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Steve Gardes

Work requirements and welfare: The lessons of history

The value of studying history is so that future generations don’t make the same mistakes as our forefathers. Having said that, it was stunning to watch the political tug-of-war that took place in Baton Rouge this past Legislative Session trying to add work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries that now represent one-third of the state. Bills in both the House and the Senate stalled in Committee as the Legislative session ended, as Democrats fought it tooth and nail. So what does history tell us about this issue?
In 1935 President Franklin Roosevelt implemented work programs tied to government assistance after The Great Depression since, as he stated, “the lessons of history show conclusively that continued dependency upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber.” Roosevelt knew that citizens must work for their government assistance.
Yet in 1965 President Lyndon Johnson chose to ignore Roosevelt’s “lessons of history” work warnings, as well as the warnings from Daniel Patrick Moynihan that the presidents “Great Society” welfare programs could lead to the disintegration of the Black Family unit, resulting in many social problems. Instead Johnson proceeded forward with his “War on Poverty” with one of his stated goals being to “make America’s poor more self-sufficient”. Here we are more than 50 years later and we see that the war has been an abject failure as there is now substantial increases in dependency, idleness, and out-of-wedlock child births which has resulted in a spiritual and moral disintegration that is indeed destroying America.
In spite of the blatant failure of the war on poverty, President Obama doubled down and put the nation’s welfare/no work programs on steroids – even though it almost doubled the national debt and reduced the Labor Participation Rate to record lows. The result has been social chaos in our disadvantaged neighborhoods. Saul Alinsky couldn’t have done it any better.
As we watch America’s national fiber being fundamentally destroyed before our very eyes, one can’t help but ask what history has to say about our political leaders who are intentionally disregarding the “lessons of history”. We find that in 1787 Benjamin Franklin warned us that “when you make a place of honor also a place of money and power, man will move heaven and earth to obtain them.” In 2018 we saw the Governor and Senate Democrats move “heaven and earth” to legislatively protect Medicaid Fraud (and potential votes).

Steve Gardes is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) with over 40 years of public accounting experience.


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