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The Welfare Trap

The Welfare Trap

Thanks to two-time Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Michael P. Ramirez for publishing my essay on the country's welfare crisis. His stunning cartoon for The Daily Signal nails the problem.

"I think we should acknowledge that some welfare programs in the past were not well designed and in some cases did encourage dependency.… As somebody who worked in low-income neighborhoods, I’ve seen it where people weren’t encouraged to work, weren’t encouraged to upgrade their skills, were just getting a check, and over time their motivation started to diminish. And I think even if you’re progressive you’ve got to acknowledge that some of these things have not been well designed.” 

It may surprise you it was President Barack Obama in 2011 who said this.

The reality that is the welfare state and the perpetual cycle of government providing assistance to generation after generation all but kills incentive to succeed. And as the government has grown bigger, so has dependency. Today the U.S. spends 16 times as much on welfare as it did in the 1960’s, yet the poverty rate remains unchanged. 

50 years earlier when President Lyndon Johnson initiated ‘the War on Poverty’ he said “Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.” 

Almost $25 trillion has since been invested and under all measures welfare programs have failed. In 2016 the U.S. has 80 separate and independently run programs, controlled by numerous government agencies. The totals in cash, housing, medical, children’s services, food, and social services now cost over $1 trillion annually. 

The failure is not only financial but human. Self-reliance within one’s own community has all but been discarded as outdated or even judgmental; along with a collapsed family structure as marriage penalties within the welfare system financially incentivize single parent homes. 

It’s time for an honest discussion how welfare traps the poor in dependency.

Dave Sussman blogs, is frequently featured at, and produces original video at - See more at: