These numbers will scare you more than they anger you, or maybe the other way around:
The term “welfare state” does not begin to encompass the totality of America’s commitment of resources to aid the poor. It is more like a vast empire bigger than the entire budgets of almost every other country in the world. America’s welfare empire encompasses close to 200 or more federal/state programs, including 23 low income health programs, 27 low income housing programs, 30 employment and training programs, 34 social services programs, at least 13 food and nutrition programs, and 24 low income child care programs, among others.
Federal and state governments spend a trillion dollars a year just on these means tested welfare programs, which does not include Social and Medicare. That is more than we spend on national defense. It adds up to roughly $17,000 per person in poverty, over $50,000 for a poor family of three. The Census Bureau estimates that our current welfare spending totals four times what would be necessary just to give all of the poor the cash to bring them up to the poverty line, eliminating all poverty in America.
The poor don’t need money — they need programs. Programs to be lovingly enforced by well-paid government employees, and lovingly promoted on TV news programs by caring politicians and the media which adores them.
Why, if you just give people cash, there’s no telling what they’d do with it. But a program… a program endures.