Do Welfare Queens Really Exist?

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Boyce JPEG

So, first, let’s define welfare queen. I found this colorful definition in the “Urban Dictionary”.

A welfare queen is a woman, regardless of race who is living off the welfare system purely because of laziness and not due to any real need. She could have a job but she is a welfare queen”.

You might well ask, Why should I care about this subject? As I will illustrate later in this post, welfare is a very important program. Many people, who would rather not be on welfare, must sign up for it because they have no other way to put food on the table or a roof over their heads.

Large numbers of Republicans hate this program and would love to terminate it. And they may well be getting close to the opportunity to do just that. Consider the following:

The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republican hands.

And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won’t lose power in the House and so they are willing to take the risk of having vigorous arguments about how best to use the power they have.

If a Republican wins the presidency, welfare may be dead, or at least seriously wounded.

So, do welfare queens really exist? Of course they do. Whenever you create a system or program to help people, someone will figure out how to game the system. But the next important question to ask is, are there enough to them to justify shutting down or severely limiting the program?

Actually, large numbers of people on welfare also work. They just can’t find jobs that pay enough to allow them to live without the need of assistance from welfare or public assistance.

The fast food industry is a clear example of this fact. According to Bloomberg Business News, Overall, 52 percent of families of fast-food workers are enrolled in one or more public assistance programs, compared with 25 percent of the workforce as a whole. Why is this so? Fast food workers have close to the lowest wages in the nation. So maybe we shouldn’t be discussing “Welfare Queens: Perhaps we should call them “Dairy Queens”.

According to a national study done by PayScale the national median wage paid to fast food workers is $7.87 per hour. When you add in tips and overtime it comes to about $17,000 per year or $1,400 per month. Could you cover food, clothing, housing, transportation and medical care with just $1,400 per month?

Let’s go back to that report from Bloomberg Business Week. It says that 25 percent of the workforce as a whole is on welfare. The US The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in September of 2015, there were148,980,000 people working in this country. That’s almost 149 million people working. Twenty five percent of that would be a little over 37 million people who are working but who don’t earn enough to support themselves and their families. That’s a lot of working dairy queens in this country.

Another claim that opponents of welfare make is that welfare becomes a way of life for most people on the program. Once people get on welfare they never get off.

Is it that really True? No, according to a US Census Bureau report, 62.9% of people receiving cash assistance from the government leave the program in one to 12 months. Most of the rest leave the program in 3 to 4 years.

Do welfare recipients waste the money they get from the Government? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, food, housing, and transportation accounted for the greatest proportion of the budget of all families. These three categories made up 65.5 percent of the total budget of families not receiving assistance, compared with 79.7 percent for one-parent and 75 percent for two-parent families receiving assistance. So, people on public assistance are spending significantly less on what some would call frivolities than people not getting assistance. Would you want those on assistance to spend nothing on things that bring enjoyment to life? Come on!!!

Does welfare encourage people receiving public assistance to have more babies?

It would seem that it does not. According to report from the Children’s Defense Fund the typical welfare family consists of 2.9 people and the average is 3.16 for all families. Some 42 percent of welfare mothers have just one child, and 30 percent have two kids. Just 10 percent of these families include four or more youngsters.

If welfare was expected to encourage the birth of more children, it is doing a lousy job. Our welfare programs must be supported.

Boyce Hinman

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