Guest Column

March 2, 2014

Welfare should be a safety net

My last column generated more comments than I thought it warranted, mostly that I was an uncaring, right-wing, neo-fascist, conservative pig worthy of being cast as a heartless villain in a Dickens novel.

No one called me a Yankee fan though, so there must be a line that even vitriolic people won’t cross.

Just for fun, l thought I would expand on the topic of social safety nets.

First, a little about how the term safety net, as it refers to social programs, entered our vocabulary. Credit President Ronald Reagan with having coined the term when he addressed Congress on the controversial federal spending cuts he wanted to make.

The president said, “Now I know that exaggerated and inaccurate stories about these cuts have disturbed many people, and I welcome this opportunity to set things straight.”

He then coined the phrase when he said, “All those with true need may rest assured that the social safety net of programs they depend on are exempt from any cuts.”

He went on to say, “But the government will not continue to subsidize individuals or business interests where real need cannot be demonstrated.”

In two sentences, Reagan created a brilliant metaphor for government assistance and at the same time redefined those who should receive it.

Enough trivia, let’s get back to the issue and the fiscal absurdity of the current system.

According to Census Bureau statistics, the poverty gap in 2012, defined as “the annual income necessary to move an individual or a family out of poverty,” was $178 billion.

In 2012, the Census Bureau reported that 9.5 million families and 12.6 million individuals had incomes below the poverty threshold. The average gap for a family was $9,785 and $6,542 for an individual.

According the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government spent $357 billion on welfare programs in 2012, not including Medicaid.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Guest Column
  • ken_wibecan.jpg Another day in the life

    Each morning I rise from bed, slowly, as is my habit, and sit quietly on the bed contemplating the day that looms before me, writes columnist Ken Wibecan.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR skin deep mug 081714 High-end products worth the splurge

    Regardless of the price, writes columnist Felicia Krieg, she would buy the core group of her makeup products over and over again.

    August 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • paul_grasso.jpg Tax code needs overhaul

    Corporations may be criticized for exploiting loopholes, but it is the complex tax system that is at fault, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR ask dog lady mug Don't feed dog's poor eating habits

    Make sure your dog has their own feeding area, consisting of two bowls -- one for food and one for water, columnist Monica Collins writes.

    August 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Individuals must seize job-training opportunity

    While educators, government and business have a role to play, each person must be responsible for charting the course of their own career, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    August 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • clute_cropped.jpg Finding accountability, healing

    Today, I focus on the vast majority of cases that do not go to trial but end in a guilty plea, writes former District Attorney and City Judge Penny Clute.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • krieg_felicia_mug.jpg Affordable doesn't mean low quality

    Drugstore products often perform just as well as their high-end counterparts, Felicia Krieg writes.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • paul_grasso.jpg Opportunity to repair infrastructure missed

    A vibrant economy requires roads, bridges, dams and other assets that are in good condition, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • ken_wibecan.jpg Remembering the Sixties

    Each Memorial Day and Labor Day in the early 1960s, about a dozen of us city-dwellers drove to Lake George, writes columnist Ken Wibecan.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg The right to be forgotten?

    Europe taking first steps toward securing privacy with Google and Facebook, writes columnist Stu Denenberg.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo