THE HUMAN COST OF WELFARE; How the System Hurts the People It’s Supposed to Help
By Phil Harvey and Lisa Conyers, Foreword by Jonathan Rauch
“Highly readable and thoroughly researched, this book reveals the tragic secret of our welfare state: It is hurting the people it is intended to help. The Human Cost of Welfare then provides practical suggestions for righting this wrong.”
—Peter Goettler, President, Cato Institute
“This book is essential reading for anyone who cares about what is really happening in America. Useful, informative and sobering, it describes a dysfunctional welfare system in which one sixth of the population of one of the richest countries in history is living on food stamps. Welfare programs are helping to bring about a slow-motion destruction of the American dream.”
—James Bartholomew, Author of The Welfare of Nations
Why is our current welfare system failing to work for so many people? What will these people do for money and dignity in an increasingly post-industrial, white-collar economy?
In THE HUMAN COST OF WELFARE: How the System Hurts the People It’s Supposed to Help, authors Phil Harvey and Lisa Conyers answer these imperative questions and propose that welfare programs have transformed into a war on the poor, not a war on poverty. They examine the problems with the current welfare system, focusing on why it has backfired, and suggest reforms to create a smarter system that helps people improve their lives through rewarding work.
Drawing on more than 100 interviews across the United States, they tell the real stories of men and women that lead to the unavoidable conclusion that our current welfare system keeps people from working, with crippling consequences for them, their families, and our economy. The sad truth is that tens of millions of people who want to work are not working because they are stuck in a broken system.
America’s means-tested federal welfare programs now cost nearly $700 billion each year, substantially more than the entire defense budget. And, while poverty remains a stubborn problem, a growing portion of our welfare spending goes to the non-poor. Welfare is transforming America increasingly into a welfare state. However, the situation is not hopeless. THE HUMAN COST OF WELFARE offers revolutionary suggestions that will pave the way to positive change by:
- Providing a variety of recommendations for welfare reform, such as creating wage subsidies for low-income workers, privatizing welfare, removing financial penalties for working, among others;
- Offering a well-researched perspective on the relationship between work and happiness;
- Demonstrating a new angle on welfare’s shortcomings by focusing on the experiences of more than 100 welfare beneficiaries.
Harvey and Conyers present a unique analysis of America’s welfare programs and use real-life examples to show how the current system forces enrollees to stay underemployed or unemployed. The successes of the welfare reforms of 1996 are, unfortunately, slowly being eroded under today’s policies, but those successes support the findings of their interviews as they indicate that most people want to work; when given the opportunity and confronted with the requirement to work, they do.
Harvey states: “Our present policies are keeping people down and keeping them dependent and they are not happy about it. Welfare policies that reward work (as the Earned Income Tax Credit currently does), are appropriately time-limited, and include access to training will help them get back up.”
By incentivizing work through the implementation of policies that reward it, our system might move one step closer to the “American Dream.” Unlike many diatribes from both left and right, The Human Cost of Welfare is sophisticated about the inherent tradeoffs, paradoxes, and dilemmas of welfare policy.
Learn more at humancostofwelfare.com