Giving at the office

Liberals are always quite generous with other people’s money. So much so that we now have a near irreversible entitlement ‘where’s my stuff?’ society.  With nearly 50% of the country paying no federal income taxes, the takers have become complacent with expecting their hand-out.

One of aspect of this process I detest so much is how willing so many liberals are to demonize anyone with the gall to believe they deserve their own money more than the entitlement recipients.

But I was thinking today, what if whatever portion of your federal income tax goes to welfare programs was not automatically withheld from your paycheck?  Instead every two weeks everyone (who actually pays federal income taxes) had to show up at a government office and had to hand over to the government their portion of the welfare tab.  I wonder how long it would take for even the most bleedingest of hearts liberals to get fed up with the takers?  Would they?  Would they eventually complain to themselves and others, “why are we still supporting these people?” or, “why am I working to pay their bills and mine?”?

What would it take for a liberal to eventually apply the adage: Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for life.  I don’t think I can bring myself to believe that the liberals decrying the taxpayer who wants to enjoy the money he works for, would perpetually continue to show up at the office with a good-hearted smile and hand over the cash, week after week, after week.

Now try to imagine how long the gracious giving would continue if you were assigned to the same person or family, and had to write the check directly to the individual!

The fact that the welfare process is so impersonal works in favor of the recipient.  Not having to show up to collect the “benefits” reduces the amount of shame in not being a provider for yourself and family.  Only a few decades ago, people had too much pride to let themselves be seen on television looking for hand-outs.  Pride and dignity are a thing of the past.  Being poor is far too comfortable and socially acceptable.


  1. rautakyy says:

    Interresting post.

    If your method of weekly payments would be extended on everything taxmoney pays for, would the same aply? You know a society that did not pay for the wellfare of the poor has existed and still exists in most developing countries. Is that what you would prefer a society to look like. Poor people in favelas and rich being constantly affraid of a revolution or being kidnapped? Do you support segregation?

    How much of your taxmoney goes to helping the poor, and how much of it goes to the military? You in the US have the most expensive army in the World (at least a third of all the public money spent in arms in the whole world is spent from the US taxpayers pocket), but it is not showing great cost efficiency.

    • John Barron says:

      There is a difsference between the poor in those countries, and the poor in America. People in those countries would kill to be poor in America. There’s no comparison. The poor in America are comfortable, and vote to keep themselves comfortable.

    • At least a third, but closer to half, at least when you’re talking about total military expenditures.

      We spend $700 Billion a year on our military (more, if you count the percentage of the national debt that is “owned” by the military) and $25 billion on “welfare.” Welfare for the poor, that is. We also subsidize a bunch of other folk – motorists, farmers, corporations, etc.

      I say that, IF we want to talk about ending subsidies, we must FIRST begin by ending the subsidies to those who AREN’T poor and once we’ve done that, we can look at what we do and don’t spend on the poor.

      • John Barron says:

        Some subsides are necessary for certain industties. Subsidies for professional welfare recipients is not.

  2. re: Liberals are always quite generous with other people’s money.

    It’s called “taxation,” and that’s how our system works. We have some common needs to live in a civilized society and we tax ourselves to pay for those common needs. This is a good thing.

    Are there areas where we spend too much? Almost certainly. Do we disagree on what are and aren’t “common needs?” Yes, we disagree.

    But surely you don’t think the answer is, “So, just agree with me and we’ll pay for the things that I think are necessary, but those things YOU think are necessary we’ll abandon…”?

    That seems to be the sort of “compromise” the GOP is looking for these days.

    How about this: We establish some sort of system where, IF a program can demonstrate that it is SAVING tax dollars and is necessary, then we keep it and those programs that AREN’T somehow saving tax dollars and aren’t necessary, we don’t keep?

    For instance, study after study shows that $1 invested in prisoner rehabilitation SAVES taxpayers $2 in incarceration costs. These programs demonstrate that they actually SAVE us money, so it is a no-brainer to keep them, right?

    • John Barron says:

      I don’t trust what liberals see as “needs”, such as government funded abortion. This will not turn into a discussion about abortion, so do not discuss whether you agree or disagree with government funded abortion, it is just an example of where ideologically I disagree with liberals.

      So while there may be some necessary programs, I believe the vast majority are unnecessary and are designed to secure a voting base.

      • I don’t trust what liberals see as “needs”

        So then, your feeling on this is that we ought to fund those programs you approve of and not fund the ones that you disagree with and everyone else should go along with you? Okay. If that’s your hunch, I disagree with it.

        I think that we ALL agree to pay taxes on ALL the programs we ALL collectively decide upon, even those that I personally disagree with – and there are many. It’s the social contract that we all agree to to be part of this great experiment called the United States of America.

        I’ll work to end/lessen those programs I disagree with and support the ones that make sense to me, but I won’t suggest that taxation is “being generous with other people’s money,” or “stealing” (the other common red herring) just because I disagree with a program.

        John, I’m curious: DO you support programs – such as prisoner rehab – that ultimately SAVE tax dollars resulting in a smaller gov’t? Or are you against some programs no matter how much we ultimately spend in tax dollars if we remove them? (Sorry if I’ve asked you that before, I can’t recall…)

        • John Barron says:

          Of course I think I have sosemme insight as to what is necessary and what is not, I don’t let my feelings get in the way of good sense.

          • Well, we ALL have some insight as to what is necessary and what is not. Do you think your insight trumps everyone else’s? I’m sure you don’t.

            How about the whole question of: Do you support programs that ultimately save tax dollars, resulting in smaller gov’t?

            I think that’s one critical difference in the Left/Right divide. I support programs that result in SMALLER, SMARTER gov’t. IF program X costs $1 million BUT it SAVES $2 million, then to me, it’s a no-brainer: We ought to support such a program, generally.

            In that case, it’s not a wasteful expenditure, it’s a smart investment.

            More conservative types SEEM to generally be opposed to such programs in principle, EVEN IF it can be demonstrated that not supporting it ultimately costs more tax dollars, rather than fewer.

            Where do you land on that divide?

            • And by the way, not letting feelings get involved is exactly the reason to support such programs. It’s just a logical option: IF program X costs $1 million but saves $2 million, then whatever one’s FEELINGS about the program, it’s just smart and small gov’t to support it.

              It seems to be a rather emotion-based response to oppose it on principle (well, I just don’t LIKE THE IDEA of giving money to prisoners!), rather on just what makes logical sense.

              • John Barron says:

                I think the justice system is something were costs should not necessarily interfere with the punitive aspect of the system. People need to be punished for their actions.

                So even if a rehab system could be set up to save money long term but also remove the punishment, I’m not supportive of that. For example.

            • Do you perceive providing rehab services WHILST being incarcerated (and thus, punished) somehow “removes” the punishment?

              And aside from that specific example, do you agree or disagree with the general principle that IF we can spend $1x on a program AND THEN it saves us $2x, that it’s generally a good idea?

              • John Barron says:

                I understood your point to be rehab as opposed to incarcetation.

                As a blanket policy, no, spend one to save two is not the driving factor when considering policy, but is a secondary consideration.

            • Thanks for the answer. I’d say that is one of the things that separates at least some on the Left and Right: The notion that smaller, smarter gov’t is better than bigger, less thought out gov’t. Some on the Right don’t care if program X DOES save MORE tax dollars than NOT having program X, if they think gov’t shouldn’t be involved in some area, then at least some conservative/libertarian types are willing to pay MORE and have an even BIGGER gov’t in the name of a smaller gov’t (which strikes some of us as not very rational).

              Re: rehab vs incarceration: The programs I was specifically speaking of were like PRISONER rehab or PRISONER education programs that give treatment/education to PRISONERS who are being punished for their crimes. The rationale being that, when they get out of prison, it makes more rational sense for an ex-con to have MORE education and LESS problems with addiction than not, because the end result is less crime, less recidivism.

              Thanks for the answers. Perhaps you can understand how that, for some of us, you all seem intent on cutting off your nose to spite your face, or intent on having a bigger gov’t in terms of size and tax dollars in the name of smaller gov’t and how that does not seem to be a rational position to take?

  3. rautakyy says:

    Dan Trabue, thanks for the interresting numbers. It seems your military is very expensive in comparrison to the wellfare issue. Any country needs an army, but for those of us, who have grown up in the understanding that armies are morally justified in defence of our own countries, empires such as yours, seem quite immoral. My small country has been attacked under the premise that the invading empire had to protect itself from us. In that view big military budgets connected to agressive invasion policy, seem all wrong. Especially when there are corporate interrests behind the invasions of other countries and when the empire has poverty among its own citizens.

    To me taxation and the wellfare of all people is a moral issue, as well as a logical one. I am not saying it is easy, but there allways are solutions, and has to be, so that the weakest part of the society is not going to have to suffer needlesly. In a way that is the best part of christian philosophy also…

    It would also be interresting to know how much social problems caused by sheer poverty cost to the society, but in the end that might be a very difficult calculation. However, I bet they are more expensive than all your government social wellfare programs put together. Just guessing here.

    John Barron Jr, There are reasons why things are so much worse in some developing countries that people want to move to the US. That, actually is the comparrison. One reason is your working society. It works because of comparatively low corruption. Corruption is low in countries where taxation works and vice versa. Other reason is comparative peace, since you have not had a civil war or other wars in your country for over hundred years. If there is a large portion of poverty whithin a society that increases criminal behaviour, tensions between the poor and the rich and ultimately civil strife. The wellfare of your poor is the wellfare of you all.

    People from areas where war or civil strife is a part of everyday life and the threat of violence is constant want to move to peacefull western countries. You are almost all decendants of such people, are you not? Exept for the small minorities of the native americans, that is. It is actually funny, that you in the US so much value, the ideal of small government, when it is your big and expensive government that draws all the immigrants there. Or the benefits your large government system of due legal process and taxation system has given your society, to be exact.

    Should the poor not be comfortable?

    I understand that this blog is your ranting area, and I find myself a bit sorry for invading. I just thought you are a clever guy and might actually get my poit. However, when a person rants he/she rarely thinks over all that is said, never the less it does good to let out some steam from time to time, and one should be entiteled to do so uniterrupted, right?

    • John Barron says:

      Ranting is a figure of speech. This blog is primarily for discussion of current events and news stories or ideas which catch my attention, things that would be out of place on Truth in Religion & Politics. That being said, I am not discussing the merits of welfare programs per se, which is what Dan has chosen to discuss. Rather the point is that liberals tend to think we need more entitlement programs. Unemployment should be near perpetual, same with food stamp and other financial assistance programs. So I am wondering out loud, would those liberals still be so generous with taxpayer money if they had to write the check themselves every pay period instead of having it taken out automatically. And what if they had to write the check or hand the cash directly to the recipient, would they still feel like the whole thing is a good idea, or would they get a sense of being taken advantage of?

      I don’t think being poor should be as comfortable as it is in America. There is little incentive to move out of poverty when someone else is footing your bills. What motivation is there to pound the pavement and bust their hump at a job when they can just hang out and wait for government checks? Before anyone challenges that, I have first hand witness of this on a constant basis.

      • rautakyy says:

        Aha. In that case, I might contribute yet a bit further. What you are describing is the reason why the well being of the poor should not be left to be tended by charity alone. Charity is unequal and most often totally not sufficient enough.

        I think I get your point John Barron Jr, but I would like to remind you that jobs are not created out of misery. The income of an unemployed person affects the whole society. Not just the particular taxpayer from whose pocket the money comes from. And according to your other post in Truth in Religion & Politics it is the very richest who pay for the most of the US taxes anyway, so it would not be your awerage liberal making the weekly payment anyhow.

        Main issue here is as I see it, that the normal state of society based on market economy is a transfer of wealth from the working masses and their production of both items and services to the very small part of the most richest people. The rich are getting ever richer and for decades now the so called middle class has been dragged along whith them, but this is not because the very richest would particularly want it so. Nor is it a natural phenomenon. It is a result of political action of people who have organized masses against social injustice.

        The mechanics are both simple and complex. In capitalistic market economy the rich would be the richest anyway, but by organizing work force and society whith common purpose, politics have led to a situation where the transfer of wealth from the working masses and the poor to the rich is controlled by taxation. The minimun wage is controlled both by the agreement between the workforce and the capitalist. The workforce has two aces on their side while the capitalist holds all the other cards. First ace is the threat of a strike, which is only possible in a society where the capitalist can not illegalize such an act. Second ace is the wellbeing of the unemployed. If the unemployed would be ready to fight for a job or do it for any pay, the capitalist could determine any price he saw fit for the work. This is actually why some developing countries stay developing countries, even though they have an abundace of natural resources. Work is so cheap there that the rich feel they have no need for any progress. It is not in their particular interrest to create a functioning middle class or make the poor into consumers. The poor are so miserable, they can be exploited in any way. Do you understand?

      • John…

        Rather the point is that liberals tend to think we need more entitlement programs. Unemployment should be near perpetual, same with food stamp and other financial assistance programs.

        Well, as I have indicated (and I’m representative of most liberals I know), I’m not looking to increase entitlement programs and certainly not unemployment. MY goal is fiscal responsibility. I want to have a smart, responsible gov’t (and nation, in general) that deals with these sorts of problems proactively, rather than reactively and paying more after the fact to clean up messses that could have been prevented.

        I’m not advocating more “entitlement programs.” In fact, I’d love it if churches and the non-profit/private sector stepped up TOMORROW and invested in these problems themselves, totally ENDING the need for gov’t intervention. The thing is, conservatives themselves could PUT WELFARE OUT OF BUSINESS practically, if they just stepped up and did something about the problems associated with poverty and illness. There is enough money in the conservative world to effectively put TANF and Medicaid out of business if they just stepped up and took action.

        In the meantime, I don’t want to spend MORE money to deal with the disastrous results of not doing enough about poverty upfront. This is a fiscal responsibility issue, for me and my tribe.

    • Dan Trabue, thanks for the interresting numbers. It seems your military is very expensive in comparrison to the wellfare issue.

      To be fair, I didn’t give the whole picture. “Welfare” is generally thought of in terms of the TANF program, which is our program that helps the poor. Its budget is ~$25 billion.

      Some people (probably John, here) also include Medicaid, which is a much bigger budget item that goes towards helping sick children, the elderly and disabled (with I believe children being the largest individual group of recipients). Medicaid expenses comes to about $300 billion/a year currently.

      Certainly, this is a lot of money. But what’s the alternative (and, more importantly, HOW MUCH does the alternative cost!)? The thing is, we could get rid of TANF and Medicaid tomorrow and we’d STILL be paying hundreds of billions of dollars towards problems associated with poverty. There are costs that we HAVE to share, whether we want to or not. IF “welfare” went away totally tomorrow, we’d have increased costs to society due to failing health problems, we’d have increased costs due to desperate people turning to crime and the black market, we’d have increased costs due to a decrease in education in the population.

      We’re going to pay for the problems of poverty one way or the other. The questions are: Do we want to be REACTIVE or PROACTIVE to the problems of poverty? Do we want to incur the costs AFTER the fact of people dying on the streets, of becoming more like a third world nation, or do we want to invest money AHEAD of the problems to try to cut down on the problems before they start and get worse?

      John has indicated (correct me if I’m wrong) that he is in favor of paying – even paying MORE – after the fact, dealing with the negative results of doing away with programs like welfare, rather than trying to do something up front, which usually costs less. I think John is typical of the conservative mindset: I’ll gladly pay MORE and have a BIGGER gov’t after the fact than endorse these sorts of problems, EVEN IF they save us money in the long run.

      I disagree. I favor a more fiscally responsible approach.

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