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  • Self-Reliance: Better Than Government Dependence

    A just released report by the Sutherland Institute introduces a metric—the Self-Reliance Index—that can be used to track people’s reliance on government and lack of self-sufficiency. You might call it the opposite of The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Dependence on Government.

    The report notes, “Government aid only creates an illusion that aid recipients are well-enough off. Just as a student who hires someone to help them get ‘A’s’ is not truly an ‘A’ student, a person who depends on government to fulfill his or her needs is not out of poverty.” The Sutherland Institute recommends tracking how people obtain what they have. That is surely a more important statistic than tracking what they have borrowed, earned, or been given as if the method of obtaining what they own is irrelevant.

    In any event, America’s poor are, perhaps, better off than their designation as poor would imply. Fifteen percent of Americans were officially classified as poor in 2009. Liberals assume that everybody agrees with them that those officially classified as poor live in material poverty and that reported income defines all of what resources one has available to them—the lowest income earners being the poorest members of society. But the 15 percent falling under federal poverty limits are surely not as poor as measuring only reported income suggests.

    Many Americans spend more than what they make, with the taxpayers footing the bill. This perpetuates a culture of dependency and a lack of self-reliance for many. An urban family of four is classified as poor if it has income of less than $22,000, but the poorest fifth of American households spend twice as much as their reported incomes. A Heritage Foundation Report finds:

    • Forty-three percent of all “poor” households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
    • Eighty percent of “poor” households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
    • Only 6 percent of “poor” households are overcrowded; two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
    • The typical “poor” American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
    • Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.
    • Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
    • Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
    • Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

    What is apparent from these facts is that simply earning less reported income than federal poverty limits allow does not make someone materially poor. In order to earn less reported income, however, someone may have to work less than they could.

    Being paid to not work is harmful to the spirit. There is a certain dignity that comes with work. No one likes to feel like a freeloader. People should be encouraged to rely on government only as a last resort and only temporarily after exhausting family, extended family, and local community groups and organizations until they can get back on their feet. With dependency on government at an all time high in America, the Sutherland Institute’s Self-Reliance Index is being introduced at a crucial time. The Self-Reliance Index should change the way Americans look at the issue of poverty, because a self-reliant person isn’t poor, but one dependent on the government is.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Self-Reliance: Better Than Government Dependence

    1. DonInAtlanta says:

      Might call this a report by the "Self Righteous Indexers"

    2. lynn, Richmond, VA says:

      You have summed this problem up very succinctly. Not only does welfare damage the character of the recipients, it promotes the idea that the government owes the benefits it confers on the individual. When private charity or family is the giver, the receiver fully understands that the gift comes from a humanitarian impulse and is not his due. True freedom and equality come through economic freedom. The current welfare state enslaves individuals to the government to which they have ceded the responsibility for their own welfare and that of their family.

    3. George Colgrove, VA says:

      One way to eliminate government dependence is to start with the federal employee. The objective should always be to reduce government. Start this process by instituting a BYOB Benefits plan. Eliminate all government supplied benefits (life, health/medical, FERS, Thrift, etc). Give federal employees a short time to convert their government plans to private sector plans (enhances competition) on everything. Once implemented, the federal government will provide funding to match the private company average benefit contribution amount (from $32,000 current down to $9,700). The federal government will simply pay for a portion of the employees self-made benefit package up to a maximum amount. This will save the government more than $20,000 per employee (there are over 3 million of them) with a savings of up to 60 billion annually. This goes back into the nation through cutting taxes.

      This also spawns competition in the private sector and if accompanied by repealing healthcare will provide a new shot in the arm to several healthcare insurance companies other than BCBS that owns the monopoly of that industry through deals with the federal government.

      With this plan functioning in the federal employee ranks, the private sector can then follow suit. Image no company or organization making these choices for us. We will have the power to craft our own benefit package that we can take from job to job. New jobs will be created in the field of benefits brokering. There will be open competition for all things insurance. Price will go down as a result. Profit and competition become the leading regulators and we the people win.

      Then as the economy in general picks up the need for unemployed dependency will go down.

    4. Pingback: Different Types Of Grants For Starting A Business – How Can It Helps You

    5. Billie says:

      The more government, the more incompetent and corrupt leadership and the weaker the people are seen to be.

      That's right. Self reliance is being in charge and in control of your decisions, choices and actions.Taking life at your own pace. Setting your own goals. Challenging yourself to meet those goals, Enduring all personal challenges along the way. Seeing what you, as an individual can become at your own will.

      Under government dependency it would read: taking life at government pace. government setting goals for you. No need to endure personal challenges, government won't allow them. Government seeing what you can become, at government's will.

      Welfare recipients will never have potential to reach, as they will always be limited by having their hands held by government. Self reliance is freedom. Government dependency is not!

    6. cjohnson, Wilkes-Bar says:

      Social safety nets are important and we must have them in place because there are always cases where they are dearly needed.

      However, people seem to believe that it is their "right" to have a house with more bedrooms than people, to have a car and drive it liberally, to keep their house chilled with air conditioning 24/7 and the lights on when no one is home. And I've heard of a case where the choice came up to pay either the cable bill or electric bill, and they paid the cable. Good luck watching the giant paperweight, a.k.a. TV, with no electricity.

      If people want to work less kissing butt at dead-end jobs, they ought to reconsider what they spend/waste their money on and what they think is valuable.

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