost to preserve the status quo and minimize the learning of their students. More money won't fix the problem because money isn't the problem! Here is a member of the D.C. Board of Education, whose schools spend almost 50% more per pupil then the national average, demanding more money! We have the same demagaugery that we saw with Welfare Reform; public schools will go bankrupt, students will fail, minorities will be hurt etc..  We find the same shoddy reporting going on in the press. Contrary to what the D.C. council person claims, 38 states passed Charter school legislation and over half a million students across the country are enrolled in them. (217) The story continues:

The problems are prompting some parents to remove children from public schools. Enrollment has fallen nearly 16 percent since 1998, from 77,111 to 65,099. During that period, 10,147 students chose instead to enroll in the 22 publicly funded charter schools created in the city. (216)

    The bill was eventually passed, despite Democratic objections and a close vote in the Senate. The Washington Post ran a story on June 23rd, 2004 (221):

Shorter, 33, could not have afforded the Catholic school's tuition in the past. But her children were among 1,249 low-income students selected last week to receive the District's first tax-funded private-school vouchers, and she wanted them to be first on the school's list.

The public schools in Southeast Washington that her children have attended have low scores and limited programs, she said, "and I want them to be able to get all kinds of learning."

Shorter and the families of more than 500 other voucher recipients jammed into the small building, now called the Thurgood Marshall Center Trust, Monday evening and yesterday afternoon to visit tables staffed by representatives of 44 private D.C. schools that have agreed to participate in the program.

She and the other parents soon learned that arriving early did not boost their children's chances of getting into any particular school. The voucher holders still need to submit formal applications to the schools that interest them, and the schools will determine which students qualify for admission after reviewing their records.

But the line to get into the school fair was an indication of the excitement among the families who will be pioneers in the school-choice initiative, which Congress approved in January.

The vouchers are worth up to $7,500 per child. Of the students who won grants for this fall, 1,049 attend public school or are about to start kindergarten, and those entering a grade in which the program had more applicants than slots were selected through a lottery. The remaining 200 voucher winners already are enrolled in private school but met the income guidelines for the federal assistance; they also were picked by lottery. (221)

    Notice that the $7,500 is less than the over $10,000 per pupil the District spends on it's public schools. Allowing parents instead of government to choose where to spend money for their child's education can only result in a positive outcome.

    What is the NAACP's position on Voucher and Charter Schools? The same as their position on Welfare Reform and the minimum wage (222):

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said today the Supreme Court decision upholding the use of taxpayer-paid school vouchers to send children to private schools will eventually leave public schools systems in dire straits. 

Kweisi Mfume, NAACP President & CEO, said: "The congress and state legislatures should act immediately to counteract the court's decision. The NAACP opposes the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for school vouchers because it will mean fewer dollars for public schools where most Americans are educated. School voucher programs siphon scarce tax money away from struggling public schools. Education must be a fundamental guarantee for each child.

Kweisi Mfume June 27, 2002, "Supreme Court Decision On School Vouchers Harmful To Future Of Public School Education." (222)

    Just like the Children's Defense Fund decried and fought Welfare Reform, the National Education Association's (NEA) President Bob Case said (222)

The National Education Association pledges to continue to fight for children and public education - and oppose divisive and counterproductive proposals to divert energy, attention, and resources to private school tuition vouchers, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the Cleveland private school voucher case. Just because vouchers may be legal in some circumstances doesn't make them a good idea.

Vouchers are a divisive and expensive diversion from continuing progress in these areas.

Make no mistake, vouchers are not reform. If policymakers want to act on the issues that parents care most about - the kitchen table discussions about education opportunity for their children - they will address teacher quality, class size, making sure all schools have high expectations for every child, and providing the resources to help students succeed. (222)

    Recall the incestuous nature of the NAACP, Children's Defense Fund, N.O.W, other liberals black leaders and Democratic lawmakers who fought against Welfare Reform? Usanewswire:

A group of national leaders in education today announced the largest-ever grassroots mobilization for public education on a conference call with reporters. The National Education Association,, Campaign for America's Future, ACORN, NAACP Voter Fund and U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute joined forces to drive the National Mobilization for Great Public Schools. (224)

        The Republican chair of the house committee on Education and Workforce committee released the following press release (225):

WASHINGTON , D.C. – U.S. House Education & the Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-OH) today criticized the National Education Association (NEA) for linking arms with a radical liberal political organization that recently compared President Bush to Adolf Hitler.  NEA officials today participated in a press conference call along with, the so-called Campaign for America ’s Future, and other openly partisan political groups representing the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party.

“This is more evidence that the NEA lobby is out of touch with the views of most American teachers and parents, who would be outraged to know their hard-earned dues money is being used to coordinate with a group that compared the President of the United States to the fanatical leader of Nazi Germany,” Boehner said.  “The NEA has reached a new low in its quest for lower education standards.”

Boehner also criticized the so-called Campaign for America’s Future and the NEA for making grossly inaccurate claims about the No Child Left Behind education reform law signed by President Bush.

“Under President Bush, federal K-12 education spending has increased by 49 percent, and the United State is now spending more than $500 billion annually on K-12 education – more than we spend on national defense,” Boehner noted. “Most American teachers and parents reject both the despicable rhetoric of these organizations and their misguided policy priorities.” (225)

    It is misleading to say that compared Bush to Hitler without further clarification. They ran a competition in which ads were submitted by their members and then placed some of the ads on their website. They quickly took the Hitler ad down and said it had been a mistake to put it up. A townhall (conservative) columnist states (226):

To no one's surprise, delegates to the annual National Education Association convention voted 7,390 to 1,153 to endorse U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., for president. (226)

The NEA's non-education-related lobbying goals include funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, national health care, reparations to African-Americans (223), statehood for the District of Columbia, taxpayer funding of federal elections and a national holiday for Cesar Chavez. (226)

    But what do I know? I am a mere uneducated citizen. During an online chat with a D.C. 'education reporter', Sewell Chan, at I decided to ask this 'expert' about the problems in the district (240):

Chapel Hill, N.C.: What's your opinion on charter schools and voucher schools? It seems the parents of children in the District love them, but the teachers unions and the Democrats in Congress block them. Why is an obviously broke system resisting the only possible meaningful reform? I mean ... D.C. students have the highest spending per pupil in the nation, but the lowest test scores! More money won't work!

Sewell Chan: Urban education experts are very much interested in the two developments you mention: charter schools, which have proliferated in the District since they were first authorized in 1995, and the nation's first federally funded voucher program, which President Bush signed into law this year.

Opinion -- among the public and among experts -- is sharply divided as to the desirability or effectiveness of these two reform efforts. Research on charter schools has shown very mixed results -- with much variation depending on the type and size of the school and the qualifications of its teachers. There has been some research into the charter experiment in Milwaukee, Cleveland and other cities, but I don't think it's definitive.

The point that D.C. schools have higher per-pupil spending than do other school districts -- including Washington's suburbs -- is often made. However, it is important to note that the D.C. school district also has extraordinary expenses -- including its high proportion of disabled students who require special education, and its significantly older buildings that require repair or rehabilitation -- that suburban districts do not have.

    Recall that during Welfare Reform the 'experts' were divided or, more likely, against the reform. Liberal Senators claimed no reforms had ever been successful. Also, remember the JCPEC poll showed 63% of African Americans support vouchers (187). Besides being wrong about public opinion, this reporter is dancing around the liberal line that more money will 'fix' the problems, by making excuses for the bloated D.C. budget. Notice her emphasis on 'teacher qualifications'. Teachers frequently get large pay raises if they return to school and complete a Masters or PhD program. Does this really help them teach better? In most states, to be hired you have to have a college degree in education and pass specific exams. Remember Milton Freidmen and the social workers? 

    But don't just take my word for it. Let's go to Sewell Chan's own paper. On September 4, 2004 the Washington Post Editoral titled D.C. School daze lambasted Eastern high school, a school whose average SAT score is 731 (241):

There is reason neither to doubt his otherwise positive assessment of opening day nor to take issue with his firing of three officials held accountable for scheduling failures that resulted in hundreds of students being turned away from Eastern on the first day of school.

On Thursday two school system managers were terminated based on internal audits. That case, involving questionable contracting for copy machine services and the possible misspending of millions of dollars, has been turned over to the city's inspector general and the U.S. attorney's office. In addition, the inspector general has been called in to investigate the evaluation and award of the school system's multimillion-dollar security contract. In both instances, school leaders believe the attention of professional investigators and prosecutors is warranted. (241)

    On September 2nd an article appeared in the Washington Post titled, Pay Raises Prompt Veto of School Funds, (242):

Owens was upset that the money included about $625,000 for what she considered "excessive" and "improvident" salary increases for many school administrators. Matt Diehl, a county spokesman, said the raises ranged from $4,000 to $16,000 and in many cases were going to administrators who already make more than $70,000. (242)

    A December 23, 2003 article in the Washington Post headlined, D.C.'s Public Schools Floundering, stated (216):

Gang violence is rising. School buildings are crumbling. An embezzlement scandal plagues the teachers' union. The superintendent abruptly quit. And with a budget deficit of about $21 million, school officials said this month they would cut 771 jobs -- 545 of them teaching positions. (216)

    Just like the Pine Wood Indian reservation Welfare Reform exemptions, it appears D.C. schools and other inner city schools don't even have to comply with No Child Left behind. An August 3rd 2004 article in the Washington Post, Despite 'No Child' Law, Few Transfer Slots in D.C. Schools states (242):

Students at nearly half of the District's public schools are entitled to switch schools under the federal No Child Left Behind law, according to test scores released yesterday, but D.C. officials said such transfers will be highly restricted because there are not enough open slots at higher-performing schools.

Sixty-eight of the 149 city schools that were assessed failed for the second year in a row to make adequate yearly progress in reading and math, as measured by the Stanford 9 tests administered in April. Under the federal law, those schools now are deemed in need of improvement, and their students must be offered the option of transferring. (so it appears many students and parents want this option, or else they wouldn't be having trouble transferring eh? this is why they were so afraid of the voucher bill despite getting $13 million more, Parents want out!)

But school officials said many students, especially at the secondary level, cannot be accommodated if they seek transfers.

The New York and Chicago school systems have had similar problems accommodating transfers. Last month, New York officials announced that transfers would be restricted because of a lack of space at higher-performing schools. (if these were private schools do you think they would they turn down the chance for a higher profit? I bet they would make space tomorrow)

The results also illustrated the limited reach of the 2001 No Child Left Behind law in providing options to students stuck in academically troubled schools. A U.S. Department of Education official acknowledged yesterday that the student-transfer provision is not practical in districts where a large percentage of schools are failing. (one would think it would be the most practical here - if - private schools were allowed to compete with these bloated, corrupt, public monstrosities)

A school that fails to make adequate progress for four straight years can be subjected, under the federal law, to corrective actions that include replacing its staff, privatizing its management and even closing the school and reopening it as a charter school. (don't hold your breath on this happening)

Tommy Wells, who represents Wards 5 and 6 on the D.C. Board of Education, said the federal law imposes new requirements without providing funds to meet them. "It continually forces the school system to try to allocate and prioritize its resources to go to the lowest-performing schools and students, which means that we have less money for the schools that are doing what they are supposed to be doing," he said. "And so it will be difficult to maintain the higher-performing schools."

Susan M. Aspey, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, countered that the District's share of money under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 -- the major source of federal funds for public schools -- has risen from $28.3 million in fiscal 2001 to a proposed $55.6 million in fiscal 2005. (242)

    Meanwhile.... the 'experts' ponder what needs to be done and reporters diligently report their ponderances, making sure to include helpful statements from our favorite advocacy groups......

    In other news, Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry, who voted for President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act - which was written in large part by Democrats, especially Ted Kennedy - now opposes it. The No Child Left Behind Act lets the states set standards that schools must meet or children would be given the option of transferring schools (notice the similarities to the state waivers with Welfare Reform). The fact that kids can't transfer schools (regardless of how they perform) is eerily comparable to the stagnating housing units on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation and other inner city public housing units across the United States. Kerry has come out against the bill, saying the plan was sound but hasn't been funded. (227) 

        My point in going into such detail over the Educational battles, is to show the similarity to the battles over Welfare; Democrats demagogue the issue and make dire pronouncements, the press reports it and slants it, studies are done which say new ideas are terrible (228), liberal groups team up with each other and minority leaders, teachers try to get higher pay, and Kerry tries to do a balancing act and stay in the middle. And this all combines to work against the education of children. This is exactly what happened in Welfare Reform! 

    One last brief comparison needs to be made - between Welfare and Social Security. It has been argued that this entitlement is different and that this New Deal program is vital to the livelihoods of our senior citizens. We cannot break promises to seniors who count on these payments and planned for them, but we need to look at changes for younger workers. We always hear how a growing number of elderly will rely on a shrinking number of younger workers. Despite rising life expectancies and longer working workers, the retirement age has stagnated at 62. The same disincentives to work that welfare recipients experienced are also applied to our Seniors, as a result of the convoluted setup of the Social Security system. Alan Reynolds, of the (libertarian) Cato Institute wrote a insightful and humorous article on this (239):

I have discovered a foolproof strategy for beating the income tax, the Social Security tax and the Medicare tax: Lower your income.

When I looked back at my own earnings, I saw I had already started cutting my labor income by 26 percent in 1998-99 by greatly reducing extra writing and speaking. The resulting savings in taxes was much greater than 26 percent, of course, because marginal tax rates rise with income. Uncle Sam took the biggest hit, as planned.

My wife got this message even earlier, responding to the 1991 tax increase by retiring a dozen years earlier than is usual. All her income would otherwise have been taxed at my steep rate. By not working, she also stopped paying the increased Social Security tax, and later began collecting Social Security benefits at 62. Because I continue working, however, 85 percent of her modest benefits are taxed at my marginal tax rate. Another incentive to work less.

By 2003, I had managed to reduce my labor income another 36 percent by asking my employer to pay me less in return for less time in the office. Altogether, I have cleverly reduced my taxable labor income by 67 percent from 1997 to 2003. My Medicare tax likewise fell by the same amount, and the Social Security tax fell nearly as much.

Past efforts to tax my wife and me more ruthlessly in 1991-93 had the opposite effect. Yet Sen. John Kerry now imagines he can make us fork over a much larger share of investment income by reverting to taxing dividends at ordinary income tax rates. Ironically, that would cut my taxes, not raise them.

For brave souls who keep working past 65, federal work penalties grow even more severe. Such heroic Americans must keep paying into Social Security and Medicare even though those payments add nothing to their benefits. This is the government's "nothing for something" plan for working seniors. Even a middling salary will also result in 85 percent of their Social Security benefit being taxed, while those who avoid work commonly get tax-free benefits.

To make matters worse, money taken out of individual retirement account (IRA) or 401(k) plans normally will be taxed at a higher rate if seniors keep working, because income from work puts them in a higher tax bracket.

The sensible solution is to stop working at 62-65, or work as little as possible -- like running a 12-cylinder engine on four cylinders. Yet this is a dangerous message to send our rapidly aging population. Future growth of tax revenues, and of the economy, will depend heavily on whether older Americans choose leisure over work.

Between 2000 and 2020, the population between ages 25 and 54 is seen increasing only 3 percent while the population older than 55 rises 63 percent. If older people shun work, there will be virtually no labor-force growth aside from immigration. America's medium-term challenge is not a job shortage but a prospective shortage of willing and able workers.

If only a fraction of future seniors respond as I have to tax penalties on work, money flowing into the Treasury, Social Security and Medicare from an aging work force will slow even more than expected. (239)

    As I wrote this paper, I found it hard to stick to the topic because the broader issues and patterns would always reach out and slap me in the face. There are many issues similar to Welfare Reform, Education, and Social Security, which I have not studied in depth, but perhaps some readers of this paper are familiar with. Might we not draw similar conclusions with policies regarding Health Care, the Minimum Wage, Foreign Policy, Unions, Taxes, Unemployment benefits, Economic policy and Foreign Aid (do we hurt those countries that we seek to help? - see my review on Fahrenheit 9/11 for more on this)? By viewing these and other issues through the prism of Welfare Reform you might see them in a new light. 

    So, I will at long last bring this to a close with an excerpt from a fiery speech by one of the earliest African American leaders, Fredrick Douglas, at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in Boston, April, 1865. I first stumbled upon this speech some years ago, after hearing it was Clarence Thomas's favorite speech. Unfortunately at that time I was seeing things in a different light and did not understand it's true significance. Now I appreciate it much more.

What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. [Applause.] The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us. Gen. Banks was distressed with solicitude as to what he should do with the Negro. Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, "What shall we do with the Negro?" I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us! Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature's plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don't disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot-box, let him alone, don't disturb him! [Applause.] If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone,--your interference is doing him a positive injury. (229)



Several people have emailed me asking permission to cite this article. Permission is granted with pleasure as long as credit is given. I would be curious to read the research you complete.

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This piece is ongoing and updated regularly. I am hearing that some of the graphs are confusing. Please let me know. 



Posted 8/24/06 (By Travis)

The Amazing Colossal Poorhouse / Ten years after welfare reform, the welfare state is even larger than before

8/22/06 There have been a lot of articles written about the 10th Anniversary of Welfare Reform, but this one, IMO, takes the cake. 

    My only complaint is that it doesn't give credit where it is most due; to the Conservative movement and the newly elected Republican Majority Congress. Despite what he says in his recent New York Times article, Clinton, deserves little or none of the credit, as he vetoed two previous bills that were written nearly the same as the final one. 

    Also, equally unsurprising, our friends on the left appear to have learned nothing from the results of welfare reform. The New York Times and Washington Post are still up to their old tricks. :)

    (Added to 'Welfare; History, Results and Reform'.)


In the Press Today - Examples of Media Bias

11/21/10 (By Travis)

Blacks struggle with 72 percent unwed mothers rate

11/6/10 AP

17th paragraph down:

"...and welfare laws created a financial incentive for poor mothers to stay single."


Poverty Up as Welfare Enrollment Declines / Nation's Social Saftey Net in Tatters As More People Loose Their Jobs
Washington Post 9/26/2004 - This liberal reporter writes a long piece that leaves the reader clueless as to the benefits from Welfare Reform and completely misleads any reader attempting to understand poverty and welfare. The reporter cites liberal think tanks without saying they are liberal and incorporates Democratic talking points throughout the whole story. 

36 Million Americans Live in Poverty
Associated Press 8/26/2004 - An election year hit piece on President Bush, this reporter suggests Conservative policies resulted in the poverty increase and an increase in those without health insurance. 

Decline In Unwed Birthrate Attributed / Shift in Demographics Likely Cause in D.C.
Washington Post 8/22/2004 - This story suggests shifting demographics and government programs caused the drop in out-of-wedlock births. Welfare Reform is not even suggested as a possible cause.

Teenage Birthrate Hit a Record Low in 2002, Report Says
LA Times 7/16/2004 - This reporter credits government programs with reducing the teenage birth rate. Not a mention of Welfare Reform. 

Number of welfare recipients declines
Associated Press 9/3/2003 - This liberal reporter quotes or states the concerns of the Children Defense Fund, Democratic Senators, and 'critics'. Makes no mention of the success of Welfare Reform or why they are quoting the people who have demonstrated time and time again that they are the least knowledgeable in this area. 

U.S. Births to Young Teens Drops
Associated Press Mon, 11/15/04 - The birth rate among American girls ages 10 to 14 has fallen to its lowest level since 1946, the government reported Monday. What gets the credit for this drop? CDC researchers attributed the decline to sex education. Interestingly, the city with the highest percentage of it's citizens on welfare, Washington, D.C., had the highest [rate], at two births per 1,000 girls. I'd be interested to see this drop broken down by race...

Jerusalem still Israel's poorest city
Jerusalem Post 11/23/2003 - Compare these political battles in Israel to those we have discussed in the United States. Ben-Shalom is director of the NII - National Insurance Institute, which is best described as a combination of the Children's Defense Fund and Social Workers groups. 

New York's New Beggars
New York Post 9/18/2003 - A interesting look at the incentives and subsidy of the homeless in New York City.

German Unification Poses Problems
BBC 9/20/2004 - Contrast this with what we've learned about Welfare. See the similarities?

German jobless face cut in welfare
Al-Jazeera 1/4/2005 - Dealing with the whole of Germany, some more shrill predictions and threatened protests etc... etc... 

Brown wipes £80m Mozambique debt
BBC 1/15/2005 - Under the plan, which will cost Britain £1bn, developing countries must promise to spend the money they save on education, health and welfare. On Friday, he signed a debt-relief deal with Tanzania and promised similar deals for 70 other developing nations. The BBC celebrates, but how will the money be spent? Exporting socialism will just result in the ruin of African countries, not their prosperity. Recall that money spent in the United States on Welfare would have been better to have been burned then spent. Is that the case here? A Canadian author has the correct viewpoint.

Living on a dollar and a prayer
BBC 1/18/05 Amazing story on the poverty in Zambia. They interview the finance minister who says,
In most of our Zambian communities, particularly in rural areas, people do not pay for water, lighting, housing and energy so it is true that many of them live on less than $1 a day. Sounds like the Pine Ridge Indian reservation! An organization then talks about food baskets they give to the population. Despite the obvious socialization of Zambia the BBC says (of the finance minister): He conceded that privatisation had brought some poverty, but felt we were making too much of an issue of living on less than a dollar a day. Privitisation!!!!! 'Conceded' sounds like the BBC got him to grudgingly admit the truth - which is the opposite of the real truth! The worst part is the 'victim hood' and condescension the BBC paints the local population with. (recall the Social Workers) Juggling this meagre income then becomes Patricia's headache - Dominic just hands the money to her: "When I get that money I just get confused." It seems to me that poverty in Zambia is caused by high taxes, used to support Socialistic programs that discourage work and foreign investment and impoverish the population. How Zambia might get out of poverty can be viewed here. (sweatshop link) The BBC description of Zambia is a disgrace and works only to further impoverish that country.  

Bush Plans Sharp Cuts in HUD Community Efforts
Washington Post 1/15/2005 - This reporter quotes advocacy groups who imply that these cuts are going to be made for tax cuts, a mission to Mars and other presidential priorities. (my emphasis) Nowhere will you read of the harm that these housing units have done to the poorest people and to our society. HUD should be eliminated and this reporter should be educated. 

In the Press Today - Conservative articles (some are not by Conservative authors, but make the point)


Causes of Poverty in Developing Nations

Neoperspectives 2/16/05 - An excerpt from 'Tsunami Tyranny' that looks at issues facing developing nations. A further list of articles is posted at the end. 

The Changing Face of Poverty
Newsweek 10/18/04 - Robert Samuelson writes about how immigration accounts for much of the 'new poverty'. 

A painful anniversary 8/17/2004 - Conservative African American author and thinker Thomas Sowell nails the 'War on Poverty'. 

Race to the Top / Welfare reform works. Ted Kennedy wants to kill it.
Wall Street Journal 4/3/2004 - Editorial gives a brief recap of the past failures and shrill predictions coming from the left and describes some of the current obstructionisms. 

In China's Cities, a Turn From Factories / Labor Pool Shifts As Urban Workers Seek Better Lives
9/25/04 Washington Post - Wages are rising in China and factories having to raise wages or they will loose workers. Initially low paying jobs taken by former welfare recipients will see the same upward wage pressures - providing the government doesn't pay them not to work. 

If you don't take a job as a Prostitute we can stop your benefits

1/31/05 Telegraph - German woman is under pressure to take a job she really doesn't want...


Welfare experiment in Sweden failing

6/12/06 Investor's Business Daily



Posted 11/26/07 (By Travis)

Benton County: Hispanic moms often unmarried

Arkansaw Democrat Gazette
    Nearly half of the babies delivered by Hispanic mothers in Benton County last year were born out of wedlock. That was double the rate for white, non-Hispanic mothers in the county. The statistics mirror national trends that have the attention of advocates of all persuasions. Immigration critics warn of looming consequences, from persistent poverty to welfare dependency. The Bush administration also makes the connection: 

    As demonstrated, teen and out of wedlock marriage, along with child poverty, has plummeted since welfare reform was enacted in the late 90s. This article demonstrates welfarism has not been reduced enough; that it is still prevalent enough to cause these sorts of scourges in the Hispanic communities. Not because they are 'Hispanic', but because the newly arriving immigrants are poorer. This article does not mention any of this. 

    Preventing out-of wedlock pregnancies is a key to its $100 million “healthy marriage” strategy for curbing welfare.

    A $100 million dollar 'healthy marriage' strategy? LOL This is the first I've heard of this. Of course, this sort of social engineering propaganda can only be doomed to failure, probably just as effective as the governments attempt to influence 'drug use'.

    An easier strategy to strengthen marriage would be to eliminate socialism in the United States, and further cut welfare. Incidentally, it might even lessen some of the immigration angst percolating out there. 




The Failures and Fallacies of Foreign Aid - (Posted 23/3/05)

1990 The Freeman - David Osterfeld writes a long, and in depth analysis of foreign aid. I intend to follow up on some of his sources and citations. Very impressed with this; he has covered and documented many of the same things which I have observed independently and described on this web site. For example, running parallel to Osterfeld's findings are: Native Americans and Welfare, Causes of Poverty in Developing Nations, and Arab Governments and Causes of Terrorism.


(Posted 4/14/05)

    To further expand on the 'Viagra Covered by Medicare' post below and   illustrate how government programs such as Medicaid (and other 'means-tested'/welfare type programs) fail and create an underclass of poverty and destitution I've created two hypothetical charts (no real data used). Contrasting these charts simulates how businesses will change their hiring, including more part time jobs and jobs with lower pay to take advantage of the money government steals from all the taxpayers to pay for lower income workers' healthcare (currently only poor single women and their children are eligible nationally for free health care, but some states have created even more generous programs (Tenn) and there are a host of other overlapping programs [community health centers] and expansionist proposals to cover even more lower income people are always being pushed). Lower income workers and families are eligible for a whole range of benefits (again robbed from all taxpayers) besides healthcare, so the effect of this is considerably amplified. In fact, workers themselves will be hesitant to earn enough to attempt to break out of this 'government sponsored comfort zone', (better described as 'government sponsored poverty zone'). One can't blame these workers, by working more hours or accepting that 'pay raise' at work they might actually take a 'pay cut' at home and, in the case of healthcare, businesses paying a small 'pay raise' might get hit with thousands extra dollars per year in health insurance costs! These charts assume that only workers and families making less then $20,000 are eligible to receive funds looted from all Americans for healthcare.


    Of course, the conclusion of this analysis is that instead of government wasting their ill-gotten loot paying people not to work and business not to hire, if the money was returned to the actual people that earned it in the first place (after all it is their money), then it would be spent productively, leading to increased hiring, higher wages, and more economic growth and even more stolen money (whoops, I mean taxes) :) for the government.


Far-Flung Ethiopian Emigres Begin to Rediscover Their Home as the Business Climate Blossoms (posted 3/8/05)

3/6/05 Washington Post on Ethiopian immigrants who often arrived in the US with little or nothing, but because of the structure of our political system are able to become successful: Last year, Ethiopians in the United States sent home $6 million in remittance money, eclipsing coffee, the country's biggest export, which earned $4 million. <..> At present, there are more Ethiopian doctors living in the United States than in Ethiopia. Corroborating my view that socialism/corruption, two sides of the same coin, are the cause of poverty in Africa, the Ethiopians that return home are attempting to bring the American principles that foster prosperity and wealth creation to Ethiopia: Government officials said at least 1,500 emigres had returned to Addis and that they were launching an aggressive campaign to woo more, offering tax breaks on importing belongings and flexible land ownership laws. (emphasis mine) (for more on this, including other articles about Africa, see the two excerpts from 'Tsunami Tyranny' that deal with Property Rights and Poverty) Additionally, it is always puzzling to hear the constant clamor for government assistance for the poor who already live in the USA, yet since our founding penniless immigrants have consistently succeeded.


The Urban Institute continues to be misrepresented as 'nonpartisan' by the media:


Number of Uninsured May Be Overstated, Studies Suggest (Posted 4/26/05)

4/26/05 Los Angeles Times Well, it turns out, just like the oft mentioned 'obesity panic' the government is having a conniption over, that government may have overestimated the number of uninsured Americans by as much as 20%, according to research conducted for the government.
That could mean 9 million fewer uninsured, reducing the total to 36 million from the 45 million reported for 2003, the latest year for which data are available.
But in fact even this might be too high as the article later states: Four government surveys attempt to estimate the number of Americans who are without coverage for a full year, a potentially harmful gap. The results range from a high of 45 million in the Current Population Survey to a low of 19 million in the less-known Survey of Income and Program Participation, also by the Census Bureau. Why don't they give us the numbers for all four studies and why couldn't the last figure be correct? [Another] estimate
[not the 19 million one], using 2001 data, was calculated by researchers at the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank. It indicated a smaller over-count of about 4 million. <.> "Whatever method one applies, we're still going to get rising uninsurance," said Linda Giannarelli of the Urban Institute. "This problem is not going to go away." The Urban Institute is NOT a nonpartisan think tank! The Urban Institute is the same institution that claimed 2.6 million people, 1.1 million of them children were going to be flung into poverty by Welfare Reform, when in fact the exact opposite happened. How quickly critics may pounce on anything suggesting insensitivity on the coverage issue was illustrated by the reaction of a prominent economist. Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton University, a specialist on healthcare issues, said the administration's decision to commission the research showed that it was worrying more about counting the uninsured than about helping them. "I call it the body count," Reinhardt said. "Instead of addressing the problem, we say we must count the uninsured. It is literally, in my view, like making sure we know how many deck chairs we have on the Titanic." Nonetheless, Reinhardt said, he agreed that the figure of 45 million might be high. If Uwe Reinhardt applied the same logic he uses to advocate spending your money on government programs to his private finances at his own house, he would blindly buy carpets and paint without first measuring the surface area of the floor or walls. Who is Uwe Reinhardt, this so-called 'prominent economist' and 'healthcare specialist' ? (sigh) It really gets sort of tiring exposing the blatant bias in the media because after a while you already know what your going to find, but still have to go through the empty steps of finding it. PBS showcased two different extensive interviews (a sign in itself) with Reinhardt, which tells us all we need to know: He argues that a prescription drug benefit should be targeted not strictly towards seniors, but towards the poor and poor seniors. <.> Reinhardt says that the pharmaceutical industry could have avoided being "the scapegoat for all kinds of problems in health spending" if it had been proactive in assisting low-income recipients. Notice the standard Democratic lines of proposing massive government expansion and the demaguaging of the wealth generating, job creating, and life saving Pharmaceutical companies. 

    The LA times story continues: Democrats have criticized Bush for not doing enough to stanch the loss of employee health benefits. This is interesting considering that employers are increasingly being tempted to shift their employees to the various state and federal health plans that the Democrats have been instrumental in creating. (see charts and previous post for more on this). If government would stop robbing people to create all of these programs then people and businesses would have more money to voluntarily give to programs that work like this one. Reflecting the political sensitivity of the issue, the White House said President Bush was determined to expand coverage, regardless of the precise number of uninsured. Like Uwe Reinhardt, I guess the President wouldn't pre-measure the surface area of his walls or floors either. Or perhaps the taxpayers pay for those too. As Benjamin Franklin said: The king's cheese is half wasted in parings; but no matter, 'tis made of the people's milk.



For LA homeless: a gym, movies and hair salon (posted 5/13/05)

4/19/05 Christian Science Monitor A ridiculous idea that increases the problem of homelessness in an attempt to solve it. We have long felt that one major component missing in our drug and alcohol rehabilitation was a physical dimension to recovery," says mission spokesman Orlando Ward. "In the past, we would address the spiritual and the emotional but were neglecting real physical activity which we feel is important to rebuilding the whole man." But 20-year local activist Ted Hayes, who runs an encampment of temporary housing just blocks away, says the building will do the opposite. "The building of large missions in the inner cities of America only helps to keep the cycle of homeless going with what we call the 'homeless industrial complex,'" says Mr. Hayes. "A big fancy operation like this only maintains the bank accounts and lifestyles of those who run them and helps donors rid themselves of guilt." Mr. Hayes is right. Substance abuse and mental health issues are at the roots of nearly all homelessness in America. Movies, gyms, and hair salons, don't address these issues. These homeless in America will live better than 4/5ths of the people on earth. As Benjamin Franklin said, "I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it."




Posted 9/25/06 (By Travis)

Estonia: Land of the Free? (Required Reading)

8/4/06 The Unknown Candidate (blog)

    What really fights poverty? How do third and second world counties become first world countries? Estonia tells us the answer is freedom. 

    Economists call Estonia the Baltic Tiger, the sequel to the Celtic Tiger as Europe’s success story, and its policies are more radical than Ireland’s. On this year’s State of World Liberty Index, a ranking of countries by their economic and political freedom, Estonia is in first place, just ahead of Ireland and seven places ahead of the U.S. (North Korea comes in last at 159th.)
    It transformed itself from an isolated, impoverished part of the Soviet Union thanks to a former prime minister, Mart Laar, a history teacher who took office not long after Estonia was liberated. He was 32 years old and had read just one book on economics: “Free to Choose,” by Milton Friedman, which he liked especially because he knew Friedman was despised by the Soviets.
    Laar was politically naïve enough to put the theories into practice. Instead of worrying about winning trade wars, he unilaterally disarmed by abolishing almost all tariffs. He welcomed foreign investors and privatized most government functions (with the help of a privatization czar who had formerly been the manager of the Swedish pop group Abba). He drastically cut taxes on businesses and individuals, instituting a simple flat income tax of 26 percent.
    These reforms were barely approved by the legislature amid warnings of disaster: huge budget deficits, legions of factory workers and farmers who would lose out to foreign competition. But today the chief concerns are what to do with the budget surplus and how to deal with a labor shortage.

    The growth over the past decade has produced so much unanticipated revenue that the tax rate is being gradually reduced to 20 percent. Laar’s political rivals still complain that his flat tax unfairly helps the rich, but as he notes, the level of income inequality in Estonia actually declined during the past decade.

    On the other hand, what does the Mayor of New York think the answer is to fighting poverty? Socialism.

NYC Mayor Suggests Paying Poor


    NEW YORK (AP) -- Poor New Yorkers who make healthy choices - such as staying in school and regularly seeing the doctor - should be rewarded with cash to help break the cycle of poverty, Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested Monday.

    This is almost as condescending as the views of persons like Paul Farmer who support the ideas of paying TB (Tuberculosis) patients cash if they return to the free western clinics for their follow up treatments. 

    The commission, headed by Time Warner's chief executive, Richard Parsons, and the president of the nonprofit group Harlem Children's Zone, Geoffrey Canada, said many New Yorkers are locked in a cycle of poverty in which built-in conditions trap them into failure.

    Well, they are at least correct about this. Government punishes the financial success of those in poverty by taking away their government health, housing, cash, food, and who knows how many other goodies the moment they begin to succeed. Welfare Reform provided ample evidence that government itself is creating/incentivising these cycles. 

    In countries such as Mexico and Brazil, there has been widespread praise for World Bank-supported programs that give financial rewards to parents for sending their children to school and regular doctors' visits.

    Somehow Mexico and Brazil don't seem like shinning role models in tackling poverty, much less the United Nations... Why don't we look to Estonia? 




Posted 9/12/06 (By Travis)

Where Americans live can affect how long they live

9/12/06 AP 

    Health disparities are widely considered an issue of minorities and the poor being unable to find or afford good medical care. But Murray's government-funded study shows the problem is far more complex, and that geography plays a crucial role.

    The longest-living whites were not the relatively wealthy, which Murray calls "Middle America." They are edged out, by a year, by low-income residents of the rural Northern Plains states in the Midwest, where the men tend to reach age 76 and the women 82.

    Murray was surprised to find that lack of health insurance explained only a small portion of those gaps. Instead, differences in alcohol and tobacco use, blood pressure, cholesterol and obesity seemed to drive death rates.

    Most important, he said, will be pinpointing geographically defined factors — such as shared ancestry, dietary customs, local industry, what regions are more or less prone to physical activity — that in turn influence those health risks.

    This is certainly an interesting study; we are always told that there is a healthcare crisis in America and that folks aren't getting the healthcare they need, yet it appears here that lifestyle and culture are playing a much greater role. In fact, life-expectancy has never been an adequate measure of modern healthcare, a view which is probably not shared by many in the medical community. 

    It is not a coincidence that the author of this study looked at Appalachian whites, inner city blacks, and Native Americans. Most likely, he was aiming for conclusions quite different than the ones he has inadvertently reinforced. These were the same populations studied in 'Welfare; History, Results, and Reform' and it was found that condescending, de-empowering, paternal governmental programs were significantly correlated with not just poverty, but sociologic failings like drug abuse and family structure. IMHO, the correlation was significant enough to equal causation. If true, might it not also be the case that these same government policies, the handouts, the freebees, the lack of respect for property, all of which corrupt and degrade the human spirit, are also at least partially responsible for the cultures and behaviors that equate with lower life expectancies? 

    This more precise measure of health disparities will enable federal officials to better target efforts to battle inequalities, said Dr. Wayne Giles of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which helped fund Murray's work.

    Inequalities of income or healthcare should not be a target or concern of government! Government action will only make whatever token inequalities exist worse. 

    "It's not just telling people to be active or not to smoke," he said. "We need to create the environment which assists people in achieving a healthy lifestyle."

    I disagree. My advice would be the same as Fredrick Douglas's:

    I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us! Do nothing with us!..-<>-.. ..just let him alone! Your interference is doing him a positive injury!

    It is the doing with them that has already played the mischief with them. 


    (Added to 'Welfare; History, Results, and Reform' and 'US Government Health')



Posted 8/21/06 (By Travis)

Counties caught in conundrum: getting Amish to take food stamps

10/18/06 Cleveland Plain Dealer

    A pretty disgusting story about government's attempts to force welfare on populations. Luckily, the Amish value liberty and understand the harm and cultural destruction which follows government 'help'. 

    However, president Bush, a 'conservative' president, doesn't seem to understand this:

Bush Brings Faith to Foreign Aid

10/8/06 Boston Globe 

    President Bush has almost doubled the percentage of US foreign-aid dollars going to faith-based groups such as Food for the Hungry, according to a Globe survey of government data.

     If you're interested, here's another interesting story about another worthless government agency. 




Posted 3/31/08 ( by Travis)

One in 6 West Virginians is on food stamps
Charleston Daily Mail ^ | 3/26/08 | Justin D. Anderson

    Amid rising food and fuel costs, the assistance is becoming worth less and less.

    And supplemental food programs for poor families are struggling to keep up with the added demand as donations are on the decline.

    Nationally, more than 26 million Americans were on the food stamp program last year, according to the federal agriculture department.

    "We never have enough food to totally give everybody what they really want," Nardella said.


    IMO, these welfare agencies will never 'have enough' regardless of how many Americans are on welfare - the same welfare that is the very reason for their poverty. These agencies have already decimated Appalachia




Posted 7/4/08 ( by Travis)

Obama Shifts on Welfare Reform
ABC News' ^ | July 01, 2008 | Teddy Davis and Gregory Wallace

    Barack Obama aligned himself with welfare reform on Monday, launching a television ad which touts the way the overhaul "slashed the rolls by 80 percent." Obama leaves out, however, that he was against the 1996 federal legislation which precipitated the caseload reduction.

    By the time Obama emerged as the Democratic frontrunner in the spring of 2008, he began leaving the impression that he was for it all along.




2/17/09 (By Travis)

On The Dole Again (Welfare reform gutted in porkulus)


But, as The Post's Charles Hurt has reported, slipped into the stimulus bill is a provision establishing a new $3 billion emergency fund to help states pay for added welfare recipients, with the federal government footing 80 percent of the cost for the new "clients."

Plus, the bill would reward states for increasing caseloads, even if the growth came because the state had loosened its requirements for recipients to work.

This is radical change. States that succeed in getting people off welfare would lose the opportunity for increased federal funding. And states that make it easier to stay on welfare (by, say, raising the time limit from two years to five) would get rewarded with more taxpayer cash. The bill would even let states with rising welfare rolls still collect their "case-load reduction" bonuses.

In short, the measure will erode all the barriers to long-term welfare dependency that were at the heart of the 1996 reform.

By some estimates, the stimulus bill contains roughly $250 billion in welfare spending, another $6,700 for every poor man woman and child in this country, along with the erosion of the 1996 reforms. It can be counted on to "stimulate" the loss of another generation to welfare dependency.

As a state senator, Barack Obama opposed the 1996 welfare reform. As a candidate for president, he praised its results. Where does he stand now? Does he really want to return to welfare as we knew it before 1996 and put millions more Americans on the public dole?

This 'Welfare' Provision is probably the worst aspect of this 'stimulus' bill and will probably, IMO, end up hurting the poorest of the poor Americans for decades to come. Another article.





3/15/09 (By Travis)

Mormon food bank a private welfare system

3/8/09 San Francisco Chronicle


What makes the 110 storehouses around the country remarkable is that they are part of a system run almost entirely by volunteers. They grow the food on Mormon-owned farms, and package it at the storehouses. Volunteers drive trucks and deliver the food to distant wards - what Mormons call their sanctuaries - if recipients live more than 30 miles from a storehouse. As the recession has deepened, the church says it has seamlessly kept up with demand that increased 20 percent over the past year. But the intensely private church declined to say how many people or how much food that represented.


During the Great Depression, the current concept of storehouses was formally established. The then-president of the church, Heber J. Grant, said that he had a revelation from God about the welfare system created by the New Deal.


"Our primary purpose was to set up, insofar as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self-respect be once more established amongst our people," Grant said, according to church officials.


A prescient prophet.



6/11/09 (By Travis)

California contemplates ultimate reform - no welfare

6/4/09 Sacramento Bee

Because of all the Federal programs and other state programs, it is not entirely true that getting rid of CalWorks would result in no welfare in California. But it would be a great first step and would probably result in the largest reduction of poverty in the state's history. Notice the remarks of the people running CalWorks. IMHO, I doubt the program is in any real jeopardy.





8/12/09 (By Travis)

Back to school spree: Billionaire, feds give out $175M to aid neediest students around the state
8/12/09 daily news

A $200 back-to-school giveaway for needy kids sparked a mad rush for money on the streets of New York on Tuesday.

"It's free money!" said Alecia Rumph, 26, who waited in a Morris Park, Bronx, line 300 people deep for the cash to buy uniforms and book bags for her two kids.

"Thank God for Obama. He's looking out for us."


The no-strings-attached money went to families receiving food stamps or welfare.

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.

- Benjamin Franklin




10/19/09 (By Travis)

Why Did 1 Of 8 Girls Get Pregnant At Robeson High?
10/15/09 cbs
LaDonna Denson and two other Robeson students say parents not talking to teens and, in some cases, the pursuit of public assistance also factor into the pregnancies. None of them thought they'd be moms at such a young age.




2/16/10 (By Travis)

My Country ‘Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Dependency

2/12/10 BigGovernment

If you want to get depressed or angry, the New York Times has an article celebrating the effort by politicians at all levels of government to lure more people into the food stamp program. New York City is running ads in foreign languagues asking people to stick their snouts in the public trough. The City is even signing up prisoners when they get out of jail. The state of New York, meanwhile, actually set up quotas for enrolling new recipients. And on the federal level, there apparently is a program that gives states “bonuses” for putting more people on the dole. No wonder one out of every eight Americans is receiving food stamps.




4/21/10 (By Travis)

Why work when I can get £42,000 in benefits a year AND drive a Mercedes?

4/13/10 dailymail

The Davey family's £815-a-week state handouts pay for a four-bedroom home, top-of-the-range mod cons and two vehicles including a Mercedes people carrier.
Father-of-seven Peter gave up work because he could make more living on benefits.
Yet he and his wife Claire are still not happy with their lot.
With an eighth child on the way, they are demanding a bigger house, courtesy of the taxpayer.
Mrs Davey has never had a full-time job while her 35-year-old husband gave up his post in administration nine years ago after realising they would be better off living off the state.
'It cost too much to carry on working as we were actually better off unemployed,' said Mr Davey.




3/26/11 (By Travis)

Welfare State: Handouts Make Up One-Third of U.S. Wages

3/8/11 CNBC

Government payouts—including Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance—make up more than a third of total wages and salaries of the U.S. population, a record figure that will only increase if action isn’t taken before the majority of Baby Boomers enter retirement.

At the very least, we can take solace in the fact that we’re not quite at the state welfare levels of Europe. In the U.K., social welfare benefits make up 44 percent of wages and salaries, according to TrimTabs’ Schnapp.




Other Reviews 

(232) - scattered throughout







(6) (adjusted for 2002 dollars)















(21) 2001 world Almanac, pg 208


(23) (basically same chart)




(27) (Journal of Marriage and the family, December 1984, pg 768)




(31) The Construction of "Dependancy": Aid to Dependant Children and Professional Social Work in the Cold War Early Cold War America 1946-1963, Laura Curran, Dissertation 2001




(33) "Alternatives to ADC" 1959, pg 448









































(74) :)























(97) The Social Welfare Career and Contributions of Forrester Blanchard Washington: A life Course Analysis, Fredrica Harrison Barrow, Howard University 2001, Dissertation









(106) Long Term Use of AFDC: Woman and Poverty, Elizabeth E. Bartle,  University of Kansas 1997, Dissertation





(111) (and other sources),+gained+&hl=en








(119) republican-revolution/haskins-05-20-04.ppt












































































































































                                                                                                  (posted 4/9/2004)