Dude, move to Hawaii — and don’t work

Welfare recipients in Hawaii get $60,590 non-taxed income –that is the equivalent of earning $29.13 per hour. If you work a minimum wage job in Hawaii you’ll earn $7.25 per hour and be subject to both state and federal taxes on it. Hawaiians on welfare also earn 167 percent of the median salary in the state, which is only $36,275.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/08/20/study-welfare-pays-more-than-work-in-most-states/#ixzz2caaQTloN

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4 responses to “Dude, move to Hawaii — and don’t work”

  1. dkaplan73 says :

    By no means am I negating the notion that there are welfare “queens” and “kings” who abuse the system. Going to a doctor with little more than general aches, pains and depression could qualify someone to receive SSI. And, once on it, many people stay on it for years without ever doing anything to get better (going to the doctor/therapist, taking meds, refraining from contributing behavior like drinking or drugs, etc). Or, once they’re better, they never make a sincere effort to look for work. We’ve all heard horror stories of some people having more kids simply to receive more welfare benefits.

    This is a HUGE problem.

    However, the reports and conclusions based on this study are very misleading. First off, the “welfare” program isn’t a single program – it’s a collection of programS. 126 of them. In order to get the maximum amount that some reports have stated someone would have to qualify for all 126 – which is highly unlikely.

    For example, if I were to go on welfare – as a guy – I wouldn’t qualify for WIC which is for women and children only. I wouldn’t qualify for VA or veterans benefits since I’ve never served in the military. And, someone on welfare may lose entitlement to certain benefits when others kick in – utility benefits, for example, would be lost once housing benefits kick in because housing benefits cover most utilities.

    Welfare programs also include items that are compulsory – like education materials and breakfast/lunch subsidy programs for children of poor families (which, obviously, only those with kids would qualify for).

    As the study states (yes, I read much of it’s 40+ pages), certain states like Hawaii (which most of the news outlets are citing as an example) have a high cost of living. Assuming one *were* to qualify for all 126 programs at once, most news organization are comparing Hawaii’s high benefits to the nationwide median household income – which is apples to oranges.

    Lastly, I think it’s a bit hubristic to compare minimum-wage work with welfare. Most people who work minimum wage jobs are kids. 48% of McDonald’s workforce, for example, is under 20. The average welfare recipient is over 30, female and has at least one child under 6 (http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/newws/synthesis02/chapt2.htm).

    The needs for someone working a minimum wage jog (more specifically, a workforce entry job) are simply different than the needs of someone who’s likely to be on welfare.

    Again, let me be clear, there are people who do abuse the system and they should be dealt with. To someone in Mississippi where the cost of living is lowest, the benefits in Hawaii where the cost of living is among the highest may seem outrageous. And, perhaps they are. But is it realistic to assume people have a disincentive to work?

    No. Even the Cato report itself states, “There is no evidence that people on welfare are lazy or do not wish to work.”

    And, I think if we’re to be honest, corporate greed is at least partly responsible for the situation. The unfortunate truth is corporate profits and CEO salaries have risen 100s and 1000s times in the last 50 years while the average middle-class wage has barely kept pace with inflation.

    If there is a “Why bother working?” attitude among some people, I think it’s a consequence from three sides of a coin:
    – welfare benefits that are too generous
    – the lack of substantial trickle down economics from those at the top
    – and a culture of negative resignation by the poor with regards to class mobility.

    All these things need to be addressed, in my opinion.

    • Lynne says :

      Hi, DKaplan, you make many interesting points. I agree with many of them, but I would like to share my experience (working in social work and teaching in a public school 20+ years). There are unfortunately many, many adults (and heads of families) who are working minimum wage jobs. Many of those are Hispanics, some illegally here, who are used to working, not having hand-outs and glad to have a job period, as they could not get one in their countries of origin. I have been impressed with the ingenuity of these people, who make a small income go a long way, taking advantage of yard sales and even curbside throw-aways to obtain needed essentials. So, it really is not just kids. There is a “why work” mentality among segments of our society; there is that and worse. There are many parents who deliberately mistreat their kids in order to try to get a “crazy check”, a government payment to help pay for needed services and care for kids with disabilities. And, frankly, I never saw the money used for the kids. The last year that I taught, there was a woman who had a child in my life skills class and she used her daughter’s money to have her nails done and hair extensions. She would not even take her child to her 100% free doctor’s appointments or obtain her free medication—-all free for this vulnerable child who had severe, life-threatening seizures. I reported her all during the year to “child protection” who did not take the child out of the home, but acknowledged the abuse and neglect and said that they would “keep monitoring” the situation. Typical failed child protection agency. In fact, all but two of my students (11 of them) had horrible family situations that warranted intervention by Child Protection. Some of my high school students through the years had such horrible, chaotic lives that they essentially lived in a dream world, saying that they would have careers in basketball or football when they graduated, though they had never played any sport in school. There should be help for these families other than just handing them money, like directly providing quality services to help them live better lives, provide materials and the types of care that these kids need. I worked tirelessly to try to help my students, but I cannot say that all teachers did or that the education system was helpful in many, perhaps most cases.
      The problems that I saw were mostly among whites and African Americans, though sometimes (rarely) among Hispanics. I taught in both Texas and Louisiana., so speaking only of that experience.
      Not only does a sizable portion of our society have no hope, they have no idea how to take advantage of the very few opportunities that exist for them. Like you, I blame the corporations and the greedy people in our society for many of these problems.
      Many of those who receive welfare and who have children, would be stupid to do otherwise if they are paid so little. How on earth could they pay for child care? They would have less money if they worked.
      Like you, I care about these people but I don’t think that our politicians do at all. Many people try to help but are misguided. Some programs like Head Start are good for those who get in, but that number is very limited compared to the need for it. It is a huge problem, complicated, with no easy solutions—and no one solution that would work for all.

      • dkaplan73 says :

        Hi Lynne,

        I hope you’re doing well. You and Yael are in my thoughts.

        I think your story is a perfect example of what I said earlier: “a culture of negative resignation by the poor with regards to class mobility”.

        There are some – not all, but some – who make or made the decision that being poor and living on government subsidies is the most rational way to live. Certainly, there is a lot of abuse. And, I’m not sure if it’s because of the subsidies or the lifestyle choice. Maybe it’s both.

        But, until we find a way to inject some level of personal accountability and self respect into those segments, the cycle will continue. Is the answer less benefits from the government? Is it higher wages from corporations? Is it are more stable, more inclusive and larger middle-class? I say it’s all of these things.

        • Lynne says :

          Dkaplan, I agree. And, I think that benefits could be given to individuals in the form of services and training to help them (and even in some goods and food that they may need), ideally through the education system, because some programs that exist to help the poor just do not work at all. I am thinking of one of the Job Corps, the Gary Job Corp, that has such problems, mainly the lack of motivation, application and commitment by the students to even follow basic rules. It is a mess. A huge mess. These kinds of programs isolate those who need the help, and they don’t work at all.
          In the last school where I taught, our students were 100% poor. No rich kids, no middle class. We provided free breakfast and lunch, but we teachers worried about weekends. We knew some of the kids had no food or not enough. So every Friday during the last hour or so, the kids put their backpacks in the hallways, and while they were in class, volunteers and staff put snacks like oranges and apples and snack bars, etc. in the backpacks. At the end of the day, the kids took their backpacks home. The school also provided eye exams and glasses, dental care, school supplies, winter coats, and the like. In some respects, the schools are often taking on parental responsibilities—-does that create learned helplessness or is it a true support and help? I am not sure, but I hated to think of kids doing without those essentials. I was myself constantly helping out my students in practical ways, and often their families, too. So there is help out there for those who need it in many communities, but nothing can help when the parents are really, really awful (criminals,drug addicts, violent, abusive, etc.). So, it is complicated.
          In teaching, there is a saying that good teachers follow, and that is “teach the student from where he is and provide the instruction and work that is meaningful to that student”. I think that is basically what you propose in your ideas for solutions. I agree with you. There are many things that should be changed.

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