While Obama Pushes to Put More People on the Dole, Many Older Welfare States Now Stress WorkPosted: February 19, 2014 | |
Welfare, Here and Abroad
Michael Tanner writes: How bad have things become? The British newspaper the Telegraph recentlylooked at the growth in welfare spending in industrialized nations and found that such spending (including health-care and pension programs) had grown faster in the United States since 2000 than in any country in Europe except Ireland, Spain, and Portugal.
Of course, European welfare states were larger to begin with, but the Telegraph’s report is reflective of an important trend. While the Obama administration presses forward with efforts to combat “income inequality” by expanding the American welfare state, the European nations and other industrialized welfare states are moving in the other direction.
[Order Michael Tanner’s book: Leviathan on the Right: How the Rise of Big Government Conservatism Threatens Our Freedom and Our Future from Amazon]
The Netherlands: Just 42 percent of U.S. welfare recipients are engaged in even broadly defined work activities (including job training, college, or job searches), and Republican attempts to restore work requirements to the food-stamp program have been met with a storm of resistance. Meanwhile, the Obama administration touts the idea that Obamacare will enable people to quit their jobs while having their health care subsidized by taxpayers.
The Dutch, on the other hand, have announced a massive reform of their welfare system, designed to put a new emphasis on work. For example, welfare applicants will now be required to prove that they spent at least four weeks actively searching for a job before they become eligible for any assistance. And once they begin to receive benefits, they will have to either work or perform volunteer community service. Dutch welfare recipients would be required to take available jobs even if they had to move or commute up to three hours per day.
Other reforms would reduce benefits by treating families as a single unit, rather than as separate individuals. For instance, a mother with two children would receive a single payment rather than three separate payments. The combined payment would be less than the total of three separate ones, based on the assumption of “shared expense.” According to the Dutch government, the reforms will ensure that welfare is seen as “a safety net, rather than a right.”
Great Britain: The United States currently funds 126 separate anti-poverty programs at the federal level, 72 of which provide cash or in-kind benefits to individual recipients. For example, there are 33 housing programs, run by four different Cabinet-level departments, including, bizarrely, the Department of Energy. There are currently 21 different programs providing food or food-purchasing assistance. These programs are administered by three different federal departments and one independent agency. There are eight different health-care programs, administered by five separate agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services. And six Cabinet-level departments and five independent agencies oversee 27 cash or general-assistance programs. Altogether, seven different departments and six independent agencies administer different parts of this bureaucratic nightmare…
— Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of Leviathan on the Right: How the Rise of Big Government Conservatism Threatens Our Freedom and Our Future
- Lessons from Dutch Welfare Reform (cato.org)
- People on dole screw the system: MP (smh.com.au)
- Lessons from Dutch Welfare Reform (ConservativeActionAlerts.com)
- People on dole ‘don’t care about community’ (theage.com.au)
- Kevin Andrews, don’t pick on the disabled and those on the dole (crikey.com.au)
- Work-for-the-dole could be expanded into aged care homes (abc.net.au)
- Andrews flags major welfare changes (news.smh.com.au)
- CATO’s Schizo on Welfare (dailycaller.com)
- Nats MP doesn’t regret dole comments (news.theage.com.au)
- Welfare Pays More than Minimum Wage in 35 States: Q&A with Cato’s Michael Tanner (reason.com)