The Wealthfare State

No, that is not a typo. Let me explain. First of all, this morning I read an article in The Washington Post, explaining the double standard of requiring the poor to prove they are deserving of benefits. Currently there are all sorts of legislative bills out there that will prohibit things such as buying steak and seafood (Missouri), spending money on tattoos and cruises, and, God forbid, do not spend that money at strip clubs (Kansas). Of course, as I have written about recently, Kansas seems determined to win the award for “most backward state” in the nation right now anyway.

So, what is wealthfare? Well, the use of public roadways is wealthfare. Enjoying the (dubious in some places) protection of local law enforcement is wealthfare. Having access to a public library is wealthfare. Pell Grants for students…wealthfare. Tax benefits for homeowners…wealthfare. And, as the article points out, farm subsidies paid by the government, definitely wealthfare – although the article terms it “the submerged state.” But Medicare…weathfare. Writing off business trips as business expenses? Wealthfare! 

Wealthfare is a sociological term that is used to describe the ways in which all Americans, or wealthy Americans (depending upon the benefit), benefit from government “handouts.” Because, let’s face it, that’s what they are, whether or not we want to admit it. 

From the article referenced above:

“The second issue with these laws is a moral one: We rarely make similar demands of other recipients of government aid. We don’t drug-test farmers who receive agriculture subsidies (lest they think about plowing while high!). We don’t require Pell Grant recipients to prove that they’re pursuing a degree that will get them a real job one day (sorry, no poetry!). We don’t require wealthy families who cash in on the home mortgage interest deduction to prove that they don’t use their homes as brothels (because surely someone out there does this). The strings that we attach to government aid are attached uniquely for the poor.”
The following graph comes from this article (referenced in the above article) The Submerged State in One Graph.


That graph clearly shows what I am calling wealthfare as being far greater than welfare in what it costs our government. So…the next time you are tempted to call out the poor for being “on the dole,” stop, think, and recognized that you, too, are on the government dole.

~ Jan