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Welfare Nation: Why America Is Going Broke

Updated on June 18, 2015

When Will America Go Bankrupt?



Welfare and Food Stamp Statistics

These facts were accurate as of September 2012:

  • 46,000,000 Americans receive food stamps (SNAP)
  • 15,000,000 Americans are on welfare
  • Roughly half of all people in the U.S. live in a household that is collecting at least one type of government benefit
  • Total Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than an $8 per hour job - 40
  • Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than a $12 per hour job - 7
  • Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than the average salary of a U.S. Teacher - 9

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

— Thomas Jefferson

Food Stamps and Candy?


Why Is America Going Bankrupt?

We live in a nation of takers, people who feel entitled. We live in a nation where many people have made welfare a perpetual way of life that is handed down from generation to generation. For this ever-growing population, welfare is a profession rather than a safety net. More and more people are receiving government assistance; this is justified based on the poor economy. It’s even considered a positive step forward by many. Based on what I see in my profession, I think this sense of entitlement is often based in laziness and not a poor economy or low wages. What can I get for free?

I’m a teacher. I teach in a rural town where over fifty percent of the population is unemployed when the economy is good. When it’s bad, even more people are unemployed. Our official unemployed rate is roughly ten percent, because forty to fifty percent of the people are considered retired or are no longer looking for work. While there are a lot of elderly people in my community, the majority of unemployed people are far younger than most retired people. These “retired” people are far from retirement age. These people never looked or have stopped looking for work and instead rely on perpetual government assistance, often times from generation to generation. That’s precisely why most working adults avoid the bank at the end of the month where I live. Welfare checks are delivered, and the bank lines wrap outside the door, literally.

All the schools in my district, including all the elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, are considered Title I schools. In order to qualify for these government funds, the majority of students must qualify for free or reduced lunches. While prices have steadily increased for those of us who actually pay for our children’s lunches, the majority of families benefit from a program that is intended to help the neediest of children. The financial burden is placed on people who do not receive government assistance. Have we really reached the point where the majority of families can’t feed their children without government assistance? If you're thinking that my hometown is abnormally unemployed or willing to use public assistance, remember that Chicago's teacher strike of 2012 revealed that the Chicago school district, the third largest district in the nation, has eighty percent of its children receiving free or reduced lunches! A quick review of lunch applications tells a different story. Many of the parents have been unemployed for years, floating from job to job, or they are simply used to asking for extra assistance. This was the case before our economic downturn, and it’s even worse now. As a teacher, I don’t get paid a lot, and I see families that make more money than I do qualify for free and reduced lunches. I guess I could qualify for free and reduced lunches for my children too, but that seems wrong. My family might not be wealthy, but we have a home and food on our table. I don’t feel that the government owes anything to me. I work for a living.

Several years ago, I received a note from a parent whose child was in my class. The note said, “Do not charge my daughter for a lunch. I applied for welfer [sic] yesterday. If you charge her for a lunch, you'll [sic] have to pay for it yourself.” The little girl wore name-brand clothes. Her backpack was nicer than most and quite expensive. I knew its cost, because I couldn’t afford to buy the same backpack for my own child. She had a smartphone that made my phone look weak and pathetic. When it was the little girl’s birthday, her mother bought and brought expensive cupcakes for the entire class. She delivered the cupcakes in her new Chevrolet Tahoe. She failed to remove her receipt from the bag. The receipt clearly indicated that she used food stamps to purchase the cupcakes, along with a lot of expensive meats and foods I struggle to afford. She purchased these items from the most expensive grocery store in town. She could afford all of this, because she had no job, no husband, and seven children that were fathered by six different men. I shop at WalMart. As a teacher, I struggle to buy things like that. I can’t afford to shop at expensive stores. I work for a living.

One of my colleagues quit last year. She said that her husband’s business was doing well, and she was going to become a stay-at-home mother. I had nothing but the highest respect for her, and I was quite concerned to hear that her husband immediately laid off two of his three employees. Then, I found out the truth. His business wasn’t doing well when she quit her job. Her solution wasn’t to get a second job or to cut back on expenses at home. She got pregnant, filed for government assistance, and quit her job. She’s pregnant again now. You see, the more children you have, the more money you can get for free. Welfare pays. I know this is true, because she said so on her Facebook account. I don’t expect the government to give money to me if my wife and I decide to have another child. I work for a living.

One of my colleagues told me that she received government assistance and food stamps when she was putting herself through college. She has two children, and the cost was simply too much. Now she’s a teacher, and she’s no longer receiving assistance. I was thrilled when I heard this, because it gave me a little hope. Then she told me something that made my blood boil. She said that she ate better when she was on food stamps! She’s struggling to keep financially afloat now. I guess that says it all. Her family doesn’t eat as well now. She works for a living.

Wait until you hear about the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. On the surface, this act seems helpful. It was intended to help struggling, homeless children with school expenses such as educational fees, sport fees, school clothing, backpacks, etc. I don't know about you, but my definition of homeless is quite different than our government's definition. When somebody mentions that somebody is homeless, I picture a person living in a refrigerator box under the bridge. I picture somebody living in a burned-out car behind a convenience store. To our government, homeless could mean that you are living with a family member, in their home. If you live in a motel, you're considered homeless. Either way, you may select to receive financial assistance with pretty much anything related to school. What's worse than that is the fact that nobody checks to see if the information provided to the schools is correct. If you claim to be homeless, you are homeless. You can be wealthy but claim to be homeless, and your child will receive a multitude of freebies. All you need to do is ask. I struggle to make my mortgage payment, but I pay it each month. I won't be receiving any of this extra assistance. I work for a living.

I have many, many additional examples, but the point has already been made sufficiently. Nothing I say can add or detract from this fact; many Americans either believe that we have millions of freeloaders, or they believe that the government is here to support the poor, deserving citizens who have been neglected by wealthy, union-hating corporations. The truth is somewhere in between. Many people need help. Others are perpetual freeloaders.

Ultimately, one has to wonder why the government allows so many people to abuse our welfare system. Politicians talk about welfare reform, but little is accomplished. Are politicians trying to buy votes by handing out free money? Are politicians trying to develop a financial need of big government for the populace? What’s wrong with our country? I know that the economy is bad, and I know that many people are hurting. I don’t begrudge anybody who is struggling and getting unemployment, welfare, or food stamps. Our safety net is truly a great part of our country; it’s symbolic of so many of the great things America stands for. I certainly believe that our country should make sure that its children are fed. However, I also believe that welfare, unemployment, food stamps, and free and reduced lunches are all part of a safety net, not a perpetual free ride that the working-class citizens have to front. Unfortunately, it seems that more and more people are abusing this in an effort to get something for nothing. As our country falls deeper and deeper into debt, I wonder when America is going to wakeup and realize what’s happening.

By the time I add ALL of my taxes together, I’m paying more than half of my income to the government! Why? One of the reasons I pay such high taxes is so that my neighbors can stay at home watching television all day. Something is inherently wrong with that. Can our country continue to sustain massive deficits while so much of its workforce is unemployed? I work for a living.

Advertisers are promoting different ways to get food stamps and disability in this article, an article that clearly opposes wasteful government handouts! I find this fact ironic, telling, and disturbing.

As I finished this article, I received an email. I don't know who the original author was, but I want to be clear. Though I heartily agree with the email, I did not author the following email that was forwarded to me.

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those
who are willing to work and give to those who would not."

— Thomas Jefferson

Just Say No to Socialism


Food Stamps and More


Uncle Sam Has a Check for Everybody!


Our Tax Dollars at Work

900 teachers just got laid off from the Los Angeles Unified School District . They are $650,000 over their annual budget. The following English teacher helps to explain one area that looms large over California 's educational crisis.

I hope each person receiving this mail will read it carefully all the way to the end. It is sad what is happening to our great country all because our politicians are afraid they will miss out on a vote. What a travesty!

This English teacher has phrased it the best I've seen yet.

This should make everyone think, be you Democrat, Republican or Independent
From a California school teacher - - -

"As you listen to the news about the student protests over illegal immigration, there are some things that you should be aware of:
I am in charge of the English-as-a-second-language department at a large southern California high school which is designated a Title 1 school, meaning that its students average lower socioeconomic
and income levels

Most of the schools you are hearing about, South Gate High, Bell Gardens , Huntington Park , etc.., where these students are protesting, are also Title 1 schools.

Title 1 schools are on the free breakfast and free lunch program. When I say free breakfast, I'm not talking a glass of milk and roll -- but a full breakfast and cereal bar with fruits and juices that would make a Marriott proud. The waste of this food is monumental, with trays and trays of it being dumped in the trash uneaten.

I estimate that well over 50% of these students are obese or at least moderately overweight. About 75% or more DO have cell phones. The school also provides day care centers for theunwed teenage pregnant girls (some as young as 13) so they can attend class without the inconvenience of having to arrange for babysitters or having family watch their kids.

I was ordered to spend $700,000 on my department or risk losing
funding for the upcoming year even though there was little need for anything; my budget was already substantial. I ended up buying new computers for the computer learning center, half of which, one month later, have been carved with graffiti by the appreciative students who obviously feel humbled and grateful to have a free education in America ..

I have had to intervene several times for young and substitute teachers whose classes consist of many illegal immigrant students here in the country less than 3 months who raised so much hell with the female teachers, calling them "Putas" (whores ) and throwing things, that the teachers were in tears.

Free medical, free education, free food, day care, etc., etc, etc. Is it any wonder they feel entitled not only to be in this country but to demand rights, privileges and entitlements?

To those who want to point out how much these illegal immigrants contribute to our society because they LIKE their gardener and housekeeper and they like to pay less for tomatoes: spend some time in the real world of illegal immigration and see the TRUE costs.

Higher insurance, medical facilities closing, higher medical costs, more crime, lower standards of education in our schools, overcrowding, new diseases etc., etc, etc. For me, I'll pay more for tomatoes.

Americans, We need to wake up. The guest worker program will be a disaster because we won't have the guts to enforce it. Does anyone in their right mind really think they will voluntarily leave and return?

It does, however, have everything to do with culture: A third-world culture that does not value education, that accepts children getting pregnant and dropping out of school by 15 and that refuses to assimilate, and an American culture that has become so weak and worried about "political correctness " that we don't have the will to do anything about it.

If this makes your blood boil, as it did mine, forward this to everyone you know including your Congressmen and Senators.

CHEAP LABOR? Isn't that what the whole immigration issue is about?

Business doesn't want to pay a decent wage.

Consumers don't want expensive produce.

Government will tell you Americans don't want the jobs.

But the bottom line is cheap labor. The phrase "cheap labor" is a myth ,
a farce, and a lie. There is no such thing as "cheap labor."

Take, for example, an illegal alien with a wife and five children. He takes a job for
$5.00 or 6.00/hour. At that wage, with six dependents, he pays no
income tax, yet at the end of the year, if he files an Income Tax Return,
he gets an "earned income credit" of up to $3,200 free.

He qualifies for Section 8 housing and subsidized rent.

He qualifies for food stamps..

He qualifies for free (no deductible),
no co-pay) health care.

His children get free breakfasts and lunches at school.

He requires bilingual teachers and books.

He qualifies for relief from high energy bills...

If they are or become, aged, blind or disabled , they qualify for SSI.
Once qualified for SSI they can qualify for Medicare . All of this is at
(our) taxpayer's expense .

He doesn't worry about car insurance, life insurance, or homeowners insurance.

Taxpayers provide Spanish language signs, bulletins and printed material.

He and his family receive the equivalent of $20.00 to $30.00/hour in benefits.

Working Americans
are lucky to have $5.00 or $6.00/hour left after paying their bills AND his.

The American taxpayers also pay for increased crime, graffiti and trash clean-up.

Cheap labor? YEAH RIGHT! Wake up people!

The Workforce Versus the Welfareforce

At first glance, this email forward doesn't appear to be about the same topic; in fact, it is on the same topic, the fleecing of American taxpayers. Whether it's American citizens or illegal aliens, we see that the American taxpayer is being duped into working hard so somebody can get free services, goods, or money. There seems to be an odd yet pervasive tone of class warfare in America, the poor versus successful, wealthy people. One has to wonder when this will change into labor warfare, the workforce versus the welfareforce. When will taxpayers stand up and say, "Enough!"

God bless America. God bless the working class, whether you're rich, poor, or anywhere in between. America was built on hard work, motivation, and a dream, not handouts, laziness, and a sense of entitlement.

Welfare Nation Comments

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    • My Esoteric profile image

      Scott Belford 

      18 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      You do realize your solution means you are willing to pay much higher prices for the things you buy, don't you?

    • profile image

      nick decon 

      18 months ago

      bring jobs back to america.get americans working again.that will

      stimulate the economy,

    • My Esoteric profile image

      Scott Belford 

      21 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      It is a great question regarding what is included "gov't benefit". Generally I don't think Social Security is, but Medicare may be, since contributions don't cover most of it. Some, very few fortunately, actually say the gov't retirement federal workers get is a "gov't benefit".

      I believe the gross stats presented at the beginning of this hub, but more informative would have been percentages. But leading to the 46 million Americans (13%), which probably translates to about 17 million families (10%), receiving SNAP is the high gross income threshold, about $26,000/yr. Add to this the fact that 26% of families earn less than $25,000/yr, it becomes understandable why large numbers of Americans get food stamps.

      While 17 million families getting SNAP seems like a lot, it isn't when you think of it in terms of percentage of families.

      The same analysis can be applied to other categories of public assistance as well.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      21 months ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      My Esoteric, The Washington Post article is a good one. I worked in the Michigan unemployment compensation commission and later as a claimant representative at administrative law judge eligibility appeal hearings, and I met virtually no unemployed individuals who didn't prefer to be working than drawing unemployment compensation.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      21 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      •Roughly half of all people in the U.S. live in a household that is collecting at least one type of government benefit

      Do you know if that number includes social security, which is not a benefit? Workers paid into it for their own retirements.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      Scott Belford 

      21 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Study after study after study prove your opening thesis about large percentages of people able to work not want to work is dead wrong. This Washington Post article by Stephen Pimpare (author of "A People’s History of Poverty in America" and the forthcoming "Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen." He teaches American politics and public policy at the University of New Hampshire.) summarizes why you are wrong very nicely.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      Education Answer 

      3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      You don’t seem worried about our current 17.8 trillion dollar debt. I’m quite sure you would consider President Obama’s predecessor a failure, President Bush. He increased our debt by 5.8 trillion dollars in the eight years he was president. He more than doubled our debt. President Obama spoke about this on January 15, 2009. He said, “What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further. We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s.” Since taking office, President Obama has increased the debt by 7,2 trillion dollars; at our current rate, President Obama willl have doubled our debt, just like President Bush did. Kicking the can further down the road is irresponsible.

      Record deficits belong to President Obama. The evidence is clear. President Obama has accrued far greater deficits. Please provide your statistics. I would love to see your source.

      Unemployment averaged about 4.1 percent when President Bush took office. He averaged about 5.1 percent unemployment during his eight years of office; when Bush left office, unemployment was slightly over 5 percent. President Obama’s unemployment has averaged 7.6%. Unemployment is near where it was when he took office. These statistics, however, do not represent how many people are actually unemployed. Many people became frustrated and stopped looking for work under the Obama years. These people stopped looking for work, and they are not included in the statistics. The actual unemployment rate is actually higher now.

      Yes, the stock market is up. Quantitative easing has a big impact on the market, along with debt. You do realize that this is an artificial high, right?

      Facts are stubborn things. I have no desire to see President Obama fail. Our country can’t afford that. I call it like I see it. President Obama’s economic policies have failed. President Bush’s weren’t much better. All of my statistics are verifiable. Please, feel free to double check them. You’ll find that they are quite accurate.

      Best wishes,

      Fount of Misinformation

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      4 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      You are a veritable fount of misinformation. First of all "America is not going broke." Second, the Bush administration is responsible for record deficits due to a new unfunded Medicare drug program which was written by drug industry lobbyists, tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and two interminable, foolish, unnecessary, costly wars. Moreover, his failure to regulate the New York banks put the entire world into the deepest recession since the 1930s. Under Obama, the deficit has been reduced, unemployment has decreased to 5.7% and the stock market has broken all records. Please try to get your facts straight.

    • profile image 

      6 years ago from upstate, NY

      I feel the same as you do, the system is unsustainable and out of control plus now we are literally out of cash! My wife teaches in a title 1 school and see's the same insanity that you do. I believe the problems in America are spiritual but have manifested in many visable ways. Getting back to the Constitution would solve many problems because schools and charities are to be administered at the local level, the federal government has no authority under the Constitution to direct or fund these things.


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