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Debate: Welfare Has Done More Harm than Good by Charles Murray

Debate: Welfare Has Done More Harm than Good

by Charles Murray


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President Clinton, Mr. Kinsley reminds us, "campaigned on a vow to 'end welfare as we know it.' "Would he be on the Affirmative side in this debate? Mr. Buckley is quick to make a distinction: "We are gathered, my colleagues and I, to contend that welfare has done more harm than good. This is not to say that welfare has done only harm. A useful distinction here is between welfare, which can be an ongoing lifestyle, and relief, which is on the order of the kind of treatment one receives in an emergency room in a hospital." Ms. Norton comes out swinging: "I ask you, is the abused woman who has finally got the gumption to leave the house of abuse more harmed by welfare than if it were not there? Is the divorced woman in transition whose husband will not give her child support more harmed by welfare than not?" The spirited exchange gives some idea of the gulf between the two sides on this issue. Ms. Piven: "Why do you think a poor woman who is raising children surrenders her respect when she gets some support from the government, but that a much better-off woman, also raising children by herself-but with perhaps assets that she got from a divorce settlement-does not surrender her self-respect...." Mr. Woodson: "The difference is, the poor one has to then turn to taxpayers for support, and that's when you get other people involved in your business.... I think it's wrong to absolve people of personal responsibility. That's the kind of patronizing attitude that you get from people who believe that poor people don't have the ability to make decisions for themselves."

Episode FLS118, Recorded on March 15, 1994

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