We’ve cast our safety nets wide

Alex Tabarrok, of Marginal Revolution, pointed to a New York Times piece reporting that the poorest households no longer receive the majority of government benefits.  He quotes from the article:

The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits.

…Dozens of benefits programs provided an average of $6,583 for each man, woman and child in the county in 2009, a 69 percent increase from 2000 after adjusting for inflation.

Alan Blinder, in the Wall Street Journal column featured in a previous post, says that since some folks are set to roll off the 99-week unemployment benefits we have a “serious hole in the safety net.”

We seem to have ever enlarging ideas about what safety nets are, which in turn enlarge our Federal and state government spending budgets, governments’ desire to tax and government bureaucracies.

Most of the safety nets are not necessary.  They’re large transfers of payments, with a cut taken out by the bureaucracies that administer them.

Consider Social Security.  I bet that a large percentage of people who pay in and eventually receive Social Security benefits don’t need it because they’ve done a fine job of living below their means and saving for retirement.

If they had more control of the 12.4% of their wages that were forced into Social Security, they would have done even better.

Bastiat wrote in 1848:

Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.