“We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added” – President Ronald Reagan
Markets are the cornerstone of a society, which champions individual choice and success through a persistent work ethic. Markets are the superior institutions that provide goods for liberal democracies. This system of bilateral transactions is in place to govern the exchange of goods and services can be a model for the welfare state. The liberal understanding of the welfare state is one that functions as a mandated tax policy to compensate for citizens who are unable to avail themselves of necessities. This system has allowed for governments to expand, thus, dependent on higher tax revenue to provide public entitlements. Programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid all supposedly shrinks the “frontier of insecurity,” however, it as the cost of the tax payers and economic liberty.
To combat this government overhaul of self-ownership, the Republican Party proposed two new welfare states called workfare and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Workfare transforms welfare from an entitlement program, where the recipients do little to give back, into a system that enables unemployed individuals to get back into paid work. The concept of entitlement is weakened as market-based principles allow for workfare users to work in community and state-subsidized jobs. State Senator Larry Mumper of Ohio states that “folks get an idea of paying their own way. This country stands for that,” from the use of workfare. Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, the father of workfare, argues that “giving something for nothing does not work,” which complies with this program’s goal to reintroduce strong workers into the private sector. American citizenship allows for its members to earn capital and build their own destiny. Workfare can repave the route for individuals to reclaim the right to earn in the private sector by becoming self-supporting citizens. Jason Turner presents that governments must stand for its citizens to be involved in “real work” and workfare allows for citizens to do “work-like activity” to gain the “pride and satisfaction” when they rejoin the private sector .
Liberals will argue that workfare is actual work, however, by doing so society will see no stigma attached to being dependent on government payments. The alternative program to workfare is the EITC. This program promotes work, however, it instead will give tax breaks to people who are at low income level. The government will infuse the tax break into the paycheck and effectively give the individual more liberty with their money. Policy scholar Lawrence E. Lynn states that this system is “like a pay raise for the working poor”. Minimum wage is not pegged to the standard of living America is at, thus, the government adjusts that through tax breaks and refunds. The use of workfare and the EITC present policies of fiscal responsibility for both the government and the citizens by championing economic freedom and commitment to a strong work ethic.
The welfare state has been expanding under the Obama administration and is adding new users everyday. To curve this onslaught of strong work ethic, we can:
- Push for more Right to Work legislation in other states.
- Cap government spending at 18% of the national GDP, so that it cannot invest in expansive welfare states.
- Reform the tax codes, in order to have a voluntary contribution to the welfare net. You only get out what you put in the system.
- Allow for the free-market to provide welfare and employment insurances that are not connected to any tax payers.
- Allow for this to be a matter of state rights, rather than a federal government issue.