Five Media Myths About Welfare

“Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.” -A.J. Liebling

Not surprisingly, the media assumes certain narratives that tend to favor their corporate owners. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) is a site that covers how the media spins the news. Clearly the people who own the news sources would prefer that we ask certain questions, and avoid others. The link below leads to the full article, but I will list the five “myths” as listen by FAIR and give my own shorter explanation.

1. Poor women have more children because of the “financial incentives” of welfare benefits.

Some media pundits love to villify welfare mothers. They paint women on welfare as having multiple babies just to receive benefits instead of working. But the average birthrate of welfare families is about the same as average. And the benefits in question add up to $90 per child.

2. We don’t subsidize middle-class families.

Middle class families do receive a subsidy in the form of a $2,450 tax deduction.

3. The public is fed up with spending money on the poor.

Poll results depend on how the question is asked. Anti-welfare crusaders have been successful in paining “welfare” as a bad word, but 80% of those asked said the government has a responsibility to try to do a way with poverty.

4. We’ve spent over $5 trillion on welfare since the ’60s and it hasn’t worked.

The $5 trillion figure is based on the questionable method of adding Medicaid, food stamps, food lunches and scholarship programs together. Actual aid to dependent families was less than $500 billion or 1.5% of the budget. The program has not singlehandedly solved the problem of poverty in America but it has kept many poor families from an even crueler fate.

5. Anyone who wants to get off welfare can just get a job.

Issues like lack of affordable childcare keep many people out of the job market. It is true that low wage jobs without benefits do not lure everyone out of welfare, but the answer to that is to increase salaries and benefits for working, not cut safety nets.