The Founders Understood The Dangers Of Welfare And Redistribution Schemes
October 24, 2013 by Bob Livingston
The Federal government has spent about $3.7 trillion on various welfare programs over the past five years. This is combined with more than $200 billion in welfare programs contributed by the States.
According to a recent CATO study, the average household in the District of Columbia receiving the six largest benefits received Federal welfare with a cash value of $43,000 per year. In Hawaii, a family receiving the same benefits would have received $49,000. Not even socialist Great Britain paid out that much in comparable benefits per family.
Welfare benefits long ago reached a point at which it’s more beneficial to not work and continue receiving government largess than it is to seek employment. It has created a massive and ever growing dependent class that is bankrupting the country.
The Founders understood well the dangers of welfare programs and redistribution schemes.
“Repeal that welfare law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday and St. Tuesday, will soon cease to be holidays. Six days shalt thou labor, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them,” wrote Benjamin Franklin.
He also said: “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”
And James Madison, the author of the Constitution, told the House of Representatives that welfare is not the duty of the Federal government. “[T]he government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”