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Why The Republican Welfare Queen Narrative is False

Updated on December 5, 2015
  • One of the Republican's main narratives involves their despise for poor welfare recipients.

  • They are hugely hesitant about giving poor people welfare, but have no problem about wealthy people receiving more money. The picture they're trying to portray reminds me of a spoiled teenager receiving a big allowance from their rich parents as long as they do the chores, but they don't do the chores.

  • In the 70's, Ronald Reagan told a tale about this character, except he named it the "welfare queen."

  • Luckily for people that find this narrative to be bullocks, there have been studies done that prove its falseness.

  • The main argument by the right-wing is that financial support from the government encourages people to be lazy and not work. Interestingly enough, since so many political narratives are absolutely true *cough*, a study by Harvard and MIT economists proves the right-wing claims are false.

  • The economists who conducted the study took a look at studies done on cash programs in poor countries. They found "no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs discourage work."

  • In other words, there was no significant change of the amount of people who work, within the sample of people who receive money from the cash transfer programs. The cash programs that were part of the study are not within a localized area of countries; instead they are dispersed around the world: two in Mexico and one each in Morocco, Indonesia, the Philippines, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

  • In some studies work went down, and others the work went up, but it was never a substantial difference. The difference in the amount of employment, affected by the programs, was from a 0.9 percentage point increase to a 1.9 decrease; a very tiny change, but I'm sure Republicans can find an angle to make it appear mesmerizing and significant.

  • Some of the studies found that the financial assistance encouraged people to work. A paper by Christopher Blattman, Eric Green, Julian Jamison and Jeannie Annan found a 61 percent increase in the amount of hours worked in Uganda after a program was implemented. This specific program gave certain women $150 and taught them some job skills; they worked more hours after receiving these gifts.

  • Most of the programs in the study are "conditional cash transfers", which means they give cash on the condition that the offspring enroll in school, or receive health services; so, the cash is going towards a morally right cause, instead of giving "Tony" money to buy more drugs.

  • Although these studies weren't done in the United States, Republicans will use them as leverage to angle their "welfare queen" narrative down the public's throat.

  • The largest percentage of people who receive welfare are elderly, disabled, and children

  • The most people who receive welfare are people who cannot sufficiently take care of themselves on their own, and or, don't make enough money to survive on their own because of old age and possibly a number of other reasons.

  • More than half of welfare recipients are part of the "working poor" class. There are also military verterans and their families who make up a large slice of the pie of people who receive financial assistance. Together, the working poor, elderly, children and veteran families make up ninety percent of the recipients of government financed subsidies.

  • According to the hard data, a large amount of the people who receive subsidies are not "people who refuse to work". Imagine back to the time you saw a child, screaming and laying down on the floor of your local Toys R' Us because they weren't getting the toy they wanted; I bet the child may even have called their parent crass, absurd names that are lies.

  • Now imagine some full grown politicians, usually Republicans, laying on the floor screaming within a Congress building, because their political ideologies are not being enacted in reality.


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