Welfare – Not Just The Poor Who Benefit

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In America, 7 out of 10 people are on Welfare. That’s the percentage of people who receive more in gov’t benefits than they pay in taxes, according to a new Tax Foundation study. Some of these beneficiaries of Uncle Sam’s handouts are the poor; another new study, by the Cato Foundation, found that families collecting various welfare benefits, including food stamps, “ temporary” cash assistance, and Medicaid, could bring in the equivalent of $35,000 a year. That’s more than someone would earn in a $20-an-hour job.

But it’s not just the poor who benefit from our vast welfare state. Most seniors get far more from Social Security and Medicare than they have contributed in payroll taxes. Giant corporations get a combined $100 billion in direct payments and subsidies from the government, in the form of farm aid, “green”-energy subsidies, and Export-Import Bank loan guarantees. The military squanders billions on weapons systems it doesn’t need, to fund jobs in key lawmakers’ districts. So next time you cringe at the amount of taxes taken out of your paycheck, don’t just blame the poor. Blame “the rest of the welfare state as well. Welfare is welfare.”


The #GlobalPOV Project: "Who is Dependent on Welfare" With Ananya Roy


It is time for America to reconsider who is dependent on welfare. Poverty is not only the lack of income and wealth but also the poverty of power. A key part of the poverty of power is to be defined as dependent: dependent on charity, handouts, welfare. Yet, it is the wealthy, not the poor, who are dependent on government subsidies. To transform dependency into self-determination is the work of poor people's movements. To demonstrate the dependency of the wealthy on welfare as well as on the labor of the poor must be our collective work.

The #GlobalPOV Project is a program of the Global Poverty and Practice (GPP) Minor. Based at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, University of California, Berkeley, the GPP Minor creates new ways of thinking about poverty, inequality and undertaking poverty action.

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