It Doesn’t Pay to Work

In the wake of President Obama’s re-election victory, there has been a lot of discussion about makers and takers. Mitt Romney said on a conference call with supporters, among many other things, that Obama bought a lot of votes with “gifts” to various constituencies, an evidently true observation for which he mysteriously was maligned by Bobby Jindal and others. The truth is much worse than Romney suggested or than most people imagine: the middle class is right to feel bitter and betrayed. Those who work for a living have been sold out by federal and state governments that have created a welfare system gone mad.

ZeroHedge has the grim numbers:

[I]t is now more lucrative – in the form of actual disposable income – to sit, do nothing, and collect various welfare entitlements, than to work. This is graphically, and very painfully confirmed, in the below chart from Gary Alexander, Secretary of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (a state best known for its broke capital Harrisburg). As quantitied, and explained by Alexander, “the single mom is better off earning gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045.

This chart, created by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, explains the calculation:

This graph by the Congressional Budget Office shows much the same thing. It compares nominal income from $0 to $60,000 against disposable income over the same range. There is remarkably little difference in disposable income:

In today’s America, it is reasonable to conclude that unless you make a great deal of money, you are a sucker if you work hard. And, in fact, a great many Americans have concluded exactly that. Check out these data, again from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. Each 1.25 Americans working in the private sector is supporting 1.0 welfare recipients and government employees–mostly welfare recipients:

We are constantly told that it is difficult to find any state or federal spending that can possibly be cut. This suggestion is, I think, ludicrous. Let’s start by cutting welfare, and cutting it deeply. Not only because it is wasteful, but because by devaluing work it threatens to cripple not merely our economy, but our culture. An America where you are better off cashing welfare checks than working is an America that cannot long survive.

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