Welfare Billions "Real Money"
July 30, 1975.The late Senator Everett Dirksen used to caution his colleagues that "you spend a billion dollars here, another billion there, and pretty soon it adds up to real money.".The cavalier attitude of public officials to spend without regard to income created a tax burden on the working segment society that is the largest in history and still growing!.Most of it goes for "human resources" - a term that stamps them as unassailable.
But, by any other name it is still welfare and still a mess.Direct aid - the help we can account for - now costs tax payers $212 billion a year. How much is spent on indirect aid no one has yet been able to figure out.
No matter. The average guy can't comprehend one billion of anything. Beyond that, discussions become academic and are not perceived as having any effect on the real world.Thus, we should not be too hard on our Congressmen whom many believe to be only human as you and I.We owe it to the future of our children to heed the farewell address of Caspar Weinberger, outgoing secretary of the federal bureau of Health, Education and Welfare.
He says the government is headed for deep trouble unless we bring welfare spending under control.Pointing out that federal expenditures have nearly doubled in the last five years, Weinberger says, "If the trend continues, half the American people will be working to support the other half by the year 2000.".He cites runaway welfare as the largest - but only - factor in our shaky economy.
HEW alone spends $301 million a day - including Saturdays, Sunday and holidays - for the "jobless, elderly, poor and sick.".Uncle Sam also is paying out $6 billion a year for food stamps, $2 billion for subsidized housing, $8 billion for medical programs outside Medicare, $8 billion for federal aid to education, $14 billion for veterans' benefits, and $4 billion for programs simply reported as "other.
".Mind you, this does not include the $55 billion for Social Security payments, $11 billion for Medicare or $16 billion for public employee pensions. Nor does it include the vast sums spent by states for welfare, local education and pensions.Every seventh person in the United States gets a monthly check directly from some HEW agency! For millions, this is their only income. Nearly- 20 million Americans now use food stamps and an equal number are eligible for them.Weinberger proposes to combine food stamps, family assistance and other non-contributory welfare aid into a single cash grant tied to work requirement for able-bodied recipients.
That welfare needs a massive over-hauling is obvious. Newspapers and television networks have increasingly directed attention to abuses. Welfare officials will admit to fraudulent payments of one fourth the total - which suggest the real total is somewhat larger.Weinberger's final conclusions, after a close look at the sprawling, unaccountable welfare bureaucracy and Congressional attitude are significant - but probably of no avail. No one treasures the pearls of wisdom dropped by retiring elder statesmen.Those in authority - and ultimately the working citizen - seem to be increasingly aware of the potential danger of over spending.
Yet they are torn between fiscal responsibility and helping the "under dog.".Compassion for those in distress is a commendable trait which Americans have come to feel is paramount. Unfortunately there are too many garden-variety con artists who have learned how to manipulate this concern for personal gain without effort.
In the long run, the real victims of the welfare rip-off are those truly unable to cope with the hardships of life - the aged, handicapped, and sick.Public aid is diminished by that which is filched by the cheat. Those in real need receive less than otherwise would be available as the able bodied sponge on the compassion of others.
It is time we stopped playing semantics and put the matter in perspective. It is, after all, charity - not "human resources." Those who receive unworked-for aid are not "clients" but needy. It is not a "right" but a privilege granted through the generosity of others.
It is not as socially acceptable to live by dole as it is to work. Gratitude is the proper response to compassion.There is some indication that those on welfare out of true necessity are coming to realize their stake in a fair aid system. Many are, for the first time, starting to cooperate with authorities in policing the ranks.This is good news for all citizens, for welfare affects the affluent as well as the needy.
As another famous American might have said, "A billion saved is a billion earned."..Lindsey Williams is a Sun columnist who can be contacted at:.
lindseywilliams.org with several hundred of Lin's editorial articles written over 40 years, and his book "Boldly Onward," about the original explorers of America. (fully indexed/searchable).
By: Lindsey Williams