The Real Message of Welfare
Welfare benefits without a work requirement, child welfare benefits without any responsibility, universal basic income and other forms of income redistribution have a clear message for the recipients, you’re incapable of taking care of yourself, you’re worthless, you’re pathetic. These transfer payments are telling the recipients that they need a progressive intellectual elite to take care of them, to take money from productive workers and give it to unproductive people (they can’t be called workers),or to create money out of thin air (called modern monetary theory by progressives) that can give them the goods and services that others must work for.
The same is true for antiracism. Antiracism seeks to take money and wealth from some people based on their ethnicity (basically whites, Asians and also Jews) and give it to other ethnicities (basically blacks and browns). This message is also clear, blacks and browns are inferior to whites, Asians and Jews and cannot cope in a society based on merit.
We can call this concept post-Critical Race Theory or, my favorite, post-postmodernism. Postmodernism and its offspring Critical Theory and Critical Race Theory, analyzes the world in terms of power; those that hold it and those that are subjugated by it. Karl Marx looked at the power distribution of the world and claimed that the capitalists held the power and that the workers (the proletariat) were oppressed by the power of the capitalists. This Marxist dialectic began to fall apart as the middle class grew and workers prospered.
Critical Theory redefined the dialectic by dividing the world between oppressors and the oppressed, while Critical Race Theory identified the oppressors by race (basically whites) and the oppressed as everybody else (except for maybe Asians and Jews who have done pretty well under white oppression and don’t forget the Jamaicans, African immigrants and others who have prospered in America and also don’t forget the millions of people clambering illegally across our borders who are trying to escape real oppression).
It is ironic that people who believe that they are part of the fight against white or capitalist oppressors are subjugating themselves to the power of progressive élites and academics (who are mostly white). These elites are trying to maneuver themselves into permanent power in government, private associations and corporate c-suites. This will become the third incarnation of Critical Theory where power is held by progressive elites and the oppressed are dependent on the elites for sustenance and shelter as they become progressively less well educated, progressively less capable of holding a job and progressively more estranged from family support systems.
I was recently watching CBS News’ Sunday Morning which featured an episode describing the travails of single mothers with the child welfare system. The community activists that were interviewed on the show complained that the system was broken and needed to be completely revamped. The single mothers featured in the article complained that the child welfare system had taken their children from them because of various circumstances beyond their control. Meanwhile, they continued to have more babies. They were poorly educated and had difficulty holding a job because they could not afford childcare with the minimum wage jobs they qualified for. There was not a father in sight. Not even a grandfather (there was one grandmother). These poor women had absolutely no agency over their own lives. They needed a new welfare system because they had no ability to shape their own future. This is the future that the progressive elites and academics have in mind for all of us.
Americans should be angry that these elites have so little respect for the ability of Americans to take care of themselves. More than that, people of color should be furious that these elites hold them in such contempt that the elites believe that they have the right dominate people for their own good. This is insulting. That’s the real message of the leviathan that the America welfare system has become. You are not capable, so we are going to run your life.
The premise of the progressive elites and the academics is patently false. People can take care of themselves. Charter schools that serve minority communities have graduated students with excellent education and admission to numerous colleges and universities. The poverty rate for married black couples is about the same as that for whites. People can overcome adversity. They may need some help, but more than help they need a pathway.
The Sunday Morning story noted that the administration of our welfare system costs $30 billion a year. Welfare administrators benefit from people being on welfare. Not only being on welfare but staying on welfare. And also for the expansion of the welfare system which will require the hiring of more welfare administrators. It is just like teachers’ unions pushing for smaller and smaller classrooms to require the hiring of more and more union member teachers, even though the academic results show no improvement.
And politicians love to expand the welfare system even though there has been no improvement in the poverty rate since the inception of the War on Poverty. Welfare benefits are no longer only for those in dire need of public assistance. It was expanded to those in some need of public assistance, and further to people slightly inconvenienced by the necessity to pay money to purchase goods and services. And, thanks to Covid, benefits are provided to those that do not even know how to spend the benefits provided, putting the money into savings instead. And now the Biden Administration wants to make these Covid-related benefits permanent. The needs of all these recipients are as varied as the people in America. But all these recipients bear something in common, they are voters.
The goal of welfare benefits should be to get people off of welfare. Who would want to be on welfare? Americans used to be too proud to accept welfare. Helping people get off welfare wouldn’t help the politicians, the welfare administrators or the public employees union members very much. But it would be an enormous benefit to former welfare recipients. People need to feel empowered. They need to build their human capital. That’s worth a lot more than a welfare payment.
It is very clear that the enormous American welfare system benefits politicians and public employees much more than the poor. The current welfare system actually promotes behaviors that make welfare necessary. These malignant behaviors arise from a rejection (mostly by the left) of the idea that America is a force for good and that Western civilization promotes behaviors that enhance the social contract of society and promotes innovation and economic growth.
Cultural relativism asserts the equality of all cultures and denies the possibility that some cultures may be superior to others. Progressives even go further and assert that Western culture and American society are bad or evil. Dysfunctional behaviors are not only tolerated but glorified. Single mothers are made into heroines even though the prevalence of single motherhood is one of the most destructive forces afflicting America at this moment. Hip hop cultures glorifies violence and sex (just look up what Grammy Award winner Cardi B’s song WAP means). Add in gangsta rap and narcocorridos and you have cultures that destroy people.
Get over cultural equivalency. Welfare policies should unapologetically promote traditional American middle class values and be proud about it. School kids need to learn and follow the Institute for Family Studies sequence, graduate from school, get a job and don’t have kids until you are married. Follow those three simple steps and you will probably not need welfare. Then all we have to do is break the stranglehold that public sector employees’ and teachers’ unions have on progressive public policies that are keeping kids uneducated and people poor so that they can get fat paychecks for life.