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Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Old 08-22-13, 08:47 AM
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Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

http://www.cato.org/publications/com...tter-deal-work

Study from Cato calculates value of welfare benefits (TANF, SNAP, Medicaid, Housing, Utilities, WIC) state by state. When you factor in the fact that these benefits aren't taxed, they show what the pre-tax value of these benefits would be if they were taxed.

Rank ... State ... Pretax equivalent ... hourly wage equivalent
1 Hawaii 60,590 29.13
2 District of Columbia 50,820 24.43
3 Massachusetts 50,540 24.30
4 Connecticut 44,370 21.33
5 New York 43,700 21.01
6 New Jersey 43,450 20.89
7 Rhode Island 43,330 20.83
8 Vermont 42,350 20.36
9 New Hampshire 39,750 19.11
10 Maryland 38,160 18.35
11 California 37,160 17.87
12 Oregon 34,300 16.49
13 Wyoming 32,620 15.68
14 Nevada 29,820 14.34
15 Minnesota 29,350 14.11
16 Delaware 29,220 14.05
17 Washington 28,840 13.87
18 North Dakota 28,830 13.86
19 Pennsylvania 28,670 13.78
20 New Mexico 27,900 13.41
21 Montana 26,930 12.95
22 South Dakota 26,610 12.79
23 Kansas 26,490 12.74
24 Michigan 26,430 12.71
25 Alaska 26,400 12.69
26 Ohio 26,200 12.60
27 North Carolina 25,760 12.38
28 West Virginia 24,900 11.97
29 Alabama 23,310 11.21
30 Indiana 22,900 11.01
31 Missouri 22,800 10.96
32 Oklahoma 22,480 10.81
33 Louisiana 22,250 10.70
34 South Carolina 21,910 10.53
35 Arizona 15,320 7.37
36 Wisconsin 14,890 7.16
37 Virginia 14,870 7.15
38 Colorado 14,750 7.09
39 Nebraska 14,420 6.93
40 Iowa 14,200 6.83
41 Georgia 14,060 6.76
42 Utah 13,950 6.71
43 Maine 13,920 6.69
44 Illinois 13,580 6.53
45 Kentucky 13,350 6.42
46 Florida 12,600 6.06
47 Texas 12,550 6.03
48 Arkansas 12,230 5.88
49 Tennessee 12,120 5.83
50 Mississippi 11,830 5.69
51 Idaho 11,150 5.36

Get paid almost $30 per hour to do nothing in Hawaii? Not a bad deal!

In eight states (Hawaii, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) the pre-tax wage equivalents were more than 100% of the state's median salary. In 16 states, the pre-tax wage equivalents were less than 50% of the state's median salary.

Now, surely not all welfare recipients are using every single program, but should welfare be used as a safety net, or to get people near the median?
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Old 08-22-13, 08:50 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Come on. Who has a better standard of living in Hawaii...somebody on welfare or somebody actually making $60,590 a year.
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Old 08-22-13, 08:56 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Cost of living in Hawaii is extremely high so $30 an hour is more like poverty wages.
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Old 08-22-13, 08:58 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Someone on my FB posted this rebuttal.

http://billmoyers.com/2013/08/21/cat...e-it-too-good/

Here's a piece (boldface mine on the points I think the most important).

Tanner and Hughes acknowledge that “surveys of welfare recipients consistently show their desire for a job.” They acknowledge that a significant share of those receiving public benefits are working – Walmart employees, for example, famously rely on public assistance to get by, meaning that taxpayers effectively subsidize the Walton family’s vast fortunes. And they note that programs like TANF are time-limited – to a maximum of 24 months except in the case of extreme hardship.

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

So a study that claims to tell us about the “typical” poor family is really describing a rarity — the equivalent of a four-leaf clover. But the purpose of these studies isn’t to inform good policymaking. They feed a narrative that the poor are lazy and undeserving, and provide wonky cover for further weakening our social safety net. When studies like this one are picked up by the conservative media, all of the authors’ caveats tend to be stripped away, and they become straightforward claims that poor families sit back enjoying a good life, forcing overburdened tax-payers to pick up the tab.
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Old 08-22-13, 09:12 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Good points from the rebuttal, but I do disagree with this:

They feed a narrative that the poor are lazy and undeserving, and provide wonky cover for further weakening our social safety net.
Actually, they feed the narrative that our social safety net is too generous and discourages people from working, not so much that the poor are lazy. If you made $40,000/year right now working and someone offered you the option of still making $40,000/year by basically doing nothing, wouldn't you do it? Many would not, but a lot of people (dare I say most) who are not otherwise "lazy" certainly would.

Also, for all the talk about Hawaii, it is also fair to consider the bottom of the list:

36 Wisconsin 14,890 7.16
37 Virginia 14,870 7.15
38 Colorado 14,750 7.09
39 Nebraska 14,420 6.93
40 Iowa 14,200 6.83
41 Georgia 14,060 6.76
42 Utah 13,950 6.71
43 Maine 13,920 6.69
44 Illinois 13,580 6.53
45 Kentucky 13,350 6.42
46 Florida 12,600 6.06
47 Texas 12,550 6.03
48 Arkansas 12,230 5.88
49 Tennessee 12,120 5.83
50 Mississippi 11,830 5.69
51 Idaho 11,150 5.36
Even pre-tax, that's a tiny amount of money to feed a family (and many of these benefits require children to get) and a few of these are among our most populated states. Kind of makes me think these states may be freeloaders who rely far too much on the Federal government to fund their social programs.

Oh, and look, 7 of the bottom 10 are in the South. Shocker.
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Old 08-22-13, 09:15 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
Actually, they feed the narrative that our social safety net is too generous and discourages people from working, not so much that the poor are lazy.
My sister was in this boat. She went on public assistance in California, then moved to a small town in South Carolina while still collecting California welfare for the better part of a year (?!?). She said she wanted to work, but she was getting more by not working than she would with a crappy temp job or whatever other slim pickings there were in Rock Hill, SC. She by no stretch of the imagination was living high off the hog, of course.

My sister's also...ugh, in general, but still.
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Old 08-22-13, 09:17 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
Actually, they feed the narrative that our social safety net is too generous and discourages people from working, not so much that the poor are lazy. If you made $40,000/year right now working and someone offered you the option of still making $40,000/year by basically doing nothing, wouldn't you do it?
Except that's not how welfare works. Nobody on welfare in Hawaii is just getting a $60,000 check each year to spend however they want, no strings attached.
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Old 08-22-13, 09:22 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
Actually, they feed the narrative that our social safety net is too generous and discourages people from working, not so much that the poor are lazy. If you made $40,000/year right now working and someone offered you the option of still making $40,000/year by basically doing nothing, wouldn't you do it? Many would not, but a lot of people (dare I say most) who are not otherwise "lazy" certainly would.
I think a big point of the rebuttal is also that most poor families don't collect food stamps, WIC, welfare, get the EIC tax credit and get all of it. etc etc. Most people only get a few things here and there. I suppose you'd have to dig for some stats to back either claim up. Plus most non-food-benefits have time limits as he points out.
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Old 08-22-13, 09:55 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Misread the title as "Warfare: A Better Deal Than Work."
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Old 08-22-13, 10:00 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

My sister took a bunch of welfare options about ten years ago.

It's very time consuming. It also ruined my days, because I had to drive her around.

Then you have to fish around the store for WIC groceries. To get WIC, you have to go to the WIC center and get blood tests and stuff (she was pregnant).

I think it's harder and more time consuming than having a job. Lots of long waits at the social security office. Looking back, I should have just given her the $750-or-so that she was getting.
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Old 08-22-13, 10:33 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

I would guess that the difference in a lot of those is housing subsidies. There isn't much that would qualify for Section 8 housing in Hawaii that wouldn't be pretty expensive. Aside from Hawaii, the rest of the top 10 is East Coast, which tends to have a higher cost of housing as well. The next is CA, which we all know has pretty spendy housing.
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Old 08-22-13, 11:11 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

I'm in favor of a national guaranteed minimum income but I'm a crazy person.
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Old 08-22-13, 11:11 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

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Old 08-22-13, 11:34 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Looking over the report the average breakdown is something like:

Housing: $9K
Medicaid: $8.5K
SNAP: $6K
Welfare: $5K
WIC: $1K
Utilties: $0.5K
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Old 08-22-13, 11:54 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Thanks for the heads up, OP; just quit my job and applied for welfare. My main problem is this: I'm assuming they're going to send me food stamps, but I don't really like lobster. Any other ideas for how to spend them? Recipe suggestions especially appreciated (non-lobster plz).
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Old 08-22-13, 11:55 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet View Post
I'm in favor of a national guaranteed minimum income but I'm a crazy person.
I think you're lying. I very much doubt that a crazy person could figure out how to use the Internet.
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Old 08-22-13, 11:56 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet View Post
I'm in favor of a national guaranteed minimum income but I'm a crazy person.
I agree with this. But I also agree with a national minimum work requirement to get it.
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Old 08-22-13, 11:57 AM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Originally Posted by dork View Post
Thanks for the heads up, OP; just quit my job and applied for welfare. My main problem is this: I'm assuming they're going to send me food stamps, but I don't really like lobster. Any other ideas for how to spend them? Recipe suggestions especially appreciated (non-lobster plz).
Can't help you there, I usually sell my food stamps for 75% value so I can buy beer & cigarettes.
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Old 08-22-13, 12:00 PM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Originally Posted by inri222 View Post
Can't help you there, I usually sell my food stamps for 75% value so I can buy beer & cigarettes.
Shows how much you know. That's why they went with the debit card food stamps. Now you have to actually buy what the other person wants, but for the service you should be getting closer to 80% of face value.
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Old 08-22-13, 12:02 PM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Originally Posted by inri222 View Post
Can't help you there, I usually sell my food stamps for 75% value so I can buy beer & cigarettes.
Selling stuff sounds like work. I didn't go on welfare to do work.
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Old 08-22-13, 12:09 PM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
Shows how much you know. That's why they went with the debit card food stamps. Now you have to actually buy what the other person wants, but for the service you should be getting closer to 80% of face value.
I was actually approached about this in the grocery store a few weeks ago. The woman had some B.S. story about it, but I knew what was up.
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Old 08-22-13, 12:11 PM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

I hate working and would love to get a check and do nothing, but I also hate paperwork and waiting on lines, so I guess I'll hold onto my job for now. But I retire in a couple of years, so I just need to stick it out.
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Old 08-22-13, 12:11 PM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
I agree with this. But I also agree with a national minimum work requirement to get it.
Nah. Let's suck up some of that sweet sweet hedge fund/investment bank/general asshole money and stop spending $1.5 trillion a year on defense and we'd be able to guarantee every adult citizen $25,000 a year.
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Old 08-22-13, 12:23 PM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
Except that's not how welfare works.
I didn't mean to imply that it did, sorry. However, those programs do pay for most of the same things that someone spends their paychecks on anyway, albeit with more constraints and limits.

Truthfully, a pretty significant percentage of the people enrolled in these programs grew up in an environment where a significant percentage of people are enrolled in these programs. This can have a couple of nefarious side effects:

1. Use of these programs becomes or has become an accepted norm among a certain group of people, in a certain neighborhood, or area, etc.

2. Because it is what they know, people get used to the lower-quality food, accommodations, etc. that these programs might provide. (Who cares if the apartment I can get with housing assistance is a shithole? Shithole apartments are what I know, what I grew up with, etc.) This can lead to lower expectations, goals, dreams, etc. and a higher likelihood of the next person being on these programs also.

I don't begin to assert that "freeloaders" make up more than a small minority of the people on these programs. The problem is that certain conservatives assume that the freeloaders make up the vast majority and their idea of fixing things is to simply gut funding for all of it.
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Old 08-22-13, 12:23 PM
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Re: Welfare: A Better Deal than Work

Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
I was actually approached about this in the grocery store a few weeks ago. The woman had some B.S. story about it, but I knew what was up.
Was she a Mormon? Lots of them in Utah collecting welfare.
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