Such a theme is eerily similar to the House Budget Committee Report on poverty issued March 3, 2014 by Representative Paul Ryan (R - Wis). The English reports cover 45 years of their relief system established in 1790 (see Poverty Quotes Page); the Ryan report covers 50 years of U.S. welfare since the Great Society programs of Lyndon Johnson in the 1960’s. The reports were issued 179 years apart and yet some aspects of governmental aid to help the poor haven’t changed much. Here are quotes from the two reports:
English – “Every penny bestowed that tends to render the condition of the pauper more eligible than that of the independent laborer is a bounty on indolence and vice. We have found that as the poor rates are at present administered, they operate as bounties of this description… ”
Ryan – “And because these programs are means-tested—meaning that benefits decline as recipients make more money—poor families face very high implicit marginal tax rates. The federal government effectively discourages them from making more money.”
English - “The history of the poor laws abounds with instances of a legislation which has been worse than unsuccessful, which has not merely failed in effecting its purposes, but has been active in producing effects which were directly opposed to them, has created whatever it was intended to prevent and fostered whatever it was intended to discourage.”
Ryan - “But a large problem is the “poverty trap.” There are so many anti-poverty programs—and there is so little coordination between them—that they often work at cross purposes and penalize families for getting ahead.” “Federal programs are not only failing to address the problem. They are also in some significant respects making it worse.”
The English however took one step further in their diagnosis by looking into the motivation of man.
English - “Can we wonder if the uneducated are seduced into approving a system which aims its allurement at all the weakest parts of our nature, which offers marriage to the young, security to the anxious, ease to the lazy, and impunity to the profligate?”
Whoa – you won't see words like that in the year 2014. But it is haunting isn’t it? Does our welfare system allure the weakest parts of our nature? We are creatures that excel with work, purpose and pride. Shouldn’t our welfare system encourage such traits instead of weakening them? 179 years ago they weren’t afraid of looking at "our nature." Not so much today.