Your Opinion: Cato issues skewed report on welfare benefits

Dear Editor:

I hit the AM talk-radio button twice last week. Both times the topic for outrage was the same: the problem with America is that poor people don’t work because they can make more on welfare. The reason for the chatter: the Cato Institute has published a new “work vs. welfare” study.

Cato is a libertarian “think tank” founded by Charles Koch, one of the founders of the John Birch Society and father of the billionaire Koch brothers of today.

The entire study is based on “what if” a family of three received every possible benefit for being in poverty. Should that happen, it might be possible to receive more money in 35 states than working at a minimum wage job. In Missouri, a single mom with two children would need to make more than $10.96 an hour to justify work over welfare. Why work with this life of leisure?

One caveat in the report is that hardly any families receive maximum benefits. Also, even those receiving the most benefits are doing everything they can to find employment — details missing from the amplification on the radio.

Forget that the real problem is low wages. If wages had kept up with American workers’ productivity, our minimum wage would be near $20 an hour. No welfare mom playing the system for every last benefit could beat that.

The report supports Cato’s libertarian mission of creating outrage for everything government. They so hate government that even capitalist icon Ayn Rand called libertarians no better than anarchists. Real damage happens when conservative-media audiences hear the sound bites, then support this anarchy.

The timing is perfect as our General Assembly returns for its veto session. Will they be anarchist and override Nixon’s veto on the tax-cut bill that Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Missouri’s top Libertarian Rex Sinquefield support? Rex spent $2.3 million just to support the veto override. Buses are scheduled to the session for anyone outraged with anything government — schools, heath care, roads, bridges — welfare moms and hungry children (more than 90 percent of what we call welfare goes to the elderly, disabled and children).

If successful, on the bus ride home, everyone can have a red-meat celebration. Steak maybe, but no salad, because it is likely the annual tax break they fought for wouldn’t cover it.

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