So who is right and who is wrong? Both are right and neither are wrong! It is true that welfare costs are extremely high. We have 13 large, uncoordinated programs and if you add them all up it totals more than twice the cost to end poverty in America (See Poverty Gap Page). There is no doubt the welfare system discourages work by its very design (See Welfare Examples Page). It is also true that many of the poor are missed by the complex system of independent programs and that those in the programs get too many in-kind benefits and not enough cash. We could establish a guaranteed income to all Americans, have that income encourage work instead of discourage it and yet save so much money we could lower the deficit by a meaningful amount. See the Welfare Reform Page.
Mr. Tanner and Mr. Sheahen are looking at the different sides of the messed up welfare system we have today and showing us those facts. On the one side is the cost and design of a bad system and on the other side are low income Americans growing in their isolation and dependence. What would Dr. King say about a system that misses the mark on solutions to poverty and yet spends twice the dollars necessary to achieve his guaranteed income dream? What would he say about an America so polarized it can’t really even address the issue? Perhaps he would say again: “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”