Thursday, March 10, 2011

excerpt from Dallin H. Oaks The Lords Way...

104There is widespread dissatisfaction with government welfare programs. Critics include not only the taxpayers who finance the assistance and resent the fact that it seems to fall far short of its stated aims, but also the persons who receive assistance and who resent the extent and nature of the aid and the administrative controls that accompany it. Some scholars and some politicians complete the chorus of opposition.

105The most severe critics contend that government welfare programs have failed to reduce poverty; they have probably increased it, while contributing to a host of associated social evils. 6 John Goodman, president of the National Center for Political Analysis, has said: "The USA's welfare system is a disaster. It is creating poverty, not destroying it. It subsidizes divorce, unwed teenage pregnancy, the abandonment of elderly parents by their children, and the wholesale dissolution of the family. The reason? We pay people to be poor. Private charities have always been better at providing relief where it is truly needed." 7

The passage of the Social Security Act in 1935 marked a turning point in modern social welfare development in the United States. The benefits granted under that legislation had little or no relation to the contributions recipients had made to what was called the insurance fund. So far as individual workers were concerned, they had no interest in a segregated fund.
118That is still true after more than a half-century. The huge sums that potential recipients and their employers pay as social security taxes are hardly distinguishable from income taxes, and the amounts received as social security payments bear little relationship to the amounts the recipient has paid into the fund. Some pay much more than their expected return; some pay much less. It can therefore be said that in economic effect, social security disbursements are difficult to distinguish from welfare payments. 29
118However, there is a great difference in terms of motive. Since all social security recipients have paid something for the assistance they are receiving (and some have even contributed more than they will receive), for purposes of the recipient's motive it is possible to liken social security to the purchase of an annuity for life. In any event, it is virtually impossible for employees or employers to avoid the taxes that are labeled for the support of social security payments. In those circumstances, church members and church corporations (as employers) have no practical alternative other than to participate, even though the social security system leaves much to be desired when measured against the principles of self-reliance.

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