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Thread: Wisdom from Stossel

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    Wisdom from Stossel

    Question for the forum. After reading the following article I would like to know if reigning in on fraud and reworking the safety net so that it encourages people to get off the system is considered "balancing the budget on the backs of the poor".

    Is there a way to correct federal safety net programs so that they work better and cost less that wouldn't be construed by the left as an attack on the poor?




    A Man's Home Is His Subsidy
    By John Stossel - January 9, 2013


    The Obama administration now proposes to spend millions more on handouts, despite ample evidence of their perverse effects.

    Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, says, "The single most important thing HUD does is provide rental assistance to America's most vulnerable families -- and the Obama administration is proposing bold steps to meet their needs." They always propose "bold steps."



    In this case, HUD wants to spend millions more to renew Section 8 housing vouchers that help poor people pay rent.

    The Section 8 program ballooned during the '90s to "solve" a previous government failure: crime-ridden public housing. Rent vouchers allow the feds to disperse tenants from failed projects into private residencies. There, poor people would learn good habits from middle-class people.

    It was a reasonable idea. But, as always, there were unintended consequences.

    "On paper, Section 8 seems like it should be successful," says Donald Gobin, a Section 8 landlord in New Hampshire. "But unless tenants have some unusual fire in their belly, the program hinders upward mobility."

    Gobin complains that his tenants are allowed to use Section 8 subsidies for an unlimited amount of time. There is no work requirement. Recipients can become comfortably dependent on government assistance.

    In Gobin's over 30 years of renting to Section 8 tenants, he has seen only one break free of the program. Most recipients stay on Section 8 their entire lives. They use it as a permanent crutch.

    Government's rules kill the incentive to succeed.

    Section 8 handouts are meant to be generous enough that tenants may afford a home defined by HUD as decent, safe and sanitary. In its wisdom, the bureaucracy has ruled that "decent, safe and sanitary" may require subsidies as high as $2,200 per month. But because of that, Section 8 tenants often get to live in nicer places than those who pay their own way.

    Kevin Spaulding is an MIT graduate in Boston who works long hours as an engineer, and struggles to cover his rent and student loans. Yet all around him, he says, he sees people who don't work but live better than he does.

    "It doesn't seem right," he says. "I work very hard but can only afford a lower-end apartment. There are nonworking people on my street who live in better places than I do because they are on Section 8."

    Spaulding understands why his neighbors don't look for jobs. The subsidies are attractive -- they cover 70 to 100 percent of rent and utilities. If Section 8 recipients accumulate money or start to make more, they lose their subsidy.

    "Is there a real incentive for the tenants to go to work? No!" says Gobin. "They have a relatively nice house and do not have to pay for it."

    Once people are reliant on Section 8 assistance, many do everything in their power to keep it. Some game the system by working under the table so that they do not lose the subsidy. One of Gobin's lifetime Section 8 tenants started a cooking website. She made considerable money from it, so she went to great lengths to hide the site from her case manager, running it under a different name.

    "Here's a lady that could definitely work. She actually showed me how to get benefits and play the system," says Gobin.

    Although Section 8 adds to our debt while encouraging people to stay dependent, it isn't going away. HUD says it will continue to "make quality housing possible for every American."

    Despite $20 billion spent on the program last year, demand for more rental assistance remains strong. There is a long waitlist to receive Section 8 housing in every state. In New York City alone, 120,000 families wait.

    Some are truly needy, but many recipients of income transfers are far from poor.

    America will soon be $17 trillion in debt, and our biggest federal expense is income transfers. They are justified on the grounds that some of that helps the needy. But we don't help the needy by encouraging dependency.

    Government grows. Dependency grows.

  2. #2
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    Wisdom from the anecdote


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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster View Post
    Wisdom from the anecdote

    Quote Originally Posted by Buster View Post

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axil View Post
    Beat me to it.

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    Stossel uses a New Hampshire landlord and the opinion one engineer has of his neighbors to build his argument.

    The Weather channel uses 35,000+ weather stations and weather records that go back to 1895.

    Yup, those two articles used equivalent research and reporting skills.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster View Post
    Stossel uses a New Hampshire landlord and the opinion one engineer has of his neighbors to build his argument.

    The Weather channel uses 35,000+ weather stations and weather records that go back to 1895.

    Yup, those two articles used equivalent research and reporting skills.


    Both articles use a single data point (1 year, vs 1 landlord) to segue into an overarching stance on an issue. The year of 2012 in regards to climate change, are no more significant than experiences of Mr. Gobin in regards to section 8.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axil View Post
    Both articles use a single data point (1 year, vs 1 landlord) to segue into an overarching stance on an issue. The year of 2012 in regards to climate change, are no more significant than experiences of Mr. Gobin in regards to section 8.
    I had a similar experience to Mr. Gobin with regards to Section 8 tenants in some buildings I owned in Brooklyn. The program is for life as long as the recipient does not get a job. Of the 24 tenants we had over the course of 6 years that I was involved there was never a situation where someone was removed from the program.

    The reason I posted it is to point out one of the flaws in our safety net system. This program essentially punishes people for trying to lift themselves out of poverty. I would take it further and say that it essentially forces people to remain in an impoverished state. In one situation we had a lady living in an APT with her 7 kids. When the oldest girl turned 18 she applied to get on the program. She had 2 kids by the age of 18. Eventually she got her voucher and we set her up in the apt downstairs.

    The point is that these programs are flawed in that they don't provide a path to exit poverty. They actually and functionally do the opposite. They force people to stay in poverty and even serve to encourage future generations to remain impoverished.

    I say again is it so bad to look at these programs and try to find ways to tweak then so that they encourage people to pull themselves up and become self sufficient?

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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefst2000 View Post
    I had a similar experience to Mr. Gobin with regards to Section 8 tenants in some buildings I owned in Brooklyn. The program is for life as long as the recipient does not get a job. Of the 24 tenants we had over the course of 6 years that I was involved there was never a situation where someone was removed from the program.

    The reason I posted it is to point out one of the flaws in our safety net system. This program essentially punishes people for trying to lift themselves out of poverty. I would take it further and say that it essentially forces people to remain in an impoverished state. In one situation we had a lady living in an APT with her 7 kids. When the oldest girl turned 18 she applied to get on the program. She had 2 kids by the age of 18. Eventually she got her voucher and we set her up in the apt downstairs.

    The point is that these programs are flawed in that they don't provide a path to exit poverty. They actually and functionally do the opposite. They force people to stay in poverty and even serve to encourage future generations to remain impoverished.

    I say again is it so bad to look at these programs and try to find ways to tweak then so that they encourage people to pull themselves up and become self sufficient?
    I understand. I didn't intend to imply there was no merit to the points presented in the argument. Additionally article Buster quoted uses anecdotal evidence to segue into a discussion on climate change that includes a greater scope of evidence, and is far more persuasive than "2012 was hot in the U.S.".

    My intention was to point out the hypocrisy in disregarding an article that begins with an a anecdotal instances, then precedes to provide greater context, moments after posting an article of a similar format yourself. If anything, questioning policy as a result of specific circumstances occurring as a direct result of that policy, is more appropriate than citing a particular data point where your goal is to prove the truth of a trend.

    As to the article you quoted, i agree that the welfare system currently incentives poverty. There are a lot of potential solutions, but sadly there is unlikely to be significant change in the near future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefst2000 View Post
    Question for the forum. After reading the following article I would like to know if reigning in on fraud and reworking the safety net so that it encourages people to get off the system is considered "balancing the budget on the backs of the poor".
    Yes.

    Any attempt to cut or reduce the rate of increase of social welfare programs is a direct assault on the "poor and middle class".

    The fact that the poor and middle class pay little to nothign for these services themselves is irrelevant. In this political viewpoint, any effort to enact fiscal responsabillity is a direct, and in their view immoral and unwarranted, attack on those "in need" to benefit the "greedy", i.e. those who contribute almost all of our current tax revenue.

    This is the starting point for any fiscal debate.

    I.e. there is no fiscal debate. Only a steady progression from personal responsabillity and accountabillity to a Euro-style social-welfare state, benefits only if you're the right kind of person, of course. Social Justice!

    May as well get used to the idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    Yes.

    Any attempt to cut or reduce the rate of increase of social welfare programs is a direct assault on the "poor and middle class".

    The fact that the poor and middle class pay little to nothign for these services themselves is irrelevant. In this political viewpoint, any effort to enact fiscal responsabillity is a direct, and in their view immoral and unwarranted, attack on those "in need" to benefit the "greedy", i.e. those who contribute almost all of our current tax revenue.

    This is the starting point for any fiscal debate.

    I.e. there is no fiscal debate. Only a steady progression from personal responsabillity and accountabillity to a Euro-style social-welfare state, benefits only if you're the right kind of person, of course. Social Justice!

    May as well get used to the idea.
    Spot on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    Yes.

    Any attempt to cut or reduce the rate of increase of social welfare programs is a direct assault on the "poor and middle class".

    The fact that the poor and middle class pay little to nothign for these services themselves is irrelevant. In this political viewpoint, any effort to enact fiscal responsabillity is a direct, and in their view immoral and unwarranted, attack on those "in need" to benefit the "greedy", i.e. those who contribute almost all of our current tax revenue.

    This is the starting point for any fiscal debate.

    I.e. there is no fiscal debate. Only a steady progression from personal responsabillity and accountabillity to a Euro-style social-welfare state, benefits only if you're the right kind of person, of course. Social Justice!

    May as well get used to the idea.
    That is the point. Are we so far gone that any attempt to reduce poverty rolls is an assault on the poor? I like the fact that in America no one goes hungry. That's a good thing we do as a society. But when we get to the level where government programs are encouraging poverty common sense should prevail.

    I always use the free cell phone program from the government as the litmus test for how much of a loon I am dealing with. We know that there is a program that allows anyone on any sort of wellfare program to get a free prepaid cellphone. We know that people are abusing the program by purchasing and reselling a new smartphone each month. The is no logic behind giving people free cell phones to begin with. Most likely it was passed because some cell phone industry lobbyist got to a legislator somewhere. Now that program is racked with fraud and costs 3 billion per year. Anyone that is against fixing that program is part of the problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefst2000 View Post
    That is the point. Are we so far gone that any attempt to reduce poverty rolls is an assault on the poor?
    You begin from a false premise. They do not agree in any form that reduction in social welfare can or does "reduce the poverty rolls". On the contrary, any attempt to reduce is a direct theft from children, veterans, teachers, firefighters and policemen (who are references thus in every discussion on reductions in social welfare program spending).

    As such, they dismiss your idea at the very start as invalid. They do not view a Social Safety net as something one uses then is forced off of. They see it as a permanent support system to help you maintain a certain level of lifestyle regardless of all other factors, factors like how you got there, what you're doing to get out of that position, etc.

    Social Welfare exists to support those in need, as they define it, and to redistribute wealth from the wealthy to everyone else, end of story.

    Pondering why oh why they won't reform such a program is akin to asking why a die-hard anti-abortionist won't compromise and allow abortions in the first two trimesters.

    To them, reductions in social welfare is akin to literally punching a poor minority child, who is also a veteran of Iraq and a police office, in the face repeatedly. It's not a compromise issue, it's an absolute that they view as a basic human right to one and all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    You begin from a false premise. They do not agree in any form that reduction in social welfare can or does "reduce the poverty rolls". On the contrary, any attempt to reduce is a direct theft from children, veterans, teachers, firefighters and policemen (who are references thus in every discussion on reductions in social welfare program spending).

    As such, they dismiss your idea at the very start as invalid. They do not view a Social Safety net as something one uses then is forced off of. They see it as a permanent support system to help you maintain a certain level of lifestyle regardless of all other factors, factors like how you got there, what you're doing to get out of that position, etc.

    Social Welfare exists to support those in need, as they define it, and to redistribute wealth from the wealthy to everyone else, end of story.

    Pondering why oh why they won't reform such a program is akin to asking why a die-hard anti-abortionist won't compromise and allow abortions in the first two trimesters.

    To them, reductions in social welfare is akin to literally punching a poor minority child, who is also a veteran of Iraq and a police office, in the face repeatedly. It's not a compromise issue, it's an absolute that they view as a basic human right to one and all.
    Is it the wording then? How can we get past this stupidity? How do we get to the point where fixing broken social programs is not looked upon as "balancing the budget on the backs of the poor".

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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefst2000 View Post
    Is it the wording then? How can we get past this stupidity? How do we get to the point where fixing broken social programs is not looked upon as "balancing the budget on the backs of the poor".
    I don't think you're reading what I am writing.

    The answer to "How do we get to...." is "never".

    We will never get to a point where teh Social Safety Net/Social welfare is viewed by a segment of our political system as anything less than a basic, fundamental human right that the State, via it's taxpayers, are absolutely obligated to provide and improve. Never cut or reduce.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    I don't think you're reading what I am writing.

    The answer to "How do we get to...." is "never".

    We will never get to a point where teh Social Safety Net/Social welfare is viewed by a segment of our political system as anything less than a basic, fundamental human right that the State, via it's taxpayers, are absolutely obligated to provide and improve. Never cut or reduce.
    We got Wellfare reform in the 90's and the people supported it because it was a Democrat that was president at the time. If Obama were to say that we need to fix these programs because they are effectively keeping people impoverished the country would buy in. The real answer is that this stuff will never be corrected until a prominent liberal gets behind the concept. Of course that is extremely unlikely as liberals and common sense are like oil and water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefst2000 View Post
    We got Wellfare reform in the 90's and the people supported it because it was a Democrat that was president at the time. If Obama were to say that we need to fix these programs because they are effectively keeping people impoverished the country would buy in. The real answer is that this stuff will never be corrected until a prominent liberal gets behind the concept. Of course that is extremely unlikely as liberals and common sense are like oil and water.


    Beware my friend. You are treading in an area which will include you in the group of "evil ones". Heartless haters. I've already been labelled. An honor. LOL

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    Warfish is totally winning this thread, which unfortunately means, that we all lose out in the real world.

    But hey - best to get hit in the face with the new reality now: reality is whatever the Left says it is, along with their media lapdogs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by palmetto defender View Post
    Beware my friend. You are treading in an area which will include you in the group of "evil ones". Heartless haters. I've already been labelled. An honor. LOL
    I am very familiar with being labeled an "evil one" because of my desire to actually have our system work to help the poor rather than oppress them. Goes the same for local issues like school choice and teachers unions. Wanting better schools for our children and more productivity for our education dollar gets you the tag of a "teacher hater".

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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefst2000 View Post
    I am very familiar with being labeled an "evil one" because of my desire to actually have our system work to help the poor rather than oppress them. Goes the same for local issues like school choice and teachers unions. Wanting better schools for our children and more productivity for our education dollar gets you the tag of a "teacher hater".
    Unfortunately, the desire of 90%+ of all politicians is to amass power. Many of them do so because they want something they believe is good, or important, and need power to get it done.

    The impoverished, are a political stronghold for the political party. Seeing how democratic politics is a numbers game, who do you think benefits from more poverty in America?

    You're not going to change the politicians unless you change the minds of people voting for them. If people in poverty come to realize that the "social safety net" is really a net of political entrapment that they're never meant to escape and prosper as a result of, things will change. Like Warfish, I'm not optimistic that will ever happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    Yes.

    Any attempt to cut or reduce the rate of increase of social welfare programs is a direct assault on the "poor and middle class".

    The fact that the poor and middle class pay little to nothign for these services themselves is irrelevant. In this political viewpoint, any effort to enact fiscal responsabillity is a direct, and in their view immoral and unwarranted, attack on those "in need" to benefit the "greedy", i.e. those who contribute almost all of our current tax revenue.

    This is the starting point for any fiscal debate.

    I.e. there is no fiscal debate. Only a steady progression from personal responsabillity and accountabillity to a Euro-style social-welfare state, benefits only if you're the right kind of person, of course. Social Justice!

    May as well get used to the idea.

    Racism charge is automatic also.

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