government programs

Shock poll: Americans believe government anti-poverty programs cause more poverty, and they’re absolutely right

It isn’t news to conservatives that government programs do not reduce poverty levels. What is news is that 49% of Americans apparently believe that not only do government anti-poverty programs fail, but they also may increase the level of poverty.

A recent Rasmussen poll also pointed out that people that personally witness what happens when people receive government assistance are more likely than those that don’t to believe that anti-poverty programs actually increase the poverty level. While these findings are trending slightly lower than results from previous years, it is still a sign that the public may not believe that the government can resolve the issue of poverty through assistance programs.

A more profound indication of that belief is seen when people stated their thoughts about the number of people receiving government assistance - 67% believe that too many people are dependent on the government. Additionally, 62% believe that the government needs to be smaller, offering fewer programs. The same percentage of adults are keeping up with government program issues in the news.

These are excellent numbers for conservatives, if they can manage to deliver a message that the public wants to hear. Theoretically, the public is ready to see changes in anti-poverty programs. The problem isn’t selling the concept of welfare reform - it is with offering an alternative that isn’t perceived as harmful to the people that truly need assistance. This shouldn’t be extremely difficult, because 64% of Americans think that too many people that do not actually need assistance are receiving it.

Care About the Poor? One More Reason to Be Mad about Cash for Clunkers

I would like to know where the bleeding-heart outcry is over the Cash for Clunkers program. Aside from the centuries of economic theory that show why it may be, as economist Chris Edwards suggests, the dumbest program ever, where’s the outrage over destroying materials that could be of so much value to our nation’s poor?

There are thousands of poor people in this country, and even more in Mexico, who are struggling to get by. Many of them drive old, beat-up jalopies that break down regularly, and many can’t afford cars at all.

And then the government introduces a program that results in the destruction of millions of dollars worth of perfectly good vehicles. Now, I understand that the whole point of the program was to get those cars off the road to lower carbon emissions and nudge a culture into purchasing smaller cars.  But do the planners in Washington really think that a program that lasts a couple of weeks will result in an overall worldwide decline in carbon emmissions? Is there that much hubris floating around in the Potomac?

So was it worth the publicity stunt to revoke vehicles from the hands of the poor?

Go ahead and watch this perfectly good trunk get demolished, and you decide if it could have served a better purpose in the hands of a struggling American.

OUTRAGE: Social Security paid millions to Nazi war criminals after they left the US

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WARNING: There is not a single detail, fact, or argument in this story that makes the slightest bit of sense in a rational, just world. You should take safety precautions before reading any further. Apply duct tape to your head generously so that when it explodes you will still have all the pieces. Stuff cotton in your ears so that your brain does not leak out of your head. Sit down in a comfortable chair so that when you are rendered temporarily (or permanently-it’s that bad) blind with rage you will at least not injure yourself.

After a two-year investigation, the Associated Press reported on Monday that the US government has paid millions of your tax dollars (via the mythical “trust fund”) in Social Security benefits to Nazi war criminals even after they left the US, some of them decades ago.

The payments flowed through a legal loophole that has given the U.S. Justice Department leverage to persuade Nazi suspects to leave. If they agreed to go, or simply fled before deportation, they could keep their Social Security, according to interviews and internal government records.

So let’s get this straight: Instead of deporting (or prosecuting) Nazis that had been living here in secret for decades, mostly by lying on their immigration forms, we promised them they could keep their Social Security benefits, up to $1,500 per month, forever, if they left the country and renounced their citizenship or had it revoked.

Government cheese: The reality most people miss

I found myself over at Instapundit today after our own Nate Nelson’s post got a link (Congrats Nate!), and I came across a video where Glenn Reynolds is talking with the author of a book.  The book is A Nation of Moochers: America’s Addiction to Getting Something for Nothing, and the author is Charles Sykes.

In his interview, Glenn says something that, frankly, I liked the way he said it.  “Politicians have managed to convince people that everybody has some kind of special deal when, of course, really the house is always taking their percentage.”

He’s right.  For example, take a government program designed to help with adult literacy and compare it with a non-profit set up with the same goal.  Few will argue that adult literacy is somehow a bad thing.

Now, let’s say that both entities received $1 million dollars to operate in different medium sized cities.  So, what is the difference between the two?  Oh, that’s easy.

You see, the non-profit will generally try to operate as efficiently as possible.  They know that $1 million may or may not be back, so they try to use it as judiciously as possible.  They also know that results matter, so they make sure they can help as many adults read for that money as possible, primarily in hopes that the results will spur further donations.  Any non-profit that fails to do that usually doesn’t get repeat donors and eventually has to close its doors.  Sounds kind of free market-like, doesn’t it?

All government programs aren’t created equal

Over at Marginal Revolt, there’s an interesting post regarding government programs.  You see, a lot of folks have been arguing that most folks benefit from government in an effort to discredit folks who are against most government programs.  This particular post, written by Alex Tabarrok, points out that it ain’t as easy as it seems to slap around that broad brush, particularly when it comes to 529 college savings programs:

Nevertheless, there are dividing lines. In a laissez-faire world we don’t get rid of 529 programs, instead all savings, not just savings for college, become tax-free. A 529 program is not a government program like food stamps, it is the absence of a government tax. (N.B. I am not taking a position here on the best tax structure.)People who use 529 programs and who think that they have not used a government social program are not willfully ignorant, they are demonstrating a healthy if fading appreciation of the distinction between civil society and government.  What Rampell et al. implicitly imagine is that the natural state is slavery and any departure from that state a government benefit. Thus, if the government taxes your saving for a college education less than your other savings, you should be grateful for how government has benefited you and your children.

To go one better though, there is the simple fact that many folks may take advantage of a government program in a particular instance, but would use a private equivalent if it weren’t available.  For example, the 529 programs.  Yes, people take advantage of them because they are there, but if they weren’t available they would make do without.


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