Saturday, June 22, 2013

Living On The Dole

Few Americans ever really work through the numbers but the fact is if you can get enough from the Government in disability, unemployment, or some other kind of welfare why even jeopardize that income by thinking about taking a job. For all the moaning about how it is not enough and those living on the dole are forced into a life of poverty, in fact, those that suffer greatly often do so because of poor spending choices rather than the amount they receive. Long ago I was told, "it is not how much you make, it is how much and how you spend it". It is very difficult to help a friend or relative in financial trouble if they suffer from bad spending habits and continually make bad choices.

Another factor many people overlook is that society has layered government support program upon government support program. This means if you qualify for one program additional assistance may most likely be available. In this way, people receiving help or aid often double or triple dip, a plethora of "additional help" options exist and are often linked together. These range from food stamps, free phones plus internet, help paying for utilities, Medicaid and medical assistance, Pell Grants, programs to pay for school books, free school and summer lunch programs plus much more. Because of this, it is not uncommon for someone on aid that has spent all the money they receive to approach a nonprofit or quasi-government agency and ask for additional "special assistance" or help until they get back on their feet.

People have told me how the government sends them amounts ranging from $800 to $1,800 per month. if the average is say 1,400 per month that equals $16,800 a year. It should be noted they incur no work-related costs such as transportation to and from work or other costs like special clothing or child care. We must remember that many jobs pay just over minimum wage with few or no benefits, this means someone working a 40 hour work week 50 weeks a year or 2000 hours at $9.00 earns $18,000 a year. While it is true by circumstance that some people have no choice but to seek government help it is clear to see that the income from not working may be very close to that of a person that toils each day to earn a living. This trend is one of the reasons I have become so negative on the economy and society.

It is important to note the cost of living varies a great deal in different parts of the nation. While it may be very difficult to live on $20,000 a year in certain cities, in other areas the money buys more and goes a great deal farther. If you have little or no money where you live should be less of an option, meaning the smart move would be to choose a location other than New York or Beverly Hills in which to live. Much of this is about spending choices. If living on food stamps and were allowed only a dollar per meal you could buy a candy bar that would leave you hungry or an inexpensive bag of rice that would last for many meals. All these numbers should be adjusted as to whether someone lives alone or in a large household that spreads out and shares cost which can be a big benefit, again this is a case and matter of "choice".

Much of the information that I based this post on came from my observing how the demographics of average Americans such as the tenants living in my apartment complex has changed over the years. For example, I spoke with one woman who lost her job because she fell asleep at work, she soon went on disability. After buying a new car, even though her credit was not stellar, she then proceeded to replace her living room furniture, this was all recently.  Her demise came when the government began to garnishee her checks for unpaid student loans, at that time she ran to social services for "emergency special assistance", and it was granted in the form of paying her rent for two months, but in the end, she had to surrender her apartment and move in with her sister. Another person getting a check from Uncle Sam uses the terminology of  "I will be getting paid" next Tuesday as if the check was coming from an employer. She then talks about how she is too busy to look for a job. This is the sorry state that we have fallen into as a nation.

Bottom-line the percentage of the population on some type of assistance from the government has grown to where it is unsustainable. While some people claim that it is a case that the minimum wage jobs simply pay to little, in reality, the problem is that the government is far too generous spending money that it does not have. We should think of the wages small business can afford to pay as the real benchmark of what kind of income and lifestyle a person can aspire to. America must rethink the meaning of the word "deserve", we must lower the bar as to what people on the dole should expect, living in air-conditioned comfort with a flat-screen television and a wireless phone is beyond reason. Those who actually work should enjoy a higher standard of living than those who can't work or choose to live on the government tit.

Footnote; The large government deficit spending has driven much of this, the post below goes into the ugly numbers behind the curtain. Other related articles may be found in my blog archive, thanks for reading and comments are encouraged,



  1. Welfare fraud is rampant for two reasons - first because paid "jobs" are scarce and demeaning, and secondly because the assessment of need and investigation of individual cases are managed by an enormous, uncaring bureaucracy that itself is to blame for wasting billions of dollars of tax money. And how can any person feel too guilty about conning the "authorities" out of a few dollars when the government is setting such an example of denial in it's own financial dealings. How many trillions are spent on useless toys for the military, or to pamper the CEO's of large corporations and banks (not to mention the gambling addicts in the stock market).

    I think that all assistance should be authorized by the local community (who usually know what is going on) and that anyone who uses money for indecent or illegal purposes should have their accounts cancelled, their assets seized, and be forbidden to open an account until they prove that they can handle money with maturity. That would put an end to hedge fund managers, lobbyists, drug lords and food stamp fraudsters all at the same time.

  2. Yes there is fraud and a total lack of oversight. Sadly many of those living on the dole are not guilty of fraud, or outright fraud, they qualify under programs that were created while trying to address a need, but then going overboard. Politicians have become generous with our money and have benefited and been rewarded by getting the votes of those who want more handouts. This has encouraged people to take far less personal responsibility in their lives.

    1. I concur. In my 12 page book (Book 67, The Book of Unspin), I asked the question about the National Debt... "What did we borrow all the money for?" A Politician would say that it was for infrastructure to encourage business, while providing a social safety net for those in need. A Businessman would say that it was to create a giant bureaucracy that could strangle any attempt at free enterprise, and to give handouts to people who whine. A welfare mom would say that the money went to line the pockets of the Politicians and Businessmen! I say they're all wrong - that was all done with taxes. The money we borrowed only bought one thing ... Votes. Millions and millions of Votes!

  3. I discovered yesterday that the woman I mentioned in my article who recently bought the new car and furniture has just filed for bankruptcy. This speaks volumes for what is happening in America.

    1. Money skills and credit management skills are only slogans. In reality, more and more Americans are living hand to mouth, with credit giving them a month's grace.

      If you follow the bread crumbs, much of the slide in America starts with
      Reagan's tax schemes, and the blooming of consumer credit availability. Perhaps the banks could envision the end of the road, where no credit-worthy borrowers were left, but they thought there woul be much more time...

      Our economy could be seen as a Rube Goldberg machine, given
      government involvement, with unintended consequences, and waxing and waning demand for a slew of interrelated goods and services. It's a wonder it works at all. And as it grows new phenomena gum up the works, virtually assuring that parts of the system will founder, and ultimately something's gotta give.

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