Thursday, April 12, 2012

Could you live on $2 a day?

Do we really have any notion what it means that, during the current economic doldrums, the remnants of welfare that survived the "reform" of the 1990s have actually contracted? Following up on Tuesday's discussion of welfare, I came across this:

… The share of households living on less than $2 a day has doubled to 4 percent since the passage of welfare reform, according to a study by Luke Shaefer of the University of Michigan and Kathryn Edin of Harvard.

Which is all to say that cuts are cuts. Faced with welfare reform, states didn’t do more with less. They did less with less. Fewer people are getting help through welfare and much of the money intended for them is being diverted to plug unrelated holes in state budgets. “Somebody has to eat it,” says Ron Haskins, who helped Republicans draft the 1996 welfare reform law. “Someone’s risk has to increase. The federal government, the state government or the people who get the benefit in the future.”

Ezra Klein

And we know who is hurting worst -- the people who needed help the most. Would you want to live on $2 a day?

Trying to think about that question, I went looking for some idea what most of us spend a day. According to the Gallup organization:

Self-reported spending averaged $63 per day in February '12

Actually, if we made less than $90,000 a year (and well over half of us do) we had average spending of $55 a day, but spending by the rich lifted the average.

I agree with Paul Krugman:

It takes a monumental inability to imagine other peoples’ lives to blithely praise welfare reform’s results at a time like this.

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