The so-called War of Poverty hasn’t conquered poverty.
Government dependency leads to more dependency. But according to a new book titled The Human Cost of Welfare: How the System Hurts the People It’s Supposed to Help, by Lisa Conyers and Phil Harvey, so does cutting off recipients who start earning money.
According to a Washington Examiner article about the book, a welfare recipient told Conyers that she’d rather work. Part of the problem is that once recipients start earning money, the government might stop the benefits. The cut-off provides a disincentive to work:
Sometimes, tens of thousands of dollars in benefits can be threatened by earning a tiny sum. “The whole psychology about work changes when you’re on these programs. All the sudden, the value of the programs becomes greater than a job you could get,” Conyers said.
“Oh no no no, you’re earning a little money now. We’re going to have to cut your benefits,” Harvey said, quoting what one caseworker said to a woman on welfare. “Now that woman is afraid to earn any money at all now, exactly the opposite of what I think people in poverty want to do to themselves, and exactly the opposite of what we would like them to be able to do.”
Will sustaining a recipient’s present level of benefits once they begin working help them get off welfare? The book’s authors suggest a new welfare reform that could include expanding the earned income tax credit and providing a basic guaranteed income for everyone. But the Heritage Foundation’s The Daily Signal calls the latter anti-work.
“A basic income would not eliminate poverty—understood as a household’s ability to sustain itself above subsistence without depending on government. Nor would it necessarily increase economic opportunity.”