Why Welfare Cannot Work

Welfare pays more money than an honest job?

The Daily Mail reports:

A haulage boss was left stunned after an unemployed driver rejected the offer of a job paying more than £500 a week so he could remain on benefits.

Graham Poole, the managing director of a 23-wagon fleet in Rochdale, offered the job to the man who had been out of work for 18 months only to be told told it was not enough to have him come off government handouts.

The man turned the job down claiming he could get more money on benefits by 'sitting around at home'.

"That's not true!" you shout.  "Welfare can't possibly be that generous!"

Maybe, maybe not; opinions differ strongly on the Daily Mail's website, ranging from rank incredulity to "Sure it's true, I'm doing it myself."  Whether welfare pays that much or not is beside the point.

What's clear is that this individual - we'll call him John - clearly believed it to be true; and this tale illustrates why welfare as we know it today not only does not, but cannot work.

Who Does the Gruntwork?

John was offered a job as a truck driver.  A truck driver is not a stockbroker, but neither is he a fry-flipper at McDonald's.  Driving a truck has been a solid working-class job for as long as trucks have existed.

What's more, virtually everything John needs at his home, whether paid for by a salary or by welfare benefits, comes on a truck.  His Barcalounger and TV?  The microwave frozen pizzas and TV dinners?  His bed?  All come by truck.

If John can truly earn more on welfare then he can earn as a truck driver, he has a serious problem in his future.  Sooner or later, all the other truck drivers will figure out the raw deal they're getting, quit their jobs, and go on welfare themselves.  Then who will deliver the food?

The answer, of course, is people who don't qualify for welfare: immigrants, particularly illegal ones.  We saw a similar issue here in the United States two years ago when John McCain insulted an audience of voters by claiming they were too lazy to pick lettuce; that, said he, is why we need the illegals to do it for us.

It's true that few Americans do pick lettuce today, but that isn't because they loathe that particular vegetable, as McCain's audience loudly and angrily informed him.  American workers do not pick lettuce because they are not willing to do it for the few pennies that illegals cost.  For Americans, life on welfare is far better than life as a lettuce-picker paid a couple dollars a day; it's only because the illegals can't get welfare that they're willing to do the work if it's the only thing available.

Is this the fault of the illegals for taking American jobs?  Partially; but it's also the fault of the welfare system for making life too cushy for the unemployed.

What to do?  Graham Poole, John's would-be employer, hit the nail on the head:

I believe that someone who refuses a job should have their benefits stopped automatically and they should be made to take whatever jobs are available irrespective of what the wages are.

In other words: Get rid of welfare, and both the unemployment and illegal-immigration problems get rid of themselves.  If you have to work, you'll find work, and with real Americans truly seeking out the jobs, the illegals won't have a monopoly on them anymore and will have to go home or starve.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Economics.
Reader Comments
Amen. As your article implies, unemployment IS welfare. I'm so tired of everyone - even conservatives - saying that unemployment is some special insurance thing that is necessary to help transition people from job to job. Wrong. It's welfare, plain and simple. It does not operate like insurance, it has nothing to do with insurance. It's plain old wealth redistribution created, controlled and manipulated by the government.
July 23, 2010 8:37 AM
Picking lettuce is work. Would John McCain do it? How much is 900 pounds in Canadian money?
Can a family of four live off that much?
July 23, 2010 11:16 AM
It doesn't matter if a family of 4 can live on welfare. the point is to give people an incentive to work, like dogs if necessary, to support THEMSELVES!

Given birth control, there is NO excuse for having 4 kids if you can't afford them. Back when churches ran charity before government took it over, they distinguished the "deserving poor," that is, people who wanted to work by who no fault of their own couldn't, and the "undeserving poor," who simply did not want to work.

Guess whom the churches helped? Guess whom the government not only helps, but encourages to breed?

July 23, 2010 6:27 PM
Our underground economy has been estimated as being as high as 25%. This underground economy enables people to be unemployed and still have a very good life. I hired a man once, who after a week's work, suddenly refused to do his work. He wanted to be fired so he could collect unemployment again (his benefits had run out). He had a lucrative side business that the government didn't know about that, with unemployment benefits gave him a very good life.

Another case: I was a foreman in a union shop and had to lay off 25% due to a slow down. Naturally I called in the lowest seniority people to give them the news. A higher seniority man came to me and demanded to be laid off showing me the paragraph in the contract that gave him the right to choose to do so. It seems that he moonlighted as a house painter, and had several jobs lined up. With union benefits, unemployment benefits, and the unreported income from house painting, he would be doing much better being laid off than working.
Another person in that union shop, was absent from work only one day a month, which was acceptable by the contract. The problem was that one day he was off was the day people had to report to the unemployment office to collect their benefits.
Bottom line is that you can have a good life by working the system, and it is very common among the "poor" to do so.
July 24, 2010 5:47 AM
Welfare is doing precisely what the Democrats want it to do. It's breeding dependent people who, if they can be encouraged to vote, will vote for Democrats who promise them yet more unearned money.
July 24, 2010 7:21 PM
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