To Help The Poor, To Not Help The Poor

Republicans in the Senate blocked legislation this week that would increase the federal minimum wage. Currently, the federal minimum wage level is at $7.25 an hour and the failed proposed increase would have raised it to $10.10 an hour. Democrats promoting the bill claimed it was a strong way to combat poverty.

The expected outrage at the failure of the bill included sound bites from an angered Obama aimed at Republicans, saying, “They said ‘no’ to helping millions working their way out of poverty.” Republicans responded to the many criticisms citing the CBO report showing that 500,000 jobs were expected to be lost if the increase was passed.

Though that is a great argument to make since it is quite difficult to work your way out of poverty if you no longer have a job, it is not the only one. The options for a business owner that is presented with a forced increase to labor costs include raising prices and cutting hours as well as cutting jobs entirely.

So, from the view of a poverty stricken minimum wage worker these options look just as bad. They are faced with an increase in the prices of goods and services they need. Not to mention they now run the risk of having their hours cut or losing their job entirely.

How many people in poverty would see an increase in pay because of this bill? According to the Census Bureau, in 2012, nearly 60% of those living at or near the poverty level were not in the workforce, meaning an increase in wage would not help.

Tax System, Welfare Laws Encourage the Poor to Stay Poor

It has been suggested that welfare and unemployment benefits prevent people from looking for jobs. Of course, Democrats deny this and press forward with the welfare state like it’s no big deal. However, a new study from Georgia State University shows that many of these programs do encourage these receiving benefits from changing their behavior:

A new, university study demonstrates that many of the government benefits the state offers actually discourage poor people from adopting more productive behaviors.
“At least in some earnings ranges, the tax-benefit system discourages low-income people from investing in education and training, discourages labor supply, encourages fertility, and provides little incentive to marry or to remain so. To the extent that households are aware of and respond to such incentives, the tax-benefit system creates poverty traps rather than promoting behaviors that enable families to escape poverty,” wrote the authors from Georgia State University. One is an economics professor and the others are students working at the university’s Fiscal Research Center in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

The researchers tracked each of the government benefit programs, such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and food stamps as well as income-tax rules, and then they looked at how families of different sizes and incomes would react to them.

On Romney’s problematic comments about the “very poor”

In case you haven’t already, Mitt Romney, the day after a very strong showing in Florida, stuck his foot in his mouth during an interview on CNN by saying that he is “not concerned about the very poor”:

After winning the Florida primary, GOP presidential nominee hopeful Mitt Romney explains to CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien that he is focused on a particular portion of the American population in his campaign. Romney says, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair , I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich…. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”

O’Brien asked him to clarify his remarks saying, “There are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say, ‘That sounds odd.’” Romney continues, “We will hear from the Democrat party, the plight of the poor…. You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus…. The middle income Americans, they’re the folks that are really struggling right now and they need someone that can help get this economy going for them.”

Both anti-Romney conservatives and Democrats reacted to the comments, using them as another example of Romney being out of touch. Other, more reasonable conservatives, are just concerned that it feeds perceptions about Romney. For example, the Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll writes:

Why I’m a heartless bastard

I’ve been called a heartless bastard before.  It’s happened a number of times as a matter of fact.  It tends to revolve around the fact that I don’t want tax dollars to be spent on people who are to sorry to try and earn it.  For many people, that’s more than enough to saddle me with that label.  The question then becomes, why am I that way?

Let’s ignore the recent revelations about where a significant portion of our tax dollars assigned for helping the poor have actually ended up.  There’s a lot more to it than that.

You see, I’ve been dirt poor before.  I’ve been so broke people brought me groceries so I wouldn’t starve.  I was as sorry as sorry could be.  I’ll be blunt: I was a loser.  A complete and total loser.  If my wife had left me, she would have been well within her rights and I couldn’t blame her if she had.  But, luckily for me, she didn’t.

That loser path continued on until almost ten years ago.  That was the day my son was born.  I knew then that I couldn’t keep screwing up for the rest of my life.  I had to do something.  He deserved better.

Today, I’m not rich but I’m a damn sight away from poor.  Uncle Sam seems to think so anyways, based on my taxes.  I didn’t get here through some secret means.  I worked hard and did good work where I was.  Eventually, I found myself in a position where I was actually pretty fair off financially.  I’m solidly middle class at the moment, though I do have dreams of moving way on up that ladder.  It wasn’t particularly tricky either.

Not a cold heart

“What are you?  Heartless?”

I’ve been asked that more than once.  The perception of some is that I’m a heartless bastard because I don’t support social programs, that I have a desire to see the poor of this world suffer.  That’s simply not the case and I’m going to tell you why.

Once upon a time, shortly after my wife and I got married, I was the epitome of a loser.  I didn’t want to hold a job (I still don’t want to), didn’t want to do much of anything really.  We were broke.  Dirt poor.  Even then, I didn’t want to take a government handout, but I never faulted others for doing it.  Still, I was a grade “A” schmuck.

That all changed on July 11, 2001.  Yes, I know the date.  I even know the time.  It was 6:45 in the evening.  It’s not often someone knows the day, hour, and minute they changed.  I do because that’s when my son was born.  My first thought was “I finally did something right.”

Looking down on that little boy, I knew that this couldn’t be the last thing I managed to get right.  I had to change who I was.

Since then, I can’t say I’ve held the same job.  I worked a lot of temp jobs before my current place of employment.  However, I’ve been at the same desk, doing the same tasks, for the last six years.  It was a huge step up.

Before my son was born, we had been so broke that family was bringing us groceries.  That’s not the case anymore as I look out my window at my families three cars (one is just a toy, a ’66 Mustang).  We’re not doing so bad after all.

The change stemmed not from a government program, but a programming change within myself.  I’m not rich by any means, but I am doing fairly well for myself, especially in my home town.  This isn’t bragging either, because there’s nothing to brag about.  It was hard work, but I didn’t accomplish something spectacular.

Free Cell Phones for the “Poor”

What will they think of next? Our nation is in the midst of a national recession not seen since the Great Depression. Tax revenues are in decline. Every agency in Alabama is in proration. Yet as many as 560,000+ households in Alabama are about to qualify for free cell phones (more than 25% of the state!).

Read the article here.

I don’t care what anybody says; if we live in a country where the “poor” get free cell phones, we have no real poor here.

Notice that this program only gives recipients about an hour of talk-time per month—but allows them to buy additional time for 20 cents a minute (and most do). If these people are supposed to be poor, how are they able to afford to pay for this extra time?

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