Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul?

The government levying taxes to redistribute wealth to others has been referred to as “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, i.e., “robbing” some people of their money to give to others.

The hazard is that with a reported 47% of Americans not paying income tax, we have reached the point that the receivers (including the public service employees who also benefit from government transfers, and their liberal sympathizers, such as private union members) are a majority that are being supported by a minority of wealth producers. "The government who robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul," said George Bernard Shaw.

Without Constitutional limits being effective to stop these wealth transfers, and the mistaken idea that America is a “democracy”, this is a very real danger. Our entire Constitutional concept of being a “republic” with a limited government is in danger.

But what of the “safety net” which most Americans support? I myself was raised on welfare for the first 17 years of my life after my father died when I was 2 months old and my mom raised us 6 kids. Without that “aid to dependent children”, I am not sure how we would have made it. My mom preached, “Get an education and work hard”. We have, with all six of us getting at least a Bachelor’s degree and four getting a Master’s or more of education. We saw the safety net as temporary.

A problem with many families on welfare is that it has become a cultural fixture, a generation after generation pattern. Many receivers come to think that they are “entitled” to these benefits, and thereby avoid taking any personal responsiblity for improving their situation without continuing public assistance. Currently there is little incentive to get a job at minimum wage when you compare the benefits of the welfare payments, food stamps, Medicaid and Section 8 housing assistance that you would lose if you became employed. Our incentive system is backwards.

Are there solutions to this problem? Should Michigan go back to “workfare”? Or are some “safety net” programs on such a slippery slope that once you agree to the concept, there is no bright line test to know when you have gone too far that you should not start at all? I don’t believe that our society is ready to roll back the safety net that far. Where is the middle ground?

Comments? Your ideas?

No comments:

Post a Comment