, Muskogee, OK

October 3, 2012

THE PEOPLE SPEAK – Writer’s numbers just don’t add up

— Harlen Mogck was apparently misinformed in his letter to the editor (“Creating welfare state encourages poverty', 9/23/12). He cited a Senate budget study stating that 107 million Americans receive some form of government welfare, not counting Medicare or Social Security. It is telling 45 million of that number receive food stamps, which includes dependent children. Mogck calls them “takers”; perhaps he would care to explain his plan for keeping all those people from suffering malnutrition due to low income?

He also stated that 70 percent of government spending pays people to be unemployed, unmarried, retired, helpless, disabled, or drugged. Thirty-six percent of the federal government's budget goes directly to military spending; an additional 18 percent goes to programs for veterans and their families. So where is this 70 percent figure from? Furthermore, this list illuminates Mogck's thinking. 'Unmarried' refers to single mothers, many of whom work in low-paying jobs. 'Retired' refers to people who paid into Social Security and get retirement benefits from it. 'Unemployed' means someone who actively searches for work in order to receive unemployment benefits, for a couple of years at most. 'Disabled' means those who are handicapped and not able to work normal jobs. Do 'helpless' and 'drugged' even receive government benefits?

He claimed that the various government assistance programs accomplish nothing beyond making people dependent and being wasteful. What’s the basis of this statement? Forty-five million receive food stamps; almost 10 million receive Pell grants. Are they “dependent and wasteful”, or is this hyperbole?

Finally, Benjamin Franklin said that “he that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing.” Many people who receive federal aid would have no choice but to borrow money, at usurious rates, if they did not receive it.  Would Mogck prefer to have those 107 million Americans staggering under debt than seeing tax money going into government programs? He needs to research the facts, not just quote from a couple of newspaper articles.