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Generous Georgians and Miserly Maineans

December 26, 2012
Neil deMause writes in Slate of "Georgia's Hunger Games":
"Fewer than 4,000 adults in the southern state receive welfare, even as poverty is soaring. How Georgia declared war on its poorest citizens—leaving them to fight for themselves."
He compares Georgia unfavorably with other states, specifically California and Maine.
"In states like California and Maine, which have focused on getting their poor citizens into jobs programs, about two-thirds of those eligible still receive welfare. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Georgia, which over the past decade has set itself up as the poster child for the ongoing war on welfare. ...the number receiving cash benefits has all but evaporated..."
He blames discrepancy on the red state/blue state divide, pointing to Georgia's "all-Republican state government." He bemoans:
"What this has created is a land that welfare forgot, where a collection of private charities struggle to fill the resulting holes. For the Atlanta Community Food Bank, that means sending out more than 3 million pounds of canned goods, bread, and other groceries each month to churches in and around Atlanta to help feed the state's growing number of poor and near-poor."
First of all, what is wrong with private charity stepping in to fill the gap? With the present economy as bad as it is, providing succor to the swelling ranks of the needy will inevitably be a "struggle". What is wrong with that struggle being voluntarily borne by donors and competently administered by private charities instead of involuntarily borne by taxpayers and incompetently administered by bureaucrats? Furthermore, it is interesting that, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy's ranking of the states according to charitable giving, 9 of the top 10 are deMause's dreaded red states, and 8 of the bottom 10 are blue. Georgia ranks way up at #8. Maine, deMause's "model state", scrapes the bottom at #49. And in terms of the median contribution of its residents, Maine is dead last. But then, who can blame them? Surely they think they've fulfilled their role by funding Maine's copious welfare rolls with their taxes. True, state welfare harms much more than it helps. But the point is, regardless of the results, they've already paid their part in their minds. With this effect in mind, plus Obama's repeated proposals to limit tax deductions for charitable giving (echoed recently by Cato Institute Fellow Daniel Mitchell), it is more apt to speak of a "war on charity" than a "war on welfare."

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