John C. Goodman

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman claims that Republicans who want to trim back welfare spending are waging a "war on the poor." My colleagues and I at the National Center for Policy Analysis think it's the other way around: it's the welfare state and its apologists who are really harming the poor.

Who is right?

Currently, the federal government spends about $1 trillion a year on 126 means tested welfare programs. That amounts to almost $22,000 for every poor person in America, or $88,000 for a family of four.

There can be little doubt that these programs are destroying the culture of the recipient communities. They are replacing a culture of self-reliance and self-help with a culture of dependency. Amazingly, a record 91.5 million people of working age — almost one third of the entire population — are not working and not even looking for a job.

How Culture Matters

The Dallas Independent School District recently announced that every student in the school district will now get a free breakfast and a free lunch. The reason? So few students qualified for "full price" or "reduced price" meals that trying to identify them cost more than it was worth. And as I pointed out at my blog, kids who receive free lunches and breakfasts are increasingly getting a free supper as well. Think about that. We have decided that the parents of every single child attending public school in Dallas are too poor to feed their own kids.

Have you ever stopped to consider how much of modern life is conditioned by the fact that millions of young women are having children they cannot support? Turns out that the same parents who can't afford to feed their children also can't afford to house them or pay for their medical care. They also fail to provide a home environment that is conducive to learning. That's why there is now a big push for government funded preschool.

Clearly we are not helping a few people down on their luck. We are subsidizing a way of life.

And a culture. Another recent article in The Dallas Morning Newsreported that 11 public schools that were temporarily closed in South Dallas have been vandalized:


John C. Goodman

John C. Goodman is Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute and author of the widely acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts."