“Everything on [the Internet] is changing minute by minute,” says George Gilder, “and the idea of establishing a level playing field, as if all bandwidth is homogeneous, is just ludicrous.”
John C. Goodman, Ph.D. writes: One of the biggest differences in how the left and the right view the world concerns the welfare state. Currently, the federal government spends about $1 trillion a year on 126 means tested welfare programs. That amounts to almost $22,000 for every poor person in America, or $88,000 for a family of four.
What difference does all this spending make?
Among people on the right, there is little doubt. These programs are destroying the culture of the recipient communities. They are replacing a culture of self-reliance and self-help with a culture of dependency. Amazingly, a record 91.5 million people of working age—almost one third of the entire population—are not working and not even looking for a job.
Among conservatives I have met who were once poor (and I have met a surprising number of them), the view that welfare subsidizes and encourages dependency is almost a self-evident truth. I’m not sure I have ever met a liberal who was once poor. But then again, the liberals I encounter are all in the academic and public policy world―far away from the poverty population they so often talk about. I think this is a fascinating sociological phenomenon. If my experience is different from yours, weigh in in the comments section.
[BTW, I am ignoring the shakedown artists―Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the like. We have no idea what these folks really think, since (as Juan Williams has documented) they routinely use liberal causes to line their own pockets.]
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman claims that Republicans who want to trim back welfare spending are waging a “war on the poor.” Most people on the right think it’s the other way around: It’s the welfare state and its apologists who are really harming the poor.
Who is right?
How Culture Matters
Let’s be clear about what we are talking about. The Dallas Independent School District recently announced that every student in the school district will now get a free breakfast and a free lunch. The reason? So few students qualified for “full price” or “reduced price” meals that trying to identify them cost more than it was worth. And as I pointed out in a previous post, kids who receive free lunches and breakfasts are increasingly getting a free supper as well. Think about that. We have decided that the parents of every single child attending public school in Dallas are too poor to feed their own kids.