Contrary to the picture painted by the recent series of articles in the Des Moines Register, very few Iowans actually live in poverty. What we have is families who whose incomes, before counting any welfare benefits received, are below government established guidelines for poverty. We measure “food insecurity” because very few Iowans are actually go without food for any extended period of time. Taxpayers provide food stamps, Medicaid health insurance, subsidized housing, and much more. Charitable organizations provide food banks, clothing, shelters and much more. For children, taxpayers also provide pre-school, meals before, during and after school, subsidized child care, and much more.
We clearly have an effective and extensive safety net. The relatively few who fall through the cracks either don’t know about the benefits or won’t ask for help. It appears quite clear that we do not need to spend more taxpayer money to expand welfare benefits. It’s actually hard to imagine that spending for welfare programs cannot be reduced. There has been much anecdotal evidence of fraud and abuse in our welfare programs by both recipients and providers.
Today, the best way to help the poor is by having a vibrant, growing economy with enough jobs for those who are willing to work, not by expanding welfare benefits. To encourage a growing economy, we need for our government to stop regulating businesses in areas not related to employee and public safety or pollution of our environment. Government should not mandate pay levels or benefits. Government should not provide corporate welfare (subsidies) to artificially prop up favored industries. Just as with individual welfare, corporate welfare breeds competitive weakness and dependency on government.