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John C. Goodman - Townhall.com
April 19, 2014


Have you ever wondered why poor people are poor? It's not as though there aren't plenty of role models around. Millions of people live highly successful, productive lives in this country. So why don't people at the bottom of the income ladder copy the behavior of those several rungs above them and better their lot in life?

As I wrote previously, the federal government's own pilot programs established conclusively from the very early days of the War on Poverty that the welfare state encourages people not to be married, not to work and not to invest in human capital.

This is Gene Steuerle before a House Ways and Means subcommittee:
The chart below shows a hypothetical example whereby a family (single parent and two children) can receive nearly $30,000 in government benefits with no household earnings, but only about $10,000 in government benefits with $35,000 in household earnings.

So if the mother earns, say, $35,000 she loses about two-thirds of that amount in lost welfare benefits, and that's not even counting what the government will take in income and payroll taxes.

Steuerle's chart shows what incentives look like at a point in time. But activities today affect benefits tomorrow. For example, working and earning wages produces Social Security benefits and perhaps a private pension at the time of retirement.


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Why Are The Poor, Poor?